This moment: guarded by an army of stuffed animals

Here I am, sitting in the kitchen in my pajamas after Mr. P has gone to sleep. Breaking the blog silence with a few sentences. And the amazing ease of word press on my new iPhone six. 

  

Life is a series of mornings and days and evenings, weeks and weekends and above it all and beneath it all and within it all are the moments. The magic, priceless little treasures like this one, pictured here, where Bob and I sat on the couch and Mr. P joined us and then one at a time he brought his stuffed animals, all of them, to join us like an army until finally there was no room for anything but laughter. 

And right now as I write this all I hear is the sound of my voice dictating this into my iPhone and the crickets in their sweet rhythm in the background. Noticing, capturing, grasping this moment. Celebrating my first blog post in what feels like forever.

 

This Littlest Slice Of Heaven Feels Big

Good morning from my couch! Where I am cuddled under my favorite blanket with my favorite pillow and my favorite magazine and coffee! Mr. P is miraculously asleep still. Well past the 6am rise and shine he’s been blessing us with for weeks now. I’m celebrating this occasion by sharing with you and capturing the wonderfulness of it all.

Gotta go, he’s up! But not before I post this exactly as is. Kisses, darlings! Let’s give today a big hug!!

Love,
Melissa

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Backseat Blogging

First post in what feels like forever: sitting in back seat of car with sleeping 14 month old Mr. P. Bob and my dad are inside one of my new favorite places, Rainbow Acres, picking up juice (the veggie kind-one of my new favorite things) and sandwiches. Since I last wrote:
-Mr. P turned the big O-N-E!
-I started my first big freelance from home copywriting project since becoming a mom
-it got me thinking/feeling hmm… I could do more of this
-phone rang and boom!
-now I’ve been part time working mommy for 6 weeks now. 3 days a week.
-Mr. P took his first steps! Exactly a week after his first birthday
-step, step, step, boom!
-Now he is practically running. His default mode of transportation is super speed walking.
-I decided it’s time to leave the gallery co-op. There’s only so much time in a day/week/life and with work now I realized I just didn’t have room. Will treasure the friends I’ve made there and the growth I’ve made having been a part of it.
-I’m valuing “space” more than ever. Space in my life, space in my drawers, space in my body. Making room for prosperity and possibility and gratitude.
-Sold two of my paintings at the gallery: star lady and ocean Buddha. An interested party inquired about ocean Buddha. The gallery called me to check the price. I told them the price-but the caveat that ocean Buddha was only for sake with his partner: star lady. The buyer bought both right then and there. Turns out, the buyer was my brother.

Dad and bob are back so I will sign off, knowing there are typos and uncapitalized letters and that the sequence of the above is not chronological. Knowing, really, it’s ok.

A special shout out to my dear friend Amy for asking me about the blog and telling me she missed it.

Much love to you all,
Melissa

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V Is For Vulnerable (And My Special Relationship With Warts)

A while back I started the creative alphabet: blog posts dedicated to/inspired by each letter of the alphabet. I did two and then got sidetracked (that was before my big commitment). The two posts were A is for Amazement and B is for Bravery. Well here I am back with another installment of the Creative Alphabet. I started this post with the intention of writing “V is for Virgo” and I was going to tell you about all the Virgos in my life: from the birthday I share with my sister-in-love, the very next day after that will be Mr. P’s birthday and then the day after my amazing sister’s birthday. And today, the birthday of one of my dearest friends and members of my famiglia: the amazing artist and silk painter and fused glass creator, the one, the only Gemma Del Rio. And tomorrow my awesome friend Jen’s bday and so on and so on and so forth about all the Virgos in my life that I know and love. But…

(I WAS going to tell you all that – and I just went ahead and told you now didn’t I?!)

But I decided to go a little deeper below the surface into yet another V word: vulnerable. Being vulnerable is so hard! To live in the land of “I don’t know” to, as my darling friend and mentor Gemma Taccogna called it to “be naked.” To walk through life without hiding behind the clothes of knowledge and power and information and facts and figures and show up exactly as you are, insecurities and pimples and warts and all.

Warts and all? Yes, warts and all. I have a special relationship with warts. I used to be covered with them and thought they would NEVER go away but they did, at long last go away. I had them on my toes and on the bottom of my feet and on each of my fingers and even three extra-pretty-ones right on the top of my thumb bone. A combination of seeing a dermatologist, a podiatrist and instituting a daily regimen of applying a drugstore paint on wart remover, covering it for 24 hours then trimming the dead wart skin off with a razor blade made them finally START to go away.

