Ahhh…Artist’s Day

About a year ago, I was a part of a Mastermind Group led by Jane Pollak.

In one of the sessions, we discussed artist’s days…bliss…  An artist’s day is a day where you immerse yourself in art, preferably the kind that is not your own, to make room for new thoughts, ideas, inspiration.

As a working mom, it is so rare for me to make the time for an artist’s day.  But after a very tough week, swamped with work, mourning the death of my friend, overwhelmed with the devastation and destruction in Haiti.  And last but not least, stood up for morning tea by another dear friend who had a really, really good reason…but…  All in all, I was feeling pretty down and I am not generally a down person.  I knew that I desperately needed some ME time.

And did I ever take it!  My daughter was all lined up with a play date after school.   She was ecstatic and wouldn’t have a moment to miss Mom.  That freed me up to run away for most of the day to New Haven, which is just a short jaunt up I-95.  I don’t remember the last time I felt so free!  It was wonderful.

My first stop was the Yale University Art Gallery.  At the recommendation of the person at the front desk, I began on the Third Floor for American and European art.  While there were some amazing pieces, it just wasn’t getting me to that peaceful place I longed to be.

Then I went down to the Asian art section on the second floor.  I love the Asian arts – the sensual lines of the pottery, the soft dreamy colors, the incorporation of poetry with painting.  It’s all just heaven on earth for me.  I felt as though I was transported a million miles away in both space and time.  Below are photos of two of my favorite pieces.

Next stop was the Yale School of Architecture, where there is a fascinating exhibit about the architecture of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.  I think this is a blog post in itself!

Then I met my dear friend and fabulous jewelry design, Diane Schroeder of Seed Design for lunch at Clair’s Corner Copia.  We had a delicious lunch and a great conversation that soared from family to business and back again, in that wonderful way that friends can pick up the threads of our lives as though we had never left off.  We dropped by Wave where you can choose and own one of her gorgeous designs.

After we parted ways, I headed to one of my all time favorite stores Ten Thousand Villages, where I purchased a set of blue prayer flags for one of my clients and some jewelry for me.

From Ten Thousand Villages

I loved this necklace with the mesh wire balls and earrings to match!

I rushed back to Fairfield to pick up my daughter and discovered that I had just enough time to squeeze in that long overdue haircut – the perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.

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Visions of Vietnam

Another plug for social media.  Through Twitter, I found out that Maybelline Te, my awesome Twitter friend, is going to be at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).   Ok, so not only does that mean that we can meet in person and break some bread over a lovely dinner (pour some wine), but that I will get to see her fabulous furniture line Snug.

So since I was finally updating my blog and adding a blogroll, I checked out Snug on The Decorating Diva.  Snug’s website is still in progress.  Love this furniture and can’t wait to see it up close and personal at ICFF.  Of course, the best part will be meeting Maybelline, but that’s a given.

Well, this all took me back 10 years to my trip to Southeast Asia.  My mind was off and running, thinking about all of the design inspiration from that part of the world.  Of course, there is no way to cover all of my trip  in one blog, so I thought I would do a series and show photos from one country at a time.

Sorry Maybelline, I have not yet been to Cebu.  Today, images from Vietnam…  Enjoy!

A building in Nha Trang, which is well south of Da Nang along the coast.  I love all of the details – the vibrant robes and the decoration of the facade of the building.

Man and beasts vs. rice paddy.  Thinking my job is a walk in the park comparatively!  Every time I look at this photo I think of this poem by Mary Oliver.

Rice
By Mary Oliver

It grew in the black mud.
It grew under the tiger’s orange paws.
Its stems thicker than candles, and as straight.
Its leaves like the feathers of egrets,
but green.

The grains cresting, wanting to burst.
Oh, blood of the tiger.

I don’t want you to just sit at the table.
I don’t want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk into the fields
Where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand there,
far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with mud,
like a blessing.

This was a fun lunch listening to some local musicians.  I am fascinated by textiles from the East, Southeast etc. and love the patterns on her dress and his vest.

