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To Thine Own Self Be True

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Shakespeare may have been the first to immortalize that line, but throughout history and until the end of time, people have struggled and will struggle with this one.

I have never fit it..and most of my life, that was a hurt that wouldn’t go away.  Sure, I tried to fit in (wearing leg warmers -Yes, I admit it – don’t judge, it was the 80’s,  watching NASCAR for a boy that I liked – I’ll never forgive myself for that one) and drinking Boones Farm Strawberry behind the American Legion), but I always seemed to fall short. I hovered around the fringe of fitting in.  I was a cheerleader, so, by association, my “crowd” was the “in crowd”..but while I was with that crowd, I never developed true friendships with those in that crowd.   I never exactly fit in.

We, as humans, try to conform and not stand out.  We wear what the “experts” say is in style and  go to the places that the “in crowd” goes to.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I’ve allowed myself to be me.  I’ve learned the hard way that trying to fit in is a slow death to self. Why do I want to be like six million other women when God made me perfect the way I am?  I don’t mean perfect as in beach body, never makes mistakes and has a Martha Stewart-esque home. I mean perfect as in that’s just the way he created me: unique, silly, muffin-top and big feet.  He created me to be me.  Not to be like anyone else and now, I am OK with that.

  • I sing (loudly) whenever I fee like it despite the cringing of those around me (my oldest son once told me never to sing in the car with the windows open or I might get a ticket for air pollution) – and I’m ok with that
  • I make up songs to sing about everything and even sing to the dogs and cats – and I’m ok with that
  • I sometimes go to Wal-Mart without having taken a shower first which means I sport a hellacious form of  bed head – and I’m ok with that
  • I don’t eat pumpkin pie, ketchup, or any sauces even though people say that makes me “unAmerican” – and I’m ok with that
  • I create art: canvases, art journals, altered things and many of them look like a 1st grader did them – and I’m ok with that
  • Sometimes I dress to the hilt to go to a local dive bar even though it makes me look like a prostitute – and I’m ok with that
  • I forget birthdays and other important things – and I’m ok with that (it doesn’t make me a bad person, just forgetful!)
  • I’m 47 and listen to electronic dance music and other age-inappropriate music – and I’m ok with that
  • I’ve “twerked” at family gatherings – and I’m ok with that
  • I care deeply and often vocally, loudly stand up for people who are treated badly (even once was physically removed from a HS basketball game for telling a few snot-nosed teenagers to cut the crap – I didn’t even have a child on the team)

It’s ok to be who you are. God made you as you for a reason so laugh, sing, dance – even if you are in public (you’ll never see those people again anyway).

To Thine (Mine) Own Self Be True.

To Thine Own Self Be True

 

Until next time..

Sue

Coffee – My Life Would Suck Without You

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Ah,

Cup of Joe

Rocket Fuel

Bean Juice

Sweet Nectar of Life

Go Juice

Lifeblood

Liquid Energy

Whatever way you say it, I simply cannot live without the stuff. I drink it black (no cream, no sugar) and lots of it. Most days about two pots, yes, I said POTS, not cups.  I’m actually sort of coffee snob.  When you drink your coffee black and so much of it, crappy coffee just will not do.  I mail order it.   A box of whole bean goodness arrives every three weeks.

By the time each of my kids turned five, they knew how to make coffee.  They also knew that the magical stuff turned the bed-headed (is that a word? Well, it is now), Medusa-looking, foaming at the mouth, mean ogre into a loving and happy woman who would bake muffins and shit.  They still marvel at the magical beans.

coffeebitch

Yeah, yeah, I’ve read that coffee is bad for you, but I’ve also read that coffee is good for you and since I’ve always been taught to look for the good in everyone, I choose the latter.  It isn’t just good for me, I would die without it.  (No, I’m not exaggerating even a tiny bit) Once, I tried a cleanse which included no coffee for three days. The first day I had a headache, the second day my head was spinning and green foam was coming out of my ears, the third day, well..let’s just say that I’m not allowed in several businesses in Mercer County, NJ anymore.

coffeenegativity

Maybe it’s the day after Christmas sugar buzz wearing off or perhaps the therapy is finally working, but I’ve been thinking about how coffee is an analogy for life.

The coffee beans aren’t much on their own, but when you apply pressure to them and add water amazing things can happen. Pressure or stress can pulverize you, but instead of lying broken (or ground up), you can add what you have on hand (even if it is in short supply) to create something beautiful, invigorating and delicious.

