Letting Go...Embracing Change...

Living the Life I Dream

Artists and Assholes

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Artists and Assholes

I recently had the pleasure of being in Miami for nine days to experience for the second time what is known as Art Basel Week. Galleries from all over the world descend on this tropical paradise bringing with them the best works of art they have to offer. Between the weather and the art, it’s what I imagine heaven to be.

Last year, my son, Mac, who is an artist, and I visited as many fairs as we could in the three days we were in town. This year we decided to spend more time in Miami so we could attend more fairs, spend added time at the ones we liked, swing through galleries (Mac had friends having shows), and also visit several private collections opened to the public.

I invested a lot of time and had a calendar laid out before we left to guarantee we could see it all (my husband says I can turn anything into a military campaign). The first three days went as planned then, by perchance, Mac met an artist friend. He invited Mac to assist him and his collaborator on a mural they were doing the next day.

As Mac went happily off to paint, I went happily off to the art fairs. It was a long day of painting as they had to finish, and I ended up wandering through the streets of Wynwood, a warehouse area in Miami that has been transformed into a community art gallery by artists from around the world who’ve graced it’s walls with murals.

There were a lot of artists out painting and it was fun to watch their visions take shape. Most of the time, when I passed, they were “in their zone,” and I was able to admire their work unobserved. Occasionally, if they needed a break; they’d pop out earbuds and engage me in a lovely conversation about their work.

During this time, I happened to chat with a gentleman who owned a building in Wynwood. Half joking and half serious, I told him that he should let my son paint on his building. He said no. I told him I was going to show him my son’s paintings (sue me, I’m a mom) and then he could tell me no again.

I showed him one photo that was a detail of a painting Mac had done. The owner glanced at the photo and without a second of hesitation said yes, Mac could paint a wall on his building. Still in shock, I was escorted by the owner to a wall that was, approximately sixty feet long and eighteen feet high. That’s a big wall.

After Mac wrapped work on his friends’ mural, he went by the wall. Other than a couple of markers, he had no supplies with him, we still had a lot of art to see, he really didn’t want to paint over the mural that was already there, and, like I said, the wall was big. The owner said that the mural on the wall had been up long enough. He said that either Mac could take the wall or he’d eventually give it to another artist. Mac contemplated the task ahead and finally decided to do it.

As Mac began to paint the next day, area artists began to stop by. One, needing a break from the tedium of his own project, helped paint for a bit. Another, discovering Mac had no ladders, offered up the ones he had used as he had finished his mural and no longer needed them. They chased off taggers after we left for the night and even buffed over tags. An artist from Atlanta who was in town for the fairs, spent half a day painting with Mac. They shared their work, admired his, shook hands, gave hugs and encouragement, and made sure Mac knew they had his back.

Each artist was as different and unique as their artwork. Some were quiet and reserved while others were boisterous and fun loving. Some wore clothes splattered with paint while others were crisp and paint free. While they came in all shapes and all sizes, I started to notice they had a few things in common.

They all had an intense love and respect not only for art, but also for the artist that created the work even if that work was unlike their own. They believed deeply in their artistic vision, in the work they were doing, and were proud of what they’d accomplished. In spite of this, they were incredibly and amazingly humble. Most importantly they were all about the work. They were in Miami to make art and before the fairs, the shows, the galleries, or the parties and fun happened they made sure they got the work done. They left no doubt that the work was their priority.

Others stopped by as well. There was the little French girl who theatrically threw up her arms loudly complaining for half a day that that she should have been the one painting the wall instead. There was the guy who periodically walked by and glared at Mac before returning to his mural. There were the people who roved the neighborhood with spray cans painting on and over any and everything they saw with no regard for property or the art that was already there. There were those that stopped by, telling Mac about all the parties they had attended, who they had met, and how hungover they were.

And as I watched all of this unfold, I realized there are artists and then there are assholes and it became crystal clear to me which camp I prefer.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against putting on a cute dress, eating nice food, and hanging out with interesting people. I’ve done it before and will do it again. When it’s all said and done, I hope that I’m remembered for more than just that.

