and the winner is...

beverley!!! congratulations...you can contact brandi directly with your shipping info...here.

also, i have a piece of mine over at joyrebel.com...stop by and say hi for the giveaway.



so you may have noticed a little blog-makeover this week...i've been working hard to make my online home better reflect my real life. it kinda felt like when you move the furniture around in a room and it looks totally different...even though it's the same old stuff! i realized that i've been talking about all of these concepts over the past year, now i'm just giving them a breath of fresh air. and i'm making good on my promise to connect more with the creative women who inspire me every day.

if you've read my blog before, you know that i've tried to do a new discovery post every week over the past year. well, with jodie's playground, my goal is to engage others to join me in adding play to our daily routines, and friday will be the day to check in and see how we're doing. i imagine my flashback friday's will be similar to my discoveries, but focused on what i'm doing to nourish my childlike spirit.
this week i'm going to talk about one of my favorite subjects: reading. as a 20-something i started collecting children's books--you know the ones:
i don't know what made me start doing it, but my mom and i had such fun flipping through dozens of amelia bedelia's mishaps! thinking back on those books reminds me how much i loved reading as a kid...hours spent at the peoria public library, lounging on bean bag chairs, checking out mountains of summer reads.

my cousin was recently in town for a week and finished 3 books on her trip (p.s. she's a teacher and has a master's in reading--she reads FAST). once she finished one, i took it and i actually finished a whole book that week too (and i was working!) it made me think of those awesome summer reading lists...and how i devoured words like candy back then, a sugar-high when my heroine saved the day.

and last week i realized that i still get that high. that feeling when you're at the peak, not knowing what will happen next. and then the depression that sets in when the last page is turned, and i must bid farewell to  my new friends. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an incredible book...i highly recommend it for the last lazy weeks of summer. and if you don't have time for that one, then maybe one of shel silverstein's poems will do the trick. 

what are you doing this summer that makes you feel like a kid?


whimsical women interview #1

i'm so excited to introduce you to the very first joy rebel...brandi reynolds! not long after my initiation into the blogosphere,  i stumbled upon brandi's joy rebel army and am now a proud member. i could go on and on about how i drool over her photographs and that sometimes her blog posts make me laugh so hard milk comes out my nose, but it might embarrass her.

so, i'll let her describe the essence of the joy rebellion in her own words: "One idea: We could watch the news, read a fashion magazine that calls anyone over a size 6 'plus sized' and become more jaded with every commute through traffic. OR we can rebel; find the beauty, get doggie kisses, make messy paintings, write sappy love songs, compose bold memoirs, forgive radically, hope abundantly, shine encouragingly and otherwise claim the inner joy that I believe is at the core of each of us."  you took the words right out of my mouth....

let's get to know brandi {and her incredible photography--pictured here}, shall we?
as i leave behind my old blog, the year of discovery, i'll ask for one thing you've discovered in the last year?
I’ve discovered a need to get back to basics, to slow down, to breathe and to have fun with other venues of creativity (other than photography). And that I can’t do it all. And that I can’t give up *crack* dr. pepper.

how do you bring fun into your life…anything you do regularly that makes you feel like a kid again?
I laugh as much as humanly possible. Fortunately, both my husband and I have the same 12 year old boy sense of humor so laughing is pretty easy in our house. And whenever I am in water, I totally connect with that joyful kid energy.

how do you maintain balance in your life (IF you do), between creative endeavors and the other parts of your life?
*crack* dr. pepper. Kidding! I’ve figured out that I HAVE to take time for yoga and quietness. It seems that if I can give myself that space and that peace, I am better able to balance everything else.

what does community mean to you? could you describe a community of which you're a part?
I am so fortunate to be part of a community of creative bloggers. People like you, Jodie! And the wonderful group at wish studio and Connie and Darrah. I get so much inspiration, support and joy from this group. And that’s what community means to me as well.

what is the BEST costume you've ever worn?
Dressing up for a renaissance faire was so fun! I was a gypsy.

if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? and who would you take with you?
I’d go to new Zealand and visit all the sites where lord of the rings was filmed. (total LOTR dork here!). And I’d take my husband with me.

