You've got to pay attention to you

I love my birthday.

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“look into my eyes” su nimon  http://wwwJourneyStudios.com

I love to celebrate me and life.
I know that might sound self-centered but you’ve got to pay attention to you once in awhile.
No one else in your life will ever really know you the way you do.
To understand all the dreams, the hopes, the strengths, the fears and how all those things can change on a daily basis… all that requires a very personal perspective.
My birthday is a time (like New Years Day is to me and many) to pay attention to the state of life.
How am I? How are things going? What needs to change? What new needs or goals have arrived that aren’t being addressed?
What am I pleased with, proud of, scared of, struggling with?
Luckily, I know that I’m not the person I was as a child, as a young adult or even the same as I was last week. I’m happy to embrace change as part of life. And by viewing change as a natural state, I know I can reinvent myself whenever it seems wise to do so.
As I’ve gotten older, the idea of living to the fullest, accomplishing all I was meant to do, has come into the mix of questions that flow thru my mind.
And with the thought of, “Am I living my best life?” is when my perspective shifts from the critical, close analysis of me.
What do you expect to do in this life? Grand projects, large contributions may never be my legacy. I’m likely more helpful in the department of cutting someone some slack when they needed it. Or helping them see themselves in a more beautiful light. Are these small kindnesses enough to make my life of real value? I remember that likely I’ll never know all the good I’ve done or the help I’ve given in this life. One kind action given, a needed smile shared might make all the difference to someone who’s ready to throw in the towel.
See, as special as I might feel on my birthday, I’m just one teeny spark of light. I want to keep my little boat of life afloat and on an even keel as long as I can. But to live a good life doesn’t have to be hard. I don’t have to build a Trump Tower to be noticed
or to have been real… or good… or enough.
I just have to be a “nice guy,” give a bit of love when I have it to give. And if I’m responsible for my being happy, I find I have more bits of love to give more often. So how do I know if I’m living my “best life?” I think it comes down to deciding if I’m happy. Am I happy with this life? If I’m not, then what changes need made?
Today, I feel sure that I’m mostly living the best life for me. And sure, there are a few tweaks to make. But basically, I’m happy, satisfied and working towards my dreams.
I wish the same for each of you.
Much love
Have fun
 
 

I guess speed is relative?

Somedays, I’m frustrated with how slow I am to accomplish this or that. My mind goes so fast and the list of projects I long to work on is long, detailed and really quite lovely. If you could only see in my head…. 😉
FB reminded me this morning that 1 year ago I was in Ccharlestonsc0515harleston, SC. This was the beginning of my trip down the coast to explore wearable art galleries. I was trying to decide if this area of expression was still valid and did I want to explore adding wearable art back into my portfolio. Our current gallery was lovely but not very profitable. I had learned that managing a gallery leaves very little time to work as an artist. For a creative person… this stinks. But I had hoped to build something wonderful that would be good for the artists and the community. After a bit, that wore thin, and I missed making stuff.
I got totally inspired on that trip. I saw some amazing wearable art galleries and boutiques. It had been several years since I worked in textiles but I was dreaming about the wonderful creations I could make. With the support of gallery partners and friends, we added a wearables boutique 8 months ago and 4 months ago transitioned from traditional gallery back to just studio space showing mostly the work of artist Judi Krew and myself.
So yes, there’s so much I haven’t gotten done… but dang, we’ve come a long way in 8 months. I guess maybe I need to let go of my concerns about speed, as change is everywhere and really very fun! Feeling grateful… and would still like to explore Charleston more. But no time now… there’s fashion to make. 😉 ❤

A long winter's nap?

