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Posts from the ‘advice’ Category

Shedding Leaves of Change

Quote by Nora Roberts

One of my favorite quotes by Nora Roberts

We could learn something from the trees.  They gage when the season is changing and know it’s time to shed their leaves.

Do they fret about it?  Probably not.  It’s just what they do.

Humans, on the other hand, have a much harder time with it.  We fear it.

I have my own confession to make.  I’ve got perpetually cold feet.

Every time I am about to put myself out into the world I act like a 5 year old.  My mind says, “I don’t want to” and my brain racks itself, trying to figure out a way not to.

Usually I say to myself, “you’re being childish, snap out of it!”  Then my inner voice (who is very honest!) says, “But I’m afraid”.  This begins the internal struggle to figure out why and calm those doubts and fears.

George Bernard Shaw quote

I’m no stranger to change.  I’ve navigated through many moves, had children, and buried my father.  As I’ve been creating my business these past few years, I’m being forced to jump countless hurdles, and I know that there are an infinite more waiting for me.

What I’ve learned is this.  Change is necessary for growth.  No one has succeeded by remaining an innocent bystander in their life.

Neale Donald Walsh quote

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. How true!

Change is not easy (unless you’re a tree!).  It requires soul-searching, risk-taking, and putting yourself out there again and again.

Want to hear some of my strategies for facing challenges, head on?

1.  Begin…somewhere– Often the task seems overwhelming and it can be hard to know to start.  That, in itself, can lead to procrastination which impedes progress.  Just start somewhere.  Make a phone call, research on the web, tell someone what you are doing- take the first step and often that will begin the process.

2. Be kind to yourself- Allow the 5 year old inside of you to voice it’s opinion but then calmly and firmly state your intentions and follow through, promising ice cream and a bubble bath when everything is said and done!

3. Be Patient- Realize that change requires time to take root and grow.  Know that the earth under your feet may be a bit unsteady for awhile.  Persevere.  Or, as I like to say to my friends who are facing challenges, Hang in there!

JD Houston quote

If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something, you’ve never done. Tough but solid advise!

4. Seek accountability-  Facebook is great for this.  One friend of mine has been on a journey to lose weight and has set up a Facebook Page for friends and family to encourage and support her along the way.  Another friend has just moved to New Zealand and is posting her observations and travels as a means to bring us along with her during this enormous transition.

5. Learn from the trees- Shed those leaves of negativity, self-doubt, and anything else that is hindering your progress.  Sometimes that also means shedding old ideas or attitudes that impede growth.

Quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

And speaking of changes…I have some of my own!  You may recall that I’ve been taking an online web course in an attempt to learn more about WordPress and revamp my own site.  I’ve decided to take some time out to implement what I’ve learned.

Therefore, I will be taking a break from writing this blog for a week or two until I can get those changes in place.  Feel free to check in to see how things are coming along, but beware of all the construction dust!

When I return it will be on a Monday, instead of my regular Friday slot.  I’ve realized that I would rather contribute my voice as the the week is gearing up instead of as the week is winding down.  How’s that for changes?!

Please be sure to sign up to receive my weekly posts in your inbox so that you don’t miss out on my big reveal.  I can’t wait to share it with you!

Have an Evolving Week!  I’ll see you soon!!

Top Lessons Learned on this Journey

Sunset over Rocks

Inspiration is everywhere!

Top things I’ve learned since becoming Art At Dawn

1. Inspiration is everywhereEvery waking hour is fodder for my art.  Sometimes it trickles up from my memories and other times I know it the moment it occurs.

I felt that very keenly this summer when my family and I took that trip out West.  Inspiration enveloped me and penetrated all my senses.  Look for upcoming posts on how it has begun to influence my work.

2. Consistency is key– I’ve found that I’m most productive when I keep myself on a schedule and hold myself to self-imposed deadlines. The times I flounder are when my goals are unclear or vague.

As I wrote about it in this post, I have developed a weekly schedule that helps to keep me focused.  I feel lost the weeks that I skip it.

I wish I could say that all this consistency allows my creativity to flow abundantly.  Not so.  There are times that I have to force myself to keep at it.  The important thing, I’ve learned, is just to show up and keep stoking the fire.  If the fire goes out it takes a lot longer to start it up again and feel the warmth of its glowing embers which feeds my art.

3. Time is precious– There are only so many hours in the day, and only a portion of them can be used for my art.  The trick is to use the time I have to the best of my ability and not kick myself when I run out of it.  (The best way to estimate my time?  Take the amount I think it will require and double it!)

