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On Turning 40. And Constantly Evolving.

I recently turned 40.

That statement simultaneously excites and terrifies me. I love it because it’s kind of awesome getting older. I find I’ve stopped caring about all sorts of things that don’t matter – like what people think of me, the need to impress, the need to wear makeup, and much of the second guessing of my ideas. On the other hand, turning 40 is scary. Based on statistics, it means I’ve reached the middle of my life. A full half of my life is already over. And this fact has me thinking.

Though before I get into all that, here’s something on the lighter side. Every year, for the last few years, I’ve taken a self-portrait right around my birthday. At first, I have no idea why I did it. I think it was actually because I wanted to update my Facebook profile picture. But then it became this cool thing to do. What if I took a picture of my face every year? What would the progression of growing older look like? Wouldn’t that be cool to see?! I think so. Thus, I’ve continued the habit and made it a tradition. At first, I edited those pictures (got rid of blemishes, softened wrinkles, erased dark circles). Now, however, I don’t do that. Yes, I correct for color and exposure (I love a properly exposed photo). But that’s it. My wrinkles and dark circles and blemishes stay. Because I want to see what I really look like over the years. The portrait above is my official “40” photo. And below are a few more that I love from that session (because, let’s be honest, Charlotte is basically an extension of me).

So I actually turned 40 two months ago. My birthday is at the end of March. And I’ve pretty much been in deep thought since. When you realize half of your life has passed you by (whether that be good or bad), it makes you think. And what I’ve been thinking has been about the pull between two opposing parts of my personality. On one hand, I want to be practical — have a good job, keep my sweet little house, plan for retirement. On the other hand, I want to forget everything that’s practical and do the things that pull at my heart strings — leave Vegas, work as little as possible, travel, be more active, explore the outdoors.

Now, I’m not crazy. I don’t think all of those things have to be at odds with each other. I know I can both explore the outdoors and keep my house. But in reality, there are a few things where I will have to choose one or the other. And in choosing those things, I’m choosing very different paths. To be honest, I’m stumped.

So I’ve decided I’m just going full steam ahead into a mid-life crisis. Because, damn, I totally get it now. 

A mid-life crisis isn’t really a crisis. It isn’t a breakdown of any kind. It’s just a lot of serious thinking about what you’ve done with your life. Would you make the same decisions again knowing what you know now? And a lot of serious thinking about future plans. Given what you know now, what’s next? Because our lives are finite. None of this lasts forever. Maybe, just maybe, we should make the most of it.

Now, I thought I had a plan. I thought I’d finally figured it out, ready to let it all go. After most of the year spent searching for work and thinking about moving and carrying some pretty big decisions on my mind, I decided I would be practical. I would stay in Vegas, keep my house, teach here, work toward an early retirement, and travel during summers. But, if I’m being honest, something has continued to nag at me. And that nagging is this: I really, really don’t love living in Vegas.

Las Vegas is a great city if you’re a rock climber, love the desert, hate the rain, love good food, enjoy driving, and don’t mind its otherwise complete lack of outdoor activities. Now, that last piece might seem like a strange thing to say, if you know Vegas. Las Vegas is situated as a great spot for heading to the outdoors. It’s a short drive to Red Rock Canyon, an hour from Mt. Charleston, an hour from Lake Mead, and has several hiking trails on the outskirts of the city. However, and this is a big however, much of the community has no sidewalks, which makes it hard to go for a walk from my own house. There are no shade trees, a near complete lack of grass, a near complete lack of anything green. Those trails on the outskirts of town are most always littered with broken bottles, remnants of adolescent parties in the desert. Red Rock Canyon is getting so busy, I literally can’t get in on the weekend unless I plan to arrive by 6am. It’s annoying to have to drive over an hour to go for a short hike at Mt. Charleston. During the summer, when I have most of my time off, it’s too hot to hike — regardless of the location I choose. It’s also too hot to walk or do anything that doesn’t involve air conditioning. If I do, I could literally die. Heat stroke is real. During the winter, although not covered in snow, it is in fact, cold. And I hate being outdoors in the cold. My nose runs, my eyes run, my face gets dry and blotchy. It’s all around unpleasant. Now, the winters are mild enough. I would just suck it up if it weren’t for those hellish summers. Last, but certainly not least, this is not a dog friendly town. There are no good dog parks for running a normal sized dog. There are no off-leash trails. Sure, there are some dog-friendly patios at restaurants, and I appreciate that, but honestly, I don’t go to restaurants often. I want dog friendly places to let my dog run, and there simply aren’t any.

