Artist Spotlight: Gisela Magdalena Moyer

While in Door County last week, Mike, Margaret and I stopped in Bailey's Harbor for an afternoon walk and stumbled upon a small art festival. I was immediately drawn in by the bright colors and textures in the work of artist Gisela Magdalena Moyer. I stopped to compliment her on her work, and she told me her story as a refugee during World War II. As a young child she and her family fled to Bavaria, where she "learned about life in her mother's garden." She later went to the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and earned her US citizenship. She's truly an example of how art heals the artist and the community.

The texture of Moyer's work is amazing! It took all of my self control to not run my hands along her pieces. She makes the paper herself, then paints it with acrylic. Many of her pieces are paper layered on paper, to mimic a real garden's feel.

There's also tons of symmetry in her work that adds to its peacefulness:


When I asked her about the use of symmetry in her work, and she told me that when she's feeling the effects of her early life's trauma, she uses symmetry in artwork to draw her back to center.

I also love her sense of whimsy!

To learn more about Gisela Magdalena Moyer or to purchase her pieces, you can visit her website, or follow her on Facebook.


Grace for Today

Today was my first day back to work after a week long vacation, the longest leave I've taken since my daughter was born almost two years ago! It's common knowledge that the Monday after a vacation is no walk in the park; however, this one was an odd one. I checked my emails and caught up on work, but was stopped twice today by people who walked into the building off of the street. This happens once in a while as our building is on a main intersection, but it was rare that both people met me as their first point of contact within the offices. The first person I encountered needed prayer and money for gas. The second person's car had broken down and he needed to get it jumped. I prayed for the first person and connected her with the staff member responsible for giving out gas cards. The second person I connected with a coworker with jumper cables (mine were in our van, which was at home). After each interaction, I continued with my day.

I've had a lot on my mind lately, with work decisions and life at home. We are in a state of flux in a way -- deciding our fall schedule and changing our lifestyle habits to better reflect our values.

Yesterday in worship the kids learned about "daily bread." The pastor asked them what counted as daily bread, and the kids were surprised to learn that things like clothing and a roof over their heads counted too!

My mind has been on my own "daily bread" as I consider employment opportunities and our monthly budget, how we want to live, and how we can serve others through our lifestyle.

I forget sometimes how blessed we are with what we have. With a house that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. With gas in our cars and food in our fridge. With friends and family we can call in a pinch, should we ever need a jump (or a prayer).

I am horrible at trusting that things will work out, its true.  I don't do "grey" very well.

But in the meantime, in this season of flux, I'll thank God for my daily bread, in all its forms. 

The back of the house that I spent an hour clearing out this morning. Yes, this is the After photo! I'm thankful for the chance to better our home, even if it takes time and effort.

A newly weeded bed out front. I still want to dig up the rock and replace it with mulch, and thin out the day lilies. Everything in its good and perfect time.

How I quit drinking Diet Coke (and tips for breaking any bad habit)

I hesitate to write this post, since I'm still fairly new to being Diet Coke free, but July marks six months of being off Diet Coke so I thought it's time to share how I gave up my daily habit. I've quit Diet Coke a couple other times, once in college for a few months, and the second time during my entire pregnancy with Graydon. (Sorry Margaret, I didn't quit it during yours! #secondchildproblemsn) That said, this time feels different in that it's both a long-term decision and a daily focus.

Here's how I quit drinking Diet Coke, and how you can break bad habits too:

1). Find accountability partners: Early in the year, I told friends, family and co-workers that I was planning to quit. I almost always brought a 32 oz. Diet Coke to work with me each morning, so I knew that if I told my co-workers I was planning on quitting they'd give me the side eye if I ever showed up carrying a large Styrofoam cup. One co-worker even wrote me a letter the week after I told her, saying that she had prayed for me and was proud of me for working on my heath. My son, Graydon was also motivated by my desire to quit. He offered to keep me accountable by reminding me of the "tentacles" (aka chemicals) inside Diet Coke. Even now, six months later he sometimes asks me, "Is that a Diet Coke mom?"

2). Focus on the Why:  Even before I stopped drinking Diet Coke, I thought long and hard about my reasons for quitting.
  • My number one reason was for my kids. I started drinking diet soda around age 12 because my mom always drank it (she has since quit too). It became a shared afternoon ritual, and one Graydon was quickly adopting from me. He would steal sips of my Diet Coke all the time, and I hated thinking about him consuming chemicals at such a young age, or ever.
  • I wanted to model the importance of drinking water to my kids, but felt like a hypocrite because I never drank water myself! I knew if I wanted my kids to drink water, I needed to change my drinking habits. (Now we each fill up water bottles to take with us before we leave the house, so we can stay hydrated and avoid the temptation of purchasing drinks while out and about.)
  • I also hated the amount of waste it produced (millions of straws go to the landfill each day, and I didn’t like contributing to so much waste). I hated wasting money on Diet Coke too. As embarrassing as it is now to admit, sometimes as much as $40 per month went towards drive-through fees and gas station stops. I knew I needed to stop filling landfills and emptying my pockets on Diet Coke.
  • Most importantly, I hated how I felt when I drank so much Diet Coke. My heart would race, my hands would shake, I'd crave super sweet things because of the overly sweet nature of Diet Coke, and worst of all, I'd crash so hard from the caffeine high.
  • I also knew deep down that though I was at a low weight for me personally, I often drank Diet Coke instead of stopping to eat. I've made many changes to become healthier over the years - learning to eat intuitively, finding an exercise I truly enjoy, and adapting therapeutic lifestyle choices to help manage my anxiety - but I felt like drinking Diet Coke was a huge hurdle standing in the way of me being truly healthy from the inside out.
3). Keep your goals close by:  I wrote down my reasons for quitting and kept it in the Notes section of my phone to reference often. I've also heard another tip for reminding yourself of your goals:  if you're really focused on a goal, consider changing your password or login to the thing you're trying to quit. For example, I could have changed my work password to "nodietcoke2018," so that every time I logged into my computer, I'd be reminded of my goal. I also have a family member who writes the number of days he's been sober on his mirror, so that when he sees himself, he sees a reminder of his sobriety too.