Here I am being vulnerable! Admitting that I had creepy crawly nasty warts and that the process of removing said warts was even creepier and crawlier and just plain GROSSER than the actual warts themselves. But you know what? As I COMMITTED to this process of wart-removing I started doing just the opposite. I started seeing the possibility that one day I could have clear, smooth skin. One by one the warts went away.

The more I COMMITTED to the regimen of wart-removing was also more LOVE I was giving myself. I started using a warm bubbly foot bath daily and letting the dead-wart-skin soak before I’d razor it off each day. Then I added using a little fresh clean slice of a drugstore hard foot scrubber that I figured out I could cut with scissors and have a little slice to use each day. I’d feverishly scrub away the dead wart skin. (Of course tossing the now-wart-skin-infested slice in the trash each day.)

Then came the biggest part of my transformation from WART-haver to WART-have-not-er. I started visualizing clear skin. And each day I’d have less and less warts and more and more clear skin. Until one day I looked down and they were all GONE!

This is one of the biggest examples of how anything is possible. And now, by telling you about it, by being vulnerable and open to the attack of you possibly DEFRIENDING me due to the grossness of my previous wart situation, I feel light and free. And I feel closer to you, and I don’t even know specifically who you are. And I have given you the opportunity to share about your warts. Or your fears. Or the things that you do that you are embarrassed that you do but you so totally love doing. Or to ask the stupid questions or share the oddball stories.

This blog, for me, is the beginning, the very beginning, of a whole new world of being vulnerable, being naked. By being vulnerable, I have shared with you many less-than-perfect blog posts, I’ve posted on days when I felt I had nothing to say. I shared my birth story, I posted a picture of my boob, I even admitted that in 6th grade I was a punk rock criminal. (Yes, I am exaggerating, Mom.)

Thank you, darling readers, for joining me on this journey. We may not know exactly where we are going. But we sure are enjoying the ride. And we’re going to do our very best to be naked, aren’t we?

That’s all for today, darlings.

Thank you and good things.

Love,

Melissa

 

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This is post 29. I’ve decided to label the posts, not the days. I did 25 posts in 25 days and then skipped 2. And then I skipped a bunch more while I was away. But now I am back and RE-committed to this blogging thing, loving the peace that comes from writing and the momentum that comes from commitment.

This started as a 7 day commitment to write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Birth Story Part 1: Sticking To Our Parenting Guns

I’m sitting in the front seat of my car, with a sleeping Mr. P in the backseat. I’m parked outside our moms group half hoping he wakes up so I can go inside. Half relieved he is sleeping in the carseat. It took an hour of driving but finally, at long last those droopy overtired eyes closed. It’s quite possible we will miss the entire group but the act of getting here at least feels like something.

I am guessing they are inside sharing birth stories. We started last week and did not finish. I hadn’t shared yet, and honestly was getting anxious about sharing. I think in some ways I am still processing the birth and the days following. Maybe this is the perfect time to try to share. With the focus of an iPhone timer ticking, the closeness and peace of my sleeping angel sleeping and the force to be succinct since I am typing with one very determined finger.

Baby bee, which we started calling him at our very first OB visit, before we knew anything except that yes, in fact we were pregnant and there was a little human with a beating heart whose shape on the sonogram looked remarkably like a bumble bee, had a much anticipated due date of September 4. It was a Tuesday.

Well, September 4th arrived and I had an appointment at the OB. She wanted to schedule an induction. “Just get one on the books” she advised. It seemed harmless enough in her eyes, but in mine I was in shock. I so wanted a natural birth and an induction was not in my birth plan by any stretch of the imagination. This very quickly became the first parenting decision Bob and I made. We said no. Our OB scheduled a follow-up for a few days later and here begins the run around of doc recommending we schedule an induction and us saying no.

“As long as mom and baby are healthy” was our mantra. We stuck to our newly formed parenting guns day in and day out. During this time, the OB scheduled regular ultrasounds and fetal heart monitoring tests so we could be sure mom and baby were still okay. Each time we were fine, more than fine. So we persisted. And meanwhile, we perspired, too. Did I mention it was a Los Angeles heat wave? As my body and belly grew days beyond the due date, so did my resolve to do everything in my power and everything in my faith and optimism that I could to get this baby to come naturally. I climbed stairs and hills daily. I walked for miles and miles. I took evening primrose oil and drank the special tea that my doula recommended exactly when I was supposed to. I visualized my happy healthy baby. I visualized labor starting. I napped, I rested, I pumped the two window unit air conditioners a d the trusty fan to attempt to cool down our stuffy condo that was easily ten degrees hotter inside than it was outside. I even watched the entire series of Breaking Bad. Still, no signs of labor. And always, by my side, my trusty sidekick and parenting partner, Bob.