I, like most people, have a story to tell, have had devastating life events and days where I have felt beat up, run over and wanting to hide.  Instead of curling up into a ball in my blanket fort, I have decided to add hard work, creativity and inspiration and on a daily basis create something wonderful.  Sure, some days my coffee and my life choices turn out bad:   too strong, bitter, burnt, but on most days the result is something fabulous:  warming, energizing, comforting.

Last night, I created this art journal page inspired by a YouTube video and my love of coffee.   Ok, yes, I know they are tea bags, but bags of coffee just didn’t work into the design.  Today, instead of worrying about how bad things are, what bills are due, what lies ahead, just take life “one cup at a time”. Trust me, all will look just a bit brighter (unless you run out of coffee, and then, my friend, sorry, but it’s every man (or woman) for themself.

One Cup at a Time

Until next time…

Sue

Ten Lessons my Mother Continues to Teach Me

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Most days of the year, but mostly during the holidays, I find myself thinking of my mother.  My selfless, hysterical (not the screaming, raving kind but the absolutely funny kind) and beautiful mother.

My mom was born into poverty and lost her father at age two. Raised by a single mom and with three older siblings (the oldest who quit school to work and help the family). Uncle John was that sibling.  She adored him.

mommyunclejohnphoto

My mom had very low self-esteem and, herself dropped out of high school in her junior year. She’d always worked in factories – that was the only work she could find.  She married my father at age 18 and subsequently lost seven, yes, seven babies – some miscarriages and some stillborn. All she wanted in life was a child of her own.  My father was a mailman and worked two, sometimes three jobs, to pay for the medications my mother required during the difficult years of losing so many babies.

After the heartache and health complications from losing so many children, my parents set out to adopt.  On December 30th, 1966, they adopted me. (I’ll save that story for a future post – it’s a great one!)

Despite the fact that my parents were blue-collar, there was nothing I had need for.  I didn’t even realize that we were lower middle class until I was out on my own.  I had designer jeans (yeah, I was rocking those Jordache in the 70’s!) and sneakers.  We went on family vacations at least once a year and if you ever stepped foot into our house, you were going to eat.  My mother cooked for the masses  even though there were only three in our little family. She insisted on feeding everyone who came through the door.  Her cooking was AMAZING and everyone looked forward to holidays at our house for that reason.

Mom stood just 4’11” tall, but she was a spitfire!  Until I was in my 20’s, I had no idea that her natural hair color was brown. She was always a redhead. And, she was FUNNY! I remember her standing on a chair at Uncle John’s house giving a speech to “Mr and Mrs America and all the ships at sea” and, with robot arms, chasing my dad around to give him a kiss.

Unfortunately, we often laughed at her expense, as well.  One night, after getting her hair done (this was the 70’s so imagine hair shellacked and piled high in bright red), she was opening a can of tomato sauce which must have had air pockets built up.  It literally exploded all over her face and her newly “coiffed” hair.  She was livid, but my dad and I still laugh about that today.

Another time, at my cousin’s wedding, she spent hours with a new camera taking photos of everyone and everything.  She was so proud of herself, until I commented that she was taking an awful lot of photos on one roll of film (this was before digital cameras).  My dad opened the camera to find out that mom never put film in it!  Well, mom was never a drinker but she drank three Fuzzy Navels that night!

She was our I Love Lucy.

She was terrified to drive on highways and considered her life’s work complete when she found out that I drove into New York City with a bunch of friends from college.

In 1999, at  age 63, my beloved mother passed away from ovarian cancer.  When diagnosed, at age 60, they gave her six to nine months to live. Always the one to follow her own rules, she lived two and a half years beyond diagnosis. Looking back, I realized that my mother both gave advice while she was with us and imparted life lessons long after she was gone.

Here are some of the lessons that she continues to teach me:

1)  Color is only skin. People should be judged on WHO they are and HOW they make you feel, not what they look like on the outside.  We all bleed red.

2)  Making others laugh is a gift.

3)  You will never love anyone with the amount and kind of love you have for your children (birthed or adopted).

4)  Money will buy you things, but will never buy you love.

5) Use your good china. Not just on holidays.  Everyday should be celebrated.

6) Cabbage rolls are one of the required food groups for a healthy and happy life.

7)  It doesn’t matter if you can’t pronounce aluminum foil or Switzerland (she couldn’t), if you could convey your love to someone else, then you are fluent in the only language that matters.

8) Grandchildren can do no wrong, ever, for any reason, even if they have been suspended from day care for biting..they must have been provoked.

9) None of us will ever be perfect and we all do and say things we wish we never had, but love covers a multitude of sins (even when your child sprays a gallon size bottle of baby powder all over the house for spite or if a mother forgets to use dryer sheets and your teenage daughter spends a day at school with a knee-high stuck to her back).

