I painted my guitar!

I sanded her first.

Sanding my guitar #paintedguitar

It’s an amazing thing, really. It didn’t bother me that I might “mess her up.” I didn’t care. It was worth the risk. I felt pretty confident that the after would be better than the before.

You see,
I own two guitars … but I don’t play often.
Years ago, I committed to playing 15 minutes a day.
After spending about six months playing these few minutes a day,
I realized that I should stop working at something that I want to do
….. but don’t do well …….
and spend my time focusing on what do well.
I put my guitar down … for the time being.

My sweet worn neck #paintedguitar

A few years ago, I loaned her to a friend who
lovingly played her
faithfully
for enough time
that she became the best kind of worn.
As the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit,

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly … except to people who don’t understand.”

Yes. My guitar became realer when she lay in the hands of my friend, Travis
who played her often and played her well.
I’ll forever treasure those shallow trenches love made.

This is one of my favorite little snippets that he put on Instagram … playing my girl.

After I sanded, I traced her shape on a pieced together piece of paper.

Outlining #paintedguitar

#paintedguitar

I hung up that blank, empty outline
right there in my office/art area
where I could see it daily …
pondering what patterns might fill that fresh, clean space.

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My youngest – whom I shall now call Indie, rather than Joy, to honor the determined, independent spirit locked within that earthly body – teased me.

“Mom, You sanded down your guitar before you had any kind of idea what you would paint on it?” Why, yes. Yes, I did, thank you.

Sometimes, you have to courageously step out and create a beginning
before you have a vision of what the end will look like.

My favorite tissue paper #depoupage #paintedguitar

Then, one day it came.
The most pressing of the design came from a painting that I created a few years ago and remains one of my favorites because of the movement – and the subject.
Can you see it over behind the posable mannequin?
Leaves attached to undulating stems.

#pattern #paintedguitar
I taped and then painted off and on for an entire weekend
with my palette of autumn
leaving plenty of room for drying between layers.

#painted guitar

The little bit of tissue paper glued into place just below the sound hole is one of the few pieces I have left from a package of tissue paper I bought at least a decade (or two?) ago.

#paintedguitar #decoupage #tissuepaper

To think that I lavishly used it in presents that I GAVE AWAY …. unsettles my heart today. I love that paper. I love the design, the words, the dribbles, the color, the flowers …. and there are only a few square inches left. *sigh* So, I decoupaged it right upon my guitar so that I might have at least a sliver to enjoy for many, many years to come.

#paintedguitar #leaves #decoupage #foliage

This little shape is one of my favorites
so I built a stencil and used it to create many pieces
to decoupage onto the guitar.

When I finished my little stack of cut-paper leafed sticks,
I got teary.
Why they moved me, I don’t know.
But, they did and they do.
I think they’re stunning. #absolutlybeautiful

And there they will remain … glued into place
right beside Thomas Edison
who is quoted as saying
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
and
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

He is one of my heroes. He was a man who wasn’t afraid to fail …
and actually saw failure
as one step closer to success.
#sorefreshing #attitudegoals

#paintedguitar

#paintedguitar
The design above right to the left of the sound hole
is one of my favorites. I used something similar to it on my painted boots, as well.
I really love it!

BedStu hand painted boots

And on the neck, I added lyrics from the pen of Robert Lee Castleman
and sung by the haunting voice of Alison Krauss 
while accompanied by Union Station
in the song Gravity.
These words resonate with my soul … like no other line I’ve ever read
from a book,
within a poem
or in a song.
They read from the sound hole of the guitar
up the neck
because that is the direction that the emotion of the music moves … up, out and beyond.

“All the answers that I started with …. 
turned out questions in the end.” 

I have a much nicer guitar, but this inexpensive China-made Gremlin has been my favorite. I bought it at a yard sale across the street from my house in Valdosta for $40 … about 18 years ago. I think it’s more comfortable to play than my other instrument and I love the mellow, rich sound. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if changing the finish by layering on paint, paper and glue would change how it sounded, but I was willing to take the risk. I’ve come to truly understand that all these things we collect and love … are just things. So … why not? The potential for the joy it would bring far outweighed the risk of messing it up!