 
selfieoncatamaran1I just got back from a long vacation. I was traveling out of the country with a group from all over the world. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. But it was one of the first statements one of my fellow travelers made that sticks with me… and I’m writing about today.
When she learned that I was from the US, her comment was, “Wow, you people don’t usually take time to travel.” Granted, compared to Europe, where my friend calls home, our 1 week vacations placed here or there throughout the year probably doesn’t sound any fun compared with the 3- 4 weeks she takes every summer plus other travel.
But then I heard that similar comment other times. And I wondered… don’t we? Or better, why don’t we get away more often?
I have set up a tradition of closing the business in January every year. Last year, I took a week to get away and this year I was gone 3 weeks. Next year, I’ll be gone all month. Really… do you think it’s wise to close a business for a whole month?
Well, our business has a great selling season for the holidays. After Dec 24th, we see that people are done shopping for a bit. Staying home, regrouping, paying bills might be a more common priority in January that shopping for art and fashion. But that’s not the real reason we close. I’m beginning to see it as a survival tactic. When you run a small business, you are the staff. And creating goods and staffing a store for long hours leaves me feeling pretty empty by the end of the year.
So I go away for me. I close the business that sustains me and run away from home. That’s not quite a “nose to the grindstone” sort of mentality that a good entrepreneur is supposed to have and that’s precisely why I do it. We as humans need down time, fun time, change-of-pace time. We need to play and relax and explore and laugh. We (or at least some of us who dwell in the north) need the sun, the ocean… we need to feel heat in our bones.
How can I afford it? Well, travel can be conducted in many styles and if you plan ahead, travel light, consider public transportation and one or two star hotels… travel can be much more affordable than you might expect. Airbnb or Vacation Rentals by Owner have some great values in housing. Eating at local restaurants is affordable and gives you the real flavor of countries you might be visiting.
Plus, getting away gives me a calm feeling that might have taken many visits to the therapist if I had continued working. Taking time off is good for our mental and physical health… and that can be priceless.
So can I afford to take time for me? How can I afford not to. The money spent on travel experiences will live in my memory forever. I could have spent the money on a new sofa or a bigger tv… but I’d rather run away from home. And just thinking about my recent trip makes me smile… and encourages me to get busy planning my next trip.
Travel, see the world, and give yourself a break today.
 

Power of love

anniversary3I was grateful and honored that two friends asked me to speak at their renewal of their wedding vows yesterday. I had written out (or some spirit wrote thru me as is often the case) something that I thought was lovely. But as often happens when you find yourself in the real moment, what I had written was too long and perhaps a bit too sedate for this fun loving bunch. So instead of presenting what was written, I just spoke from my heart. Not sure what I said, but trust it served the purpose well.
Since I’m not blogging regularly, I thought perhaps the blog might be the place for the writing sent to me from the Universe.
Celebrate love!
su
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Dear friends, dear family,
We are gathered here to celebrate!! Topaz and Mike invited us to celebrate their marriage with them… and we are. But they are also giving us such a great gift. They are allowing us to celebrate the reality of love with them.
Renewing their wedding vows is important to these two. It’s a wonderful experience for any couple to come together again, in this public yet sacred way to say, “We’re still here… and we’re happy we are. “ But the renewal of vows is important for all of us too. This ceremony is our reminder that love is alive and well. That relationships work and that our dreams can come true.
And it reminds us of the great power of love. The love of a husband and wife is special, powerful and taxed regularly. This love requires special care… it demands to be held as important… it cries for its needs to be met. I’m sure both Topaz and Mike can think of a time or two when they were reminded that their love needed care, it needed to be honored. And when the powerful energy of love is cared for and honored, it grows… it shines. It draws others to it.
The love between husband and wife is special. It is one special flavor of love. Each of us today are reminded of how we each love Mike and Topaz. And how we love others in our world. And that all those flavors of love require the same special care and honor.
The power of love isn’t exclusive to people. We love animals, the earth, Mother Nature. I love a good thunderstorm and I wax poetic at every time the moon is full. These flavors of love that we each carry in our hearts and our lives are all very special. These loves- all different- all beautiful- all require care and honor
The glue that keeps our relationships and our world together is love. Love allows us to care for one another- those near and dear- and those on the other side of the world that we’ve never met. Love allows us to feel compassion for other living beings, sentient creatures and spirits in existence in all of time.
So today, we celebrate love. It will change our relationships and our world… if we continue to care and honor it above all else.
Topaz, once again, with 5 more years of joys and sorrows… knowing more now about him than you have before… in his perfection and his imperfection… do you take Mike to be your beloved partner in life and love.
And Mike, once again, with 5 more years of memories- the highs and the lows… knowing her more deeply than you ever have… in her perfection and her imperfection… do you take Topaz to be your beloved partner in life and love?
I now pronounce you once again and into a glorious future, husband and wife.