tell us something about yourself that only a few people know…
Um….I don’t think that’s possible. I kinda blather about everything on my blog….lol.

and last, what's something you've been working on…or an upcoming project you want to share with us?
Well, I am totally looking forward to the art show with you sweetness! But other than that, I am allowing whatever comes up to come up.
ahhhh, she mentioned a little thing called the art show...so much fun coming in august my friends. i am kicking off my whimsical women series with a tour of texas, and all the artsy-love we've got going on down here. i'm bringing the girls together for an all-women's show at our studio in one month. and to start the celebration a little early, brandi has graciously donated an incredible print for one lucky winner!

to enter the giveaway, you'll need to either:
1.   comment on this post, answering the question: what makes you feel like a kid again?  OR
2.   comment on tomorrow's flashback friday post

i'll choose the winner from the comments from both days (and yes, you improve your chance if you comment twice!)  and announce it on saturday 7/31.
thanks so much to brandi for visiting the playground...if you're loving her photographs and can't wait to see if you win "dive," you can peek at her etsy shop here. she also has a fabulous new website she created herself. yes, she is kind of a show off...

but i forgot one very important question: are you more of a swings or slide kinda girl?


welcome to the playground...

wanna play???


discovery #40 - the final entry

anything is possible

what i have discovered over this year of blogging is that anything is possible--if you open yourself to the opportunity. since i pressed "publish" on that first post, huge shifts have occurred...i have chased down my dreams and created bigger ones. i could never have imagined this life as i sat contemplating the boredom sure to follow my 32nd birthday. over the course of the year i have discovered the power of listening to the universe, noticing the overlaps, and paying close attention to my inner whispers. and i have followed all of these to an incredibly fulfilling place.

i have discovered that when i commit to something, put in the hard work, and ignore the fear of failure...i can do almost anything. i have pushed outside my own boundaries, explored the unknown, and found myself living a creative lifestyle that existed only in my dreams. and now those dreams have grown--with the delicious anxiety that comes with spreading my wings wider. i am learning to embrace that fear, the one that says "you can't do that"...i have begun to respond: "why not?" and then laughing when i prove the fear wrong.

as i look back on the things i have accomplished this year, i am filled with a great sense of pride. i am proud that i have opened my heart to possibility, followed my own path, and created my own destiny. as i scan back through the archives, i am given the gift of transformation. because of this year, i truly believe that anything is possible. so often we limit ourselves by the excuses we make for why we could never do something, rather than flipping it to why we would love to do something. once we admit that we want something (whether we believe we can actually attain it at that moment), we can begin taking ACTION to achieving it.  and i am a firm believer in baby-steps to get there...

my year of discovery has shown me many things, but this experience of blogging and dreaming and stretching out of my comfort zone has proven the benefits of following my heart. i have known that i was not cut out for the 9-5 life...but kept trying it anyway. i have known that i am creative...but never put myself out there for others to see. i have discovered that i am powerful beyond measure...that just when i think i know what i am capable of, i do something even bigger. by putting my dreams up on the screen, by holding myself accountable for all those built-up wishes, i have found a place of true happiness.

thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery...




7 link challenge

i was over at susannah's and she participated in a fun challenge i thought i'd join.  here is where it all began....and i loved the idea of going back through the archives! especially since there are some big changes brewing over here...i've been trying to get it all done as my "year of discovery" comes to an end.

a look back at my first year in the blogosphere...and what a year it's been! i can hardly believe the transformation from the girl who started typing up her dreams in this space just before her 32nd birthday. it was strange going back to some of those first posts...i was so hesitant to put it all out there.  enjoy a walk down memory lane...

my first post...inspiration was posted on june 18, 2009

post i enjoyed writing the most...definitely this one reviewing the best of 2009. it was so nice to have an excuse to reflect on the year and highlight some amazing memories.

post which had a great discussion..i am not alone.  well, the discussion mostly occurred offline, but it was definitely a hot topic!

post on someone else’s blog i wish i'd written...this hilarious post by jen gray. 

my most helpful post...life is beautiful. i hope this reminds my readers to seek out beauty, and not allow ourselves to be controlled by those things we cannot.

post with a title that i'm proud of...pee your pants funny. i don't know if i'm "proud" of it, but i'm guessing it was an attention grabber...and it still makes me giggle.

post i wish more people had read...my childhood scrapbook. this really shows a lot about my history and i loved re-reading it...


discovery #39

i don’t have a lot of friends

DISCLAIMER: to those readers who consider themselves my friends, please understand that this entry is an attempt at self-exploration and should not be taken personally.