#paintedguitar

After sanding, gluing and painting, I coated the top with four or five layers of satin polyurethane ….

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and I love her.

After re-stringing came the big test; would she still sound yummy and rich?
Here, Indie plays just a little bit. Her sound is still the same; beautiful!

 

#paintedguitar

 

I am beyond pleased.

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May your weekend

May your weekend
be just what you need ….
whether your hours are mapped out with commitments
or you are left to your own devices,
may you find a way to see the beauty
and experience the joy
that refreshes your soul.

 

{{{hugs}}}, blessings & peace to you,

-|<@ren

Makes Me Happy Monday ; Paper Craft

I can’t stop crying.
And it’s wonderful.
Wonder-FULL!

I spent years and years stuffing my emotions
because they made some people uncomfortable.

It was made known to me that I was too emotional.
There was no arm-around-the-shoulder, “Awww, come here.”
I received more of a “You’re crazy. Stop being emotional” response.

So, I learned to hold it in.
and I was proud of myself.
I could keep myself together in any situation.

Anybody could say or do whatever they wanted.
I wouldn’t cry. I wouldn’t get emotional. I’d just keep going.
You could even walk out on me and leave me all alone …
and I’d just keep moving ahead. No tears.
I was a well-conditioned machine …. numb.
It’s tragically sad, really.

But, oh how weary and dull that leaves us …. living like zombies going through life.
But, God is ever-so-gently tearing down more walls. I am grateful.

As I worked last weekend on a project, I chose to add some decoupaged little foliage in patterned paper. I knew the shape I wanted. So, I drew out the shape, drew it onto a piece of plastic and formed myself a little stencil.

 

I cut out the stencil and began working on making a small handful of these precious little shapes for my project.

Paper cuting

In the most giddy sort of way, I got so excited. I’m not sure why but I LOVE this shape. It really makes me happy.

As I finished with that sharp x-acto, I sat there amazed at the paper pieces
in different colors
and patterns
but all the same

and I got teary. Patterned paper pieces

I mean …. look at those. ^^^ Just LOOK at them!!!!
Aren’t they gorgeous? I LOVE them! LOVE them!!!

With little tears welling up in my eyes, I sat there asking God “WHY?”
Why does this move me? What is it about patterns … paper … and nature
that stirs something within? Guitar front - close up - patterned paper pieces

I found no answers
but I’m ever-so-grateful.
Days move ahead.
I take steps daily to live in greater freedom
from the nay-sayers out there
and the gremlins within
that want me to live quiet, hidden and paralyzed by trying to please others.

And today, I am reminded that these tiny patterned cut outs of nature
make me really, really happy.
I don’t know why, but I don’t HAVE to know the why to know that it’s real.

What about you?
What has made you happy recently?

Makes Me Happy Monday : “Weird” Gifts

When the children were younger, Christmas gifts were more plentiful … but money was, as well. Now that I’m a single mom, I’ve had to make some major changes. And like so many things that come with divorce, these forced changes
have proven to be very, very good.

My two oldest children are adults on their own and my youngest is working now and making a wage. So, the biggest change we’ve made in gift giving is that we now draw names for gifts. Each person draws one name and we focus on creating a special gift for the person that we choose. My oldest received a huge stash of socks, boxers, t-shirts and pajamas for Christmas. They were deeply and enthusiastically appreciated because they were thoughtful to his needs and desires. My youngest got an amazing jacket that has been on the wish list for several years. It is a perfect fit and was excitedly received. My gift will be a tattoo that I’ll be getting after the start of the year. Rather than having no gifts to open, Glory gave me a few smaller items, too.

Our sweet little tree with a few, carefully chosen gifts beneath

Glory went to Final Cut to shop. Final Cut is a dumping-ground, so to speak. I say that with the idea of a grand, exciting treasure hunt in mind.

It is a huge store full of boxes and piles of home decor, rugs, kitchen accessories, jewelry, shoes/boots, furniture, clothing, bedding and window treatments. All these items come from Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Free People and BHLDN. My understanding is that some things are overstock, some are from runway shows, some are from store displays and some are clothes that were being fitted and altered before mass production. But … all are at excellent prices!!