Should I just be tougher?

dsc_5942-x2su-doorsmSomething totally unexpected happened this week. Someone took a swing at my business in hopes of harming us and our reputation.
WHAT???!!!
Yep, get over yourself, Mary Sunshine… Shit happens. (and no, I’m not going to talk about the details of what happened at this point.)
I find the process interesting when something like this happens. I swing from “well, we’ll just rise above it” to “just wait until I find out who did this!” Peace maker to commando and back again… and again.
And while the process isn’t complete… I’m trying to settle into the middle somewhere, hurrying towards “picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off” and getting on with the business of business.
We often talk about the downtown community, the arts district as a whole… but when something like this happens, I wonder what kind of community this is, if in fact it is one at all. I would hope as a community, that if someone takes exception to something I do, or questions a business practice, they might stop in and talk it out…or even yell it out with me. But to just go directly to a higher authority to get the proverbial boom dropped on me with no warning just stinks. Maybe I just need to be tougher. Maybe I need to not give a damn about this “community.”
But at this point, I’m clinging to the value of community. I made a commitment to this community back in 2007 so I’m not going to let one crank mess with my dreams.
So I won’t get tougher… but I will get smarter. I’ll work harder, cleaner and be a better neighbor so that the gallery and the community might see greater success.
And I’m really going to try to walk away from this experience with a renewed commitment to shine brighter and to remember to always have the backs of my neighbors as most of them have mine.
And to the one who decided to throw us under the bus? Good luck with karma.

How to birth a dream

_6199275smI know it might sound a bit dramatic but “birthing” does seem an appropriate term for watching this dream of mine come to fruition.
In January of 2012, I began writing a business plan for a new art gallery in the Downtown Canton Arts District. It seemed the next logical step in growth for my art business. I imagined at that point that the gallery would open in June of 2012. I presented the concept to the local arts council and the chamber of commerce and both agreed that the idea was solid and the timeframe would work.
Ah… we all had so much to learn. Everyone started… gathering info and support. Investors were approached, funding researched. And everyone did their job well… it’s just that there were a whole lot of jobs to do and a huge number of people involved. Appreciation of the number of tasks and people needed to make a huge project happen is my lesson. See, rather than opening in June of 2012, I am very hopeful that we will open in June of 2013… just one year late! Now this might sound awful to you but I’m not complaining. Work progressed one logical step at a time. Decisions were made in the order they came up. It all just took a lot longer than we thought.
The good news is that no one gave up. No one really got terribly upset… we just kept plugging along. Granted there were times when I wanted to scream, jump up and down and have a tantrum… but tantrums don’t help people. They might feel good for a brief moment to the one throwing said tantrum but to the rest of the audience… well, you’ve been there, I’m sure. So I tried patience and discovered that instead of focusing on what wasn’t happening according to my plan, I could spend my time taking care of details that I hadn’t even imagined when I wrote that first plan. I learned that I have plenty to learn about this new business and that education will continue, I’m sure for years to come.
My gallery became “our” gallery because so many people got involved in the project. There are a few who are instrumental in this success… and there are many who might have just offered a pat on the back… and many somewhere in between but all were important. Jeff Dreyer and Mac Worthington were there at the beginning and have continued to encourage me all this time. Mike Gill at the Chamber/SID and Robb Hankins with ArtsInStark sat through my first presentation of the business plan and both have worked hard in so many ways through this whole process. Bad Girl Ventures, Cleveland, boosted me to a whole new level in so many ways. And there are innumerable people, some whose names I don’t even know, who did important jobs all along the way. My gratitude grows daily. I think I learned a lot about being a team player, about asking for help when needed, about holding my tongue, and trying patience and peace.
So at times it was painful and it took a long time… but this little dream has grown, blossomed and struggled its way into reality. The work isn’t done… but I’m very impressed and hopeful at what can be accomplished when you dream beautifully, don’t give up and take the patient, peaceful path. If you have a dream, and of course you do, remember that you must never give up on it… just keep visualizing that dreams do come true. Then work crazy hard and ask for help to make it happen.
Hopefully, next month, you’ll get to see photos of our new “baby.” Then the parties will begin. Welcome Journey Art Gallery, a creative destination in north east Ohio.
JourneyArtGallery.com 
 

