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My Body in a T-shirt

I wonder if the clerk who works the return desk at Target wants to say something when they see me coming back with an article of clothing. I am aware that they have dressing rooms. Or rather, dressing cubicles. Unattractive and uninviting cubicles with bad lighting. To gain access I have to ask for a plastic card with a number that corresponds with the articles of clothing I have and they better match when I come out. There are signs on the walls by the mirrors, assuming my criminal intent. Reminding me that there are cameras. I’m being observed to see if I’ll take a t-shirt that cost eight dollars. But this is why I often visit the clerk who works the return desk. I’m not shy. But my body is not for random observation. My unclothed self is not available at that level to help Target realize their loss prevention goals. My body is mine.

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A Gift to Myself

Back when I was 16, I got a tattoo from an amateur artist of what was supposed to be two hearts and two roses with a ribbon flowing through them and ugh! a NAME. I love….   The man forever named on my breast was a real son of a bitch. A man  (I even hesitate to use that noun as he was more like a troll) who was awful to me but at the time, in my twisted adolescent brain, I thought more of him than he would ever deserve. For so long, I lived with that mark. As time passed, it faded a great deal. The name has been illegible for years. I got used to it. I even got to the point where I didn’t even really notice it anymore. Unless I did. And then there it was… A permanent reminder of one of the most painful periods of my life. Immortalized forever in dim tattoo ink, right over my heart.

I have experienced what feels like three lifetimes worth of stuff so far. Some of it has been damn hard. But I’m at a point now where I can honestly say I like who I am and who I’m growing into. I like what my life looks like. I am finding joy, I’m experiencing it. I am doing what I want to be doing in most areas and where I’m not, improvements are happening. I feel AWAKE. So, it was time to do something about that tainted blemish on my chest. I knew what I wanted but I did not know how to translate the image and the idea into words.

Thanks to the recommendation of a fellow cyclist, I learned of Paris Pierides of Paris Tattos in Charlotte. His work was so unique, I knew I wanted him to be my artist. I sat down with him and he showed me some of his past work. We talked. He asked questions. It seemed as if, as we discussed the options, his intuition talked to mine. That is the only explanation I can think of for how he managed to give me the exact tattoo I envisioned. It is so very beautiful. I feel more beautiful. It’s like having on the most perfect gown – the kind of gown that makes a woman feel as if she were the loveliest woman alive – only I get to wear it every day of my life.

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A few of my favorite things…

As the evening winds down and I prepare to retire to my room, I am struck by just how much I love crawling into my bed with a book. Having a few books strewn on the unused side is beautiful to me (the occasional presence of a lover isn’t bad either). That a cat or three is usually mixed in with the pile is all the better. In the morning, I will wake up to a cup of coffee, already brewed thanks to the pot’s handy self-timer. The simple life is for me.

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Ellen Goes to Tucson, Part Deux

Some people might worry that they should blog about a trip almost immediately upon their return home lest they forget all the good stuff. I guess if my trip to Tucson was anything less than the spectacular experience it was, I might be concerned. But I’ve got two things in my favor… 1) I made copious notes on my iPhone’s notepad app during my plane ride home (in first class because I’m just lucky like that) and 2) the experience was so specfuckingtacular that I remember quite clearly the beautiful people I met and enlightening things I learned – and while we did do some wonderful stuff with beads for hours upon glorious hours, the bead knowledge was secondary to the treasure I came home with.

The pure awesomeness of the people I met is something that will warm my heart for the rest of my days. Are you ready for this? Bead Warrior, Dustin Wedekind.  The Groove Queen, Teresa Sullivan. Triangle Temptress, Jean Power. The Right Angle Weave High Priestess of the West, Marcia DeCoster. Beading royalty, every one of them! And my fellow seed bead summitees , the lovely Gabriella van Diepen and her sweet husband, Jereon Medema. All of us hosted by Kate McKinnon, Masterful Goddess of the Catalyst. Every single person had their own brilliance and sparkle. And every single person was open and willing to share what they knew without limits.

I sat around a table with all of these people and we talked beads and color, thread and stitches. Then we explored without the pressure to finish a piece. We discussed how to conceive of a finished work from beginning to manifestation but mostly we were simply free to play with the beads and new techniques to the point that my ideas began to develop into future projects (which I had the good sense to sketch out on the plane in between my musings on the notepad).

