Thursday, January 16, 2020

Whimsical Happenings



LIFE
is full of
WHIMSICAL
HAPPENINGS
~ Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle


Weather in Georgia is ever changing. I've seen three seasons the past two weeks and we're about to have another bout of Winter over the weekend. The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts our cold will settle in February and we'll be pretty wet through April. How do they know, these old farmer's? I suspect that age grants you wisdom and communion with clouds, weather patterns and the whispers of ancient winds.

Trees talk of Winters past and I remember two years ago, January, when the city was blanketed in snow. A baby's blanket of white, shutting things down and delighting children and dogs who had never seen frozen rain. Everyone was outside, walking through the neighborhood, looking up as the down fell. It was pure magic.

The woods are crammed with heaven, if I may butcher the original quote. There are stars to be found in fields. Leaves chatter as I wander and the stick I use to balance my steps speaks of the caress of winds long past before it fell and became part of the forest floor. I'm amazed by the sheer size of the trees, especially this one above. It's in my Mother's back yard and I've known it all my life.

Life is full of whimsy and of miracles if you know where to look. For starters, check the mirror. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Look out the window and you'll see more magic: birds and deer, squirrels and grass. Dandelions and crab apples and the people who gather the rubbish from the bins out back.

Crammed.
Full.
Whimsical.
Miracles.

To the ever watchful, nothing is wasted. To those who pay attention, the reward is wonder.

x

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Not-So Simple Act of Creation

The act of creation, be it as simple as a frozen dinner or as complex as a hand-stitched quilt, is an act of self expression. We get to know more of ourselves when we make something; we also get to know more of what's important to us through the things we create. I've always made things. I inherited it, quite naturally, from all sides of my family. My mother is a serial crafter. My grandmothers wrote poetry, painted, did wood burning, made clothes and stitched quilts. My great aunts made their own clothes and clothes for their children. My father and both my grandfathers were woodworkers. It would have been pretty shocking if I hadn't at least tried one of these creative outlets. I've tried them all and I enjoy them all (even if I'm not very good at them).

I've tried giving them up. Tried, letting go of this compulsion to make things with my own hands. I've pursued other ideas, other plans but all paths seem to always lead back to a sewing machine, a pin cushion, and a pencil. No, it seems I'm destined to find myself at a work table, a potting bench or an easel. And I've made peace with that.

It's strange, you know. I forget that many people don't feel the need to make the things they use or give away and that's fine. I've always admired people who can just go out and purchase things without a second thought. It seems like it must free up so much time! And yet, ah, when I push the needle through that first bit of fabric or when I spend an entire day drawing patterns I wonder what do other people spend their time doing? Oh, sure, I know, there's loads of other things to do. The important thing to remember is to spend your time doing what it is YOU enjoy doing and not what everyone around you expects you to do.

Every day needs are tended to. I wash the clothes, the dishes, clean out the litter box. The cats and the husband are fed. The leaves are raked, the garbage is out, the patio is cleared enough that we can sit at the cafe table and enjoy coffee on a mild morning. The birds are fed, the groceries are bought, the squirrels are fat from the bird feeder. I've got plans for garden extensions this year as well as a picket fence around the front yard. There are a few dollops of paint in the guest bathroom that will spread and become a fresh new paint job. And, yes, there's the part time job that's dutifully done. But after all that, even exhausted, I sit on the sofa and think, "I should be doing SOMETHING!"

It's safe to say I'm not the best at relaxing.

Or am I?

I spent the majority of the Christmas season - from December 02 through the 17th - hand sewing and painting Christmas gifts. There were purchases made, of course. Something just beg to be given to certain people and I love choosing that one thing that makes me think of Mom or Sister or Friend. Most of what got wrapped and given, however, was from my hands. I made five different presents this year and a dozen of each type. That's an awful lot of stitching and painting of the same old thing. But you know what? I enjoyed it. I didn't get bored. I loved every single minute of it. When I finally got the last bundle off in the mail and decided I wasn't going to make anything until after the new year, I was a little sad. I mean, sure, I could easily have started a new project, but I wanted to rest. Both my mind and my hands needed the break. Now they're itching to get started on something new!

And new they shall have. Yesterday was that aforementioned day spent drawing patterns. Eight hours of it, with the occasional stop to take care of tending the house. I think I even forgot to eat lunch I was so absorbed in what I was doing. My arm and shoulder and wrist ached so badly when I finally stopped so I could cook dinner. The ache, however, was just a reminder of the blessing of spending an entire day blissfully absorbed in doing what I love.

And that is the greatest lesson I've learned so far during these acts of creation.