Rough Edges

kukla10This fall’s political extravaganza is having a different effect on me. (No worries… I’m not talking about any particular candidate or party here if you’re just sick of hearing about this or that platform.) I’m seeing that in one way, the political barrage this year is helping me.         What??

I have a friend who’s fascinated, even passionate about politics. Sometimes I ask in conversation, “So, how’s your guy doing?” This question often launches us into a discussion where quickly, inside my head, I hear myself saying… “Why did you ask that?” See… the conversation goes to places I’m not familiar with. He brings up issues I’m not really conversational about. Me, the eternal pacifist, feels dissension brewing.  So I smile, and comment… “Hmm… never thought of it that way.” And because we’re friends, the conversation eventually shifts to some topic I feel more comfortable with.
But later, when I’m alone, those “uncomfortable” topics come back up. I find myself doing a bit of research about things I wouldn’t normally study. Or I ponder reasons why I’m uncomfortable or, even better, I explore more truthful replies than, “Hmm… never thought of it that way.”
Another dear friend of mine is exploring the concept of rough edges and she introduced me to the idea on a recent visit. The idea that when 2 very different places, people, or ideas come in contact, they can both be changed or they both can appear different for the encounter in ways that are beneficial and even beautiful. She’s doing research for a book on her perspectives so I won’t go there right now. But another clear example of this phenomenon is the work of Daniel Kukla, a photographer who had formal training in biological and anthropological sciences. His clever and beautiful project titled, The Edge Effect can be seen at  http://www.petapixel.com/2012/09/28/photographs-of-mirrors-on-easels-that-look-like-paintings-in-the-desert/#rmuz1WOBZ92I9Uis.99
So, in my experience, I’ve realized that when I hang out with people who are like minded, who generally agree with me about a particular issue, then I see the issue as sort of solved or put up on a shelf. My opinions about it don’t get explored further. However, bring in that soul who (horrors) doesn’t necessarily agree with me, and I find myself pondering the issues again. And in doing this, I find my voice again. I may or may not change how I feel, but these ideas/issues that I might have see as “truths” get dredged up again. In the examining process, I’ve found that when I put some of my beliefs “up on the shelf”, I put a bit of my passion there too. And the “rough edge” that I encounter in discussing issues with person with another point of view, causes me to pull not only my beliefs off the shelf but my passion too. And therefore, I must admit that bit of dissension can be entirely refreshing.
And no, I don’t want to debate candidates with you. 😉
Peace and love
su

Getting by with a little help from our friends

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I have a friend who’s going through a tough time. A group of her friends are organizing a fund raiser to try to raise a bit of money to help her out of a crisis. We’re so happy to be able to help. She’s so miserable that we have to help her. Yet, she’s always first in line to help someone else.
Weird how givers aren’t always good receivers.
Just pondering how our minds understand that if united we can do so much more to help someone in need. Yet when we’re in need, that same mind seems to think that we’re supposed to solve every crisis alone.
I also wonder why we get so ashamed that we need help, yet helping others makes us feel so useful, helpful, needed.
Somehow, do our hearts have 1-way valves on them letting tons of love pour out… but when the tons of love are ready to flow back in, depending on the circumstances, we feel ashamed to be the center of so much help. My friend mentioned that she feels like everyone pities her… when we’re just trying to love her.
If, as part of the human race, we are all united, related, one… perhaps we might all take a moment to check our hearts and make sure they are equally open to giving and receiving. If we let as much love flow in as flows out…somehow I think the universal river of love will be overflowing its banks, and the world might just be a better place to live.
love and peace
su
 
