Art Is Never finished… Only Abandoned — Leonardo da Vinci


 

It’s been a while since I opened up my blog page. I’ve missed writing here and checking in with you guys. Though I have been writing. I kind of got a new spark and have slowly been re-editing my book. I’ve lost count which time this would be. But I feel good about it. And now I am grateful that I didn’t try to publish it with all of the things that I have since changed and continue to rewrite still in it! As for the rest of the time, I’ve been getting ready for shows and restocking a little cozy booth I have at a store in town, called Reminisce. And working 12 hours a day doing it!  NOW that I am seriously attempting to make this what I want to do until I die!

Once upon a time, when someone asked me what I did, I would say that I was an Artist. And I was and always have been. In my heart. If you know my story, I worked as an Artist for over a dozen years and then moved to a small town in Paso Robles and opened up a little gift shop called Rose In The Woods which was supposed to mean “A thing of beauty in an unexpected place.” It was a favorite of the locals and tourists and was doing extremely well for a few years until an earthquake demolished it. (You can find the rest of the story in the ABOUT section of my blog. https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/a-thing-of-beauty-in-an-unexpectd-place/) But that is not what I want to talk about now, I just wanted to explain why for a while my  title was not “Artist” but Event Coordinator. And that was great. I learned a lot and had an amazing boss that has turned into a “forever friend.” But in my heart I always knew that there were more cards and dolls inside of me.

My husband built me a cozy little Art studio in our garage and created displays for me and has driven back and forth following me to Southern Californ to help me set up. And I do an amazing show that is still going strong called Sugarplum Festivals in Buena Park. I started doing that show almost 30 years ago and it is one of the largest family owned Arts & Crafts Show in California. With over 12 cash registers and a few hundred Artists, they have built an empire! The last show, A February show (mind you!) had customers wrapped around the building waiting to get in! They know how to Market their shows! They welcomed me back with open arms when I first approached them about trying a few shows again and each show I am learning new things. I think I could write a book on the dos and don’ts of doing shows.

But for now, I just kind of wanted to share a little of where I’ve been when not blogging!

 

My cozy little booth at Reminise in the heart of downtown in Paso Robles CcA. And when I’m not there, I am traveling to Sugarplum in Southern CA….

When you are traveling to do shows and have to be there by 9AM there are some perks to the challenge of getting up early to drive the four + hours to be there on time. That’s actually my sweet husband ahead of me, loaded up with half of my stuff.

This is what my booth looks like before I set up. I used to do this with no help at all. I’ve gotten so spoiled lately. Though I am trying to start doing it on my own again, just to see if I can since my sweet husband may be busier in the near future!

This was all set up

This was towards the end of the show! Blessed to take a lot less home! Gotta love me some of that Sugarplum!

My new line for 2019… My Antique Dolls and  if you notice my Shower Doll… Funny story, I was stuffing her and the stuffing got stuck in the middle and so I just went with it! So my new pregnant Shower girls are part of my line for this year!

Some of my cards out of my line… with a brand new line being introduced this year!

Thank you for taking the jouney with me. I am excited to see what this year holds for me! I am  definitely not ready to give up. I am praying that this year brings me enough success so that I can say that “I make a living” doing it!

Please visit my Etsy shop at dianeonawhim.etsy.com

and Sugarplumfestivals.com

(My mom creating when I was little)

I just lost my mom almost two years ago. She was a children’s artist during my whole childhood. I’d like to think that I am continuing her legacy!

Thanks for tagging along!

xoxo

Diane

 

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Me Reinventing Me


Life has a way of just happening. I remember wondering how I was ever going to survive a broken heart after something just clicked inside of me and I knew that I was finally letting go of a very rocky three year relationship with my first real boyfriend and fiance. And I remember a few years later, how  life  seemed to keep going on for everyone around me but me when my dad died suddenly of a heart attack. And when my world came crashing down around me as I experienced divorce after my first marriage of fourteen years ended. And  when our little store was lost after an earthquake shortly before Christmas over a decade ago. I’d given up an art business I’d built for twenty years to open our little shop and found myself once again…. in a place that I’d grown to know so well. Me, reinventing me.

I have come to realize that unless you live in a bubble, we all must survive those times of adjustment. As kids, if we are blessed, we are sheltered from most of it. We don’t have to worry about bills or deadlines, but life happens even to kids and as we grow, whether through experiencing family crisis such as divorce, or illness or even death of loved ones, we begin to toughen up. We are “survivors” and as we survive each obstacle, no matter how small or overwhelming, we learn that we can.

