Friday, July 22, 2016

Goodbye, Aloysius

Our hearts have been very heavy the past few days. We had to say goodbye to sweet kitty boy Aloysius. He was only fourteen years old, but he had been losing weight for quite sometime. The frustrating thing was we could never figure out what was wrong. All the tests came back relatively normal. We tried many different things to get him to eat and put on weight, but he took a turn for the worse this week.

Aloysius was one of our first fosters from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter along with his two brothers. Since they were the first, my wife gave them names that began with A, B, and C. I don't remember what they were, and I quickly made the suggestion of ostentatious names just to be silly. We began calling them Aloysius, Bartholomew, and Cromwell. Of course, Aloysius stuck.

Being an orange tabby, Aloysius was full of personality, and we quickly fell in love. We decided to adopt him at my suggestion, and his brothers went back to the shelter to find their forever homes. A couple of my favorite memories from his mischievous kitten years were eating pumpkin innards while carving jack-o-lanterns (above) and the way he sat in my hand because he was an itty bitty kitty (below).

Aloysius would come to have many nicknames. Squishy was probably the one we used the most because he was just a squishy kitty. You could pick him up, hold him, and snuggle him, and he just seemed to squish this way and that. But we often called him Squishy-wishy-roo-roo, Wish, Squsih, or Roo. He never lost his orange tabby personality, and he was a bit of a stinker up until the end. If you don't know what I mean by orange tabby personality, then you probably never lived with one. I highly recommend having one in your life.

We always had other cats in the house, but Squishy always hung out with the dogs. I swear he thought he was a dog, and he would snuggle a lot with our dog Poi (above) and play with our big shepherd-chow mix Percy.

In the end, our good friend Krisi Erwin of Wholistic Paws helped Squishy to the Rainbow Bridge. He was a special little cat, and we miss him terribly. The house feels so much emptier without him.

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 22: Secrets

What are some of our biggest secrets? How do we feel when others keep secrets from us?

We all have our secrets. There are probably a few things that we have never told anyone, even those closest to us. Maybe they're little white lies that we tell our children or perhaps they are dark family tales that we keep hidden in the past. We keep secrets for many reasons - from throwing a surprise party to protecting ourselves. Often we hold onto secrets afraid of the ramifications if they were ever known. We cling to them and keep them hidden afraid that we will end up alone. But if we can never share those secrets, aren’t we alone anyway?

Examine some of your secrets today. You don’t have to blurt out your darkest, innermost secrets to the world, but you might want to see if there is anything that you want to expose to the light of day. You might want to explore the silly, little secrets that you keep from your children, spouse, or friends. Or you may just want to visit the topic in a general way.

It’s been great seeing what others are doing, so keep posting those hashtags. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Thursday, July 21, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 21: Loss

What are some of our greatest losses? How do we deal with losing something that we care about?

Loss is part of the game of being human. We lose things all the time - our favorite pen, our glasses, our left sock. We sometimes lose ourselves or lose someone we care about. Loss can be a minor irritant or a major upheaval in our lives. How do we deal with all of it? We can feel pain, anger, resentment, and sadness especially when it’s the loss of someone or something dear. We grieve, we cry. But eventually the sting of the loss subsides. We may never get over a major loss, but time eases the pain as we remember the good times.

Explore the idea of loss today. Examine a personal loss, or think about the idea in general terms. Think about little losses along with those big losses. Respond in anyway that seems appropriate.

If you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags so that others can see what you're doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 20: Paradox

What are some of our biggest paradoxes? Are there ways to accept both sides of ourselves?

As humans, we can be pretty paradoxical at times, and we can contain in ourselves, two opposites that seem to contradict one another. On one hand, we have the capacity for light and love, and on the other hand, we have the capacity for dark and hate. We can be strong and unyielding, and we can be soft and flexible. We can be wise yet still be foolish. These opposites are a part of us along with many others, and we can choose to strengthen one side and diminish the other. We may even find that it is impossible to hold a set of paradoxical ideas at once and that we must focus on one or another. Which will we dedicate our energies to strengthen?