Image – Find a way to love by me at http://www.journeystudios.com

Ebb and Flow

SuNimonArtistIf you read this blog regularly, then you’ll know I’ve been MIA lately. It used to bother me more when I “wander off” but more recently I’m becoming more accepting of the idea that “there’s only so much a human being can do” and just as often “sometimes I’m just not interested in being interesting? ” LOL
Life is certainly cyclical. Up/down, ebb/flow, busy/busier… each day brings a new mix. In the past month, I’ve been so hopeful then mad as hell because someone stomped on my plans. I’ve been overworked to the point of barely finding enough hours to sleep then whisked off on a very lovely, quick vacation. I came back recharged only to be slammed by a sinus infection. Geeeezzzzz. What about consistency??
Oh, life isn’t about consistency. I think life is about resiliency. And personally, I think it is particularly about the willingness to regroup, rebound and try, try again. So lucky you, I chose to write today when I’m “climbing back on the horse” to ride yet again. I did not choose to write last week while wallowing amidst used kleenexes and one more empty bottle of OJ (organic OJ, of course 😉
And the “moral to this story” is just that if you’ve felt flattened a bit lately, realize you are not alone. We would love to live a life fulled with “standing on the mountaintop” experiences but know that sometimes we find ourselves sliding out-of-control down the mountain slope into the muddy creek at the bottom. Take the bitter with the sweet, the good with the bad…
BUT
never, never, never resign yourself to the down times. Never expect them, never wait for the other shoe to drop. While the downs come, keep your focus on the bright side. Savor the sweet, mountaintop moments. Visualize those amazing, fabulous successes. Because even though my ride has been a bit bumpy lately, the sweet has WAY outweighed the bitter and I think that I can affect the balance.
So if you find yourself lying in a heap, find the courage to stand up, dust yourself off and begin again. And as you begin, know in your heart that better times are coming. You can call the best of life in to you by living with these brighter than bright expectations.
Thanks,
much love,
mary sunshine
 

Can we choose joy.

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I’m part of a small arts community in a small Midwest town. With the economic conditions in this country and especially in our area, making a living as an artist can be a bit challenging. But being part of a “community” brings strength and encouragement. This group has lifted me through my tough times.
In the past week, two important members of our community have
faced devastating challenges. One lost everything- home, studio and dear pets through a fire and another was forced to close his restaurant which is a favorite to many and has been supportive to our community as a whole. I’m sad.
I’m sad for their loss. their sadness and disappointment. I wish I had deep pockets and could do something significant financially to help. But at this point… I can’t.
But I’ve also noticed that I’m afraid. Their “hitting the wall” makes me see how close we all can be to finding ourselves in a situation where we might feel like we’re abandoning our dreams. And I wonder… how easily could that be me? Well, honestly, I don’t wonder. I know… it could very easily be me. Or so many others who are part of this small group.
And right there… I need to stop. I need to take a deep breath. And I need to remember that there IS something I can do.
I can not give in to the negative. I need to focus on the dream… my dream, their dreams, our dreams.
For those of you who know me… you know I believe that I’ve “dreamed” this life I lead now into existence. I believe that my thoughts are energy that have great power. My training and my experience has shown me that if I’m going to invest my energy into something, I need to invest it in the positive.
In this tough time, I encourage each of you to choose your thoughts carefully. Don’t spend time dwelling in the negative… those who are suffering right now don’t need more negative energy. Rather… spend your energy envisioning new beginnings for our friends. Imagine this dark time being a doorway to even a better situation. And don’t give into your own fears, if they come up. Give your own dreams this same positive energy. And when you talk with them, or see them… be encouraging. Oh… and huge hugs probably would help a lot too.
Take care of each other and…
have fun!
su
If you’d like to learn more about the concept of using your thoughts to make dreams come true, you might start where I started at http://www.tut.com. Mike Dooley is a teacher of this concept and a mentor of mine.