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Versatile Blog Awards

I am proud to say, I was nominated for the Versatile Blog Award. It’s a non-award from a good online friend and I am beyond flattered. Only two years ago, I longingly looked through the window of the online community and thought I would never make such lovely friendships as I saw people creating. And then my lone cowgirl self rode into town, hung around like a pooch waiting for food and a scratch. Eventually, I became a part of the scenery.
stairs to a house no longer there from Shalavee.com
I connected with several fellow new bloggers after the first Decor8 online Blogging Your Way workshop. Women who were new and feisty like me and funny and figuring it out. Among them, Jane Barry of The Curious Love of Green . She lives in Ireland and I share with her a love of food, writing, of creativity,  mothering, and maintaining the home fires. She is wry and driven and I was so flattered when she offered out to me a crowning and bestow-ment of the of Versatile Blog Award. Thanks so much for thinking of me Jane, even if it is maybe one of those non-award awards. The reverence from you means more than words.
After linking back to my bestower, Jane’s next instructions were to then share 7 random facts about myself.
1)  My pinkie toenail is more like a glob that I file down to a flat surface to paint.
2)  I never owned a car when I lived in the city. My first car was ‘Bessie’ the the 1980 Chevy brown truck we bought at a Delaware car auction to haul debris from our new house renovation 12 years ago when I was 35 maybe.
3)  I blew renewing my driver’s license in a timely fashion and had to retake both the written and driving tests in 2012 to get it back. A most  humbling experience detailed in a three part series.
4)  The first middle and last letters of my name Shalagh are my initials, SLH.
5)  I don’t know how to type. Surely there’s a computer tutorial I should be using to learn how to considering I do a lot of writing.
6)  At my wedding, I sang a song I wrote when I was a teen about a river to my husband a cappella for his present. In front of all our guests.
7)  I refuse to shop at Wal-mart. I do not appreciate or respect the way they treat their employees and so I practice conscious consumerism.

One way sign from Shalavee.com
And Lastly, I must complete the process by then passing on the award to 13 other versatile bloggers. So here are 13 blogging gals whom I have the highest regards for.
Amanda Warton at The Eastern Bay 
Kathy Bosin at The Chesapeake Journal
Marg Hogan at Destination Here and Now  
Sandra Harris at Raincoast Creative Salon  
Suzonne Stirling of Urban Comfort 
Lauren Keim of Still + Life 
Sheri Silver of Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt
Sabrina Wolfe of Wolves In London 
Jennifer Mullin at the Fiery Redhead
Heather Serody at Big Girl Life 
Marissa Harrington of Bourbon and Goose
tulip tree in the morning on Shalavee.com
And even if the award stops here, being that it is one of those kind of non-award admirational awards, I hope these women know that I am a devoted reader and lifetime supporter and friend to each of them. I love to write and I love to be read. Did I mention Jane is just finishing her draft of her book? Think I’m busy?

Slow Blogging My Way

Feature Picture courtesy of Holly Becker and her Blogging Your Way  ecourse

New Year’s intentions don’t leap fully formed from my head like Athena from Zeus’ skull. They need to simmer a little. There’s no simmering during Christmas when the To-Do list is doubled and you have to put breathing on it to remember to do so. But on the 12th day of Christmas, I had something to say. I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to my fellow bloggers and there’s a trend I am very happy to see spreading.

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The theme that’s spreading throughout the blogasphere isn’t too new. It’s called “slow blogging”, a concept I first fell upon in this post at You Are My Fave dot Com. Back in October. At the same time, I was taking my second blogging ecourse from Holly Becker, who in this recent post, Resolve To Be Happy, talks about a return to passion not automation. She’s been in the blogging business since blogging’s start.

So has Erin Loechner who writes the Design For Mankind blog. In this post from a year ago about slow blogging, says,”I miss the days when blogging itself was my muse. When the simple act of sharing something I stumbled upon was the joy itself and not a frenzied race to click link after link in hopes that I’ll have discovered something truly amazing.”

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My gut says that when blogging gurus Holly Becker, Melanie Blodgett, and Erin Loechner say slow down and live your best life through your blog, they may be on to something. I intend to use this medium as an impetus. To create, inspire, befriend, take pictures, and complete my life. Blogging is a malleable medium. You can work diligently to create numbers, nay mass quantities of followers. Or you can feel the zen-ness of it all. I’m the latter sort of blogger.

It was when I read Britta’ post on Hudson and Hill that someone had made simple the pay-off. “It’s how I connect with myself and other people who are on the same path as me. I’ve found so much hope and inspiration and laughter from other bloggers, and this is my small way to join the conversation”.

the other shelves

I would desperately love to have more people to read what I write since I do want it to be enjoyed. And I also want to feel joy and wonder and gratitude. To let things evolve while doing my best to allow them to and not compare myself to the “producers”. I believe that if I build it, and provide quality content while always striving to improve my technical and writing skills, they will come.