As earthquakes and hurricanes and fires and floods and wars and political discourse seem to overtake the news these days, my heart prays for us all. We are in a time of life changing events constantly. The thing is, it really is about surviving. When I was in College I took a Speech Class and one of the topics assigned to me was… The Instinct of Survival. Those cliff hanging events in life that make us stronger.

After the earthquake I had to reinvent myself. My husband had to reinvent himself. We had to get jobs and work for “other” people.  And we did. Funny how we both have landed back in a space we started out in. He’d worked with his dad for most of his life when we opened our store. And I had my own art business where I traveled doing art shows, which I was doing when I met him. To make a long story not quite as long… he is back working with his dad and I have been given the opportunity to go back to my roots and have signed up for the same art show that I did twenty years ago called Sugar Plum.   http://www.sugarplumfestivals.com (take a look, it is the largest, most successful of shows in all of California for the last four decades! And still going strong!)

It’s interesting how life works. I am not sure how I couldn’t believe in God. He has been so faithful in my life. Even through all the ups and downs, I know He is in it! I’ve had miscarriages and lost good friends and loved ones. I recently lost a job due to the business being sold and the higher paid jobs being eliminated first through the process. But instead of looking at it as just another defeat, I had a funny feeling that I was being given an opportunity, another shot so to speak, to go back and revive my dream of working for myself again. And you know what? I’m taking it.

So here I am. Me reinventing me, once again. And I have a hero in all this. My husband. He has supplemented my dream through this version of “unemployment” and gotten inside my head as I have tried to explain my vision and the way that I am trying to fit everything in a 5X10 booth. (Half the size that I used to get.)  I have described card & display racks in my head and he has designed them so perfectly, you’d have thought I’d drawn them out for him! And I think everything is going to fit! We taped off  a 5X10 space on our driveway and set everything up, and it all seemed to fit! (There still is small stuff not set up, but for the most part it looks as if it is going to work!)

I remember when I was going through my divorce 25 years ago and this guy showed up with one red rose at one of my shows. All my artist friends knew how heart broken I’d been and they were so happy for me as they witnessed me once again, reinventing me.

I will keep you guys posted! My next show is Sept 21 – 24th. I’d appreciate all the prayerss I can get. This will be a huge test for the me reinventing me part!

PS:

This is a side note that has nothing to do with the above… But some of my readers have asked me to repost this… I think I need to write a whole new post regarding this… But so many people are still not aware of it. See if you are among them… Click on your gravatar (profile pic that people see when you LIKE or comment on someone’s blog) Did you know that if you don’t have a link of your blog’s address attached to your profile, people who may click on you trying to find your blog can’t? Below is the best tutorial I know about this very thing and how to fix it so that people can find you! Soooo sharing again.

https://nostolencatpictures.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/gravitar-links/

There’s light at the top of the hole!


holezzz

First of all I want to say that…. I am so blessed to have you guys! Thank you ALL for your support and prayers! You guys are amazing! I feel that we have a little church or at least a prayer circle right here in our midst!

It’s not all that easy to just break out of that dark hole that I’ve been stuck in and just shake it off as if I’ve just fallen down and skinned my knee. When it is something that hurts from the inside out, it takes a bit more than a bandaid.  I remember once when I’d just had my daughter, she was three days old and we’d both come down with chicken pox! My first husband and my son, who was seven at the time, had gone to his baseball game and come home early with a huge black eye! From what I could gather my son had been beamed in the eye and my husband was not happy about it at all! He was the kind of dad that said; “Hey man just shake it off!” Okay so you can imagine how I felt. My poor baby was hurt.  And I wasn’t there to comfort him and his father was no help at all! On top of it, I was not feeling too well myself. Later my husband apologized and realized that he’d been embarrassed and made it all about him but I guess my point is… sometimes you just can’t shake stuff off.

baseball glove in the grass

We all have our broken times. Our losses, our heartaches and crisis. Some of us are dealing with life and death, some of us are dealing with catastrophic financial issues and debt and then others can look at their own lives and realize that they don’t have it quite as bad but still can’t seem to snap out of it. My grandmother used to say that someone’s hangnail is just as important to them as the other guy’s broken finger is to him. It all depends who is feeling the pain. I guess that makes sense in a selfish kind of way and I guess I’ve been feeling kind of selfish lately. The funny thing about being “selfish” is you don’t really recognize that you are being it until much later. Hind sight is always 20/20.

shel riding bareback backwards

 I remember once going to marriage counseling and having our therapist tell me that I was depressed. I wanted to shout. “Ya think?” I was abused by my first boyfriend, My dad who was my best friend, died from a heart attack too early in life,  I had two miscarriages that pretty much did me in. I finally divorced after struggling to keep my marriage alive for my kid’s sake for far too long, I remarried and then we lost our business in an earthquake…. yadda yadda yadda…  my husband  had to take a job beneath him that required him to work EVERY holiday and then after nine years got laid off and now I am still stuck in my going no where job after almost ten years. After being my own boss for the last twenty years, working for someone else. Depressed? No. Just circumstances.