During all this time, my parents were here from the east coast. My brother had flown in from Hawaii and stayed a whole week. No nephew just yet, Uncle Mike. Bob’s parents, understandably, we’re chomping at the bit to hop on a flight. We were all holding our collective breaths. But this baby, who I now know and love as my dear sweet angelbaby wildman Mr. P wanted nothing to do with all of my plans and nothing to do with his daddy’s plans, he was already asserting his independence and teaching us that in his own time, he would come. But I was not ready for the lesson. Only now am I seeing the lesson.

Tuesday September 11 came and went. As did the 12th, 13th, 14, you get the picture. Finally we arrived at Tuesday September 18th: the day before my 36th birthday, 2 full weeks after the due date. Never in a million years did I think we’d get this far along and still no baby! But alas, here we were. I did my usual Tuesday routine including my prenatal Iyengar yoga class that I’d been going to since 8 weeks pregnant. Here I was, 42 weeks pregnant in yoga class. There was not much PRE left in that PRENATAL but I went nonetheless.

Iyengar Prenatal Yoga exactly two weeks after the "due date"

I visualized going into labor. I did not. Bob and I met my parents and sister for an early birthday lunch afterwards at a place in Mar Vista that I’d recently discovered. It was exactly two weeks past the due date and we were entering the point where Bob and I both agreed if it came to this point, we’d go in for the induction. It was set for that night at midnight, just as September 18th rolled into the very beginning of the 19th, my birthday…

TO BE CONTINUED

Darlings! This post had the cards stacked against me: typing on my phone with one finger, almost losing a saved draft, an internet outage and finally sitting on my balcony after 10pm borrowing our neighbors wifi (with permission!!) to finally figure it out and finish up and still I posted. Feeling proud!

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 14 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Resting In The Shade Of My Favorite Tree

Day 5 of my commitment to post a blog in 30 minutes for 7 days.

Reporting to you live from the front seat of my new car (Prius V!) parked in the shade at my favorite park. Mr. P is magically sleeping in the carseat for the 2nd time today. Life is very good.

I’m blogging from my iPhone typing with one finger. The ability to do this is something I formerly lumped into the category of “things other tech savvy people know how to do that I will never figure out.” Well give me a sleeping baby in the carseat of a quiet car and a commitment (and a timer – on my iPhone this time) and it turns out I, too, can be tech savvy. Booya!

This park is one of my happy places. It’s a place to go relatively close to home where I can let Mr. P crawl freely without worrying about him picking up trash or other undesirable objects. Of course he inspects every blade of grass with total awe and every little acorn with his mouth… But we work it out. It’s so wonderful having a place to go “rest in the shade of your favorite tree.” I’m quoting part of a draft of an old version of the said the butterfly mission statement. I’ll share it with you one day.

The day of Mr. P’s Baptism, which was also Father’s Day, we all came here to rest and play after a big day where we were all dressed up in our Sunday best. We’d had a beautiful brunch at the Culver Hotel first. We got here and unpacked the trunk which had been packed by my husband, the urban Boy Scout (ok, self-proclaimed, but still I concur it’s a title he’s earned), for any and all occasions. We found seating and blankets and even makeshift pillows for 7: all four grandparents, my sis, Bob and me. How splendid it was to sprawl out, kick off our shoes and lie in the grass. Some chose sun and others chose shade and still we were all together in the same area. I couldn’t tell you a single thing we talked about except how excited both grandfathers were to get their first Father’s Day card from the next generation: their grand baby boy. His green-inked handprint as his signature on their cards. I can tell you that having all of us in one place was so beautiful. To be so relaxed and together. Without any need for a planned activity just to be together. That’s my idea of peace. As I sit here in this moment of peace I’m feeling transported to that day. So grateful having all the grandparents together in one place. So grateful for the sun, for the shade, for the trees, for the grass. So grateful for this darling boy who brings such joy to all of our lives. So grateful for this boy who right now is slowly waking up in the backseat after a luxurious hour and fifteen minute nap. Can’t wait to get him unbuckled and go for a crawl!

The picture below is from Mr. P here at our favorite park on the 4th of July!

Signing off darling readers. But first, tell me, what’s your happy place? What do you do there?

So much love and gratitude,
Melissa

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Learning to Fly: 15 Minutes At A Time

Day 4 of 7 of my commitment to write/post a blog in 3o min.

It occurred to me that my first three posts were so focused on the process of the project that it was becoming all about the 30 minutes AKA half hour that I spent writing and posting. What about the other 23 and a half hours? What about all the other thoughts and actions and discoveries?