I’m not an artist. But like the artists I met, I hope that I’m remembered for the love and passion I share, for the work I do, and for being the type of person who supports others on my path.

We planned that our time in Miami would be steeped in art work. Instead we spent our time steeped in artists. Steeped in the love and beauty and joy and support and respect that true artists have for themselves, their work, and others.

I send my love to each of you who were part of Mac’s journey in Miami. Thank for reminding me what art and life are really all about. You remain in my heart.

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Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments


Lately my life has been full.

My oldest is home with all his worldly possessions after serving five years in the Marines. My middle has taken over the entire basement with his art studio. My youngest, who is wrapping up her last year of high school, is barely contained in her girly suite.

We have four cars with a fifth one in the plans and a two car garage. Getting in and out requires a game of musical cars from time to time. My and my husband’s home offices are buzzing with activity. Then there’s the holidays with extra food, decorations, and gifts being tucked away in every available crevice and corner.

I find myself holding onto things I normally don’t hold onto. Larger boxes to wrap Christmas presents, the set of dishes I haven’t used in several years, towels, pots and pans, and random glasses and bowls. I keep the two benches that don’t have a purpose, chairs that don’t match, a side table I no longer need, and picture frames, lots of picture frames. There’s a tangle of Christmas lights in a box and cache of gift wrap in the upstairs closet.

And I feel full, almost stuffed to uncomfortable. I itch to load it up and haul it away. To clear the rooms. To make space.

Then I remember.

The holidays will come and go and the larger boxes and extra food and gift wrap and tangle of lights will be put to good use. They will induce smiles and laughter. They will bring us together in ways we can’t yet imagine and in their wake create memories we will hold onto forever.

The oldest is making plans to go to college and get a house. He’ll leave taking all his worldly possessions plus one of the cars plus some of the towels and pots and pans and random chairs and picture frames. I hope he finds a need for a bench or two and will be grateful to see things I no longer need put to good use as he starts his new life in his new home.

The middle will move and the art studio that hums along with his creativity will once again become any empty labyrinth of rooms that I won’t traverse. He’ll take a car and a bed and a couch and a television. He’ll take the shelves that hold his cans of paint and the paint covered tables on which he works. The hum in the basement, the artistic energy, will dissipate leaving a void in it’s wake.

The youngest has college in her sites and will be moving into a dorm next fall. She’ll take a car, her clothes, and the futon from the basement. I anticipate that she’ll keep her room here, at least for another year or two, but the stuff she uses everyday will go with her and the room will be a place she visits on occasion and no longer a place that she lives.

And the rest? The things they don’t take? All that remains?

I will load it up and haul it away. I will clear the rooms. I will make space.

It will feel good and a little lonely and somewhat sad.

Somewhat sad.

Full will not last forever.

So, I decide that today I going to overlook the clutter, I won’t worry over items crammed into crevices and corners, and I’m choosing to ignore the things that have not yet been put to good use. Today I’m playing musical cars with a smile as I walk past the shelves that are over flowing. Today I’m enjoying full.

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Decluttering: The First Step

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments

Decluttering: The First Step

This post is really only for the person who finds themselves being swallowed by their possessions and who is sincerely wanting to change their situation. If you’re happy just the way you are, by all means, carry on.

The first step to decluttering is to stop buying new stuff.

If we really want to get a handle on the stuff we have, we first have to stop adding to it. We have to commit, for a month, a week, a day, that before purchasing anything new we will make sure that 1. we don’t already have one, that 2. we don’t have something else that can get the job done just as well, that 3. we can’t wait and make the purchase later, or that 4. we maybe, just maybe, can get by without the item.

Not buying stuff is challenging. Not running to the store to get that thing-we-are-convinced-will-make-our-lives-oh-so-much-better is a difficult habit to break. Making due is not always fun. Not distracting ourselves from the grind of our lives with a trip to the mall to look at pretty stuff and letting go of the high we get from the purchase isn’t easy. None of this is easy. I know first hand.

So, why should we stop buying new stuff?