It's not easy to bring something out of the ether. It's very difficult to give birth to a dream. But the point of the matter, in fact I'd hazard to say that the point of creation itself, is to spend your precious time doing something you love. Something that speaks to the very deepest part of you. And whatever that is, you should do it with everything in you, not compromising, learning what you need to know to do the best you can and learn with every project ways you can do better the next time.

So what is it that brings you joy? Are you a knitter? A sewist? A photographer? Are you a gardener, a florist or a writer? Do you love sculpting or throwing pots or creating stained glass? Do you work with paper mache or do you ache to get into the kitchen and bake something yummy? Or are you like me and keep multiple pots simmering on all burners? Whatever it is you do, make sure you make the time to do it well. Make sure you take this time for yourself and for your art so that no matter what is going on in your life, you have this little island tucked away just for you. Whether you make things as a livelihood, as a hobby, or simply because you want to, make certain it brings you joy. I mean a great big huge smile on your face and in your heart. Make sure you give your spare time to something that makes you forget to eat lunch or forget the pain in your neck and arms.

Life is precious and far too short to spend all of it doing only what is expected of you. It's difficult, it's hard, it's never, ever simple but the act of creation is what gives us spirit. As this new year is just getting under weight, take a little time to figure out what this "act of creation" is for you. And if you've never done anything creative, why not try something new this year? What if you simply don't like arts and crafts? Go to a museum. Buy from local artists. Support the arts in your own way. Sometimes, telling another Maker, "I believe in what you're doing" is enough to keep them going. And by doing that, you become a part of the process. You become a part of their creative world.



I am going to make everything around me beautiful. 
That will be my life.
~ Elsie de Wolfe


Monday, January 6, 2020

Happy New Year!


Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fabulously amazing holiday season! Ours was simple and quiet and a wonderful time of refreshing peace. We needed it after this past year. 2019 was wonderful! There was so much goodness and healing but also some shake ups that caused me to really take a good, hard look at what I'm doing to take my life into my own hands and finally pursue my passions. Wild and wacky times at work can do that to a person and the end of 2019 reminded me that everything passes and everything shifts in it's own time. And Friends, I am READY to shake things up a bit!

And speaking of shaking things up, did you notice I changed my blog address? Well, I did! It's now comfortmewithnettles.blogspot.com. Also, you'll find more reflective essays here than just random happenings. Nothing wrong with that; I just wanted to cultivate a place where I could plant some deep thoughts, some wandering rambles and some reflective thoughts. You know, a little place to express myself creatively through words and pictures. Oh, I'm still active over on Instagram (jenchandlerwashere). In fact, I'm over there quite a lot! And, if you feel like checking in, we'll be able to catch up more often!

The plan is to still post here once a week but I'm shifting to Thursdays. I remember the first time I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and hearing the line, "This must be a Thursday.... I never could get the hang of Thursdays." Now, Arthur Dent was feeling a bit low when he uttered this line; I always wondered why it did seem like Thursdays were a bit off and then it hit me: it's that day in between. You've got Wednesday which everyone celebrates as the half way mark and Friday which is the end of the traditional work week. But Thursday? Well, it's just there. Hanging about, reminding you it's not quite time to kick off your heels and slip on the bunny slippers. A little secret: I'm off on Thursdays and I don't have anywhere. to. be. ...deep breath...let it out slowly...it is glorious. I guard my Thursdays fiercely as they are the one day I have all to myself and can devote fully to my art.

So! All that to say I'll be here on Thursdays, assaying about whatever strikes my fancy for the moment. I've got a couple of categories I'll use, just to keep things cohesive (and easier to hunt for when I go a-searching!). I do hope you'll continue stopping by! I value every single comment and will respond in the comments section as soon as I am able.

Don't be a stranger! Click over to Instagram to find out more of what I'll be up to this year! I'm super excited to see where this bright new decade will find me when next I deck my halls and usher in that most festive time of the year.

xo
With Comfort and Joy,



Monday, November 25, 2019

Happy Holidays & an Announcement

The last hot days are finally over. There looks to be another couple of mid-70s on the horizon but - fingers crossed - we'll be in full holiday mode after this week and keep the thermometer no higher than the mid-60s during the day.

