Making Hearts

I'm not sure when I made the first heart, maybe around this time last year. I made it for myself actually. I like doing that sorta thing....making stuff for myself that is. I especially love making jewelry. So fast forward to the Whatever Camp Create this fall when I was wearing my heart and sweet Honey said "girl can you make me one of those?" Sure Honey. So I went home and made her one and shipped it off. Now I should say before this event I made some for my gallery in Birmingham for the Microlove show and NONE sold. So I didn't think people would want them. I was actually very sad because I loved them.

But turns out, when you send your heart off to sweet Honey and she wears it in her instagram posts and people ask her where she got it and she says Jenni made it people start asking me for one too. So I got off the couch and start making. And making. I've now had 2 Instagram sales and one Etsy sale with the hearts and sold out within the day on each sale. Plus some more added in. It's kinda exciting I have to be honest.
 Each heart is completely hand crafted. I can physically make about 14 in a weekend, then use the week to slowly wire bead the chain. I love each step of the process.
Lawrence hates when I make jewelry because I stand up instead of sitting in my usual chair. He likes to cuddle and be held at all times. And holding him and a torch at the same time is just not a good idea. I totally need a baby wrap for him. He'd love it.
 I personally love the rainbow bead combo....but the cool colored beads seem to sell best.
 I love the way each turns out so different. These are making my studio very happy these days!

The bottom was my favorite heart shape to date. Something about the robustness of it. Anyhoo....I called a company about manufacturing these for me. It's a huge leap of faith that the heart is not just a trend but meant to be something bigger. I do feel thus far the whole experience has been God laid out. From being asked to teach at Camp Create and meeting Honey and her graciously sharing my name on her large followed feed to the present demand for them. There's just something about the whole thing that seems bigger. I follow several artists on Instagram that once they allowed His dreams to grab wings they have truly taken off. Maybe my dreams are just about to be those God sized ones too.
Be sure to follow my Instagram feed for updates on the next heart sale. Mailey and I bought some fabulous beads this week I can't wait to string onto some hearts!


Found on Google

So now that I am trying to blog again I was searching for some photos. And found some vintage gems!!  Oh gosh...sorry you are gonna have to bear with a walk down memory lane. Look at those baby faces above! Even Lily looks like a baby.
Above is a photo of me in Mood in New York City. Pretty sure I was with Valerie shopping for our store. Why did I get rid of those awesome jeans? Seriously...dangnabit. And my skin look fresh and happy. Maybe I need to see a botox person after-all. My hair is crazy short too. Why?
Above is me at my very first art show at the Wesleyan School. Not sure the year. I was all set up and ready and VERY nervous in this photo. I had already called Valerie crying about the set-up. They had not told me they provided panels. I had packed my van full of everything I needed for a "show" set-up. Everyone else just hung their art on the panels provided and called it a day. I mean what? I even had flowers. So I was freaking out that people would think I was stupid....so I cried. I'll never forget Valerie's kind words to just calm down and do what I had planned. I was gonna blow them away. And I did...sold out I think. I still have those awesome jeans.

Here I am in my old studio painting on canvas. What???  I know! Little did I know about wood panels then. I love this photo because sweet AJ is in it probably making biscuits on that pillow. AJ was our sweet kitty we had way before kids. He loved Billy so much...slept on his head. When AJ passed the bus driver asked me one day, "Where's orange kitty?" I told her he had passed...she said "I have never seen a cat so devoted to his children. Did you know everyday he waits at the top of the drive with them in the morning and the afternoon is at the top of the drive again waiting for them to get off the bus? Sweetest thing I've ever seen." Makes me a tad teary thinking of him and his crumbled up ears from too much fighting.
 I don't have many photos of myself teaching. But here I am in the original Bubble Gum Ice Cream Art Studio. That little cutie in the left corner is now 16 I think. The girls I don't recognize. Again....why did I get rid of those jeans?  (note to self...keep all your jeans) And i'm really glad I let my hair grow out. Geeshhhhh....talk about poofy. Ooo...and I just noticed I'm wearing my Ironman watch. I was trying to explain that to my Will the other day. That it was "the thing".
This one just cracks me up. It was my 1st photography class. I was modeling so my classmates could take an action shot. Why did I get rid of that awesome t-shirt. Dangnabit.
 When I was a full-time artist I made felted bird sculptures like this little guy. I still have a few laying around. I should fix them up and sell them. Mailey was little back then and loved naming them all.
I remember these two being like this all....the...time. So goofy, so silly and so sweet to one another. And lawd at the outfits they would leave the house wearing. Will those shoes and socks, just terrible...and Mailey's Hannah Montana crocs, really? Well, at least she's wearing shoes. His hair though....gosh I loved his surfer dude hair.

