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
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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.