But there is another side to the coin.  When I lose myself to my art, I often lose track of time as well.  I get in The Zone.  It is a great place to be in but requires the freedom of time, as well.

I've learned some tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

I’ve learned a few tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

4. Art supplies need not be expensive– that goes for studio furniture, too! Over the years I’ve amassed a lot of art supplies and learned some tricks on how to maximize the supplies I have lying around the house.

That goes for studio equipment and furniture, too.  I’ve also found some great deals at consignment stores and Craigslist, and am always looking out for discounted items to supplement my studio wishlist.

5. My talents are valid– It’s easy, in this field, to look around at my highly talented peers and convince myself that I don’t possess the skills and creativity that they have.  But I can’t do that to myself.  I can’t discount the feelings of excitement and happiness that often overwhelm me while creating a drawing or painting.

If I am passionate about my art and business I need to trust that others will see it and want what I have to offer.  (The trick is getting it out there where they can see it, too!)

6. Feel the fear and do it anyway– At times I am unsure of myself; where I am going with my art, and what I am doing.  I must allow myself to experience those feelings but then forge ahead. What other choice do I have? Giving up is not an option!

Sometimes I feel fearful when I am in a new situation or approaching someone about my art. I’ve found that what helps ease my anxiety is to think to myself, What’s the worst that can happen? Perhaps I‘ll get rejected or feel out of my element, but the world will still spin and life will go on. So I swallow my pride and keep going- because I must!


I am so thankful to the friends and family who have encouraged and supported me along this journey.

7. Make time for family and friends– It is so easy to lose sight of the things that matter, if I allow it, especially if I’m wrapped up in a big project or preparing for a show.  I’ve learned that I constantly need to take a step back and look around me.  I need to take in the big picture and remember what my core values are.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to be using my God-given talents, but I cannot forget those who encouraged and helped me along the way.  I am so grateful to them, and I never want to forget to be thankful!

8. There is an answer out there for everything– I’ve had to forge many new streams in creating my business. I’ve had to find resources and learn to navigate them. Sometimes I’ve even had to learn new skills by watching tutorials or taking an online class.

I may have to dig for it, but the answers are out there. Thank God for Google!

9. Make a decision and stick with it–   This has not been an easy lesson to learn. Everywhere I turn there are decisions to make, and it can get overwhelming.  From what kind of art I should do, to where I should show it; decisions about what my art and business is about, and how I should run it.  Only I can decide and stand my ground- otherwise it would all get washed away in the current.

But then there are times when something doesn’t work and I need to let it go. That’s not an easy decision, either, but a necessary one to keep developing my art and business.

10. Prioritize– It’s remarkable how long its taken me to figure this out. There are so many things that need my attention and if I don’t prioritize, I wind up taking little nips but never finishing anything.

I’ve learned to choose 2-3 things each day that need to get done and then fill in with everything else. Often, I find that it’s better to get the more dreaded things out of the way first, as well. (ie: book-keeping!)

11. Make Connections– It can be hard to get myself out there and approach strangers- even if it’s in the name of my art.  I literally have to push myself to do it.  But 9 times out of 10, the people on the other end are friendly and helpful, and have led to more connections. These contacts have been invaluable and make it easier to go out and do it again.


Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

12. Don’t be afraid to fail– Not that I set out to make mistakes, but they happen anyway.  It would be easy to curl up and have a pity party every time they occur.  But I can’t.  Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

So bring it on!!

Do any of these lessons resonate with you?  What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your own business and/or creative pursuits?

Having a Learning and Growing Week!

Food, Glorious Food

Fruit in a bowl

It has been awhile since I’ve written about food- ironic because I think about it all the time!

A good portion of every day is spent daydreaming of food, trying not to eat between meals, (giving up and eating anyway), mulling over what I’m going to make for dinner, fantacizing about what I’m going to eat after dinner, salivating over what my husband is going to grill on the weekend, what I food I need to buy, what food I forgot to buy, etc., etc…

Want to hear some more random thoughts about food?

  • My families’ favorite foods?  Popcorn, Cheese, Tacos, and S’mores from the grill.
  • Every Saturday morning is Cinnamon Roll Saturday!– our treat for the end of a long week!
  • Have I mentioned that my husband is a great cook?  He usually cooks on the weekends.  From early Spring to late Fall this involves either grilling or smoking meat on one of his 3 grills.  He is masterful at it!

    Grocery List on envelope

    My weekly shopping list and proposed list of meals.

