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Posts from the ‘Goals’ 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!

What Have You Been Harvesting?


Harvesting by Theophrastos Triantafyilldis c.1930

The kids have descended into school and the the fall season is slowly unfolding.  I feel that I’ve only been able to plow the fields in short bursts, but I’ve already begun to see some of the fruits of my labors.

I’m referring, of course, to my art making process.  Its been slowly increasing after the summer months where I wasn’t able to do much of anything (due to other important things like family and vacation!)  But I’m proud to say that things are beginning to take off.

This season I’ve also been using a new fertilizer.  I’ve been guarding my time.  Meaning- I’ve had to say no to things I normally would say yes to.  But I’ve learned that overcommitment is the kiss of death to creativity.  If only I could stop the guilt from flooding me every time I turn something down!

So what have I been up to?  Let me count the ways:

Banyan Painting In Progress

A painting in progress based on my Banyan Tree Series

1. Paintings In Progress

At the moment I have at least 7 canvases in varying degrees of done-ness scattered around my studio.  Most are based on my Banyan Tree Series, but a few are other explorations and experimentations.  I can’t wait to show them to you when I’m finished!

New work from Art At Dawn

A selection of word painted mirrors, frames, boxes, ornaments, and magnets I’ve developed for upcoming shows and galleries.

2.  Word Painting Items

I began developing word painted ornaments and magnets last year for a few holiday shows and gallery shops.  (Word paintings= words cut out and embedded into the paint.) This year I’m expanding my line to include painted mirrors, frames, bowls, and plaques.  I will be part of a few more holiday shows this year and have just been invited to join a new gallery (all of which I will expand upon and give more specifics in my upcoming newsletter), so I’ve got some stock to build!

Elemental Wisdom Acrylic Painting

I have just created prints and cards based on my painting, Elemental Wisdom, and a few other more recent paintings.

3. More Prints and Cards

I have a few more prints and cards available in my online Selz shop, as well as the upcoming shows and galleries that carry my work.  I’m not sure what has taken me so long to offer them, but I’m glad it’s finally happening!

4. Miscellaneous Odds n’ Ends

  • I have a few exhibits coming up and have applied to a few others.  (again, more specifics will be given in my upcoming newsletter.  Please sign up so you can receive it!)
  • I’ve just begun to take another online web class, so you may see some changes to my website in the next coming weeks/months. (Good ones, I hope!)
  • I may be doing a collaboration with a friend of mine, but we’re just in the talking stage so I can’t expand further at this time.   I’m always striving to find new opportunities and broaden my horizons.

These are the moments I live for as an artist, when momentum has built and creativity is in full throttle.  To be churning out quality work is a bonus, but that often is decided after the fruit has ripened and the reaping has begun.

However, I can feel proud of what I’ve been able to achieve up to this point and look forward to participating in the harvest.

What kinds of projects are you involved in this fall season and what have you been harvesting?

Have a Nurturing and Fruitful Week!

What do you want to be..?

My siblings and I

Hanging out with my siblings circa 1980

My daughter and I had a long conversation the other day about what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Her answer – a vet, singer, actor, fashion designer, and inventor.  You go, girl!

I was very fortunate that my parents never pushed me in any one direction.  They let me figure it out on my own and encouraged all my interests.

So what did I want to be?

Once, I contemplated being a nun (for an entire 3 hours- then realized I just couldn’t do it!).  Then for a long time, since I was a ferocious bookworm, I wanted to be a librarian.

Girl reading with a run in her hose.

Very characteristic- My nose in book and a run in my hose!

But even before I discovered I had any talent, I wanted to be an artist.

What I didn’t want to be?  A teacher.  For 2 reasons- filmstrips and vomit.  (The latter is the reason I didn’t want to be a doctor, either!)  This makes me sound ancient- but when I was growing up there weren’t DVDs or even VCRs- just these stupid strips of film on a roll that every single teacher seemed to struggle with while winding onto the projectors.  It looked like torture!

An artist- that, in my mind, equalled unbridled freedom.  I obviously wasn’t one to seek wealth in a profession.  Even then I knew that the key to success was happiness.  (Though I must admit that now, as I grapple with how to make a living in my profession, I sometimes wonder why I hadn’t chosen to do something with a few more dollar signs attached to it!)

It wasn’t until middle school, however, that I discovered I had any talent for art beyond just liking to do it.

My middle school art teacher, a man I don’t remember having much affinity for and was even a little afraid of, encouraged my mom to enroll me in a summer art program.  He must have seen some spark of talent, though I feel my work was rather average up to that point.

That class shook me awake. It was based on drawing from life through field trips to various locations- the zoo, a pretty row of houses, the art museum- and suddenly I discovered that I had a way of seeing things and an ability to draw what I saw on paper.

I had access to a language not everyone knew how to speak, and it made me feel special.

Trying to look cool but feeling pretty awkward

I was in an awkward stage for what seemed like a very long time! (Check out that awful asymmetrical haircut!)

Up to that point, I was somewhat lost.  I was the oldest of 4 kids and my parents were divorced.  We lived with my mother who struggled to make ends meet, though always made sure we had what we needed.  I was very shy and always had my nose in a book with wild short, curly hair- and for awhile I had braces and cheap plastic glasses.

I went through a very awkward stage for what seemed like a very long time.

But art became my escape pod.

At the age of 16 my mother remarried and we moved from Wisconsin to Virginia.  Talk about culture shock!  Again, art came to the rescue.  I became involved in drama, choir, and art- even managing to win a few awards and scholarships.

Winning an award for a drawing

Winning a few awards and scholarships led me to seek art as a profession

When it came time to choose my college, it was a no brainer.  I wanted to find a program that allowed me to create art to my heart’s content.