You can buy all sorts of things from vendors on the beach – crabs, fruit, textiles, you name it…

This has to be one of my all time favorite shots – I wanted to capture the enormity of the ocean and the mountains behind compared to the man meditating with his bike.  We are all so small on this earth – like each grain of sand.  Talk about a mindfulness moment…

Here I am on the same beautiful beach just moments before gathering some of the sand to take back to my dear friend and Vietnam vet.  At first he didn’t know quite what to make of it, but it was my memorial to all of his buddies that he lost north of here in Da Nang.

I took this from our ship off the coast of Vietnam not far from Ho Chi Minh.  I love the bright blue color on the boats.  Unfortunately, a tropical storm, Chip, prevented us from boarding very small transport boats from our very large ship.  One look at the passport control’s boat tossing on the waves underneath as they bravely boarded and I was quite happy to stay right where I was!  Next time…

More to come from Seoul to Singapore…

Priorities

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow–even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

–Please Call me by my True Names, Thich Nhat Hanh

What a week!  First the devastating earthquake in Haiti and then the saddest news much closer to home.

A few months ago, a woman who I knew as a business friend, I’ll call her Mary Jones, decided to take some time off from an organization in which we were working together.   She didn’t give a reason why.  There were of course times when that was so frustrating.

I was often asked aren’t you angry? Don’t you want to know? After all, I was Mary’s Co-Chair, didn’t I deserve an answer?  But the fact is she was one of the most responsible, lovely people I have ever known and if privacy is what Mary wanted, well wasn’t that her right?  Shouldn’t I respect it?

But this is the part I can’t get out of my head.  On Friday morning, I found out that she died while resting on the couch holding her husband’s hand.  And he didn’t even know she was gone.  What an amazing image of complete dedication and love.  Can you imagine how peaceful Mary must have been?

Isn’t that what you want at the end of your life?  Not that any of us really wants to think about the end of our own lives.  Wrapping my head around anyone else’s is tough enough.  And especially when there is no warning, no time to say goodbye or to prepare our hearts for that empty space that suddenly opens up.

I didn’t sleep well at all that night and in the morning, my husband generously took our daughter downstairs so that I could get some more rest.  When I stumbled downstairs  still in my pajamas, there were the two great loves of my life all tangled together on the couch still in their pajamas too, watching, of all things, “It Might Get Loud”.  And I did something I don’t usually do, I just stopped.

There were two spots on the couch, one large and one small.  I squeezed into the small one and wrapped myself around the two of them and just held on.  The dishes could sit in the sink, breakfast could be made later, even that first cup of coffee could wait…  We had a bigger priority.

So thank you, Mary Jones, for helping me remind me of my priorities.  In life, no matter the situation you always had a smile and a kind word.   Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once gave this piece of advice: to simply ask yourself  “If everybody would live as I have today, would the world be a better place?”  With Mary in it, the world was indeed a better place.

Mary, the world shines a little less brightly without your light in it.  Now, it’s up to the rest of us to increase our wattage!  Pass it on…

Three Reasons to Love Social Media

I have to confess that I am a Social Media convert.  A year ago, I would have harumphed at the thought of connecting on LinkedIn, would not have imagined enjoying writing a blog, and found the name Twitter laughable and unprofessional.  OK, I still think the name Twitter is a bit much, but I love Twitter.

The great fun in blogging and other forms of social media is having the opportunity to meet new people all over the world.  Laura Mahon of the Bee and Thistle has been in touch with me today via Facebook regarding my blog yesterday.  This is the way Social Media is supposed to work.  It’s a conversation.  I can’t even count the number of people/companies that I have blogged about who have not said anything to me at all – no phone call, e-mail, nothing.  If you are on Social Media, the first thing you need to do is set up a Google Alert of your name and your company name. It’s free.  How else are you going to know what people are saying about you?

Second, a great big thank you to the Bee and Thistle for not only commenting on my blog, but linking my post to their Facebook account.  If you are interested in more information about this amazing, romantic, fun Inn, you can become a fan on Facebook at Bee and Thistle Inn and Spa or follow them on Twitter @BeeandThistle.  Also, they have a wonderful blog called The Bee Blog.  So many ways to connect – see?

Finally, the universe is a big but amazing place and we are all interconnected.  What you put out there you get back.  I see it all the time first hand and especially in Social Media.  Try it.  It works for me.

