You saw me (and my day 3 art project)

This morning I read Psalm 139. It wasn’t the first time I’ve read it, but this morning it hit me differently than it had in the past. I won’t paste all of it here for you, but here is the link to The Passion Translation for anyone that might need a pick me up or feel compelled to read it.

But here is the portion that just STAYED IN MY HEAD today.. from verse 16.

You saw who you created me to be

before I became me!

When I read this, I just couldn’t help but think of all of my students, my family and my friends that have struggled with their identities. Whether it was simply a “personality crisis” or a larger identity issue.

I thought of my friends who have fought for space to be the person that they KNEW they were created to be. I thought of all of my students over the years who yearned for a safe place to be different.

To put it simply. I read this and I hurt for all of my LGBTQIA+ friends that didn’t feel like they were seen. That questioned why they were born. That questioned why they were here.

All I can say is that friend, GOD knew WHO you would be BEFORE he created you!

So for those that have questioned their value, their worth and their space, I am saying I am so sorry for the hurt that has been caused to you by church, by Christians and by religious people. Those words and that were spewed at you are NOT OF GOD.

Because God knew who you were going to be and created you, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are. At least that’s my stance and this is my blog so I get to take it. 🙂

Anyway, this is what has been percolating in my head all day. Then one of my friends tagged in me in an art making video and it felt like a perfect thing to try today to continue on my #100dayproject goal.

And I tried it. With not great success, but I had fun. I’m going to keep working on it. My problem is that I have good quality watercolors and acrylics, not cheap craft paints. So tomorrow I’m going to go get the cheap paints and try again!

But here are my paintings for the day. I tried first with watercolors. I love the vibrancy of the liquid watercolors, but they pooled too much. Then, the acrylics were too think. So I put down some gel medium and that helped, but it left blank spots on the canvas.

The favorite pieces were the striped pieces created from the leftover pulled paint on the squeege.

But I have to say, my “Group Hug” painting is rather cool.

I can’t wait to try this again.

So whoever you are, reading this out in blog land… remember that BEFORE you were created, you were KNOWN and WANTED.

Release: Day 1 of my 100 Day Project

One of my friends shared with me about the #100dayproject over in social media land. I looked it up and thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to push myself to just play and create without big projects or big goals. The big goal will be to create for a few minutes a day for 100 days.

That in and of itself is a pretty ambitious goal!

Above pictured is my day 1.

I put RELEASE inside the center of half a flower flower because I need to be reminded that I have to let go if I’m going to grow. I find myself becoming more rigid and more controlled when life is uncertain. I expect too much from myself and others. So the hands open, ready to catch, but not clasping onto the lower remind me to keep open and be ready. I chose to put the green beams coming from the center of the piece so that I can focus on growth coming from good. And finally, I put the pink border on the piece because life doesn’t’ need to be predictable. Life needs color and fun and spontaneity.

Check back soon to see some of my creations.. and find me on social media and if you haven’t seen a post in a few days, call me out. I need the accountability.

Pecan Pie Memories

In 2004, a mutual fund company sent Doug a pecan pie for Christmas. I never liked pecan pie.. until this pie. My mother-in-law, Ruth, was staying with us as we had a new baby and she and I devoured the pie and then for months I made pies and we taste tested them to see if we could make one as good or better than the one that was sent.

Eventually, I did create an amazing pecan pie recipe and over the years, I would make the pie for her for special occasions. In fact, before she got to a place where she wasn’t physically able, she would gather, sort and crack pecans and then I would make the pies with the fresh pecans.

I bet we each gained twenty pounds due to those pies over the years.

We never did get another one of those pies. Until this year. Opening the box was bittersweet.

The pecan pie in the wooden box it is sent in.
A picture of the pecan pie.

Ruth died in the fall of 2019 and since I had hip surgery the week before Thanksgiving last year, the holidays passed without me making pecan pies. Opening the plastic on the pie was nostalgic. Ruth and I had a strained relationship at times… she could be difficult. But over the years we did things together and built traditions.

And so, I ate a piece of that pie in memory of Ruth.

And since I had already bought the ingredients and planned on doing so.. I made one too.

My pecan pie

And I’ll enjoy eating it too.

And then I’ll run, cause that is a lot of really bad calories. But man it tastes good. 🙂

Here is my recipe if anyone would like it.

Enjoy. And Happy Thanksgiving.

4th November Spotlight: Color Street

This is an unsolicited product review. I’m not getting anything in return for this post. I just want to support my friends Sara and Tametha who sell Color Street. I just love this product that much.

