Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2015 - January in one take

My "dream big" blog has been inactive for one year. Someone reported my blog as spam late in 2014 (how can a personal blog be spam, I wonder?) so I switched blogs for 2015. However "Sharley Studio" is me and I want to get back into being me. I am reproducing my blog posts from 2015 - these are the January posts.


Friday January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!  It's a New Year....It's a New Day!

Many bloggers work on choosing a "word" to represent their coming year. (you can do this yourself by downloading free workbooks available from Susannah Conway at this link) However, I am not content with one word and so this afternoon worked on my little sketch shown above. In case you can't tell (ha - I'll work on improving my sketching skills) it's a champagne bottle and it's been uncorked with some of my words...peace, believe, feel, calm, contentment, love, joy, create, home, soar, hope, confidence, listen, happy, friendship, strength, confidence.

These past few weeks, I have felt like a bottle ready to pop so I thought I'd put it down on paper. I don't know how to explain it other than it's as if I see everything differently now. Lots of things are a "wow!!". Little things that no one else would even notice. But it makes me feel filled with promise (hey, I'll have to add that word to my sketch) and hope and excitement for the coming year.

Last year was a challenging one for me. I feel like I lost my way a little bit. More "down"  feelings than "up" feelings, and I found it hard to get things turned around. For part of the year, I let my circumstances change me, my feelings, and my general outlook on life. My creative side got lost, and I seldom blogged, or took photographs, or did my stained glass window art.

The good news is that I worked at changing that around part way through the year, and I feel like I'm back on track. Here's what I did to get "me" back:

1. Exercise - I started swimming four days a week...52 lengths a day! And I've been doing it for five months now, so it's a well established habit that I don't intend to break. A couple of weeks ago I started riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes a day when I don't swim. I tried this many years ago and I hated it. I love it now! The secret for me is MUSIC! Thirty minutes is nothing when I'm listening to music I love. (here's where I need help....most of the music I listen to is about 20 years old! Any recommendations for upbeat current music??)

2. Food - I will never diet, I don't have the discipline. But we are eating better foods (think home made soup instead of canned or packaged soup, sandwich and salad instead of fish and chips when we go out, etc). I intend to keep working at this in the coming year.

3. Create - In late November I started sketching and drawing in a journal I bought over a year ago. Mostly I'm just doodling (I found out after I did a few "doodles" that it's called "Zentangle") I find that focusing on a simple sketch or doodle gets me in a good place and my mind calms. My doodles tend to be flowers, leaves, growing vines, and positive words. Some don't get finished, some are works in progress. I started with some letters of the alphabet and I'd like to continue with more.

M: I did this with my oldest granddaughter in mind

finished? or a work in progress....time will tell
4. Reach - I try to ignore that fearful little voice in my head that says "you can't do it". If I'm asked to do something that I've never done before, I say "yes". Overcoming my fears and learning new things help build my confidence. You're never too old to learn something new, and I find I can continually amaze myself at how I've grown and stretched just by saying "yes". (although my poor husband has to listen to me over and over when I am in my doubting phases!)

5. Grow - I was wasting a lot of time pouring over "house" and "design"  and "pins" (you know what I'm talking about....Houzz, Pinterest, design blogs). Wow, you can really get lost in looking at what other people have, what other people can do, and you can start feeling like your house isn't good enough, your life isn't good enough, and you just aren't good enough. So I say (and still have to remind myself when I get distracted)...enough! I unsubscribed from Houzz updates, I don't spend time on pinterest, and have unsubscribed from many blogs and website updates. The only updates I will be getting in my in box are things that will help me with my personal goals. I have signed up for a couple of creative adventures that will kick start some personal growth.  


There are many things I want to do this year, but most of all I want to focus on being content...with myself, and with everything (family, friends, activities) that I surround myself with. Here's to the coming year...whatever it brings! 


Monday January 5, 2015
inspiration from surprising places

New Year = New Ideas and I'm planning something new for my Paws For Charity Project. Trying something new is always exciting to me, but it's also terrifying. There's that little voice whispering "you can't do it" that is hard to ignore sometimes. Yesterday I contacted past participants from the Paws For Charity Project and gave them a brief outline about my idea. The response has been wonderful, and very heart warming. But still there's that little voice...maybe I'm dreaming a little too big?

Flash forward to this morning, and I'm sitting at the table with my coffee and newspaper. I wasn't reading much of the paper, because I was listening to a program on the radio (and I can't seem to multi task!). It was a truly inspiring piece about def musicians on The Current, a CBC Radio Program. The documentary talks about a couple of musicians, one being Sean Forbes. He writes and raps and is profoundly deaf. I'm not a rap fan, but I love the words to one of the songs that was played and it seemed like a message to me. 