In writing all this, the choice seems obvious — get the hell out of Vegas.

And yet, the practical side of me nags. My pay in Vegas is higher than it would be in most other cities. There are no state income taxes. The retirement plan at the school district is perhaps the best in the country. My cost of living is low, even compared to Vegas standards. I own a lovely little home with upgrades that I worked really hard to make my own. Living here, I can afford to take extravagant vacations every year. Unbearable summer heat? Nah. I can up and leave during summer break.

The voice that wonders, however, suggests that perhaps a simpler life is better. That trading in a little extra cash for everyday peace of mind is worthwhile. That extravagant vacations aren’t needed as often when I truly love where I live. That walking trails and shade trees really are that important.

All of this to say, I don’t have all of the answers at this point. And, right now, that really just has to be okay.

In moving into this next half of my life, I think it’s important I be more open. What can I create that I truly love? Guided by that sentiment, I feel the need to be both practical and whimsical. Yes, retirement and financial security are important. But perhaps there are ways to feel financially secure and abundant while satisfying my other needs.

xo,

How Social Media Killed My Writing

Social media killed my writing practice.

I’ve written and re-written that first sentence a hundred times. There are a thousand things I could say about why I stopped writing several months ago (hell, one could argue I stopped writing several years ago). But if we’re going to be honest here, that first sentence is as honest as it gets.

I stopped writing because it turned into a job. Because I felt obligated to entertain. Because I couldn’t come up with catchy titles. Because my life seemed too…normal. I stopped writing because every time I did write, I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And with those posts came the need to impress. If I’m going to post about this, I better make it good. Over time, I ran out of interesting things to say. Eventually, I replaced blog posts with mini-posts on Facebook. And then rants. And then stories on Instagram.

And now I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write just because I wanted to.

Honesty, I can’t remember.

As I’m writing this, I actually feel rusty and unfocused and scattered. I don’t feel capable. In addition, I feel impatient and lazy.

First, why bother writing blog posts when nobody reads blogs anymore? Also, it’s more work. Not only do I have to login to my website, but I also have to remember how to use the blog interface, and I have to resize photos, and I have to focus on layout. On social media, I don’t have to do any of those things. The social media interface deals with the sizing of my photos. The layout is predetermined. I just type and hit ‘post.’ And all of that is so convenient.

So why am I back here, writing a blog post, considering revitalizing my writing practice? To tell the truth, I don’t know if I’ll bring back my writing practice (at least not in this form). But I do find myself missing it, and I think it’s worthwhile to explore whether or not a return to the blogosphere is warranted. Also, I’m considering leaving social media altogether. I wonder if I would be more present in general without thoughts of likes and followers.

I left Twitter some time ago. I left Facebook at the start of 2018 (and haven’t looked back). All that’s left is Instagram.

A few days ago, it hit me. I spend too much time staring at my phone. My life is passing me by while I’m looking down. In the car, at work, at home, while watching tv, while talking with my boyfriend, while walking my dogs. Even when I’m barely doing it, I’m still doing it. And so I deleted the Instagram app from my phone. I didn’t delete the account, and I haven’t made any long term decisions. But I have committed to deleting the app from my phone and waiting it out for a week or two. When I break the Instagram habit, do I feel more present? When I break the Instagram habit, do I write more? When I break the Instagram habit, do I stop comparing myself with every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet?

I’m curious about all this, and I think it’s a worthwhile thing to explore.