I chose The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) without blinking an eye or even touring the campus. (a visit from representatives from the college when I was a Sophomore still in Wisconsin made that much of an impression on me!)

Fast forward 25 years- I married a boy that I met on an adjoining campus after my freshman year.  (He was a graduate student at Case Western Reserve U.)  We were married 10 days after I graduated from CIA and moved to London two weeks afterwards so he could pursue a Post-Doctorate position there.  I’ve been following him ever since to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and finally, back here in Ohio.  Along the way, we’ve had 3 beautiful kids.

For awhile I was a freelance illustrator (the major I ultimately chose at CIA), then became an art teacher. (Thankfully filmstrips became extinct and no one has yet to vomit in my class!)  When we moved back to Ohio after my youngest daughter was born, I chose to put aside my art to concentrate on raising my family.

My 3 kids and santa.

I’ll never regret taking time out to raise my 3 fantastic kids!

But one day, as my youngest was getting older and about to enter school, I revisited that question:  What do you want to be when you grow up?  I had what can be called a come to Jesus moment.  I realized I had to get back to the art that I once had such a passion for, and I had to do it my way.

The question was, What is my way? Good question!  Its still something I’m seeking but this (arms held wide) is the result.  I’m doing it!

I have a lot of people to thank for helping me to answer that question- my husband for his endless support and love, my family, Kelly Dahl who became my life coach to get me started creating goals and seeing them through, and all my wonderful friends- You, who continue to encourage and support me on this quest.

Thank you!  May you have a glorious week towards realizing your own goals and desires!

A Summer of Discoveries

Sunset over Rocks

Some say Fall or Spring is their favorite season (and a few even claim Winter!).  As for me, Summer is where my heart belongs.

I seem to feel much more alive and open in the summer- almost like a desert flower that blooms after the rainy season when all the conditions are ripe.  I feel more relaxed and exposed to experiences and discoveries that come my way.

So what have you discovered this summer?  I’m glad you asked!

1. People are fascinating.

I’m sure this is something I’ve already known, but its really begun to emerge these past few months.  I’ve bumped into a few extremely intriguing people lately and its made me hunger for more encounters like them.

I met a woman on my trip out West who was trying to climb the highest peak in every state. Recently, a fellow artist who photographs my work explained how he began an art exchange with a group in Japan.

Dartboard against orange wall

I met a fascinating woman at a local Irish Festival last weekend who shared her love of playing darts and how she met her husband at a competition.

I now realize why we were always one of the last families to leave after mass on Sundays, when my mother began talking to other parishioners. I have become one of those people. My children outwardly groan when they see me bump into a friend at a grocery store.

Sorry kids- people are just too fascinating. Hopefully you’ll understand someday!

2. Let go of expectations.

August has rounded the corner and I have only achieved a fraction of the projects I had planned for the summer.  Rather then let this eat away at me, I’ve come to a few realizations.

Getting ready to paint

The tarps are up and the hardware is down, yet I still haven’t painted the boys’ rooms.   Upate- Painting has begun!

I’ve realized that the reason things haven’t been achieved is that I’ve had a fun summer with the family.  We’ve swum, bowled, vacationed, visited local fairs and festivals, and eaten at open air restaurants.  We’ve done summer!

Isn’t that better then crossing all the to-dos off my list and missing out on all the fun?

But it hasn’t stopped me from feeling guilt for not crossing off those to-dos.  Next summer I think I’ll make a bucket list instead of a to-do list so that anything I accomplish will be a bonus!

3. Keep the creative gates open.

I’m in the post-vacation, pre-school mode and have had little time to be creative.  But this summer I have a lifeline.

I began a new 365 project in June. I vowed to create a drawing every day based on a song I was listening to. Have I succeeded? Not quite, but often enough so that it has become something I either do or at least think about doing every single day.

Drawing in my 365 music sketchbook

A drawing in my daily 365 sketchbook based on the song, Happy.

My paints will have to wait just a little while longer.  But at least I have my sketchbook to carry me through!

4. Connect.

I’m so glad I was able to see my sister (actually, my half sister) in Colorado while were we were vacationing out west. We actually hadn’t seen each other since our Dad died 3 ½ years ago! But It was a hurdle to make it happen. We had to dodge a few miscommunications and juggle our schedules.

Family gathering in restaurant

My sister’s 4 kids and my 3 made for a very rowdy reunion, but it was fun to reconnect!

Those 2 hours at the pizza parlor (driving the poor waitresses crazy with our combined 7 loud and rambunctious kids!) made a world of difference to our distant relationship. We were able to reconnect.

Just last weekend my brother and his family came up for a last minute visit. Again, connections were strengthened as the cousins romped around the backyard and the grown-ups caught up at the dining room table.

Family is a blessing. There are many differences among us, but blood is a powerful bonding agent!

5. Deadlines make things happen.

This seems counter-intuitive to letting go of expectations, but some things needed to get done this summer and deadlines made it happen.

In fact, the reason you’re able to read a new blog post from me just about every week (except when I snuck off on vacation!) isn’t because I always feel inspired to write. I wish it were the case and I’m sorry to say that it’s not! It is because I have a self-imposed deadline.

The same goes for just about everything else that I’ve managed to achieve this summer. I have good intentions, but unless I give myself a deadline, it doesn’t get done. It’s a fine line- relaxing expectations yet creating deadlines. I guess it all boils down to priorities.

A list of things to do on a computer

I recently discovered the program, Todoist, and love it’s versatility and simple format.


There are only a few weeks left before the kids go back to school and the summer season ends, at least in our household. My plan is to make the best of the time we have left and enjoy it to the last drop.

How about you? What discoveries have you made this summer?

Have an enchanting week and enjoy your summer while it’s still here!


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