And Final Cut is the only store of its kind on the east coast. I don’t know if there is anything like it in other parts of the US, but it’s the only one like here in the east. I’m SO excited we have it here … I love to shop there! You are guaranteed to find something interesting … if you have the time to dig.

If you know anything about the stores that supply Final cut,
you know their items are unusual.
So …. Glory said, as she was out shopping
she decided to head to Final Cut to “look for weird stuff.”

And she bought me this incredible plate.
Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s green
(“autumn” is my favorite color … but any shade of green is my favoritest).
It is clay (my favorite dish type).
And it looks organic and natural *swoon.*

It reminds me of a lily pad.
Lily Pad plate

But, when it is stacked
it reminds me of a leaf of cabbage.
Cabbage plate

It is stunning to me.
And Glory knew me well enough to know that
I would love it.

She also bought this little metal grid. She said
“I don’t know what you’ll do with it, but I know it’ll be neat.
Use it in art. Or hang it like an ornament. Or do whatever you want.
I just knew you’d like it.”

One of my "weird" gifts - a 3x3 metal grid

And I do! I love it.
Right now, it’s on a wooden crate with other things I adore
so I can look at it all the time
until I decide how to work it into a piece of artwork.

I think I’ve done well when I have been able to impress upon my children
that gift giving … like so many things in life …. isn’t about you and your likes and your desires …
it’s about the recipient.
To love on someone else,
we must figure out what they need to feel loved and seen.
Do they need to be heard? Touched? Receive a physical gift?
A letter? An act of service  … like a dirty job they keep procrastinating?
We all receive love with the most ease
when the gift given speaks to our heart, our soul, our spirit … our needs. 
My daughter knows me well and she “sees” me for who I am
so she gave me unusual gifts
that she knew would bless me.

I am so thankful for”weird” gifts this Christmas
and children who can see and understand what others need to feel accepted and loved.

Yes, weird gifts make me happy as I look back our Christmas.
What about you? What gift did you give or receive that made you happy this year?

Makes Me Happy Monday : Pillow Talk

I have learned to love my weekends.
In fact, I look forward to  the weekend all.week.long.
My weekends are now about wonderful outdoor adventures
or house chores and projects  … the ones I want to do
rather than the kind that I need to do or have to do.
After becoming a single-mom who owned a home,
all the responsibility of every.thing fell upon my shoulders.
After my move in February of 2015,
it is such a relief to be in a much smaller home
with a landlord who keeps everything up and running.

This weekend embraced several projects.
I wanted SO BADLY to join in a MeetUp adventure
that involved kayaking on the Augusta Canal!
The weather was in the 70’s this weekend .. with cloudless skies. *swoons*
That would have been the perfect trip to close out the fall and start the winter.
But, my common-sense gene over ruled and I stayed home to finish projects.

Woven, appliqued, rag-strip Magpie pillow

One little project was finishing up the pillow that I mentioned last Monday. 
I would have finished it quicker, but I ended up making two runs to two stores
to secure a good match on thread that needed to hide the closure stitching.

Woven, appliqued, rag-strip Magpie pillow

I love how raw strips of different patterns look when they are woven together.
I’m all about loose ends, frayed edges and lots of pattern.
It’s so intricate and interesting!

Woven, appliqued, rag-strip Magpie pillow

This pillow fits perfectly in the sitting area in my bedroom …
and it makes so very happy.

What about you, my friend?
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

May your weekend be filled with what your soul needs

Downtown Augusta, Georgia, JB White's Building, New Moon, Book Tavern

May your weekend be filled with exactly what your soul needs
whether that be
hiding within the shadows to draw you to stillness,
standing with a scattering of nature at your feet,
walking within an outlined path to show you where to go,
relaxing with sunshine warming your front
or gazing upward where you can see blue sky.
May you find what your soul needs exactly where you are …
in your home, while you are out and about caring for errands or
on an intentional outing to a place of adventure.
May your weekend be lovely and filled with
exactly, precisely, specifically what your soul needs.

{{{hugs}}}, blessings & peace to you,

-|<@ren

There is no “Complete obedience”

A sweet, young friend posted this on Facebook recently.