This child before the make-up, before the obsessive hair straightening, before the freckles disappeared. BTW she lived in that white coat for about a year. Summer over her bikini even. 

 The house we didn't get....and I still dream about.
 I need to make these again. In fact, I found a ton of my old jewelry in google files and am like dang girl...you need to make JEWELRY!!
 I am posting this just because we look hot. I mean that hair right? Total Farrah dream hair. Pretty sure this was at a Governor's Ball.
Will's first home run ball. The day before was the school festival, so his hair still has the red spray in it. Love that. (actually it stayed for a long time. both my kids hair holds color. it's weird)
OK last one....my birdie in metal. Yeah. I gotta get to making some jewelry. And look into my google files some more. I am really glad they are all in there. In that cyber cloud that gives me the heebie jeebies and makes me all Big Brother watching me like. 

So what have you guys been up to? I have lots of creative stuff to share. For now though.....a walk down memory lane was what I needed. Thanks for joining the journey with me!


Releasing Petals

It's been awhile right? I've missed this part of my creative journey, but in all honesty I haven't had the energy for it. Here in my blog I've always felt free to share my whole world. Throughout my years of blogging I've always been transparent and vulnerable here. But quite honestly....my little world since August has been turned upside down. I wasn't sure how to share or what to share. Because I am embarrassed and tired quite frankly. I was afraid anything I posted would just be "noise". Just know that one day I'll feel comfortable enough to share the deep and wide emotions I didn't even know I owned. I see now that everyone has a story worth sharing. And that if you leave that story folded in like the above rose, it will never ever have time to open, be shared, glorified then finally released. The later part being extremely important in the healing process. Letting the petals go.

As winter approaches and the holidays are peeking out from under the covers I am truly approaching this holiday season with a joy filled heart. I posted on instagram a few weeks ago that this time of year brings out a lot of sorrow in my heart. But for some reason I am calmer and ready for whatever comes my way. We decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving even! And put lights on the bushes...I mean what the what? I am so grateful for the family I have been given and want to celebrate the season with all that I have. Hopefully with a few less petals.

Thanks for being patient and always such a special part of this creative journey with me! I can't wait to start truly blogging again and sharing my experiences as a high school art teacher. What a ride the past few months have been in this classroom!


Running the Peachtree Road Race

Yesterday was the Peachtree Road race here in Atlanta. It is America's largest 10K. And it's awesome. The history behind the race is super cool.  Here's a link if ya want to read about it. It started in 1970 with just 110 runners. In 2011 they expanded the capacity to a total of 60,000 runners. Yep.....folks that is a heck of a lot of runners. Oh, and wheelchair racers. Which is beyond amazing to watch. Due to its demand for the bib numbers each March you put your name in a lottery and hope your name gets pulled. This year I surprised my Dad and registered him. And his name was pulled! He said he's been wanting to run this race since it started, but never tried to get in. Well, leave it to me do get that bucket list item checked off Dad.
Friday night was a night of storms. NON-STOP storms at our house actually. So our power went out. Which means my alarm didn't go off. Which means my hubby woke at 6:15 and started yelling at me to get up I was going to miss my corral! Which, I did. You see to get to the race we have to drive to the Marta train (which is Atlanta's version of a subway) ride to Lenox which is about a 30 minute ride, get off and walk a ways to the start line. Where 60K of your running friends are hanging out waiting on ya. It's so awesome to be amongst all the runners. Runners are happy people.

