Smash Glass Love

Normally I steer clear of art classes. I get frustrated when my work doesn’t look the way I think it should look, or when I struggle to achieve the precision needed to draw, paint, or cut something exactly the way it should be. There are two media with which I am comfortable: words and paper. I enjoy creating with words, and I love to cut and paste beautiful papers into cards, scrapbook pages, etc.

When I venture into the worlds of paint or glass, I can feel myself getting  a little anxious.  One of those “Painting with a Twist” classes was fun, except I struggled to keep pace with the instructor. “Okay, now take a bit of yellow on your brush and swirl it around…” WAIT! I’m not finished with the blue! I finished the painting, but I was exhausted when the class was done.

I took a mosaic class a couple of years ago and trying to cut the glass into the right size bits and then glue them down on the glass block was stressful. It just didn’t look the way I thought it should look. I still haven’t finished that project.

Friday night I think I found my jam when it comes to artsy creation, though. I signed up for a “Smash Glass” class at The Center in Lake Jackson. Taught by Linda Strickland (a lovely lady, I must say!), the class was so much fun!

Each of us selected a canvas on which to arrange our designs. If we wanted to, we could embellish our canvases with paints and use a hairdryer to dry them before getting down to the business of glass arrangement.

Linda set up a table before we arrived. In a neat row, plastic tubs held generous selections of broken glass, sorted by color. Purples, cobalts, aqua, red, gold, green, clear, silver mercury glass — smooth glass, textured glass, frosted glass. Shards of different shapes and sizes, sparkling under the lights of the art studio. I had fond flashbacks to my visit to the Corning Museum of Glass last summer and all the beautiful glass I’d seen. We were each provided with a plastic tub to put our selections in. Plastic gloves helped protect our fingers from any little slivers that might prick us.

After gathering a good assortment of glass pieces in my favorite colors, I went back to my spot and decided to paint my canvas first. Using a foam brush and four metallic craft paints, I swirled them around the canvas in circles until the entire canvas was covered with pearlized shades of blue. After drying the paint with a hairdryer, I began laying the pieces of glass on my canvas in an abstract design. I knew I would get frustrated if I tried to create a picture of some kind, so the abstract route seemed to be the safest way to go.

Linda provided advice on design (my original layout was a little too ’round’), and I ended up with a piece of art that made me smile. When each of us finished, we carried our work over to a table where it would wait until later in the evening when Linda would pour resin over the entire work, adhering the glass to the canvas and giving the canvas a glass-like appearance as well.

I picked up my creation the next day and I can’t wait to add picture wire to the back so I can hang it on the wall! One of my classmates said it made her think of pirate’s treasure underwater and I love that description. I’m looking forward to another class where I can finally enjoy a form of art that feels very free and relaxing.fullsizeoutput_89cd

Funk

FUNK. Not that other word. 😮

funk

noun

he was in a funk because his wife ran out on him: A (STATE OF) DEPRESSION, a bad mood, a low, the dumps, the doldrums, a blue funk.

I really do strive for honesty here. If I ever write fiction, you’ll know it. There’s no fiction to the fact that I’ve really been struggling with the doldrums lately, a real blue funk if you will. The reasons for this low can be counted on several fingers:

  1. I miss my mom. I miss her and I regret a lot of things about the last few years she was here. I regret not being as patient as I should have been. I regret wasting time thinking more of myself than her. I regret getting angry when she would offer advice without my asking. I catch myself doing the same thing with my daughter, and I see the same frustration on her face that I felt when I was in her shoes. The fact is, we moms are at loose ends when our kids grow up. It’s difficult to shut off the “mom switch” when our kids grow up, and it’s hard to accept that we aren’t needed as much as we were when they were younger.
  2. I miss the younger me. I miss the legal secretary that juggled the work and phone calls of three sharp lawyers and a very sharp legal assistant, prepared PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) filing packets, managed to squeeze in lunch, and still made all the deadlines on her docket calendar. I struggle to get the laundry done, the pantry stocked, dinner cooked, and my small business running. I struggle to find time for the things that don’t seem important, but are important to ME. Things like organizing my family photos (both mine and those from my mom). Things like spending more time writing, both for the magazine and the novel I started a ridiculous number of years ago. This funk, though. It just sucks the energy out of me and it’s hard to work on those things when so many things are screaming for my attention. (See Reason #1 above — I never understood why my mom struggled with getting things done. Now I do.)
  3. I struggle with worrying about the future. I am not a numbers person by any stretch of the imagination, but in more recent years my mind plays a little math “game” that I really don’t want to play. When I hear of someone passing away (dying, if we’re blunt), I immediately calculate how much older they were than I am now. Someone’s Aunt Mabel passed away at 74? She was only 21 years older than me. That’s not that many years, especially when I think of how quickly the last 21 years have flown by. Do I have 21 years left? Is that enough time to do what I want/need to do? I am a Christian and I have put my faith in Jesus. I know others who say the same and say they can’t wait to go on to be with the Lord. I get it. I really do. But I still struggle with wanting to see my daughter marry and have children, with wanting to go on many more road trips with my husband. And then guilt sets in because it sounds as though I am putting my family here ahead of the Lord. Is it any wonder that I’m struggling with a funk, the doldrums, a depression?

A couple of weeks ago I got off to a roaring start, blogging almost every day for a week. And then we lost our golden retriever. And then I had a lot going on and then the funk I’d been running from caught up with me and I’ve had a hard time thinking of something interesting or entertaining to write. I knew if I didn’t write something, the days were going to stretch into weeks and then this blog would be neglected for months again.

I am working on getting ahead of the funk. Of choosing joy. Because the Lord’s joy is my strength. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and keep putting my trust in Him.

Four Down, Who Knows How Many To Go!

Odd title, I’m sure, but I managed to sell four items that were cluttering up my house — a deep cast iron pot and four crystal items (candlesticks, a vase and a bowl). It felt incredibly good to hand those items over to their new owners, get a little cash in hand and know that I’ll never have to dust or wash those things again. In the next few days I’ll be uploading more items that serve no purpose and provide no joy here at Casa Jinkins. Hopefully they will quickly find new homes with people for whom they serve a purpose or provide some sort of enjoyment.

This evening I am organizing photo negatives that are thrown in a box willy nilly. After that task is completed (and I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel), I’ll finish organizing the photos that I brought home from my mother’s. I’ve decided to use simply pocket page albums to organize the old photos because it will be faster and it will also be easier to slip them out and back in if I need to scan a photo for someone. I’ll save the “creative” scrapbooking for my own photos — and I’m even contemplating simplifying that. Back in the day I would do these elaborate pages (and they were simple compared to what you see online now), but they take a long time. So I hope to do pages that are more focused on the photos and the journaling, because that’s what really matters.

For now though, I’m off to fix a quick dinner for my guy and myself. I just had to hop on here and touch base — posts three days in a row is a pretty big deal for me!

Be joyful, y’all!

Laura

My Agenda

The last few days I’ve been engaged in a debate on another blog. I’m not  going to go into the details of the debate, but suffice it to say I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated, and agitated over this social justice warrior’s inability to see the other side of things. When I asked a question that chipped a rather large chunk from her foundational argument, she responded with “This conversation is going in circles, so I’m going to step out. Thanks for the discussion.”

Which basically said to me, “I have no answer for your question, so I quit.”

And that’s fine. But it still frustrated me that so many of this particular generation base their beliefs and actions on feelings, feelings which can change with the wind, because Truth is not absolute in this day and age. There is your truth, and there is her truth, and his truth, and supposedly my truth. I don’t understand how there can be multiple truths for any given situation.

Anyway, while I was feeling frustrated and agitated and irritable about all this, my husband pointed out that he’d been much less stressed the last few days because he’d been consciously avoiding any discussions that hinged on politics or social agendas. Which reminded me of something rather important.

See the title of my blog up there? ↑↑↑

Not “A Scribbler & A Shutterbug”

Underneath that.

Yeah.

“Persistently Choosing Joy”

That one.

I think I’ve slacked up a bit in that area. And I need to refocus. On my agenda.