And so, here I am. My first blog post in months. All social media deleted from my phone. Most social media deleted from my life. Making the conscious decision to be a little more conscious, a little more present. Playing around with how to make that happen. Showing up and writing and blogging even though it feels clunky and awkward and I haven’t done it in a while. Not knowing how to end this, so I’ll just say, tata for now.

xo,

I’m on the Cover of heART Journal Magazine!

Happy New Year, my sweet creative friends!! I’m super excited to share I’m on the cover of heART Journal Magazine this month!! Woohooo! Seriously, it was so sweet of them to interview me and ask me to be a contributor. To celebrate, the magazine has generously offered to give a FREE issue to all of my readers.

The magazine has art tutorials and interviews (one of each is from me!), and I would love to share this with you.

You can get your free issue in two ways. You can download the heART Journal Magazine app to your phone or reading device or download it as a PDF to your computer or device.

If you want to read the magazine on your computer or by PDF:

  1. Click this link: http://bit.ly/2EIO4lp
  2. Click on the Jan/Feb 2018 issue
  3. Enter the coupon code: heARTthiS (case sensitive) during the checkout process

If you want to read the magazine on the app, here are the directions:

  1. Look up heART Journal Magazine in the App Store
  2. Install the app on your device
  3. Open the app
  4. On the Home Page, tap the yellow Subscribe button
  5. Next, tap the Current Subscribers button
  6. Enter the coupon code: heARTthiS (case sensitive)
  7. And you’re done! Enjoy.

Thank you all so much for supporting me this last year! It has meant the world as I’ve reached out for some big dreams. Here’s to a healthy and adventurous 2018!!

Paradise Found: A Mixed Media Journey

Friends, I am so very excited! Today I get to share with you something I’ve been working on for quite a while. I created a new mixed media painting workshop — Paradise Found!

Imagine for a moment the honeyed scent of hibiscus wafting through the air as you stroll down the path of a tropical island. The smell of petals and sunshine. Turtles scurrying to the sea. Birds singing sweetly. Wouldn’t it be lovely to experience that each day?

One way I’ve found to invite little bits of paradise into my own surroundings is to bring it into my art practice! The varied colors of the ocean, the bright feathers of birds, the shapes of tropical flowers. These truly are a few of my favorite things…to paint!

I invite you to join me on a journey as, together, we explore the paradise that is Polynesia. We’ll sketch and paint and laugh and play. We’ll try new techniques, make bold moves, and most of all, we’ll have fun!

Let me tell you a little more…

This class takes you on a journey through Polynesia. We’ll explore traditional Polynesian symbols, beautiful Hawaiian words and phrases, tropical flowers, and some of our sweet feathered friends of the islands (the birds!). We’ll talk about the use of symbolism and telling stories with our art. We’ll look at our use of color, create interesting layered details, and learn simple ways to make a big impact on the canvas.

I also include a sweet meditation with this class as an invitation to sit down, breathe, and calm your mind before each painting session.

This class is being offered through Ivy Newport’s artist network, and I hope so much you will join us! To learn more about the class, see the projects we will be completing, and sign up, please click here.

Are you ready? Let’s do this.

xo,

 

Everyday Life: 10/18/2017

Just a quick note today as I move into the day’s work.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon as a presenter at the Adobe MAX conference. I was on a panel, talking about networking and making career connections with a group of amazingly talented young people getting ready to launch their careers. It was a really cool experience and something I never imagined myself participating in. I want to talk more about it and give you more details, but I’m still letting my thoughts on that simmer, so I’ll bring that to you later in the week.

Today, I’m finishing up some work for my latest painting class. It’s the nitty-gritty detail stuff I’ve been putting off. But, alas, it’s time to wrap this up and get it all done! So here we go.

Here’s to a productive day!

xo,

 

I’m Heather, a mixed-media artist with a love of turquoise and whimsy. My passion is helping women begin their creative journeys through painting, yoga, and meditation.

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