  • I write my weekly shopping list on the backs of blank envelopes from junk mail before tossing them into the recycling bin.  On the right side I write the meals that I propose and on the left side is the food I need to buy based on those meals.  Inside go coupons, if I manage to cut out any.
  • My weekly shopping list is based on my weekly planner that I create every Sunday.  In a nutshell, I take down our family calendar and transcribe it into my weekly planner.  From there I can see what activities we have planned and try to work out my dinners accordingly.  It’s not an easy job!

    Tried and True Recipes

    My tattered binder stuffed with recipes I’ve torn out of magazines and newspapers.

  • I have a collection of cookbooks, but the one I use the most is the one I created! It’s a binder labeled Tried and True Recipes, crammed full of recipes I’ve ripped out of newspapers and magazines over the years.
  • My best advice for meal-time success- preparation.  Often I’ll cut up veggies ahead of time, make rice right before we head off to an activity and leave it to warm on the stove (with burner turned off- it can stay warm for about an hour!), or create a meal in the crockpot, if it’s a particularly hectic day.

Why do I think about food so much?  Because meal-time is important to our family and sitting at the table for dinner together is one of our priorities.  I work my tail off to make it happen- but it’s worth it!

Here’s one of my go-to recipes from my Tried and True binder, cut out from a newspaper many years ago.  It’s Cashew Chicken that rivals take-out from a Chinese Restaurant:

Plate of Chinese Chicken and fruit

Cashew Chicken that rivals Chinese takeout!

Cashew Chicken

2 tbs. oyster sauce (found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)

2 tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

2 tbs. sesame oil

2 tbs. vegetable oil

1 Ib. boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 cup unsalted cashews

In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, rice wine, and sesame oil.

In a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering.  Add the chicken and stir-fry until slightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add the green peppers, onion, and ginger.  Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and the onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes.

Stir in the sauce and the cashews, thoroughly coating all the ingredients.

Serves 6

Do you have any tips for how you plan meals or prepare food in your busy schedule?  I’d love to hear them!

Have a Delectable Week!

Before I Hit The Road

Down the roadSometime in the next month, we will be leaving for our summer vacation.  I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to where and when, but, don’t fret, I’ll fill you in on some of the highlights soon afterwards!

What I can tell you is that it takes an abundance of preparation and organization to make it happen.

This is something, I must admit, that I actually enjoy doing.

What I hate?  Coming home, unpacking, and the mounds of laundry that await me afterwards!

But let me push those unpleasant thoughts aside and concentrate what is required to get the 5 of us ready for another exciting vacation…

1. Projecting

Before I pull out our suitcases, I first must slip on my thinking cap.   I always try to project ahead to the vacation location and our plans there.  What will the temperature be like?  Will we need good clothes for a special occasion? Will we need hiking shoes or beach clothes?  Will we be staying at hotels with toiletries provided or will we need to bring some of our own?

Only then am I ready for #2:

2. Lists

There are 2 lists that I create,  to-pack and to-do.  In the past, I’ve written them out by hand then tossed them out- but last year I had the foresight to type it up on my computer.  Turns out that I’m a repetitive creature and many of the items have remained the same, regardless of trip locale!

My to-pack list goes through each family member, lists the amount of clothing and what kind (pjs, jackets, undies, etc.), and then general necessities such as a camera, sunscreen, medicine, etc…  With 5 people to pack for, this list is invaluable!

My to-do list is anything and everything that needs to get done before we leave.  Hold mail and newspaper are always the #1 item.  There’s also getting cash, purchasing travel toiletries, sending last minute emails, etc., etc…

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.


3. Kid’s Bags

These are essential to our kids’ happiness and saves my husband and I from schlepping all the kid’s crap ourselves!  Each person is in charge of a backpack (or purse/laptop case, for the adults) that contains all the gizmos, books, and activities required to keep them occupied.  In addition, I’ll often slip in a few little surprises (activity books and magazines) and snacks to get them through long flights or car rides.

4. CDs

A few years ago I learned how to create custom CDs, and these have also become a tradition for long car rides.  Each kid is allowed to create a playlist of 15-20 songs from our music library and/or downloaded from iTunes, then I burn them onto a disc.  It is interesting to witness their developing tastes in music and discover their favorite songs.  Often, one tune becomes the theme song for our vacation (as in the case of California Love by Dr. Dre for a trip out west a few summers ago!).

5. Food

I’ve already mentioned snacks in the backpacks.  If we are taking a long car ride, I’ll often pack a cooler of drinks (along with extras to throw in later), plenty of non-perishable snacks, and some dried cereal and bagels for breakfast- so that we don’t have to stop as often.  A special mention is gum, especially helpful on plane trips for popping ears.  Its also been used to ease fatigue for the drivers, and nausea for passengers.  We are lucky that our kids don’t get carsick very often, but one can never be too prepared!

