Bulletin: Driver's license passed - my first child has her license
driver's license

If we are Facebook friends, you might remember a post with my daughters on their way to the mall...gulp...on their own. My eldest passed her exam last week, and in a two second call to our insurance company, she was insured and on her way to the mall with her 14 year old sister.  

Of course for the last few weeks we have been practicing that drive to the mall, because in my Mom-mind, I wanted to be sure she knew which exit to take, when to use the blinker, which three lanes to cross over, which entrance to use, and where to park (because I wanted to teach her that if you always park in the same place, you never forget which entrance to go through when you leave. Brilliant, right? Apparently, according to her, I am the only person on the planet who can't remember where she's parked at the mall).

You don't think about those moments or the few first hours, how you feel when your child drives off for the first time in the car. The fact that we are sharing a car means I'm stuck home, in my own head, awaiting for her return. I was asked if I was "nervous". I wasn't "nervous" about her, because she is a good driver...but I am "NERVOUS" because of all the other wackos on the road who are not. Nervous doesn't even skim the surface, I am nervous because she's my child and I'm her mom.

The first time she took off in the car, which was last Tuesday, I wandered the house for an hour and did things like wipe baseboards, organize the spices, and went on a hunt for our Puerto Rican cats. Somehow they know exactly when I REALLY want to hold them, because that's when they disappear. I finally downed two glasses of Cabernet (because hey, I wasn't going to be driving anywhere) and went for a five mile walk.

The upside is that in the last week MY driving time has been cut in half, and I've found myself working more and even sitting down with a glass of wine in my pajamas watching movies like "Under the Tuscan Sun". She has taken herself to work while I stay home, driven her sister to friends' houses, made a candy run to Walgreens, deposited money into her bank account without me, and announced that she was going to the grocery store for vegetables, since we were out. She has driven to meet friends for lunch at Lobsta Land (as if she's 25 and not 16!) and I'm not particularly sure, but pretty sure she's joy ridden around the back shore at least three times and chewed the three packs of gum I keep in the console. 

There's really nothing more to say except that I felt the need to document this. We are one week in and the feeling of time on my hands, feeling of uselessness as a mom, and the urge to take away the keys because I'm just not ready for Baby Anna to be driving "up the line" to the mall, is all pretty immense. 

The end. If you have kids too, you know what I'm talking about.

Back "20-Something-Years". Woodstock, Vermont.

It's been over twenty years since I lived in Woodstock, Vermont, a place I never thought I would ever have a reason to go back to. When I drove up one morning recently to meet a woman I'm going to be working with on some creative projects, I thought "why would I need a reason to come back here, other than to just be here?" 

When my GPS stopped working and I drove up a few wrong driveways before I found hers, I really felt like I was in another world. Stepping into hers, I experienced hours of unintended insight, with the overwhelming feeling that I didn't have enough "fight" in my world. This lady had it, I could see it in her photography, dining room table, in her eyes and the spiritual corners of her home. I'm talking about the kind of fight that means you just get through everything that seems to hit you, with a greater sense of humor, likely alot of grief, inspiration and drive to keep going on to the next thing.  

I think I realized some things while I was back in my old brief home town. The most important being that wherever we are, we are always at a starting point.

Every day, every town, every job, every person we are with, we are always at a starting point.

When I was in college, my mom moved to Woodstock on a whim. She'd passed through once before and thought "why not?", so she did it. I wound up there in between "gigs" after graduating from college. By the time I arrived, she had bought this cute corner house within walking distance to town, with a front porch, complete with porch swing. All that was missing was the mint julep (Mom doesn't drink). 

I landed an internship at the local arts council, Pentangle Council on the Arts. I helped in the office, sent letters of thanks to the members, promoted events, sold tickets to shows, and I went to every movie in the Town Hall Theatre, FOR FREE, because that was a perk for working 30 hours a week for fifty dollars. Sometimes the guy at the theatre desk would even sneak me some free candy, and when he didn't, I would just eat what I had smuggled in my pocket from the drug store.