I haven’t had pretty nails in years. Lots and Lots of years. As a mom and teacher, there wasn’t time or money for a lot of years.. and then for the last twelve years I taught art..and spending money on pretty nails made no sense at all as they would last less than a day.

But with my new job came an opportunity to have pretty nails, and in perfect timing, one of my friends invited me to her Color Street party. I’d heard about these little gems before, but had never tried them. So when Sara told me about them, I thought hmm.. I’ll get them a try. And I fell in love!!

I absolutely love that there isn’t any dry time! I love that there are lots of choices and that they last for a couple of weeks. Even cooler, one package is between $11 and $14 and I can get between two and three manicures out of one package! And Kylie’s little fingers can get like 6! It’s pretty fun.

I liked them so much, I thought I’d host a party… but then another one of my friends Tametha, signed up to sell as well! So instead of having a party, I just buy from both friends.

So if you haven’t heard of Color Street, you should give them a try. It’s crazy. The strips are really nail polish.. just like 90% dry and you put them on like stickers and tada, you have painted nails. You can even mix and match the colors.

Today I put on “Night Terror” on my fingers, “Baton Rougey” on my toes and Kylie put on “Rustworthy” on her fingers.

We have a little stash and enjoy the variety, but my wish list is long! .

Aren’t these cute! Yep, these are on my wishlist. Oh and one more thing… Buy 3, Get 1 Free. Oh yes.

https://www.colorstreet.com/sassynailswithsaranicole

https://www.colorstreet.com/tambarke

3rd November Spotlight: Seint

Let me start by saying that I’ve tried lots of different brands of makeup. I’ve always been a cheapo when it comes to makeup, but when I turned 40 a few-ish years ago, I decided that it was time to be an adult and buy more than just drugstore makeup.

So I did.
And I’ve tried what feels like every brand.

I have SUPER sensitive dry skin, so much of what I’ve tried I’ve ended up sharing with my children.

I have friends that sell many types, styles and formularies. I’m not saying any of their brands are bad or inferior or anything like that… I’m just saying that I’ve found my brand of makeup. (I still use Young Living face cleaner and moisturizer though…) anyway.. If you need a recommendation for MaryKay, Beauty Counter, Young Living, and others, let me know and I’ll send you my squad links.

But for today, let me tell you about Seint. Until like last week it was called Maskara, but they rebranded themselves recently.

I’ve watched one of my friends sell Seint (https://purpleumbrella.seintofficial.com/en) for the last however long and thought it was interesting, but looked like a lot of work. Then one night I watched her facebook live… and yes my friends, that is why all of these direct sales women do facebook live videos.. and thought, I can do that.

So I got matched. How do you get matched?

Well, you take a picture of yourself with no makeup on in natural light and send it to your person. It wasn’t hard.

My person, Tara, sent me back this photo with a makeup template that includes where the colors go and the name of my matches for Contour, Highlight, Lip and Cheek, and Illuminator.

I have to say, looking at the image is a little intimidating for someone that isn’t into makeup!

After contemplating it for a few weeks, I finally purchased a few of the products. Well, enough to get a free compact. (Cause who doesn’t love FREE stuff.)

And I FELL IN LOVE.

It is so easy to use, forgiving and feels great.

And my face is happy.

So I ordered some for Lexi for her 16th birthday!

One of the things I like most about this product is the ease of use and the affordable price. Compared to many products that I’ve tried this is down right “cheap” and a little goes a long way.

And there you have it. If you are looking for a new product to try, give Tara a shout. The link is above, but I’ll post it here again. https://purpleumbrella.seintofficial.com/en She doesn’t know that I did this and there is no kickback to me. I just appreciate the products and want to support another mom.

2nd November Spotlight: Andrea’s Photos and her Hair

Andrea McDonald has been a friend of mine for I guess almost 17 years. She’s one of those dynamos that conquers anything she decides to do. I chose her for a shoutout because she has an amazing photography business that she built from the ground up.. and then decided to start a side-gig as well!

Dang.

So first I have to say, if you live within a couple of hours of Fort Worth/Dallas and need amazing photos, you should use Andrea. The pics that she has taken of my family are incredible. Her business is called Rooted in Love Photography. The url is rootedinlovephoto.com

These are of our family in 2016. Wow. I’m going to have to start saving for some new family pics. The investment is .Worth. it.

But these days I’m all about her hair product business! A few years ago, Andrea started using and promoting Monat hair products. I joined her facebook group and have watched her hair transform. Well, I last month, I decided that my hair had to have help. So I messaged Andrea and got started.