6. Research

This goes along somewhat with projecting – learning a little about where we’ll be headed.  Back in the dark ages that would primarily be through books.  Nowadays, Google is my best friend.  Social Media (aka: asking friends) also helps, along with Yelp and TripAdvisor.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like to keep many of these recommendations in a folder as reference for when we’re there. (along with hotel confirmations, telephone numbers, exchange rates, etc.)

quote by Hans Christian Anderson7. What Have I Missed?

I have learned that after we return from a trip, my brain is in a fog and it takes about a week to resume normal activity.  Therefore, I try to project ahead to the days after we get home and prepare as much as possible.  This year, my daughter’s birthday arrives shortly after we return, so I’ll need to start planning now to ensure that she has a party with all the fix in’s when the time comes!

If I can’t prepare beforehand, sometimes I’ll put alerts on my phone for important things I need to remember, or to shake me into action. (i.e.: bills that are due, sport’s sign-ups, etc.)

One could get tired just looking at all the prep work that goes into getting a family out of town and ask, Is it worth it?  

My answer? A resounding YES!  The more I do now, the better able I am to actually relax when we get there and disconnect for awhile.  Something we all need to do from time to time.

Are there any special rituals you do as you prepare to hit the road?  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a Fabulous Week!


Letter to my 18 year old self

A letter to my 18 year old selfDear Dawn,

Hello! Please don’t be too freaked out- it’s me, the 42 year old version of yourself. I know that seems rather old. Just remember, I was once where you are now, and it really doesn’t seem that long ago.

I’m not going to become your soothsayer and spell out what happens to you. That would ruin all the surprises that await you.

What I am going to do is give you a little advice to help you ease into the life that’s ahead of you. I hope you don’t mind. But knowing you (me), I don’t think that you will.

  1. Relax. Things will work out. It’s hard to imagine that they will sometimes- but trust me on this!  Drop those shoulders (something you’ll be hearing a lot!), keep your chin up, and ease up on the throttle a bit more.
  2. Laugh. Humor will help you through even the most difficult hurdles in your life. Watch for and embrace it.
  3. Always Be YourselfBe yourself. Someday you will learn just how valuable your own assets are. Learn to stick up for your ideas and talk so that you can be heard.
  4. Don’t settle. You know what you want. Go for it. It is out there!
  5. Take care of yourself. I know it seems that you can do anything, eat anything, sleep..whenever… but the more you take care of yourself now, the better I will feel later. (Don’t worry, I’m not a blob, but it’s taken a lot of work not to be so!)
  6. Use caution.  You are a trusting person. Most of the time, that will be rewarded. But sometimes, you will be used. Learn to trust your instincts and don’t do it if you’re not sure. ‘nuff said.
  7. Keep in touch. Your friends may seem like everything to you right now. Don’t forget your family, they will be your constant through all the transitions and changes in your life. Embrace them even when you feel they aren’t in tune with what’s happening. They love you no matter what, and not everyone will.
  8. Always Use CautionDon’t sell yourself short. Perhaps some things don’t come as naturally but it doesn’t mean that you can’t, it just means you may have to work a little harder at it.
  9. Write Thank You’s. A good habit to get into. One that I’m still working on!
  10. Give back. You have many talents and skills that others can benefit from. You’d be surprised how rewarding it is to use them in helping others. Stop making excuses and start now!

I’m not going to sugar coat it, your life will be difficult at times. But there are also many blessings in store for you. Continue to follow your goals and stay true to your values.

OK, I’m going to break the rules with a few more specifics that I’ve learned the hard way!  Perhaps this could prevent them from happening…

Don’t look up at a gigantic tub of laundry detergent that doesn’t seem to be coming out correctly. The results could be very painful!


Remember #9? Don’t wait around for your significant other to help you with wedding thank you’s, it may never happen!Always give back

One more piece of vague advice: If something big happens to you and you haven’t seen it coming, don’t panic. Allow the process to play out on its own- it will be ok! I wish I could be a little more specific on this one, but you’ll know what I mean when it happens!

Hang in there and enjoy your life!

With love,

You (A bit older and somewhat wiser)

 If you could give your 18 year old version some advice about what lies ahead, what would it be?

Have a Fun and Enlightening Week!

P.S. Would you like to hear some stories behind the advice to myself? Sign up for my upcoming monthly Newsletter, where I’ll decode this letter, offer helpful tips to make time for creativity this summer, and reveal future events and projects for Art At Dawn. I’d love for you to join in on the fun!

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