"follow your intuition your instincts
they'll guide you in the right direction
every road you take there's a lesson
a story of perfect imperfections" - Sean Forbes


"don't let anything hold you back
don't let anyone say facts are facts" - Sean Forbes

Thanks for the message! Here goes...time to dive into my new project...fingers are crossed!


Wednesday January 7, 2015
Dream Big

This has been a busy week. For the past six years I have curated and edited books using contributed images from artists and photographers in many different countries. Over $11,000 has been donated to charity. This year, I am trying something new. It could be a flop. Or it could turn into something big. Really big. I'm not sure which outcome scares me more!

Today, in my email inbox, I received an advertisement from Blurb Books. "Take your book from good to great". And it features the cover from my 2012 Paws For Charity Art Book. 

I think it's a sign. Good things are coming!

look closely and you will see my 2012 Paws For Charity book!


Saturday January 10, 2015
things I love
We went on a little jaunt today and stopped a few times for photo taking breaks. Three things I love taking pictures of: old windows, reflections, and trees. Managed to capture all 3 with this photo.

Hoping to share more photos from our excursion soon.


Sunday January 11, 2015
Bangs Falls

Yesterday we jumped in the car and went for a little drive. The first stop was Bangs Falls in Queen's County. There is a lovely wee church nestled in beside the river. A few years ago, we drove by here in the summer and the church was unlocked but I didn't take any photos. I can't find any information on the web about it. We'll make a point of stopping by in the summer again (with camera, and perhaps a picnic).


Friday January 16, 2015
fundraising success story

Blurb Books has just released a promotional email for non-profit photo books, and has used the 2015 Paws For Charity Weekly Planner as a success story example. The planner features photos from Peta Santoro (100loyalfaces.com). Peta is an Australian photographer, and she generously offered the use of her photographs for the planner. All profits from the sales are donated to Sheltering Helpless Animals in Distress (SHAID). SHAID is an animal shelter in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The weekly planners featuring Peta's photographs have been a wonderful addition to my Paws For Charity book line up! It's a win-win situation. The charity gets the profits, and Peta gets some wonderful publicity.

It constantly amazes me how the internet connects all of us. A photographer based half way around the world can benefit a little shelter in Nova Scotia!

part of a promotional email sent by Blurb Books


Tuesday January 27, 2015

Sometimes it's easy to forget how far we have progressed in a few years. This thought could be applied to a specific talent, or just life in general.

Four years ago, John was driving me into Halifax every day for one month...a 2 1/2 hour round trip...so I could have radiation treatments for breast cancer. It didn't feel "real" at the time, and to this day it still doesn't seem "real". But it was, and it is.

I just had my four year check up, and passed with flying colours. Yay. One more year, and I'll likely be finished with drug therapy. Hopefully, no more daily pills to pop. I have the best doctor in the world, and she tells me that she'll stick with me for the next 18 years (when she retires). John and I were doing the happy dance when we heard that. She inspires so much confidence, and she truly listens and cares. 

Taking it down a notch, four years can also make a big difference in a hobby. I tend to think that my photography hasn't progressed much. Today is a storm day, and a good day to go through some old photo files. Purging, and tagging, and playing. Here is a sparrow photo I took a few years ago.

photo from a few years ago - unprocessed
And here is a version of the same photo I made today after some post-processing. I believe my photography skills have improved somewhat over the past few years, but certainly my post-processing abilities have changed!

same photo - processed in 2015
So...here is to progress...in our lives and in our talents. May you all be as lucky in life as I think I am. Cancer, you will not win this battle.


Wednesday January 28, 2015
zentangle inspired S
Early in the year, I displayed some zentangle inspired letters and hearts that I had been playing with. I decided the next letter should be "S". I was more than half way done, and then spilled my coffee on the page as I was reaching for the ringing phone. No use in crying over spilled milk...or spilled coffee. I need the practice, so carried on and finished it.

I think I'll try doing them without the outline. If you google zentangle images, you'll find some truly amazing art.


Saturday January 31, 2015
mystery birds

We generally don't have any birds around in the winter. I hear nuthatches and woodpeckers in the woods,and of course there are crows around but that's about it. This little flock of birds flew in a couple of days ago...maybe the storm blew them off course from somewhere. I don't know what they are...any ideas? (Edit on Sun Feb 1st: a little birdie told me that they are snow buntings. They visit Nova Scotia from the Arctic in the winter months. Click here for info on snow buntings).

Sorry for the grainy photos, I had the ISO set too high on my camera. But I thought the way they came out looked kind of cool anyway.

any idea what kind of birds these guys are?
I posted this photo for fun...it's so blurry, it looks like 2 fish jumping the tree!


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