Well, like I said I missed my corral. So I walked with Dad and left him at his corral and ran forward to catch the first one starting. They put a certain number of people in each corral I think based on running times so you stay kinda as a pack running down Peachtree. There's a method to the madness for sure. Each corral is spaced 5 minutes apart as well. As soon as I got up to the starting corral the announcer came on and said we were in a holding position due to weather and to hang on. Then they went over the speaker and asked us to walk through the start line and seek shelter. Lightening had been spotted so they had to stop  the race and wait 30 minutes from last strike before beginning again. Talk about pandemonium, evacuating a race? 1st there weren't enough volunteers to help corral us to the parking deck safety, honestly I don't think they were really prepared for this sorta thing. It was really strange. In addition runners wear music ear buds so half of the corral wasn't listening so when we started moving to safety half just took off running! Which was a bad idea because they had stopped the chip times. Anyhoo...they moved us to a parking deck where we waited out the lightening. My Dad back in his corral decided to go shopping at Dick's. LOL...he bought himself a hat. I told him he'd want one to keep the rain outta his eyes. Finally they moved us back to the start line and I got to go! Woohooo....

Under normal circumstances, the streets are lined with over 150,000 spectators cheering the runners on. I've done the race 3 years now and only had one sunny race, which was last year. So I got to experience the crowds and their antics. They hand out everything from Popsicles, watermelon, candy, beer, shots, beads...its NUTS! People hang off their balconies yelling and screaming at the runners to keep going. Then the runners, well you see folks in costumes, full firemen gear, military uniforms, tu-tu's gallore! Running in a tu-tu is something you shall never see, but I do appreciate the enthusiasm. :) As you can see above the weather was not even near sunny. Boo. The course is a slight uphill the entire race, which to translate a 10K= 6.2 miles uphill. In fact one hill is called "heartbreak hill". It's bad. But I love the hills because at the top you get to kinda relax. I am a weirdo like that.
This year Billy and my Dad's wife Barbara drove up and parked in his office lot which is like one block from the 10th street turn in the race. It's the point where you KNOW the race is about to end AND it's all down hill. WOOHOOOO!!!! It's the turn you make and then start the sprinting to the finish. I was SO HAPPY to see them at that curve. Billy was just a smiling when he saw me. Dripping wet he loves me still. They were awesome to stand in the pouring down rain waiting for us to make that turn. It's such a warm fuzzy feeling to have your people in the crowd of 150,000 waiting on you. It really is.
And here is the coveted shirt. That's another cool thing about the race. Each year the AJC has a contest for the shirt design. The top 5 are chosen and voted on and no ones knows the winner until the day of the race and you get your coveted shirt. This one is the best so far I've gotten and the softest too! My neighbors have run the race 13 times and have theirs hanging like art in their basement. Love that. I am thinking about making a quilt out of all my running shirts. I certainly have collected a few over the years!
After the race I was STARVING. But first, had to get a drinkie-poo from a fun bar on the race route. Then off the Yeah burger...my favorite burger joint. My sweet Billy insisted. He knows how much I love that place. AND then...we stopped at a new ice cream joint on Howell Mill called "Vintage Custard". Is their logo not cute? I got plain old vanilla. It was the best vanilla I ever had! Billy had vanilla with some banana caramel sauce. Yumm too. After we got home it was finally sunny. Finally. So we went to the pool and I fell asleep. hehehehe....

So another race bib is on my hook and another 4th has come and gone. I am already excited about the next Peachtree. Wanna join me? OH and BTW....the female winner ran the thing in 33:28 minutes. I mean what the what? To give you some relative normal folk time I ran it in 1:07. A little slower than my usual time. One day I wanna get under an hour. But for running with soaking wet clothes, socks and shoes, stopping for photos and to hug my family I think 1:07 is purdy darn good for an old lady like me! The overall winner ran it in 29:30. That is just whack. I would die. Like finish and lay down and die.