When I was teaching middle school Special Ed, in a land that feels like a million lifetimes ago, one year I made a major discovery in the library’s book fair. I picked up a book called ‘Sink Reflections.’ It was all about starting to get your home under control by starting with shining your sink. As in taking out all the dishes (no – not washing the dishes, literally taking them out of the sink and then shiny your sink until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building). It was all about how sometimes when things seem overwhelming making one thing shine can really make you feel like you accomplished something – and then you will be motivated to keep other things shining. (Like maybe the dirty dishes you just pulled out of the sink.)

At the time I was living in a studio apartment (a block from the beach mind you!) that was probably 600 square feet. My whole home was smaller than most people’s living rooms. But I made a commitment to follow the philosophy of this book and shine my sink. One time, I had a date coming over (don’t be jealous, Bob, this was well before your time) and I took all my dishes that had piled up to the high heavens and put them in a Trader Joe’s bag and shoved them under my sink. But my sink? It was shining!

I loved the book so much that I decided to check out the website of the author, Marla Cilley. She called herself Flylady. I was transported to a world where I learned that all things are possible as long as you were willing to do them for 15 minutes. As in: don’t feel like cleaning your kitchen? Just set the timer for 15 minutes and get started. You will be amazed how much you can get done in 15 minutes. One of her philosophies that I loved so much was “You are not behind.” I loved this so much, still do. Because I felt perpetually behind. And at the time I was only in charge of me, myself and I. And my little beach studio and my students and my job, of course. But that was pre-mamahood, you know.

So I am so inspired to tell you about Flylady because now I still use my trusty little Flylady timer to keep me on track. There is so much more to share about Flylady, but tick tock, the Flylady timer just beeped. Now I have 15 minutes left to wrap it up, post a pic and be done with this post! But first, I must tell you how Flylady is keeping me sane as a new mom. (Yes, my baby is almost 11 months but in my book that’s still new!)

I finally (after 10 years of following Flylady in one way or another) followed her recommendation to come up with a morning routine. Following the advice from her website and emails, I came up with a list of things I need to do in the morning. Then I went on my computer typed them up into a little chart and made a checklist. I use my Flylady timer to keep me on track. I take 45 minutes to myself (yep, you guessed it, using the Flylady timer!) most mornings before my husband leaves for work. During this time I set the tone for my whole day by getting showered and dressed and making the bed and even flossing. There’s much more to it than that but the idea is simple: make a list of what needs to get done, set the timer, and  your chances of getting it done are far greater than if you had NO LIST and NO TIMER.

I just have to tell you, I may have made my Flylady journey sound simple, but it was not. There are whole weeks where I forgot about the morning routine and those weeks were a little rougher around the edges.

More of Flylady in future posts, darling readers. But… Before I sign off, I have to share a memory about Bob that came up during this post. When I met Bob I used to clean my whole place to perfection before he’d come over. Then… as we got more and more comfortable with each other, I stopped cleaning up so much. And the dishes piled up to high heavens. And you know what he did? He washed them for me. How lucky am I?

The first ever picture of me and Bob... circa Fall 2005.

Wishing you wonderful things and sweet dreams,

Melissa

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This post is part of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Facing Each Moment Like A Child

Here I am. Day 3 of my commitment to write/post a blog in 30 minutes a day for 7 days. It’s much later than I’d hoped to be doing this. But we had a big busy day. So here I am. As promised. And I realize what power commitment has when you say it out loud, put it in writing and put it out there. It takes on a life of its own. It exists beyond the dusty back of your mind and takes precedence – if only to say “I know you really don’t feel like doing this right know but you said you would. You said it was important to you. So do it. You will feel better and you will be propelling your commitment forward into all kinds of powerful spirals of positive energy and excitement.” 

I’ve been really motivated and inspired by this project. I’ve had all kinds of ideas of things to write about and things to say come to mind. I almost fully wrote this post in my head ahead of time, while I was away from the computer, at red lights, while nursing the baby, in the shower, all throughout the day. Now that I am actually here my mind goes blank. As if those thoughts never happened. As if I have no thoughts. And I think… AHA! This is a good thing. A very good thing, darling.

How wonderful it is to be in a moment so fully and completely that your thoughts from before go away. As in here and now without the weight and baggage of before. If only WE could be like this always. If only I could be like this always. If only I could be like Mr. P, in all his 10 month and 3 week glory, with his big top tooth and its little sharp neighbors poking through, his fresh, pure, naive, positive eyes taking in the world one thing to chew on a time. Like a puppy. Oh how I’d love to be a puppy, sometimes.