Proper December weather...for Savannah, at least.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving and I'm super thankful for everything that has happened this year. We closed on our first house last December 06; this will be our first official Giving Thanks meal in our OWN HOME! I met a wonderful doctor who actually LISTENS to her patients and helped me uncover the mental health challenges that have been causing ALL of my physical health challenges over the past 15 years. I met two chiropractors who understand the mind/body/musculo-skeletal system connection and have taken me from being terrified to leave the house (even just to go to work which is a very safe space) to going jogging at a local park twice a week). Because of these adjustments in my health, I've been able to think clearer about my art and my future and I'm very happy that both of those are on wonderful paths that - at last! - make sense (well, to me at least!)

I'm also very thankful for YOU, Dear Reader, and for all of you who have stuck with this little "blog that could" over the past decade or so. Today is my last post until the beginning of NEXT YEAR! Yes!! January 2020! It's looming in the distance and I'm super excited about what it may bring!

I've heard people lament the passing of an old year. I've also heard people dreading a new one. I've always looked with fondness at old years (and sometimes happiness because it's OVER!) and excitement for the new. This year is no different. While 2019 has been very good to us, I'm happy to say, "Farewell!" and ready to say, "Bonjour!" to 2020.

A clean slate.
A fresh sheet of paper upon which to write those goals and finally - yes, FINALLY - get them up and running.

So happy Thanksgiving to you ALL!
Festive Holiday Season, Happy Yule and MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Happy New Year! I wish you all a season of good food, good family and friends, health and prosperity, wonder and magic. And make sure you focus on the last two the most <3

I'll see you all here in January xo













PS: You can still follow along on my Instagram account: @jenchandlerwashere. I post there daily (if not on my feed then in my stories). I'd love to see you there! xo

Monday, November 11, 2019

Unto these hills...

Hi there!

Was I really gone a week? It honestly seems as if we were gone for a year, but in a good way. We had a WONDERFUL time in the North Georgia mountains, a much-needed trip away that was bookended with visits with dear, dear friends.

Until I moved out of my parent's house, the mountains were a constant in my life. Every spring, every fall and every other summer we'd pack up the van and head north. My parents loved rambling down back roads and wandering through antique shops. My sister and I inherited the bug and I'm happy to say my husband enjoys the same. Mom still gets into the hills as often as she can, with stops to her favorite primitive shops along the way.

For the first few days we were happily tucked in the log cabin of two of our dearest friends (and their sweet dog). They live in a gated community but with the trees, the landscape, the cabins and the abundant wildlife, it felt as if we were already lost in Appalachia.


The days were filled with thrifting and the nights were filled with eating, bonfires, dancing in the kitchen and side splitting laughter. Therapy of the best kind!



We then set out further north and into the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. These Appalachian foothills have always felt like home to me and this trip was no different. In fact, I felt a stronger pull, an aching and longing to be surrounded by trees and rocks and little rivers. The cabin was exactly as you imagine a cabin to be: cozy, with a hearth and back porch stocked with rocking chairs and quilts. We hiked for the first time in years, did WAAAAY too much thrifting, and even went to the Bigfoot Museum.

Yes, Georgia has a Bigfoot Museum!




When it was time to leave, I had a serious notion to run into the woods and disappear! Then I thought about, remembered that I like to be warm when the temperature drops below 40 and decided that my cats would probably miss me if I failed to return.

The only real problem with leaving the mountains was the fact that we had to drive through Atlanta. Now, I know other places have traffic. I'm also well aware that many people drive through horrible, dreadful traffic every single day. I used to be one of them. But now? No. Way. The moment we hit the outskirts of the city (which seems to stretch it's talons further and further across the land each time we visit) the traffic became gridlock and I started having a panic attack.

That night, I had a nightmare about being stuck in traffic in a tunnel and unable to get out.

We did not, however, get stuck in any tunnels and, thankfully, it only took an extra hour to get through the mess that is Atlanta.

We spent the remaining three days with some other sweet friends and their three daughters in their lovely home in the country. Everywhere we slept this week was so peaceful and quiet. There were no sirens, no helicopters, no loud cars, loud radios, loud neighbors. In fact, the only "neighbors" we saw were a dog, a horse, and two black sheep. My kind of neighbors!

The point of a vacation is the rest, to rejuvenate and return home ready to get back to normal life with a fresh perspective and an eagerness to push through the challenges you left behind you. We did that and more. It was the longest we'd ever been away together in 15 years and it was the best vacation we've had yet. So much was enjoyed and so much was encouraged. We were inspired by vistas and friends and renewed dreams rekindled by too much laughter around a campfire after a bit of a mishap with some lighter fluid.

I hope you all had a wonderful week. If you can, get away for a bit, even if it's just for an afternoon, to a wild place where you can think. Turn off your phone, lay down on a rock or a patch of grass and let the sounds of nature speak. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.

I know I was!

With heart in hand,