Well...off to finish my ecourse up today. It launches tomorrow folks!  Woohoooo!!!


Being Inspired

I have people email me all the time asking how do you stay inspired? How do you know what to paint? Etc...etc.... Well honestly I find inspiration in lots of places. I love Pinterest, instagram, looking out the windows on trips, books, and other artists work. It's kinda like a giant viewfinder wheel in my brain. At.All.Times. It gets annoying honestly because sometimes the ideas come so furiously I can't get them out. But you know what? Really what doesn't allow them out is ME. I am my own biggest road block to my creative process.

I'm reading this awesome book called time to make by Ginger Hendrix. I am so not gonna spoil it for you. Because you have to go out and by it. (run) And highlight and sticky note and read it twice. And help her become really famous for telling us all what we all need to hear. I can summarize for you this though: she says you need to get off your butt and make stuff. Stop making excuses. Some stuff may turn out like a pile a crap or it may be the next big thing. It may be sell worthy, it may not. You may think oh my gosh I am going to sell these like crazy and they end up in your basement the next 20 years and people will be going through it at your estate sale and yelling whoop whoop I found a crafter. The point is, making is important to YOUR life. (If you are reading this anyways. I always just assume everyone likes to make stuff. Your stuff doesn't have to be paintings. It could be photos, or cupcakes, or bread, or decorating, just stuff.)

Being inspired honestly takes very little effort. The trick is allowing the inspiration in. So many of us put up walls of "I can't do that" that you've started believing you can't. And so the inspiration gets shot down before it has a chance to even surface. I say put on your glasses, pour a glass of whatever you need to get the juices flowing and start something. Then hey....let me know whatcha made okay? Because I love being a part of your story too. Being here makes you part of mine. Right?

oh and PS.....if your making includes baking cookies they are my favorite food group in the pyramid. If you need my address let me know. wink...wink...


Being Seen

You guys know I've been working on my second e-course. For some reason this one has been harder. Maybe because I think I used up all my tricks last summer. Maybe it's the constant on the go with Will for baseball. Maybe it's this freaking Georgia heat. Oh and let's not forget the surgery that I was supposed to "bounce right back from" and it's been almost 2 weeks and I still have this insane pain at the incision. Whatever the reasons....the past few days I've been wrangling all the ideas and thoughts and art for the course. And falling in love once again with blogging. Not sure why I step away from it. Blogging is the one place I allow myself to be really seen. I had art camp this week and one of the moms said she loves reading my blog because I say things she's thinking but afraid to say out loud. Talk about WHAM...Jenni get off your little pity horse and jump back into this creative world you LOVE.

I've been reading this book this summer. Highlighting and dog-earing and neon sticky noting it to death. I highly recommend it especially if you are having trouble staying motivated. I literally have boxes of paintings in my basement right now. Which could be most discouraging, in fact make me not want to paint anymore until these go. But I can't not create. It's who I am and it's how I find joy in the everyday living. I love this Ginger says in the book "You don't have to always be wishing that you could squeeze in time for the thing that makes your heart the happiest." In other words the there are things about being a creative type that have to be done to keep your SOUL alive. Without art, I am not really whole. So I vow to continue to connect and continue to allow myself to make art and share that art with you all. Because I wanna live a long long time and have the fairy tale. Don't you?


Not On the To-Do List

So yesterday's activity was not originally on my summer to-do list. Yeah....no it wasn't. If you've been following me for awhile then ya know I have struggled with some health issues over the past 3 years. I've had more blood drawn than I think is in my body to begin with, more crazy tests, peed in a tiny cup 100 million times, more blood pricks, seen more doctors, paid more co-pays, had more seeing of my body than I care to discuss until last week. When upon my sweet hubby's insistence went to see ANOTHER doctor. Another GYN. And she looked into my crying eyes and with the most calming voice said, "I want to go in and see what is going on. I personally think you have endometriosis." WHAT? What is that? I had kids...I thought that meant you can't have kids.