To persistently choose joy.

Because if I’m persistently choosing joy, my focus is on the future.

Not the past. Adios, depressing blog posts.

And not even the present. Au revoir, social justice warrior debates.

My focus is on the future and what I can do, how I can serve, to live a joyful life for the benefit of myself and those around me. Positive actions (not feelings) actually produce positive feelings. Now isn’t that interesting?

Hallo, peace, joy and love!

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Spending time with this guy definitely increases my joy meter.
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These two should be reason enough for anyone to smile! ❤

Encouraged & Reassured; Joy is a Choice

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My beautiful, strong, independent daughter.

 

After seeing so many posts online regarding the “Day Without a Woman” protest, I honestly thought the world had gone stark raving bonkers. Seriously, who would have thought we’d see women walking around a few weeks ago in pornographic craft projects gone bad in protest?

Then my daughter, Jami, posted a link to this article on her FB page, and I was encouraged and reassured that there are still intelligent, responsible women walking this planet.

via ‘A Day Without a Woman’ Protest Is Challenged by Women Who Say #WeShowUp to Work

The article and the numerous responses of levelheaded women it documents give me great comfort in knowing there ARE strong women out there who don’t whine and complain about perceived injustices. They know they are strong and capable of taking charge of their own destinies, choosing their own paths. It makes me incredibly proud to know that my daughter recognizes what a truly strong woman does and is making her own path in this world without expecting accommodations, but by doing the work needed to achieve her dreams.


To continue the protests, this came out: Some Women Are Striking From Smiling Today. Apparently, smiling is a form of “emotional labor” — and women are tired of being forced to appear pleasant and/or happy. According to the article, “emotional labor” is a term that was coined in 1983 (a year after I graduated from high school) and it refers to putting others first in order to keep things going smoothly and make others happy. Supposedly, women walking down the street are being commanded by passersby to smile, and cautioned that an unfulfilled request can escalate into something undesirable. I’m trying to remember the last time I was out walking about that someone demanded that I smile. Oh, that’s right! NEVER.

Here’s a question for you, whomever you may be, whatever you may be (male or female): Why are these people so determined to be miserable? Whatever happened to taking one’s circumstances and making the best of them? There’s a good chance that, in the process, those circumstances will improve thanks to the effort. I’ve found that when I think of others in a kindly and caring manner, it is often returned to me. Treat my husband like crap? Refuse to think about his needs? I’m pretty certain I’ll reap the harvest of what I’ve sown. But care about him, do what I can to make his day a better day? I find he returns the love.

We just celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and my husband surprised me with a wedding vow renewal at the beach in Surfside, Texas. He spent a year planning an event that was perfectly us. He had the beach as his background (as a Galveston BOI, it’s his favorite place) and with our sisters’ help, he made sure I had the “pretties” I enjoy so much. Our road to that day (and to the future ahead) has not always been smooth. There have been times that we both thought “what the hell have we done?” Thankfully, we’ve never thought it at the same time, and we’re both too stubborn to quit on each other. So here we are. And here is the blog post he wrote that proves to me success is to be found in focusing on and loving others, not whining and complaining about how life isn’t fair. He said,

When I look at Laura, this is what I see. After 25 years, I do not see a beautiful, young, sexy thing. I see a part of me that has consistently withstood the trials of life and yet remained true and has stayed the course. To me, that is more beautiful and sexy than anything else in this world, and the stories we can tell!

I cannot think of any more beautiful words than those. Of course, a third wave feminist will take umbrage at the phrase “a part of me” — the outcry will be “I am my OWN person, not a part of any man” — and for those who can’t see the forest for the trees, I feel sorry for you. You get so caught up in the minutia that you can’t see this is a man who will give his life for me, who loves me as much or more than himself — who remembers every thing he’s ever heard me express an interest in and does what he can to make sure I have the enjoyment of that thing, the fulfillment of my goals and dreams. On the flip side of that, he is a part of me — I am committed to him with equal fervor.