What an experience to a) work for a non profit (gulp, if you haven't ever done it, do it, you will gain new insight to a whole other world)  b) exist at work with a million of creative types. There were writers, musicians, actors, artists, and then just the people who really cared 200% about the arts. I think the highlight was feeding Maynard Ferguson and his band, before the night of their big show. I swore I hated Jazz, but after that night, I realized I didn't really know what jazz was all about. I had fed rice and chicken and cake to about 30 of the most talented young musicians in his band, while he sat at the head of the table making jokes and asking for seconds.

(note: I also met Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. I had no idea who he was, nor did I knew anything of The Byrds, but it was cool to know I met someone famous)

I had my first art show in the little corner gallery. That led to many many shows for years later. I have that cute local UPS driver to thank (who I dated) for introducing me to the gallery owners.

I learned how to really take care of babies, because I supplemented my tiny internship pay, working as a part time nanny. I kept them on a schedule, I didn't starve them or lose them, and apparently both have become fine young men. I have since raised two of my own and they are still breathing and don't complain too much.

I learned that some things are really messed up, because I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Mountain Creamery in 1995 in downtown Woodstock when I heard on the news that OJ Simpson was found not guilty in the murders of Nicole and Ron. When I returned from Woodstock this week, I learned that he was just granted parole for some misdeed that I never bothered to follow. I'm not so sure I knew he was even locked away. That morning I had picked up a cup of coffee at the Creamery for my ride home...Oj Simpson and the Mountain Creamery, in my life together, two times, twenty years apart.

I learned how to make Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding, from Simon Pearce Restaurant, who graciously handed out recipes to anyone who asked. I won't say anything more about it, but if you knew me a few years ago, you will know what I am talking about....(okay, yes, so I took their recipe, made it gooier, and made it my own in my own restaurant!)

The world of Groupon allowed me to stay at The Kedron Valley Inn for a few nights, where I was thankful for the bar downstairs, the renovated bathroom, the complimentary hot breakfast in the morning, and the reliable wifi. When I decided to make the trip, it wasn't something I had ever considered before, to drive out of state on my own and eat, sleep and be alone. Sure, there were people around, I knew some, I was in a familiar place...restaurants and shops and trails were all the same, despite the 20 years that have passed. It reminded me of a lot of things that I hadn't thought of in years and also gave me this immense feeling that this was another beginning.

Wherever we are, we are always at the starting point of something. That is my point here. It hit me when things that seemed so old, seemed so new.  When I walked into that house on that country road last week and met my new friend, I was struck by the urge to be sure to listen to every single word from this woman who has really lived a life, and still (in her 70-th-something year of life) wants to create, inspire, take action and connect with the world and whoever is beside her. 

 

 

From a Story Book: Blue Moon Farm, Essex
blue moon farm
blue moon farm essex

When Patti Byrne at Blue Moon Farm in Essex, Ma called for help with the website for her business, I remember thinking, "What? There's a farm I have never heard of." It almost sounded like something out of a story book, and I looked it up to be sure it existed. When I saw that blue moon faced logo, I thought "oh yay (yes, I use the word "yay"), this will be a fun one to design!" When I found her Instagram, I was even more excited. Go there, right now, and look through her amazing photos!

I drove up the road last Spring on a dark rainy day to meet her for the first time. She wasn't quite open for the season, so there were no signs yet. Sometimes, GPS out there in the country can be a little vague. So I drove back and forth, up and down the street for ten minutes, trying to find it.  

Thanks to technology (no thanks to GPS), a simple text helped me arrive up the driveway, and it was there that I found that I was right. It is out of a story book.  Since then, I have completed www.bluemoonfarmessex.com. The photos don't do it justice, so I am just going to suggest you take a little drive for some seasonal vegetable and herb plants for your garden (and much more!) and your GPS WILL get you to her signs on the road, at every turn. Pay Patti a visit, you may find her building bridges for caterpillars, digging in the dirt, pouring over seed catalogs, planting in the greenhouses, or chatting with friends and customers. 

Blue Moon Farm    28 Choate Street, Essex, Ma     978-768-3399

 

blue moon farm essex

 

 

Non-"Micro-Habits"
 
 

For the last month or so, I've woken up at 4:00 almost every morning. At first I would toss and turn, waiting out the few hours before the alarm, and then one morning, I found myself walking at 4:15 in the morning on the back shore. I must admit, it's a little creepy. 