Of course Billy was out of town so we talked shortly on the phone about this possibility. I mean seriously....3 years and not one freaking doctor mentioned this? This is where I kinda lost it folks. I won't go into all my symptoms but let's just say that the newest symptom since March was pelvic pain at the level 10 scale with the giant frowny face 24hrs a day/7days a week. The specialist doctor I was in touch with kept saying, "just give this birth control another month sweetie and you'll feel all better."  Bullshit. I was getting worse by the day. To the point of it affecting everything in my life. All I could do was sleep. Because that's what your body does when its in THAT much pain. It shuts down. I was prescribed prescription pain meds...none worked. Like none. (Oxycodone is most recent one..and that didn't touch the pain) So of course I started gaining weight. I was exercising, because that felt good, but evidently not as much as needed to keep my weight down. So that got me down. 10 pounds up in a few months is a red flag for me. And for my new doctor. BTW this is me when I was healthy and happy and running my first 13.1.....I am pretty sure a few months after this is when I started getting sick. This was in 2011.

So I found out last week I was having this surgery...needless to say I was a nervous wreck. I mean so many what if's right? What if the pain is a giant tumor that was gonna kill me in a month? My head goes to those places...it does people. Yesterday my hubby and Daddy took me to the Outpatient Center and waited with me. I am not gonna lie. I was so scared. But as I was sitting in my recliner with warm blankets waiting for my surgery I hear Dr Kale coming in and all the nurses doing "hooray's" and "Oh my gosh Dr Kale we love seeing you in here." on and on.....so obviously this doctor is loved. Because the place was all but pulling out the pom-poms for her arrival! I calmed down a smidge at this point. I was in good hands. All the nurses were super kind and gentle too. Of course being wheeled into the OR I about lost it. And they could tell. I tell ya doctors and nurses are little slices of angels. They calmed me and got me prepped with ease. And just like that I was in recovery. I had what's called a diagnostic laparoscopic surgery. Turns out the only way to diagnose endometriosis is to go into your body like this. Kinda invasive right? Alien like. I remember Dr. Kale's sweet voice while headed to recovery say, "Sweetie I found it....it's endometriosis. We are going to get you better." And then my went lights out for another hour.  When they brought Billy and my Dad back I could tell from Billy's face how relieved and happy he was. He too went to dark places....

So today I am resting...well trying to. I wanted to start video taping my new e-course. My abdomen is so sore. She only peeked around, didn't take anything or mess with anything.  But it still hurts. In a nutshell, endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally grow inside your uterus grows on the outside. And since it has no way to escape, builds and attaches to places which causes the pain. In my case it has obviously attached to places that have given me GI issues. So 3 years ago when I had the extreme GI issues, this was the root. And now the extreme pelvic pain. And the chronic fatigue. And the candida. And the bladder issues. It's ALL FREAKING related. To this. To this.....I just can hardly breath I get so mad. Mad that I didn't push the doctors for better answers. I guess since I had kids it wasn't a thought in the doctors minds...they just kept pushing more birth control changes for the pelvic pain. And honestly the changes would work about a year then I'd have to go in again. But this last time....oh man since March has been a whirlwind.

So I am on the road to recovery. It's not going to be easy. There is no cure for this. There are treatments, one of which I refuse, one we are going to try because I refuse the radical treatment. My doctor is kinda with me on the radical treatment so that's good. We meet this week to start treatment. I am really looking forward to healing and getting back to myself again!! And I tell you folks...I wish I'd been more pro-active in my testing and questioned why the doctors did what they did. I will be much more aware with my daughter if she starts having issues. No one should go through what I have. No one. Dr. Kale is my hero right now. Safe to say my husband and children's too. They are ready to have their Momma back.

Well...I am off to eat and then sleep. Like I said, pain meds don't really work on me. Weirdo right? Maybe I should locate the liquor?
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