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about what friendship really means and what being a friend actually entails. historically, i’d say i’m a person who has always had a lot of friends. if i look back to elementary school, i played on the playground, ran around with the neighborhood kids, and met new friends each summer on the swim team. high school was no different – a big group of us would hang out on the weekends, going to movies, slumber parties, dances. i joined a sorority my freshman year of college (don’t judge)…and automatically increased my number of friends by 50 in the span of a semester.

but if we’re talking about friendship, i cannot go on without paying respect to the one constant throughout all of these periods in my life. molly. to me, she is the definition of BFF. i don’t remember meeting her…my parents say i was probably five when we started playing at the pool one summer. i have never known a time when she was not my friend. (okay maybe a few times when we were roommates!) molly is a year older than me and the big sister i never had. she taught me everything i know about girl-power, living life to the fullest, and forgiveness.

she wrote me endless letters adorned with shiny stickers and drawings in the margins, over the three years my parents kidnapped me to australia. she was there through the perms, and instigated the unfortunate-matching-haircut-period. and she was the first person to tell me what really happens during childbirth (for this i will never forgive her). but she also made me a *fairy* godmother.

so when i think about my mally, then i suppose longevity is the key to the equation. friendship means a shared history, countless memories, a handful of stories to be used as blackmail if ever necessary. she is the only person i know—besides my mother—who would do anything for me. like say, fly into a hurricane-ravaged city six days following the storm, 6 months pregnant with twins, so she and my flower girl can sit front-row at my wedding. or giving up her house for a week so my family can crash during my sister’s funeral in our hometown. or driving all the way to texas from chicago with me in a rental car when i really needed to move back home.

so i suppose i have constructed what i think it means to be a friend. pretty big shoes to fill, eh? and over the years, most of the people i’ve labeled as such have failed miserably to satisfy these top two criteria. which got me thinking: what does it take to be my friend? and at what point do i need to end a friendship if certain standards aren’t being upheld? over the years i’ve ended several friendships, some by choice, others by circumstance. geographically, i have had friends all over the globe. although endlessly interesting and always exciting…very difficult to maintain. the classmates from my all-girls school in melbourne, flatmates from my international dorm at the university of east anglia, dozens of co-workers onboard the MS norwegian sky. sadly, all a distant memory…unable to withstand the test of time.

and the second category: those who couldn’t provide what i needed at the time i needed it most. i have learned that sometimes it is better to let a friendship go than suffer the consequences of trying to make it work. and sometimes i’m afraid, friendships are created out of convenience—or individual gain—like that girl in 7th grade with the really nice boat. but for me, it must be mutually beneficial. i must be giving to the relationship as much as i am receiving. and not in the same way mind you, and not always at the same time…but over the long run.

and if a friendship is really important to me, i’m even willing to give a little more, just to protect it. so when i really think about it…i’m okay with keeping my number of friends at a minimum, in order to maintain the integrity of the title. here's to matching sundresses and side ponytails!


33 and lovin' it

birthdays (especially mine!)

