Givin’ Thanks

Here’s the crew after Thanksgiving dinner. Top left is Jonathan and heading clockwise, Emily, Dave, me, Trysta, Steve, and Christina. Right in the middle is mom and dad, Brian and Regina.
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here are a few things I’m especially thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. The support I’ve had for my artwork from all directions. This year marked my first attempt to sell artwork, my first art show (besides high school), and my first sale. I couldn’t be more proud of myself for venturing out finally to try these things. I so appreciate the encouragement and love I’ve received from you all for these ventures.

2. New friends. I joke about divorcing my friends this time of year, because I have way too many Christmas gifts to make now that my list of close friends and family is growing. But in all honesty, even if I go broke from it all it was worth it. In the past few months I’ve made some friends that I know I’ll always have. I’ve never in my life had such an awesome group of friends, and I am beyond thankful for their special place in my life.

3. Old friends. You too! I’m glad you are still putting up with me.

4. A job. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I tend to grumble about my job. I AM thankful that I’ve got a job, that my coworkers are loving, generous people, that I can rely on a paycheck twice a month, and that what we do here is a good, good thing.

5. Family. It seems obvious, I suppose, but I am seriously thankful for my family. I’ve been given a great husband. You know that. I’ve also got some amazing friends built right in – my big brothers, Jason and the Steves (which sounds like a good band name to me.) Big sisters, Chris, Jen, and Trysta who are all so cool and talented. Little sisters, Emily and Christina around whom my whole world turns. And the newest addition of a.. sort of, I guess… little brother? Jonathan, I don’t know if you’re comfortable with that yet or not, but it doesn’t even matter because you’re in the family picture this year and we love you for all kind of reasons, but especially because you make The Bean happy. And of course, Dave and I have been blessed beyond measure with two of the best sets of parents ever. Really. Ever. They’re stellar.

Atlanta or bust!

This weekend was awesome. This is us in the car – we are so cool with our sunglasses on, right?
This is where we ate breakfast. Fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been in… and the breakfast was free because we told them we were there for Dave’s birthday. Awesome blueberry and oat muffin.

This was the view from our room.

And this is our room. Amazing. Hands down the nicest place either of us had ever stayed. We felt like we were tricking the hotel staff into thinking we were wealthy. Thank you to Priceline.com for the 50% off hotel stay, thank you to restaurant.com for awesome coupons, thank you to Mom and Dad for the fun at Medieval Times, and thank you Dave for not freaking out about money the whole weekend. 🙂
Tonight we’re going to have dinner out with our wonderful Nashville friends, because Dave works tomorrow evening (his actual birthday). It kind of feels strange to be married to a 25 year old. It makes me feel like a grown-up or something.

A Whole Year

Just popping in quickly to tell myself Happy Anniversary. My blog is ONE year old today. I can hardly believe it! I’m actually quite surprised that I’ve kept it going this long. Here’s to many years to come.

This weekend, Dave and I are taking a mini trip down to Atlanta. His birthday is next week, and we’re going to celebrate by taking a much needed vacation.

I’ll be back in a few days! Have a great weekend, friends.

Watercolors

So, in high school I really found my love for art. I always enjoyed doing arts and crafts, doodling and such – but I never really felt like an artist until high school. I didn’t even take my first real art class until my junior year. At that time, I started learning the basics. Different types of paints, how to sketch an accurate point of view, shading techniques, etc. and I was in love. I started thinking of ways I could incorporate art into every class. Which made the coolest Algebra notes of all time, but not the coolest Algebra grades… ahem.

One thing I dabbled with a tiny bit in high school but never really fully understood was watercolor. If you’ve ever painted with watercolors you know that the setup takes much, much longer than say, that of acrylic painting. Acrylic – canvas, jar of water, tube of paint, you’re ready to go. Watercolor – watercolor paper, jar of water, tube of paint, masking fluid, board for mounting paper, tape for mounting paper, paper towels, paint a little bit, wait for it to dry, paint a little more, wait for it to dry, etc. I am not that person. I don’t sit and wait on projects. I sit down in front of the TV, or next to the iPod dock, and I do it. Start to finish. Or start to never ever going to finish sometimes (usually when I’m not happy with the start.) But, I don’t often work in stages. So, when the mandatory watercolor projects were finished, I stopped.