Now I get up, have a cup of coffee and wait until five. Five is much more reasonable when it comes to the habits of others, driving to work, jogging (right by my semi-fast walking self), waiting in the drive through of Dunkin' Donuts for their mochachinno/half fat latte/large regulars. 

Since early Spring, I've been listening to podcasts while driving, a mixture of Tim Ferriss, The Side Hustle Show, Gretchen Rubin, and even some Loving on Purpose (Danny Silk).  There is something to be said about hearing how others are inspired, motivated, and work through their life, or even daily goals. 

Our family recently subscribed to Apple Music Family Plan, (because we are all music freaks) and we have unlimited access to any music genre or song we could each possible wish for, so I thought I had it made on my daily walks with so much entertainment.

One day, while blasting Beyonce at 5:30am on my walk along the back shore, I decided to switch over and see what was new in my podcast subscriptions. This was a day where I was still working the day job, building my side hustle, driving my children to their jobs, friends and sports, and dreaming of putting paint to paper again in my little home studio. I was wishing that I could sit still long enough to watch a movie in it's entirety and have a decent meal on the table every night for the kids, something that wasn't potstickers and a bowl of fruit, because I was always on the run. And I wanted to sleep a full night's sleep. 

It was a podcast from the Side Hustle Show, "212: Micro Habits: The Too-Small-to-Fail Plan for Big Results", that suddenly alleviated some of the confusion and struggle I had with getting everything done, the way I wanted to get it done, through each day. When something is important to me, I find I still have a time letting go of the things that really don't matter. 

I started thinking about micro-habits, wondering what I could start doing to enable focus and routine to each day. In the end, I found that I really have none other than brushing my teeth and making sure I always have a water bottle and a sweater with me wherever I go. When I do something, doing it for one minute, really isn't enough, so I bagged the micro-habit idea and decided to pick something that I would do every day, in the midst of my work and caring for my children. 

1) Walk every day. I keep reading about how healthy it is for us to take a 15 minute walk every day. I suppose this could be considered a micro habit, even though it is 15 of those one minutes. I discovered that if I walk an hour a day, I am happier. I am happier by listening to podcasts that inspire and educate me. I am happier because I feel I can have a piece of cake when I get home. I am happier because I moved, saw beauty and got some vitamin D and breathed the air.

2) Actually enjoy my coffee. I started drinking my coffee black last year. I thought it would be horrible. But now, I make sure I have time to sit and enjoy it, black. Yes, I enjoy it. I buy really high end beans. I grind them. I use filtered water. I have an expensive coffee machine. It is all worth it.

3) Write every day. Sometimes it is in an old journal, long hand. Sometimes it's a blog post. Sometimes it's a text or email to a family member or friend. Sometimes it's a grocery list.

4) Paint. My studio is such that I can walk up to it, put a brush and paint to the paper, and walk away again. I can do that for five minutes or for two hours. I make sure I do this at some point every day.

5) Dust my dashboard. Honestly. I drive so much. I didn't used to, but with teenagers who are busier than I ever was, I am in the car constantly, driving them to work, sports, friends' houses, to their dad's for the weekend. I keep a dust rag now in my console because somehow the cat hair from the house, ends up on my dashboard along with a boatload of dust. 

I could go on, but I am just trying to put something out there in the world to my friends who have read this far along...to the friends who I always hear "I wish I had time for that" or "I always wanted to do that", or "my car is a mess"...I believe it when I hear it, and I am not pro, and right now there are some dead flies on my dashboard that I've been driving around with for two days. (because the beach was more important) I am determined to make things a bit more sane and fulfilling. I get to work from home now. I get to work with clients who choose me, and in theory, who I get to choose. I get to keep my laundry room a mess, but my car somewhat clean. It's all about what matters and making them a habit. 

 

Stephen J. Kalinich & a Painting a Day

One of my social media clients is Stephen Kalinich, who has been friends with my father out in Los Angeles for many many years. I have never met him in person, but have followed stories from my dad, and more recently I've been introduced to his work. His poetry, spoken word, songs that he has written and his art.

When he hired me to manage his social media last year, we spoke on the phone for a good hour, and I explained all of the things that I can share about him, many of which are on his website.