Andrea’s Monat business link is https://andreamcdonald.mymonat.com/shop/

Here are my in progress pics.

Ugh. My hair looks so dry and straw-like.
Day One. My hair is so soft.
One Month. Wow, I can already tell the difference!!

I can’t wait to see how amazing my hair is going to look in a year!

To answer your question. Yes, the products are expensive. But you only use a tiny bit at a time. And here is the biggest thing besides my hair looks SO MUCH BETTER… I don’t have to wash my hair all the time anymore. For the first time in my life, I can go 3 or 4 days between washings and even bigger, I don’t have to wash my hair after running! OMG. Not washing my hair and blow drying it and flat ironing it every morning is huge!

So there you have it. If you need photographs or great hair products, give Andrea a shout. Have a great week!

November Spotlight: Women Run Businesses

I decided that for the month of November, I am going to spotlight some of the women in my life that run businesses or have “side gigs” that have made an impact on my life. Why? Because yesterday (10/31) as I was getting ready for the day I realized that most of the items that I use on a daily basis come from women run businesses and I want to support them!

The following November posts will NOT be paid ads. I’m not going to give them a shout out if I don’t use or have the product. I’m not even seeking the women out ahead of time and telling them that I’m doing this. However, if any of these awesome ladies have discount codes they want to share, I’ll post them.

So here we go. I think this will be fun!

The first shout out goes to my daughter Maddie and Young Living. When Maddie went to college, she took with her all of her health issues and struggles. Yes, duh. Of course she did. But instead of allowing chronic illness and a body that is at war everyday to define her experience; she thrived. Truly, against all odds, she was healthier away at college, living in a dorm that she had ever been. And I attribute a lot of it to her finding Young Living that first fall and signing up as a monthly member. In doing so, she made a commitment to her health and opened our world to the “Ditch and Switch” mindset. That first year we became “oily” and friend of a friend, Angela and her Essentially Sage Advice mentored our journey as I quickly became a member and fell in love with the all natural products.

My Top Pick: Thieves

If you haven’t ever tried Thieves, you are missing out. There is a lot of research about its cleansing abilities and you can look into that if interested. Some of the Thieves products I use are: the hand sanitizer, the hand soap, the fruit and veggie wash, the detergents, the cough drops, and the oil.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the mix of Clove, Orange and Thieves. Well, really, I love Thieves mixed with any citrus, but these 3 are my go to smell around the house for fall.

Bottom line.. Thieves makes everything better.

Young Living Diffuser with Clove, Thieves and Orange Oils

And there you have it. I never imaged that my house would be filled with oils and oily products. But we are all in over here. If you have any questions, let me know. I can get you in touch with Maddie or Angela. I have not regretted a single purchase and am committed to my Essential Rewards Membership as my family has benefitted from it beyond my wildest dreams.

Check back in a couple of days for my next November Spotlight.

Finding My Peace

For years I thought that in order to share my passion for life, art and creative things I had to make everything “Good Enough”.. in other words.. Perfect. I knew that perfection wasn’t attainable, but I struggled to make things as perfect as possible. My head would not allow my heart’s creative efforts to flourish because I couldn’t move beyond the mindset that my work wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t talented enough. I just wasn’t…. enough.

Pink Peony Flower

But I realized that the only way my children, and my students for that matter, would learn to share their work, their passions, and enjoy creative pursuits would be to see me sharing my life and my creative effort as well.

So finally at age 45, I came to an understanding that while my personality type drives perfection and reward, I do not have to be defined by that. More, I determined to no longer live in that trap. I decided that I would rather have peace than perfection.

That’s why I started sharing my paintings last year. Do I think they are perfect, nope. Do I see every flaw, every mistake, every missed opportunity. YES. But I am choosing to move beyond the never ending quest for perfection and am instead enjoying the process.

Purple Flower

It’s hard. Every. Single. Time. There is something so incredibly personal about putting artwork out for public consumption. It’s weird. I’ve given speeches and preached sermons, presented at conferences and workshops, and have published articles about art and teaching, but none of those things feel as personal and defining as my music compositions, my playwriting, and my artwork.

And that is why the creative process is magical. When we go through the creative process, we leave something of ourselves in the work. In doing so, we have to come to a point where we say that just as we are, we are good enough. And that is hard. But when we come to that point, it is oh, so freeing.

And that is why I share my work. It’s my coming to terms with the fact that my work will never “be good enough.” After almost 25 years in education, and a lifetime in the arts, I have a firm grasp on the fact that I am not a natural talent. But I have so much drive and desire and a willingness to learn! And maybe that is the real lesson in the art.