“The past week has been so horrible. I’m ready to leave behind all of these mistakes and failings once and for all. It’s times like these you realize what is truly important and fulfilling- what your heart really needs. I don’t even want to imagine the utter hopelessness and horror that my life would be without Jesus. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy that have carried me this far, and I trust and believe that He will be faithful to keep on picking me up and keep on forgiving me. I pray in 2016 that I will be able to trust Him more and be completely obedient to His voice in the ways that I have failed this year.”

Boy, do I know this place. Many of us have in our heads an idea of what things should look like and how everything will be good if we just obey or perform or love more. We get hung up in OUR role in having our “good” life.

 

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Let’s stop beating ourselves up. There is no “completely obedient.” Never.  And think about it …the ONLY way to live without struggle, peril and difficulty is to live in a perfect world .. and that’s not this earthly place.

Whatever you’ve been through, it has taught you more about empathy, compassion, understanding and mercy. It has taught you more about trust, faith, and keeping your eyes on Him.

I have a friend who says “hope can be a dangerous thing.”( I wrote about that here) Think about that. It’s SO true. When our hope is in God alone, we are strengthened. BUT ….. when our hope is in some idea of what things SHOULD look like, how we SHOULD feel, or how things SHOULD turn out, we will almost always be sorely disillusioned. Vacations, nail polish colors, marriages, friendships, iPhone screens, kittens, dating websites, dentists, children, new ice cream flavors, church sermons and darned socks can … and will disappoint us.

This world offers us an idea that includes a picket fence, a new car, a dog and cat, kids that immediately apologize after a fight and a loving, kind spouse. It’s a facade … a front with no follow through or guts behind the scenes. It’s like a movie set or a theatrical stage or Disney World. The fence will eventually rot, the car will break, the cat will have fleas, the dog will have an accident in the house,  kids rarely apologize without being prompted or forced and spouses disagree and hurt each other with or without intention.

And these things happen whether we are completely obedient or not.

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SOMETIMES … our grandiose ideas of what things SHOULD be are even based on scripture. But, I think we miss the mark e.v.e.n in using scripture as our guide for SHOULD.  For example, God told Abraham to sacrifice/kill his son. Rahab lied and it appears it was a good thing. David killed a man with a rock (and a slingshot). The Bible is full of things that you would think would be “should nots.” But, God used them for good.

Frankly, sometimes I scratch my head when I read scripture.
But rather than filling me with doubt,
the stories of the Bible remind me that
I can’t possibly understand God
and the crazy that is in this world.
Sometimes I will do things
that other people will question,
but I should keep my eyes on God
rather than making sure my actions please other people.
Sometimes, even God’s promptings won’t make sense to us.

The thing is; He knows our hearts.
When our motivation is to please Him,
He sees that.

So, let life happen and don’t fight it. There will always be complicated, messy … let’s call it what it is …. really shitty stuff. There will be SUPER hard things. There will be disappointments from people.There will be tough situations when you feel alone. Expect it. KNOW that it’s coming and just let it all be okay. It’s going to happen and it’s not YOUR FAULT … it is more like a gift for you … a gift to help you grow, to further your maturity and to draw you to God.

I-20 W... the road from Augusta to Stone's house

As Christians, it would be foolish for God to protect us from the gunk. THEN people would want to be saved JUST SO they would be protected. No. He wants us to turn to Him so He can comfort, teach and guide us … not to place us inside a gated fence (Eden) to keep us from tangled brambles, pokey stickers and pits of sticky mire.

Keep your eyes on God and let Him direct how you d.e.a.l with those situations … but don’t expect that your obedience to Him will keep you from those difficult places. If He protected us from all the junk, we would have the idea that our performance and obedience is where our security lies.

dirtroad

In reality, we don’t know what is around the bend. We will walk through storms, darkness and fire. And each of us has a different path to walk. Don’t compare your path to someone else’s.

Our security lies in knowing that He loves us through it. He steadies us through us. And He teaches us compassion to minister to others through it. I say … 2016, Bring It On! Teach me, Lord! Work in me through my struggles so I can be more like you and love others with great compassion, mercy and empathy.

 

 

Photo credit: Picket Fence, Maggie McCain via Flickr, Creative Commons