We stop for the peace and clarity of mind that comes from knowing how much stuff we have and being able to find it when we need it. We stop because having less stuff means we have more money and more time to invest in the people and things in which we truly care. We stop because we want to live lives that are focused on people and experiences, not things.

Easier said than done? Always. A constant practice? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

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Making Space

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Blog | 8 comments

Making Space

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu

My daughter finally chose her dress for prom. A lovely black and gold number that I’m sure she’ll look stunning wearing. As she finalized the order, she realized she would need new shoes. She has a pair of strappy, silver heels, but they would clash with her dress.

It occurred to me that I might have exactly what she needed. Excitedly, I hurried to my closet and pulled two plastic shoe boxes down from the top shelf. Each box held one pair of shoes. These were my fancy shoes. Since we wear the same shoe size, one or the other should be perfect.

As she tried on the beautiful, beaded sandals, I had to agree, they would clash with her gown. She dubbed the black pointy-toed pumps “ugly,” She was right. They were ugly and not in the style of the minute.

Shoe shopping trip planned, I placed my fancy shoes back in their plastic boxes and tucked them neatly on the top shelf of my closet. Over the next few days, even though they were out of site, I couldn’t keep them out of mind. I questioned myself as to why I was holding onto these two pairs of shoes.

I couldn’t honestly remember the last time I had worn either pair, and even after careful thought, I had no idea where I had bought them or how long I had owned them. I tried on both pairs again and teetered around the house to my husband’s amusement. Neither pair was the least bit comfortable.

Since they were in good repair and I have the space to store them, I argued (with myself) that I should hold onto them just in case something comes up. Every girl needs a pair or two of fancy shoes, right? Finally, I had to admit that in reality if something did come up, I would probably go out and just buy a new pair of shoes.

I’m a professional organizer, and while I’m sentimental, I’ve never even come close to being a hoarder. I throw things that are damaged or stained in the trash. I happily give away items that others can use. I’m on a first name basis with the employees at my favorite donation center. I encourage my clients to do the same.

In the past six months, I’ve redone every closet in my house, my pantry, and the garage carefully scrutinizing every item in each of these places. Tools, hardware, linens, kitchen ware, clothes, pictures, and decor were sorted through and those items we no longer needed were donated, sold, or trashed.

So, as I contemplated my fancy shoes, the ones that made the cut just a few months before, I had to ask myself why I held onto them. Even though they were in perfect shape and even though I had space, there really was no reason.

Then, it occurred to me that if I let them go, I would have extra space in my closet. An entire eight inches of emptiness. Excited, I racked my brain trying to think of what I could put there in place of the shoes, but nothing came to mind.

I realized that I would have to leave the space empty and that is when a deep, deep discomfort swept over my entire body and a knot slowly began to form in my stomach.

I know that in order to bring new, better, and right into your life you have to let go of old, lessor, and wrong. My mantra for the past five years has been “letting go…embracing change.” Yet, here I was with a death grip on two pairs of fancy shoes terrified of the eight measly inches of empty space on the top shelf of my closet that I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to immediately fill.

I breathed deep. I settled into the discomfort. I stayed with it until it passed.

The next day, I tried on each pair of shoes one last time to confirm that they were indeed uncomfortable and out of date. Then I walked them to the dining room table and placed them there to donate.

I wondered what other things I had overlooked in my recent purge. As I poked through closets and cupboards, more and more items were added. The nearly new red shoes that I promise are filled with invisible razors and make me cry in pain at the very thought of even putting them on for one second, the plastic cup from the car dealership that nobody in my family will ever use, and several pillow cases, their mates lost long ago.

As I pulled each unneeded item, I made an empty space, and each time I felt the discomfort rise in my body, I breathed through it.

I keep going because I know that it is only in the empty space, in the quiet silent moments, in the free fall that begins the minute we let go of old things, old feelings, old thoughts, and old ideas that change can happen.

I’m making space and holding the emptiness sacred and waiting patiently for the change.


- Want to join in? We’d love to have you. Use #making_space and post photos of what you’re letting go of. If you want to see what else I get rid of, please feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  If you’d like to receive updates in your inbox, you can subscribe using the box on your right. -

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