I don’t have to be perfect, or a natural talent. In the grand scheme of life, most of us aren’t that slim percentage of natural talent. I just have to want to create, be willing to learn and more than that, be willing to fail as I find my wings. I know it’s trite. But you know, that’s kind of where I am these days. Letting go of the pursuit of perfection has allowed me to find my wings, my voice, and most importantly, my peace.

Global Competence

Global Competence is not a topic that I have spent much time pondering over the last 40 or so years.

Thankfully, I grew up in an environment where different cultures were embraced and often people who didn’t look like me or speak the same language as my family would come for meals or spend a few days in our home. As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of different places and have very much enjoyed learning about different groups of people. My sisters have adopted children from different cultures, countries, and backgrounds and our family is better for the differences. As our family has grown, so has our mosaic.

huichol string art

But as a teacher, I don’t know that I have done a very good job teaching with a global mindset. So much of what I had to do on a daily basis was to teach a set of skills. If the skill and culture collided, I used it. As an art teacher, I loved teaching about the Huichol Indians. As a theatre teacher, I love teaching about 6 forms of Japanese theatre. But I’m asking myself now, how can I do better?

Why now? Well, in my new job as an Instructional Designer for a Tarleton State University, I have had the opportunity to jump into my new environment and start learning! This past week I attended a virtual conference for Non-Land-Grant Agriculture and Renewable Resources Universities. (#NARRU) I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. My personality type is to read, ask, research and learn! So I attended and wow. I may not have had a clue about a lot of what they said, but what I did get, I’m ready to use.


The first day’s professional development portion was over inclusion. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think back on students that I have had over the last 20 years that desperately needed someone to advocate for them. I advocated for them the best that I knew how, and I’m proud of my efforts, but my heart aches for all of the missed opportunities.

Here are a few takeaways from Dr. Shannon Archibeque-Engle and Dr. Antomia Farrell

  • If we want to break barriers, and have real conversations, we need to have small targeted groups that encourage participation. No one wants to be the one person that talks. No one wants to be the one singled out. No one wants to be the “poster child. “
  • Inclusion happens with engagement, transparency and truth telling.
  • Dispel myths.
  • Recruitment isn’t the answer, retention is.

So, I’m taking these ideas and thinking of my personal life and our experience. I have to say, those four ideas hit home. But that was really just a start. The drumming in my head began as a soft tap and with day two of the conference, it became a loud thump.

Day 2 was about Global Learning.

Dr. Melanie Miller Foster taught about Global Learning and shared with us the Four Domains of Global Competence.

4 domains of global competence

As someone that is determined that her children will grow up to view the world as a large mosaic, full of needed colors and textures and patterns, I was intrigued by the four domains. While yes, I want my children to be travelers, I want them to be more than just takers. I want them to take action!

If future leaders, teachers and politicians have the chance to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize that their viewpoint is not the only perspective in the world, can communicate with people that are from different backgrounds, cultures and speak different languages, and then will to take action to better the world.. man, I want to be a part of that movement!

And so where do we start? Well, thankfully, Dr. Miller Foster gave a framework for that as well. We don’t have to send our children (or ourselves) across the world without preparation. She suggests a stair step approach.

  1. Awareness
  2. At Home
  3. Community
  4. Away (not local, but not out of the country)
  5. Abroad (across a border…)

Why is this important? Because only 42% of Americans have passports and of that 42% I wonder how many have used their passport for more than just tourism in well curated places? I’ve traveled some, have been to a number of different countries, and have experienced a semester in a study abroad program.. but I would count myself in the group that still need to focus on awareness and learn at home!

I live in a community that has layered diversity hidden in the whiteness. I so want to broaden my world and that of my children. So I’m going to start looking, and learning, and advocating for inclusive practices in my community. And then I’m going to start looking a little further out and increase my circle so that eventually my family will be ready to cross a border for more than an all-inclusive beach front vacay.

And that’s my prayer for all of us.

our incredible family mosaic

good things

It’s an interesting conundrum.. when life is good, it’s hard to sit down and write/blog about it. But when life is hard, it is soo very easy to let it pour out. Well, 2020 has been a weird year, for all of us, but for me personally it has been a really good year, and that makes it hard to write about as I know so many people are suffering.

But this is my diary to the world and so, let me catch you up on a few of the good things in our life.