Yes, I have much work to get going on in my studio. So many beads, so little time! Except I do have time. And I will continue to make time for what is important to me.

I will get to my bead work (as well as my other passions) because I left Tuscon with a fire rekindled in my soul and the absolute certainty that I am ready to WAKE UP. I am ready to stop acting like the quiet wall flower that I am not. I am ready to stop letting the bad suck me down so hard that I drown in the morass of unrealized potential. I am ready.

A lot? Yes. But I told you. I came home with treasure!

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Ellen Goes to Tucson, Part 1

On May 12th, my little hermit self boarded an airplane bound for Tuscon so I could spend the next three days playing with beads in the dessert. Actually, it was what Kate McKinnon aptly named a Seed Bead Summit and it included the MOST INCREDIBLE GROUP of people. I’m talking about the ones you read about and buy books from because they know their stuff forwards, backwards and sideways. I want to talk about all the beautiful people I met but first, let me tell you about our host, Kate.

I came to know her from her blog. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been reading one of her vignettes and found myself howling in laughter, moved to tears and/or saying “preach it, sister!” because whatever she was writing so resonated with my soul. When I planned the trip, I truly felt I was reuniting with an old friend instead of someone I’d never actually met – her writing is that good and that evocative.

Her house is just a delightful representation of her, through and through. Everywhere the eye lit, there was something lovely to look at. Even around the pool and the Back 40, her name for the little walled garden that housed such amenities as the Barbie coach and the Robert Plant Thinking Spot. The place looked like the house of an artist and I am inspired to create the same feeling in my own home. Plus it offered comfortable residence to nine people without so much as a hint of running out of hot water. Incredible!

Then there was Kate in the kitchen, “making beautiful food seem to appear effortlessly…” as quoted from Marcia DeCoster. (Yes, you heard that right! THE Marcia DeCoster!)

Ever the keen observer, Kate made a comment during one of our dinners out that at first, I didn’t understand. She said that in pictures I looked like a little boy. (I know – hang on.) She said she meant it as a compliment because I looked like (and I will get the exact wording wrong) someone who hadn’t been beaten down by life. At the time, I didn’t really grasp what she was telling me. But later, after reflection, I was simply touched. To know that my buoyant spirit is still observable (and accessible to me any time I want it to be) is just a remarkable gift to me.

I told Kate I thought she was a Goddess and I truly don’t think she believed me. But how could she be anything but? She makes stuff happen in the most magical of ways. A true catalyst!

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I got the house!!

Two house payments in. God, the closing – moving – painting – making a piece of jewelry for $$ in the middle of everything – all of it was SO intense. I got the kitchen pretty much done, most of the stuff unpacked except knick-knacks and then STOPPED. I was simply exhausted. I’m coming out of it now which is a good thing as I still need to paint the living room, my bedroom, the hallway, the dining room and my bathroom as well.

The last couple of days, I’ve noticed that I am damn hard on myself. What is that word? Flogging? Yeah, that’s the one. I’m not doing enough. I haven’t accomplished enough. How I spend my time isn’t making enough of an impact. I’m not pushing myself hard enough. Jesus, the mad-brain-monster just will not shut the fuck up! And I’m tired of it. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing but this “flogging” thing has got to go. Maybe I’m not doing enough but I think I would have better luck changing that then wasting all my energy “flogging” myself. There’s a to-do list. There’s stuff I want to do. Nobody is going to haul me off to decorating jail if I don’t paint my house in 2 days; Now if it’s not painted in two years, then I’ll gladly don the handcuffs. But in the meantime, I’m going to try putting the whip down for a little while.

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A Small Kitchen

I ran across this cute article at the Southern Living site about how this random woman transformed her “small kitchen”. Ha! They really ought to go visit the minuscule kitchen I had to deal with at my old apartment. The word minuscule is bigger than that kitchen!

I am particularly interested in kitchen ideas as I am attempting to buy a little cottage in my neighborhood. The kitchen is in dire need of my loving hand. The offer has been accepted. The inspection done. Now there is a rather extensive repair request in the hands of the sellers which was submitted LAST SATURDAY. I emphasize LAST SATURDAY because I haven’t heard back yet as to what they will fix and what they won’t and we’re supposed to close on the 20th!! My agent seems to think it will all work out – “done it a thousand times before,” he says. His optimism is charming.

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