INSTEAD… I could be thinking…. I was given a second chance with a wonderful Christian man who helped raise another man’s kids and has been a wonderful father to them. I had a chance to have a cute little store that was very successful for a while. And though our store did not survive. It was pretty amazing that WE DID! And I need to remember that everyday!

Rose In The Woods after earthquake

https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/a-thing-of-beauty-in-an-unexpectd-place/

 

And by the grace of God we both were given the opportunity to slip into some very good jobs. My husband always wanted to be a youth leader and being General Manager of our local movie theater gave him that opportunity for almost nine years! He was paid very well. His boss was very generous and offered him commissions that many larger city theaters probably don’t offer and so it was nice while it lasted.  And just when those doors closed due to the theater’s finances, his boss generously provided him with a severance package which allowed him to go back to work with his dad as God opened that door, just as his dad needed him again for an old job they’d done years ago. Which he may not have been able to do, if he’d still been working at the theater due to the demanding work schedule.

As for my job, it has given me the opportunity to meet some great friends and learn humility! I am learning lessons I may never have learned without the experiences I am having each and every day.

Also…. my daughter just checked in and told me that though she felt the recent 5.2 earthquake in Southern California and it upset her, she is okay! If you have read our story in the link above (right below the photo of our crunched store)… I have to be reminded that I appreciate and need to live for every second of every minute of every hour and looking too far ahead is just too overwhelming…. For God reminds us that THAT really should be Enough! Though… The next few weeks… If I could ask for prayer for health and business stuff for my father in law and  their business there is power in prayer and I am a believer in this little prayer group!

Sooo…. Though I am not checking in with some profound life changing aha momentish message…. I am telling you there is light at the top of the hole!!!!!

hole1

 

Our Heroes


We don’t know why bad things happen,

our hearts can’t begin to touch the pain.

Some things seem just so senseless,

as we are left with nothing but disdain.

earthquake fireworkers

And yet we find the heroes

in the darkest times of trouble,

they seem to rise above the rest

amidst the broken rubble.

Boston heros

They make us believe in good again,

they make us want to fight!

Through the blackest part of dark,

they  help us see the light.

prayer boston candle little girl

Here’s to all those souls

that run into unknown danger,

those ones we now call heroes

who once to us were strangers.

pray for Boston

Diane Reed

2013

After 911 I was positive that the blast I heard outside of our little store in 2003, was a bomb. In fact, I had no doubt. At the time, we were in the midst of all the Terrorist scares and it never occurred to me that it was anything else. Though it happened to be an earthquake that rocked our little town and destroyed our building, killing two women as they ran out of the store next to ours. They were found between our car (that my daughter had asked to wait in) and another. I will forever be grateful that my daughter decided to come inside that day and help me open. (But that is another story that you can find on my ABOUT page here on my post.) The thing that I want to touch on today is not the tragedies themselves, man-made or natural disasters, but the heroes that rise from them. When I finally got out of my store after the earthquake and had been reunited with my family, I ran over to my car where strangers were pulling bricks off of it and cried out to them, “Oh thank you so much but there is no one in that car!” That memory still brings grateful tears as I thank God for all the choices that were made that day that saved my daughter.

The thing that I remember most about that day, is how all of the strangers band together. Neighboring merchants became family as did the customers that had been there. Years later, there still is an unspoken bond that seems hard to break. I will never forget all the bonding that went on in our local park that day, as we waited for instructions for what would come next.  But even more, are those heroes that ran into the dust trying to save the trapped and hurt. Funny how character really seems to kick in during those horrific times.

I write this for  all the unsung heroes that may never know the ones they saved the day their hearts just kicked into gear. I am grateful that those men pulling bricks off of my car didn’t save my daughter that day because she was not in it. But God forbid, they may have… and I know that their hearts were out to save anybody in need that day.

I saw “that” same kind of courage in the Boston clips. The ones running towards danger… the ones putting their lives on the line for total strangers!

I think one of the most moving statements that I have read so far has come from comedian Patton Oswalt’s Facebook page. He is typically known for his sardonic, witty posts about current events, but I think he said it better than anyone else here :

 “I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, ‘Well, I’ve had it with humanity,   “But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopath. But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out … So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good out number you, and we always will.”                Patton Oswalt

Bottom line is that GOOD outweighs evil. Always!

angels protecting fighthing

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!