for my husband's 30th i gave him a list of 30 things i love about him.  for my birthday, i am creating a list of 33 things i love about myself. here we go....
  1. i love the swings
  2. i color in coloring books (as in, i own my own books and crayons)
  3. i dance to 80's youtube videos with my husband in our living room
  4. i am an avid cliff jumper
  5. i own blue nail polish
  6. i have worn candy necklaces often as an adult
  7. i dream of living in an RV
  8. i believe adults should not need children to have a swing set in their backyard
  9. i live every day like it's my last
  10. i am inspired by children's curiosity
  11. my favorite part of the game cranium is the play-doh
  12. i know for sure that one should always choose fun over cleaning the house
  13. i ate fried oreos at the rodeo
  14. i love kites
  15. riding my bike brings me joy
  16. i wear pigtails often
  17. my family is slightly addicted to the game catch phrase
  18. i am happiest at the beach house, with the sound of the ocean from the balcony
  19. i believe s'mores are a little bit of heaven for our tastebuds
  20. i am fascinated by nature
  21. i have a brave girl t-shirt
  22. i am obsessed with birthday's...parties, cake, balloons...bring it on
  23. i invite any occasion to wear costumes, funny hats, or play dress-up
  24. i rode an elephant with my husband
  25. i have completed a triathlon
  26. i will drop almost anything to watch a sunrise or sunset
  27. i often eat ice cream before (or as) my dinner
  28. i love getting letters in the mail
  29. i use colorful pens whenever possible
  30. i am enamored with aquariums
  31. packing for a trip is an ultimate high
  32. i wore custom-made red puma sneakers to my wedding (they had blue laces)
  33. every year i become a little more me
happy birthday to me!  off to the beach to soak up some sun and sip mojitos...


happy day

from my in-store painting experience saturday...more to come!


who is she?

Who is she, the one they see? Bold, fearless, carefree? Likely independent, unique, hard to define. She is quiet at times, thinking, watching. Waiting for her moment to shine. A storyteller, the center of attention. Definitely funny, always ready to laugh.

But also dark. That humor, just on the other side of light. A deep thinker—maybe. At times, with a Blue Moon (or 3), the serious one. Conversationalist, asker of questions. Honest. Brutally, at times. She is passionate, opinionated, sometimes harsh.

But she is a lover. Affectionate when in close company, and always the nurturer. Great with kids, yet unsure about motherhood. A child at heart, curious, always ready to learn. A reader—lover of books—shelves lined at her messy home. Organized chaos she'd have you believe. And an artist, a newfound love both for herself and in another.

Theirs is a fierce kind of love, the one so rarely found. One of novels and old films. Wild and messy and strong. She found him at the only right time. Once broken and shattered, combing the wreckage, she had completed reconstruction. Her fighter's heart had won, building up from the rubble of her grief, and forged on.

An independent spirit needing no guide, only a companion. A fellow traveler prepared for the ride. Her wings have spread wider, his breath blowing her higher in flight. From the ground, they cannot see from where the wind comes.

And so it will be their secret. This peace, this joy, in knowing the other. Her grief-filled tears—their salty trails like a snail's path to his heart. She will grow, change. Her art will blossom, alongside their dreams. She will shine. And the glow will be hers alone to see.



discovery #38

i am impatient

i want everything now. i am an instant gratification kinda gal. i have all these big dreams and goals and plans, and i want it all RIGHT NOW. i am beginning to discover that i need to actually put in the hard work to get there. and i am trying to enjoy the journey as i do so.

i never realized this about myself before, but now that i look back...i see i've had a lot of big plans. all were just big dreams really, since i never put in the effort to bring them to fruition. i think i've started blaming this phenomenon on my life philosophy - to live in the moment, that all we can trust is the present. but it is slowly becoming clear that this philosophy may be shortchanging my dreams. if i am only focused on today...how can i prepare for the future?

especially if i have a very clear vision of how i want that future to look? david and i have been making some big decisions on how to achieve that lifestyle and i'm proud that i have been able to look past tomorrow. i still believe that we need to enjoy--and be grateful for--every moment. i still plan to live every day like it's my last and be fully present in my daily life. but in doing so, i will ensure that the steps i take today are leading along the path to my ideal future.

...the one where i work as a social worker in some capacity, but have more time to write, make art, travel, and possibly start a family. the one where we have a strong community of like-minded friends and a safe place to rest our heads. where i am creative every day and sharing that joy with others. where there is a never-ending supply of mint chocolate chip.

i am discovering how to channel my impatience into creative energy, the passion that drives me forward. it is this drive, this ambition to create the life i've always envisioned, that will propel me into a future i could have only imagined.