So thanks to all these stellar hard-working dedicated women I have come across who are speaking out to create a climate that is about the quality, creativity, sincerity, and comfort of the posts we create. Sandra and Melanie, you are dolls. Kathy and Amy, you are my camp. Jane and Marg my faraway friends, you are also my inspirations. And all the people who jump in and out to say hey to me here and there, I see you and I hear you and you inspire me.

Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You.

I attempt to push a little beyond my comfort zone as often as I am inspired to do so. Challenging myself  to grow is one of my “things”.  And I think am not alone. There’s a gal who had an idea for a project. Her post on her blog this heart of mine was inspirational.

I am accepting her invitation, along with a group of other women, to be a part of the Bold Brilliant Beautiful You project.

Instead of wishing for change, I am making the choice to create the change and joining a community of people with the same purpose. By using the hashtag #boldbrilliantbeautiful on Instagram, Flicker, and Twitter to find the others involved, we intend to connect, support one another, and accept whatever we’re dishing up this year without judgment. I am already committed to a process (blogging) and I really like the idea of not having to go it alone. To post my posts as if shouting to an empty room. To stick my neck out and know perfection isn’t necessary.

For me, Bold is about risks. Setting goals and mapping them out. And then following the map to accomplishment. Bettering my skills. Reaching out to the unknown (especially when it scares me),to  other people,  and asking for their help. Big.

Brilliant is me being crafty, clever, and shining while doing my best and letting go of the pesky rest. I want to follow whims and oversee my to-do’s in a way that actually works. As well as taking that blog ‘o mine to the next level. I want to believe that my creativity is worthy of your admiration and mine.

Beautiful is letting my inner beauty come out into my environment, my art, and my consciousness. Taking care of my body and my soul. And about gratitude for the lovely little people who give me such joy.

I am posting my last selfie to Instagram and reaching out to the unknown. Declaring my intention with the picture of me and the project’s name.  And am hoping I will better know myself and a bunch of other women by the end of the year. If I am in need of permission, I have found a place to receive it ten fold. A community awaits me with support and acceptance. Thank you y’all.

My Christmas Gift To Me

PMS, a full moon, and Christmas aren’t a good combo. Even with a whole lot done, I felt incomplete and irritated at everything this past week. Not feeling the ho ho ho in the holiday tone. Here I had a beautiful baby, everything to be grateful for, and I felt resentful. What?stroller smile

I want to judge it and yet I can’t when it may be telling me something needs an adjustment.

I’ve been feeling more jazzed than ever to move ahead on my blog. Take the next step. I planned to use all the pictures I’d already taken, enjoy an afternoon or two of all out creativity and take more pictures. I’d have blog posts for days.

Then life happened to me. A ton of “do-this-befores“, baby interruptions, and regular chores. When I missed my dental cleaning appointment, I had a fit. I would not be writing all those blog posts I’d intended to. The timeliness of them had passed anyway. I still had no help with the baby. And all the “Making Big Blog Plans for 2014” posts was making me feel crappier.DSC02394 - Copy

By yesterday, 4 days until Christmas, I was saying, “I think I might need some time off.” Time to contemplate 2014, paint my fingernails, read a magazine, create time and brain space. Relax. Be. Breath.

I keep thinking of a scene in the Color Purple where Oprah’s character Sophia drives her mistress’s car to visit her children. She hasn’t seen them in a heartbreakingly long time. It could be the holiday season. Only when they get there, the woman freaks out. Sophia has to drive her away unable to spend time with her loved ones. It’s heart wrenching. And familiar. To be within reaching distance of the one thing that will make you happy and have to leave it.closet shot

I desperately need creative time. I know I went and had me a baby and that is what it is. There are ways around this attention conflict. Expectation adjustments are up to me. Meeting my needs? Up to me. Letting things go that are standing right in my way? Up to me. Do your best, let go of the rest.

My present to myself will be to list out my responsibilities as if they were expenditures and overview my task budget. I may be spreading myself too thinly. And diluting my potential for greatness I feel capable of. I suspect I may just need my own permission to be great.

(And for a little Christmas Picture Prettiness, check out my final Christmas Decor Extravaganza post from last year.)

The Cone Collective Meetup : A Creative’s Event

I had the privilege of attending a creative meetup in Baltimore at the end of August courtesy of Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play and Kara Johnson, creator of a blog called A Creative Reality. After meeting at a blogging conference,these two dynamic women conceived and created the Cone Collective, a group for the benefit of uniting creative people. And I am a happy creative member. Named after the famous art collecting sisters whose collection comprises a whole wing at the BMA, they’ve created a club of creatives and throw parties, or meet-ups, for all of us to meet one another and be creatively inspired. I was there for this 5th meetup and it was held in the Spur Design Studio in my former hood of Hampden. ( I will delight you with pictures of our quick spin on the Avenue in my next post.)