My Family on Mother’s Day 2020
Doug and me on a rare night away from home.
  1. Doug’s company, McLemore Financial Group has held its own during this crazy time. Like all families that own businesses, the first few weeks of the pandemic along with the stock market volatility had us ready to panic. But Doug is really good at what he does and all has been well. I’d love to say more, but I haven’t a clue.. he does his thing and I just appreciate it immensely. 🙂

    One really cool things that he has done during this time is to transition to working from home a couple of days a week. It’s been good for all of us and he has been able to get out and walk more and find time to relax and write.

2. I heard God.

Photo of my feet on January 18th: quote says Walking in Faith Means continuing forward without a predetermined route. you have the destination in mind, just don't have a map.
Jan 18th

In January, I heard God. I know it’s weird. But I did, and I have spent the last 10 months relishing the voice of God in my life in a way that was altogether new and different.

I have always believed in God and would say that I have a strong faith. Over the years even when nothing seemed to work out, when life was beyond difficult and miracles were desperately needed yet nothing would happen, I still believed. Through it all, I believed that God was there and would show up.. in His time. Well, in January, God broke through and showed up mightily in our life. The miracles that God brought about were amazing and truly the “only God” kind. Since those early January days, I have walked in anticipation of what God will do each day and have asked God continually to fall fresh on me and to fill me with the His peace. I have had so much fun journaling and sharing personally with others about the presence of God.

3. Kylie and Lexi changed schools and both are THRIVING! Hallelujah. You know, it’s really hard to change things when you are so invested in something. Taking the girls out of the school district that we had been a part of for more than 20 years was difficult. SISD was great for Maddie. She had her group and it was a good fit. But it was never a good fit for Lexi and Kylie was starting to struggle within the system as well. So after years of discussion, in July, we finally decided that with the COVID closures and all of the uncertainty of the fall schedule, that this would be the right time.

Kylie and Lexi

And oh, how right we were. Kylie is going to a small private school in town (White Horse Christian Academy) and Lexi is attending an online high school (James Madison High School).The environments are polar opposites from each other, but exactly the right fit for each child. We knew the girls weren’t doing well the last couple of years in the previous school system, but watching Lexi come back to life is heartbreaking, and thrilling, at the same time. Both are being challenged academically, yet have more free time than before. Kylie’s comment was pretty blunt. She asked, after the first week at her new school, while having a late Friday morning breakfast since her school doesn’t have class on Fridays… “why is it that good schools have shorter days and more time off, and bad schools have longer days and have to go more days?” I didn’t have a child-friendly answer

4. I changed jobs!

My grinning headshot.

After years of hurt, disappointment and dead-ends, I came to terms with the fact that promotions and career opportunities outside of the art classroom were not going to be tied to the school district that I had served for so long. I prayed continuously about my desire to lead and organize. I asked God to remove my passion for planning and improvement beyond the classroom setting, if I wasn’t going to be given an opportunity to use my gifts.

It was a hurt that was bone deep.

Then, as July was coming to a close and the anxiety of being thrust into a face to face teaching scenario in the midst of the pandemic had our family scrambling and looking at family medical leave paperwork, God opened the most unexpected door.

Out of the blue, Tarleton State University was looking to hire Instructional Designers. It was a shock. The university had just faced a reorganization and had been forced to layoff employees due to COVID. Things were in a state of change, and yet, Instructional Designers were needed. I applied and was interviewed almost immediately. I was hired and was able to walk away from teaching high school the day before I was to return to the campus full-time. This was a miracle. And everyday I am grateful and thankful. The very gifts that made me “too much” in my old environment are now being used on a daily basis. Four years ago I prayed that God would change me. He didn’t. You see, I was told by the top administrator that in order to be a leader in the district, I had to be.. and I quote “more doe-eyed and to stop having good ideas.” But God made me with a personality that asks questions and a thirst for brainstorming and coming up with creative solutions. So while the path has been arduous to get here, I am so incredibly thankful. Every single day, over the last almost two months now, I have been challenged to ask the questions, to brainstorm for ways to do things and given the autonomy to fix the issues that I find. No longer am I made to feel like I am “too much.” After more than twenty years in education, I have finally found home.

And that’s the recap for the big stuff.

But what about Maddie? Maddie is doing great! She is thriving in college and learning to navigate the world of complicated medical issues and adulthood. Her resiliency is amazing and her strength inspiring.

But in case you think it’s all been easy…

In March, Kylie broke both arms in a tumble from trying to carry her bike down some concrete stairs… and Lexi spent January-March having kidney stones, surgery and stents and then shingles!

Thankfully, those days are behind us.

In the days ahead, I am hoping to blog again. Transitions are always hard, even great ones.

My goal for the next couple of months for myself is to start painting again. And this time, with no expectation, and a less critical eye.