I will pause now and tell you something you might not know just from hearing his name, unless you do a quick "Google"...and I will just insert this blurb from his website:

"The great American poet and lyricist Stephen John Kalinich has been a profound voice of the rock ’n’ roll era for four decades.  When Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, two of the most prominent icons in rock history, recorded “A Friend Like You” by Kalinich and Wilson on an album featuring Elton John and Eric Clapton, it was a testament to the lyrical poet at the height of artistic achievement.

An originator of the California sound, Kalinich rose to fame as a young man when he began writing songs with Brian and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys on their Warner Brothers/Reprise record label. During his 30-year collaboration with the group, it became “America’s #1-selling rock band,” according to Billboard. Brian Wilson described Kalinich as a “poetic genius” and credited him with stunning the music world by unleashing Dennis Wilson’s full creative potential."

So. This. is. amazing. 

In our discussions, I asked him to send me photos of his artwork, thinking it would add a little fun twist to his social media post. "Please just email them to me as you finish them" I said, so that I can set up an online store  to sell pieces and share on social media. a) they are very good b) people want to see them c) people want to buy them.

What I did expect, was that as he completed a painting, he would send them to me via email, with a title, often a poem, dimensions and a price.

What I DID NOT expect, was to receive a new one each day (usually in the middle of the night), sometimes more.

I know that writing every day helps many people express themselves, a daily walk, talk with a friend, meditation, a cup of tea or a glass of wine, are all practices that enlighten our day in different ways. But this man does at least one painting a day, often with a few lines that describe how he feels at the beginning of his day. 

It's been eye opening to me, as I have changed the structure of my days, to include daily disciplines, putting paint to paper, juicing a batch of vegetables, taking a walk, or writing. 

How long has it been? (Before & After)
 
 

My home has been rearranged a bit, and has been over the years. What was once my small little studio, became my older daughter's room when it became apparent that two teenagers might benefit from having their own space. It certainly cut down on the screaming and throwing of pencils and lamps. 

The "back half" of my living room is once again being "re-organized" for art supply storage and painting. The problem has been, after working a day job and my side job (social media management and marketing for small businesses), I haven't picked up a brush in almost a year.

Sure, I've been posting photos, selling work, re-stocking retail shops with what I have on hand, but I haven't painted anything in almost a year. 

There is something wrong with that. 

As of a week ago, I have become 100% freelance. This is no longer a side gig for me. The world is open for all of the things I love to do, and today I am finishing the studio space, taking out some new 22x30 sheets of watercolor paper, sanding drift wood, and mixing colors. 

Above is the beginnings of a painting I completed in 2014. Shortly after, Shea's Riverside Inn & Motel in Essex, Ma, (www.sheasinn.com) renovated their historic inn and purchased over a dozen paintings for their rooms. This one hangs in the beautiful bathroom of one of those rooms. 

 
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Memory Layne Creative
memory layne 
creative.jpg

Years ago, when I moved to Gloucester, Ma as a single mum with my two young children, I knew two things. a) I knew that living near the ocean with my children and being at their beck and call (so to speak) was a priority  b) I wanted to be creative for my work.

At City Hall, I registered my business as a sole proprietor, and came up with the name for my business, which consisted of selling art, commissioned murals, and the odd design jobs for a few small businesses. I decided to call it "Memory Layne Creative" because the "Creative" part could pertain to pretty much any freelance work I would take on. I remember thinking, almost ten years ago, "this can go in any direction". 

And so it has. 

With what feels like many life changes, I am now back working from home. "Memory Layne Creative" not only encompasses the fine arts/painting side of what I do, but it also defines my small business marketing business, that includes content & social media management, website design & the design of marketing materials, at an affordable cost for small businesses. (I have been a small business, and know it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to get your identity, products and services out to the real world!)  What began a year ago, is now my full time "hustle". 

I've worked for an arts council, non-profit historic museum, and an investment firm. I've worked retail, been a nanny, a mountaineering instructor and owned a restaurant & piano bar. More recently I was a permanent substitute teacher as well as a cook and baker for a local tea room. I also even dragged my non-green thumb to a job I loved, planting at a farm that stocked it's own farm stand.

And now, I am coming back around, remembering that "Memory Layne Creative" is something else now, and down the road, it can keep changing & growing.