Innspiration

Today, I was speaking with a dear friend who is nearing his 25th wedding anniversary to his equally amazing wife.  He spoke of an inn in such glowing terms that I turned to him and said “Are you talking about the Bee and Thistle?”  His shocked answer was yes.

The Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, CT is so romantic, the grounds and rooms so lovely, the food delicious and the staff fantastic.  I have not been able to get the inn out of my mind all day, mostly because I remember all of the snow on the ground, much like it is now here in Fairfield County.

Bee and Thistle Inn

My husband and I are Inn people.  Several years ago, BC (before child), he and I snuck up to Old Lyme for a romantic getaway on my birthday.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter or elsewhere, you will know that my birthday is December 22nd, mere days before Christmas.  The Inn was decked out for Christmas and the ground was covered with snow.  Because we were staying right at the inn, we were able to enjoy our dinner and a bottle of wine at the Chestnut Grill before walking up the stairs to our room.  Bliss…

Guest Room at the Bee and Thistle

I love how the linens are layered on the beds and I have always been a big fan of crewelwork.

Chestnut Grill at the Bee and Thistle

Ok, if the decor doesn’t get you, don’t even tell me you would pass on that cake!  I know my friend would not…

Living Room at the Bee and Thistle

Imagine cozying up to the fire on a cold night (its 8 degrees here tonight so I’m not having trouble imagining) with a glass of port or a cup of coffee.

Old Lyme is an artist’s town, so we had more than enough to do the following morning.  A trip would not be complete without a visit to the Florence Griswold Museum for Impressionistic art or to the Lyme Art Association.  Here’s hoping that not only my friends get a chance to go back, but that I can spirit off my husband for another romantic weekend getaway.  Perhaps, this time in a warmer season.

(photos courtesy of the Bee and Thistle website)

Christmas at our House

I have been working diligently on a blog about New Year’s resolutions and I just have to say…boring…  Really, until I can make that post more lively, let’s just change the subject.  Meanwhile, I HAVE gone to the gym twice so I’m workin’ on it…let’s not discuss how getting a parking spot takes longer than the workout.

By now, many of you have already put away your holiday decorations, but here’s my theory.  It took me so darn long to put them up that I keep them up until the weekend after Jan. 6th.  So since we are nearing the last of the 12 days of Christmas, I am taking one last photographic hurrah through Christmas at our house.

Asking Santa...

Every year, the Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield hosts Santa’s house at the Burr Mansion – kid bliss…

The Nutcracker

Does it get any better than The Nutcracker? Our daughter let us know that she is going to be Clara when she grows up.

O Tannenbaum

Here’s a memory… Christmas morning, waking up to loud shouts of glee “Mommy… Daddy… He came!  He came! Santa came…”  while jumping up and down.  Did you think for a minute that he wouldn’t?  I  can not bear to take down my tree yet – see why?  It just fills me with joy every time I walk by – each ornament has a meaning and a memory.   And the tree skirt underneath, possibly the best Christmas present ever, was handmade (really every little shiny bead sewn by hand on the tree and in that field of snow) by one of my best friends from Smith College.  Thanks Mags!  I still love it as much as the day I opened it.

Dining Table with Centerpiece

Before Dinner, I set the table with the flowers in the center and then I always move them to the side so that everyone can see one another while we dine.  The back serving table has a stunning Waterford crystal bowl filled with red and silver ornaments – a newer way to use an old-fashioned punch bowl.

Serving Table

I love the little Chippendale chair Granny gave to our daughter.  She sits with the grown-ups for dinner and uses the Bernardaud china too (don’t keep it in the cabinet ladies – bring it out and use it!), but it’s a perfect little spot for this Christmas bear to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.

Candle Centerpiece

Just before we served dinner, I switched the centerpiece to a low arrangement of candles.  I love the sparkle of crystal and candlelight and Christmas!

My other 12 days of Christmas theory happens to be that our holiday cards can go out as late as the 3rd to arrive by the 6th.  But we took so much grief that we just made them New Year’s cards instead.  So take that…you folks who lose the the Christmas spirit the day after!  And look for your New Year’s card in your mailbox any day now.

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