Then came several years of hating doing art (because it was ALL mandatory) followed by the period that I’m in now where I’m falling hard in love with it again. So, I decided to try my hand at watercolor again. I bought some masking fluid and went to town. I ended up with this little (and QUICK!) project, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I have a feeling someone will be getting some of these for Christmas.

Once Upon a Time, There Was a Woman Named Grumpelstiltskin

One of the best jobs I ever had was working retail. Sounds crazy, I know. But I loved it. I worked with some really really wonderful people, had flexible hours, and got to be surrounded with beautiful products all day. Of course I had days that I didn’t want to be there, or times when my feet hurt from standing at the register all day, but I was happy working there. It wasn’t a glamorous position, I didn’t make much money, and there were no benefits. And I really loved it.

One of the worst jobs I ever had was also working retail. It was a dark, dingy art supplies store. I worked every shift alone, wasn’t allowed to have visitors, and was pretty afraid of the owner, actually. It smelled like Swisher Sweets and mold. Not exaggerating, my busiest day there, I had three customers. I think it was three weeks of working before I quit. That was the only job I quit because I didn’t want to work there. Of all the jobs I’ve had, the only reasons for me to leave were because I was moving to a different town or because I was going back to school. I am loyal to a fault, have been worked hard for little reward, very often get frustrated with my office job, and am realizing lately that this is normal.

It’s kind of sad, right? That most people don’t enjoy their work. I get two days a week to work on the things I enjoy. Two days that are supposed to be a weekend – for me to paint, be creative, to surround myself with people I choose to be surrounded by… and the rest of the week, I do what I’m told, I follow procedure, and I get increasingly grumpy. I feel very much like I was tricked into believing, at one point in my life, that people can do whatever they want to do in life. Maybe this grumpiness is a normal feeling for someone who has just been out of school for a few years. Someone who majored in Creative Writing and Art and Design especially, perhaps.

All that to say… is this normal? Do you find yourself becoming increasingly bitter towards your “real job”? Or is it just me?

Sufficient

I’ve talked about Depression here before, and how it affects me and the people around me. Today, I’m feeling good – so don’t worry, mom and dad, but I do want to talk a little more about a specific time when “the funk” as I sometimes call it, got ahold of me. I told this story to a friend yesterday, and was reminded of how powerful it was… or is, I suppose.

The year we moved here to Nashville was hard. Really, really hard. I was alone almost all of the time. Dave was working 80-90 hour weeks with many nights spent out at the studio. I had no friends or family in Nashville, the closest ones were 8.5 hours away. So I spent a lot of time by myself in our 530 sq ft. apartment. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and a lot of time spiraling into the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced. One evening, I was dropping Dave off at work for another 2 or 3 day period away from him and trying my hardest to not show him the sadness I was feeling. Basically as soon as he got out of the car, I broke down. I don’t remember a time in my life where I was crying harder than I was on that drive home. I pulled over a couple of times because I couldn’t see the road through my tears, and when I finally made it back to the apartment and pulled into the parking lot – I had had enough. I was sad and angry and alone, and I couldn’t deal with it any longer. I remembered the verse in 2nd Corinthians that says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” And that made me more angry. I cried harder to myself and to God, and I said, “YOU SAID your grace was sufficient. YOU SAID you wouldn’t give me more than I can bear. Well this is it. This is not enough, and I’m not able to bear this. I can.not. live like this. WHERE ARE YOU?”

I walked inside to the apartment still sobbing, still feeling sorry for myself, still unable to handle the sadness. When I woke up the next morning – it was gone. The anguish, the tears, the hurt… all gone. It’s as if God was standing next to me the entire time I was falling into the depression, holding His hands above me with all the grace and love in the world, and that He was just waiting for me to ask Him for it. He wanted so much to let me feel that, but I was too focused on my own despair to come to Him and ask Him to wrap me up in His arms. As soon as I did, He opened His arms wide open and I finally felt it.

His grace is sufficient. And His power is resting on me.