Take time today to reflect on the notion of paradox. You may want to explore specific and personal paradoxes, or you may want to tackle the subject in more general terms. Just remember that there are two sides to every coin.

Keep those social media posts coming. It’s always great to see what others are doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 19: Purpose

What is our purpose? Why are we here?

This is  a pretty big question, and it can be one of life’s most elusive queries. Many of us live with purpose and try to align ourselves with that purpose everyday. Many others are still trying to find the purpose which will guide our lives and bring us meaning. Without purpose, we can feel lost. Our lives can become a series of random and seemingly disconnected events, and we move through life reacting to the situation around us, instead of living with direction and intention. Purpose gives us a driving a force, an intention. How will we use our lives?

Spend time pondering your purpose. Write, draw, paint, or collage. Do whatever speaks to you about purpose, intention, and direction.

Make sure to use those hashtags if you're posting online or on social media! #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Workshops in Phoenix

There are still spaces available for our workshops in Phoenix at Art Unraveled - just two weeks away!

August 2-3, 2016 - Art Unraveled, Phoenix, AZ

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 18: Spirit

What moves and resonates with our spirit? What feels authentic and true to us?

Spirit may elicit responses along spiritual or religious lines, and that’s fine. But spirit doesn’t have to be that specific. We all have an inner spirit. We all have a core being, and there are things that resonate with that spirit and bring us a sense of meaning, purpose, and joy. There are things that are in conflict with our spirit, and they bring us pain, discomfort, and a feeling of loss. Spirit is a sense of authenticity and truthfulness that is unique to each of us, and when we align with our spirit, we live an authentic and fulfilling life. 

Examine the idea of spirit today, and contemplate what is authentic for you. Look at spirit in any way you wish through any lens you want. What does it mean to you and for you?

Remember that if you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Sunday, July 17, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 17: Joy

What brings us the most joy? How can we live with more joy?

We seek joy in our lives. Who wants misery and bleakness? We want the lightness and energy of joy to permeate our lives. We know that there will be times of sadness and darkness, but we can find joy in the simplest pleasures like the taste of ice cream on a hot summer day or watching a loved one sleep and dream. We can also find joy in the monumental events like marrying someone we love and adore or going on that trip of a lifetime to some far off locale. Even in our darkest hours we look for the light of joy - a bright moment to lift us from the darkness. 

Spend time today contemplating your joy - big and small. Think about all of the things that bring you happiness and joy, and celebrate those things in any way that you see fit.

If you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags so that others can see what you're doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Saturday, July 16, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 16: Exploration

How can we be explorers in our own lives? How can we bring in more curiosity and find new ideas, places, and things to explore?

It might be part of human nature to explore and seek out new adventures, and we can learn so much about the world and about ourselves. We fly across oceans in search of excitement, and we seek out new experiences in our own neighborhoods. Then sometimes we feel very comfortable sitting on the couch safe at home. Seeking new adventures and exploring new territory can spark our curiosity and lead us to places and experiences that we could never imagine. We don’t have to seek adventure in far off lands. We can be adventurers in the places we live, and we can explore ideas, materials, and technique in the art that we make. Being an explorer is about having a mindset to walk a new or different path.

Take time to be an explorer today. Check out a new place in town, or try something new with your art. Open yourself to curiosity and let yourself explore a new idea, a new material, or a new experience. Go boldly where you have not gone before.

Keep those social media posts coming. It’s always great to see what others are doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Friday, July 15, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 15: Risk

How do we feel about taking risks? How can we open ourselves to allowing more risk into our lives?

Some people are very open to taking risks, and some others would rather play it safe. Either way, inviting a little bit of risk into our lives and into our ways of working can open us in surprising and unexpected ways. We might not be willing to take a life changing or a death defying risk, but we can find small ways to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Taking leaps in our lives and in our art might seem scary, but they can break us out of old habits and give us a chance to grow and evolve.

Explore the idea of risk today as you work. Open yourself up to taking risks in your artmaking, and try something new or something unpredictable. Respond to your willingness to take risks, or react to the idea in general. Allow the notion of risk to spark ideas.

If you want to share, remember to use the hashtags on social media. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16