And here I am, feeling like I am writing nothing but actually that nothing wrote its way into something. An important truth for me to remember: face each moment like a child, like a puppy, like a baby. Like it’s all happening for the very first time. And you will have no choice but to be in total awe.

Awe. Some.

I have 12 of my 30 minutes left and no real feeling that I am finished. But you know what, for now, I am. Time is my guide and it tells me for now, sweetheart, you are done. Always a work in progress that right now, at this very moment, is done. How refreshing it is to be able to surrender to imperfection and just be. Aaaaaaaaaah. Makes life so much easier. As I write this my eyelids are drooping, my contacts are drying up and begging to be removed. I reward myself with visions of being in my PJs in bed reading my book on the iPad in the pitch black, my new happy place. Good night, all. Wishing you wonderful things.

So much love and gratitude,

Melissa

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This post is part of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

 

 

7 Things A Commission Means to Me

A commission is the greatest honor and energizer for an artist. Here I am working on my latest commission.

And here’s the final piece hung in its beautiful home.

Many Moons. Mixed Media on Canvas. 3 24x24 panels. Melissa Renzi, 2011.

So far, in my creative life, I’ve completed three official commissions and I have two on the horizon. A commission means so much to me. It means:

1. You trust me and my creative vision.

2. We will work together in some way, shape or form to co-create the co-existence of something that never existed before. Commission breaks down to co-mission. I see us as co-pilots.

3. I have a down payment and a deadline. These are two of the greatest motivators.

4. You love my work and are ready to pay me to create something for you.

5. We will no doubt form some special bond born of people work together to make something happen.

6. There’s a defined beginning, middle and end. Beginning = you commissioning me and me meeting with you to get input and inspiration. Middle = the act of creating and making and painting and looking and listening and discovering and suddenly, it’s done. End = me delivering the commission to you. As Seth Godin would say, that’s shipping. As an artist, there’s no greater way to ship than to deliver the painting. To unveil the work. To revel in the birth of a new work.

7. Something great is about to unfold in my life. I say this from experience. So far every time I’ve gotten a commission the energy created has magnetized and attracted far more good things than I could ever imagine.

Lessons from Twelve Resting Caterpillars

I have twelve caterpillars lying on my coffeetable. They’ve been there since last weekend resting and feeding and growing. But they are by no means ready to fly. Sometimes they scream at me:

“Hey you, get over here and work on me!”

“Don’t you wanna get a little creative?”

“Come on! Stop everything else. And start painting.”

“Can’t you finish what you start?”

But mostly, they whisper to me ever so sweetly:

“It’s ok… you’re doing your best.”

“We’ll be here when you’re ready for us.”

“You’re doing so many good things right now. We’ll wait.”

“Thank you for making us. We wouldn’t even exist without you.”

And then they confide in me…

“We’re in no rush. We are so happy to be resting and at peace.”

So I am reporting to you, darling readers, and I’ve made peace with it in my mind, that the major studio time that I told you was coming, has come and gone. And I have twelve half-sort-of-started caterpillar paintings to show for it. They are farther along than the blank panels you see above. But they are by no means ready to share with you. So I am faced with the great unknown. What to tell you? What to make this post about now that we are already this far into it? The truth. I promised this to you in my very first post, I just didn’t think it would be happening so soon. My creative process is taking a little longer this time. I need to listen to the lessons from my own writing and artwork. To have the faith to “just see.”

Another lesson? Balance really is beautiful. And I am proud of myself for not just writing that and painting that and selling cards that say that… but I believe that. And I’ve had a remarkably balanced few weekends. I joined a new gym. I’ve had some extra-special quality time with my husband. I even had a day-long business and budget meeting for Said The Butterfly. These things are so important. Almost as important as the paintings themselves are the managing the details that allow me to make them, sell them and share them with the world. I even took two naps and got a mani and pedi. I know! Indulgent and amazing.

I also think of my frustrated self this time about four years ago. I hadn’t painted or written one thing in what felt like forever. I confided in Gemma like I always did and she reassured me with clarity and brilliance like she always did. “You’re living it,” she said. “When you’re ready, you’ll make a million paintings and write a million books. Right now, darling, you are living it.” * Gemma made everything make sense. Everything was exactly as it should be.

I can’t wait to share with you completed works of art that emerge from these resting caterpillars. Until then, let’s have the faith to listen to the message from the mellow tree. Let’s remember that balance really is beautiful. Let’s live it. Good things, Melissa

*Please note it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken in person to my dear friend Gemma Taccogna. She passed away in May of 2007, the day before her 84th birthday. Any attempt I make to quote her on this blog is the essence of these beautiful memories that I am so grateful for. “You’re living it” is an exact quote that I will never forget. The rest is the essence of what followed.