10) Your mother is the first best friend you will have and will never, ever leave your heart even after they’ve left the physical world.

mommyphoto

I love you, mommy..always…

Until next time..

Susan Jane Lazar the First (that was for you, too, mommy!)

 

 

 

 

Pick Me, Pick Me!

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The one and only talented Effy Wild is giving away THREE seats her to incredible Book of Days  and Moonshine courses.  It’s been one hell of a crappified year for me, if you are a reader of my blog then you know :/  I would loooooove, love, luuurve to win one of these spots.  I just know how art soothes my soul and calms the beast within.  Want to get in on the goodness?  Click here..even if you don’t win, you will definitely want to register for these workshops.  Effy so rocks!
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Join me this year on a journey to the heart through art!

 

Until next time..

 

Sue

Yeah, I’m a Bit of a Nerd

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After taking an amazing class with Dyan Reavely in October, I couldn’t wait to practice some of my newly-learned mixed media techniques.  This girl was just itching to come out..because, yeah..I’m kind of a nerd.

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There are all kinds of “nerds” out there. Dictonary.com defines “nerd” as:

nerd  [nurd]  noun Slang.

1.a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.
2.an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

I take issue with the first definition.  No one is stuipid, irritating, ineffectual or unattractive all of the time.  I’m certainly all of those things some of the time, but not all of the time. If being that way some of the time makes me a nerd, so be it.

The second definition hits home.  I’m a bit of a nerd.  I love to read and watch kids movies. I’m single-minded and obsessed with a non-social hobby or pursuit: Art.

I completely love Urbandictionary.coms definitions of nerd. My personal favorites are:

1. Nerd
One whose IQ exceeds his weight.
(Nope, not me)
 
2. nerd
An individual persecuted for his superior skills or intellect, most often by people who fear and envy him.
(Maybe me, occasionally 🙂 )
 
3. Nerd
An ‘individual’, i.e. a person who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.
(Yep, totally me, but not the computer part and I had little issues breeding)
 
6. Nerd
Never 
Ending 
Radical 
Dude.
 
(Or Dudette, but YES, spot ON!)

Are you a nerd? Can you quote every Star Trek or Star Wars episode or movie? Do computers make your heart pitter-patter? When you get a new pack of scrapbook paper do you have to smell it or lick it? (um, not like I have done that, really..ok..moving on :o)

Does music make you giddy?  Can you rattle off statistics on the 1994 superbowl? Do you read everything including the back of the dishwasher tablet package? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then yes, you are a nerd.  And, ya know what? That’s a GREAT thing!  You are you!  You are wonderful and unique and incredible! You have gifts that others may not appreciate, but they make YOU happy and that, my friends is all that truly matters.  

Keep on being you today.  Embrace you. Embrace what makes you YOU.

And just cuz, well, nerds rule..here are a few quotes about nerds to empower you today:

“If you like nerds, raise your hand. If you don’t, raise your standards.” 
― Violet Haberdasher

“Nerd. One whose unbridled passion for something, or things, defines who they are as a person, without fear of other people’s judgement.” 
― Zachary Levi

“Gentleman, nerd girls are the world’s greatest under-utilized romantic resource. And guys do not tell me that nerd girls aren’t hot because that shows a Paris Hilton-esque failure to understand hotness.” 
― John Green

Until next time…

Sue

It’s Snowing! (Alternate Title: It’s OK Not to Be Perfect)

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A few weeks ago, I purchased the Tamara LaPorte (Williwing.org) Mini-workshop: A Christmas Whimsy.  I started it and then stopped.  I was frustrated that the canvas wasn’t turning out the way that Tam’s was.  Yesterday, I went back to it with a new attitude.  It’s ok to be me. It’s ok not to be perfect. It’s ok that my canvas does not look like hers!  We have different styles, and gifts.

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That’s a lesson that I’ve been trying to teach myself lately.  That it is OK:

OK to be a little weird

OK not to be liked by everyone

OK that my art looks different

OK that things aren’t perfect

OK to be me.

It may seem like a simple lesson, but, trust me.  It has not been an easy one for me.  I have always been held up to standards that I couldn’t measure up to.  I’ve always done things just a little bit different and then felt like such a failure for not coming through.  It’s a large reason why I don’t talk much to my mother’s side of the family anymore.  I’m not them.  I don’t do things like them and I was always being berrated for it.  A few years ago, I made peace with that and starting living my own life..but again, I fell short.  I didn’t practice this new-found belief in other areas of my life: the house, my work, my relationships with others.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to let go and be at peace with being me and being different.  Things don’t have to be perfect..they just have to be perfect for me and that is OK.

Until next time..

Sue