If I’d only focused on the negatives, and refused to see the positives, odds are great we wouldn’t have lasted and I would have missed out on a ceremony that truly means more to me than the one we experienced in 1992. The first wedding was nice, there’s no doubt. It was in a church, I had the beautiful dress, we were surrounded by friends and family, and there was a big cake and punch. But the truth? Our renewal says this:

I kept my promise, and I choose to keep it again.

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My sentimental husband created our own “unity” ceremony using sand he’d taken from the Galveston beach when he went off to college in 1985 and dirt he got from a crawfish hole in the back yard of my childhood home in Alvin. The Galveston sand and the Alvin dirt, mixed together, is now contained in a glass jar labeled “Galvinston”. ❤

So on the days that aren’t perfect, the days I roll my eyes and think, “What have I gotten myself into?” — I choose to remember he may be thinking the same thing. And then I remind myself of the good times and the promise of more. I choose joy, no matter the circumstances. Choosing misery and complaint only produces more of the same, and is rooted in selfishness. My prayer for all these confused women is that they try joy for a change. Focus on others and see if things turn around. You might be surprised.

Minimalism

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you have most surely seen a video, story, blog, or photo of a tiny house. I still remember the first time I saw a tiny house online (and then later a real one off I-10, near Seguin, Texas). I was enthralled with the dollhouse like details and how much one could fit into a tiny house that was well-designed. I could definitely see a tiny house parked out back of our place to be used as a guest house, writing and/or craft studio.

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A Texas Tiny House near Seguin, Texas – one of the company’s prototypes, this little house is made with all recycled materials.
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Another tiny house — what you see is the entire living room. The ladder leads to the sleeping loft above the kitchen.
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The sleeping loft. I took this photo standing on the ladder a few inches from the foot of the bed. Not sure where one keeps his or her clothing.

I cannot, however, see living in one full time. While I do not deny I have plenty of stuff to get rid of, the things that I use, that my guy uses — it just wouldn’t fit in one of those houses.

Earlier today Jami and I managed to throw out a healthy stack of papers, though. We managed to throw out enough stuff that we were able to consolidate what had once taken up two filing cabinet drawers and three plastic file boxes into just one file cabinet drawer, and it’s not nearly full. Mostly we threw out school papers from her brief three year stint in public school. We pulled a few “samples” of her work for posterity’s sake, and in the trash the rest went. It was really satisfying to take the few items we decided to keep and put them back in the formerly crammed full filing cabinet drawer, with plenty of room to spare. Soon I will begin scrapbooking again, and those items will make their way into a book where they can be viewed and enjoyed on a regular basis.

I guess I’m just too sentimental to be a complete minimalist, although I am working on only keeping the things that give me joy, or that mean something to my family. I realized that much of what I was keeping was out of guilt: “I can’t get rid of that, my mother gave it to me.” Or, “My girl may want that someday. I need to keep it safe for her just in case she does.” After realizing this, I’m being more selective about what I keep for myself, and I’m asking my girl to make the decisions that relate to her memories. I just know that it is hell going through your family home after a parent dies, having to make those decisions when you are already overwhelmed by emotions. Hopefully I can get my own “warehouse of memories” under control so my girl doesn’t have to deal with that when we are gone. I’m learning there’s a great deal of peace to be found when you let go of the things you thought were important, but you’ve discovered really aren’t. And it makes room for the things that bring you joy.

Gratitude

You know how words can mean similar things, but one word conveys that meaning with greater emphasis than the other word?  That’s my theory about the words “thanks” and “gratitude”.  Because “thanks” is something you say when another person opens a door for you.  “Thanks” is something you say casually when someone passes the salt for your french fries.  When you sneeze and someone says, “Bless you,” you say “thanks.”

But “gratitude”?  Now there’s a word with some weight behind it.  “Thanks” is too little when used to express appreciation for a stranger providing assistance to the worried mother of three, stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.  The singular syllable of the word “thanks” just can’t convey the feelings a parent feels when a child turns the corner of healing from the consequences of painful choices.  A mere “thanks” is insufficient when your mother, practically blind, has her sight restored by the gifted hands of an eye surgeon.

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the promise of better days — joyful days — can only result in one word:

Gratitude.

I am grateful.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.