 

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Jennifer’s on the left.

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Spur Design Studio was super cool.

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Prints for sale

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Everywhere I looked there was pretty

There were guest speakers on several aspects of being a professional creative. Andrea Pippins names her co-panelists and sums up her panel participation and her walk away inspiration wonderfully on a post on her Flygirlblog. Other guest ‘discussers’ were Caroline Urdaneta, blogger and Mom of four, who’s Salsa Pie creative kid crafts projects are now mini videos produced by PBS. She and her videos are very sweet. And the young Alisa, location director for Raw Baltimore, a showcase event for all sorts of artists, many of whom need promotional help for their art and through these events, they get to shine.

Here’s two thoughts I took away. Video is the now thing. And don’t underestimate your value to large brands. Ms. Jennifer is blogging for the likes of Pepperidge Farms and Disney. And she too has gotten a video opportunity with PBS. And she believes in pay it forward. These are bloggers who are hard at work and still are making the time to be here for the rest of us. Stellar gals all of them.

Today, I wanted to share the questions and answers from Jennifer about why she organizes these meet-ups, what drives her, and if there’s such a thing as enough?

Cone Collective Meet-up/Questions for Jennifer:

Me : This is your fifth meet-up? What is your reward in continuing to organize these meet-ups? Is there a personal satisfaction or a professional perk in doing this?
 Jennifer : A bit of both. Professionally it was good for me to get out there in front of people. It’s not always something I’ve been great at. It also gave me (insight) into just how difficult it is to pull off events and pull them off well. As far as personal satisfaction goes, I crave the energy that comes from hanging out with other creative types.
As far as reward, it’s really comes down to those personal connections I’ve made. I know, so self serving, right?! It also makes me happy to hear that other people got something out of it too.
During the panel discussion, I noticed everyone agreed they were “happy” after answering the question about sacrifice to make the creativity happen/pay-off. What is your definition of “enough” success or creative productivity? And what’s the relativity to the happiness factor? Can you be happy in the process?

Ooh, you ain’t pulling any punches are you? Okay, full honesty here: I don’t know if there’ll be “enough” creative productivity. At least, for right now, at this particular point in time, I can’t envision what it’d look like. I’m still in the process of discovery and becoming. Maybe that’ll be a process that never ends. And the happiness, for me, comes with doing.  I’m not thinking of things I could be doing, I’m doing them. Granted, I’m not doing them all well (some of them are a right hot mess), but I’m doing.

I absolutely heard your “people said I’m clever” comment. Can you repeat that comment and explain why it’s not a compliment. Is what you really want to be recognized as talented or capable? What is that?

You know how we all have something that bugs us? Something that’s not entirely rational? That clever thing is one of them. It’s silly, but to me, it sounds diminutive. So yeah, I suppose what I wanted was to be recognized for being talented or creative. Clever reminds me of some sly fox, and we all know the sly fox is the butt of the joke in the story.

Is the drive to be successful, as with many of us, a need not to be seen solely as a Mom (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? Or is it the fear of non-achievement, illegitimacy, or incapability that drives us?

Hmm… I’m not sure. It’s kinda hard to psychoanalyze myself, but I think it’s two-fold. First, I really do want to help make people’s lives better. That’s the empathy component. And the more successful you are, the more people you reach, and the more change you can affect in people’s lives. (Maybe that’s a God complex? I hope not, because that’d be a huge burden) Second, yeah, I suppose it’s that I have an aversion to being defined by such rigid constraints. We could look into that further but I’m afraid you’d have to charge me a therapy fee.

Was there a point, after you’d busted your hump to establish a product and presence, when you could relax a little?

Not yet. In fact, and this is something I’m struggling with now, but it’s had a snowball effect. The more work I produce, the more work I seem to have. I don’t want to complain right now though because after taking so many years off to raise the kids, it’s amazing to have the work. But I do fear I’m starting to spread myself too thin.

            What do you think about the balancing act of being mother and artist? How do you balance being good mother and productive artist?

I love this question. I love it because I think that by being a productive artist, I’m showing my kids that their art (and I use that term broadly) is important too.

Thanks again Jennifer for your efforts and your time. Many people aren’t as nice. I wonder why?
Love,
Shalagh
I am thankful to Jennifer and Kara for their dedication to other creatives. And I agree wholeheartedly that it’s in talking and communicating with one another that we are inspired to up the ante on our creativity. We become inspired and accountable to people in a way that you don’t and can’t conceive of sitting behind your computer screen. And what I didn’t mention to her, or anyone save my husband and a friend or two, is that I’m thinking that this epidemic of meet up events may need to land a spell on the Eastern Shore. And I know just the gal to pull something like that off.
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