4). Distract yourself:  In the beginning, I switched to half-sweet, half-unsweet iced teas. I found myself desperate for sugar, due to the amount of aspartame I'd previously been consuming. I allowed myself permission to consume more sugar in those early days, knowing that I'd cut back over time (and I *think* I since have). I also drank a TON of water and sparkling water. It wasn't the same as Diet Coke (and may never be!) but at least I was distracted and my mouth was busy.

5). Accept slip-ups, and move on:  I recently relapsed but was able to move one. While planning a Vacation Bible School for over 270 kids, I definitely fell back into hyper-caffeinated Diet Coke mode; however, as soon as the week was over, I recognized how much better I'd felt not drinking it, and made the switch again. Allowing myself the grace to slip up once in a while, without it erasing all of the progress I've made, has made it easier to stick to my goal over the long run.

6). Avoid common triggers:  There are some foods that just go well with Diet Coke, for example, movie theater popcorn, pizza and Chili's chips and salsa! That said, if I'm going to eat one of those things, I mentally plan ahead to bring a sparkling water, drink water with lemon, or order an iced tea. I still have days when I crave a Diet Coke, but find that if I have it, it just doesn't taste the same. I now notice the after taste from its artificial sweetener, and immediately feel its negative effects.

7). Recognize your tendencies and adapt a new identity:  I am a moderator when it comes to food, but when it comes to Diet Coke, abstaining has always been easier than moderating. Knowing that about myself has made it easier to avoid Diet Coke all together, rather than trying to just have a Diet Coke once in a while. I also added it to my identity, in a way. I don't drink alcohol, and it's been super easy to tell people in social settings "no thanks" because I just know I don't drink. The same has been true of Diet Coke. It's now just something I don't do. (Though in the same way I feel about people who drink alcohol, I hold zero judgment over people who do drink Diet Coke! It's just not for me, anymore).

I'm so happy about how I feel not drinking Diet Coke and hope to keep it up! What things have you given up? What habits have you broken? Share your tips and tricks!


May/June 2018 Project Recap (and life as an Obliger)

Hi all! May and June were super busy months for me between my day job and my side projects. I'm finding though, that I like having lots of client projects, because if I don't have a client deadline, I'm much less likely to create art on my own. According to Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies quiz, that makes me an Obliger, or someone who meets outer expectations but resists inner ones. Gretchen Rubin says that the Obliger's tendency is to do things more easily for others than ourselves. Or, as she writes, Obligers "work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down." Bingo! I love client projects because it forces me to do the work. I'm not sure I would paint or create as consistently without these "imposed" deadlines. That said, it's not always feasible for me to take on client work due to my regular job's workload, and I tend to have the most jobs in the spring and summer, leaving fall and winter "off" to work on my own projects.

It's definitely something I think about often in regards to writing too. I recently heard Gretchen speak on the Ask a Manager podcast about the sometimes overemphasized idea of combining your work life with your passions. I loved what Gretchen said of her vocation as a writer:  "

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First up, this floral abstract, because I needed a painting for the bedroom reading nook of the home I staged in May, and had a half done canvas in my basement.

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Seeing the picture again now I would have preferred 3 larger paintings, maybe with white matts, and two chairs instead of one, but I staged the entire house for just $500 (with almost $300 of that spent on one rug). So I'll take it!

Next up, these two paintings for the living room of the same home:

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Again the choice came down to cost - the canvases were on sale at Tuesday morning, so I got both for around $20!

Here they are in the space:

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I love how they pull out the colors of the beautiful rug (from Homegoods).

I also painted another abstract for a friend's bedroom. We took a frame off of an old painting she wasn't using anyore, and fit a new canvas within it. Here's the frame before:

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And after a coat of white chalk paint and dark glaze:

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The finished product:

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I love how it looks in her master bedroom! I also advised her to replace her current lamps with some other lamps from her guest room that have mercury glass bases and large white drum shades. And we bought nickel pulls for her dressers. I think it's really common to want everything to match, especially when it comes to metals, but I personally love mixing metal finishes and colors - it makes everything feel like it's been accumulated over time and is a much more custom look than buying everything in the same color.

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I also painted this seascape for a friend who met her husband in Florida and moved to California in June:

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I've done quite a few projects for OhmFit Activewear, a shop in our Uptown area. She asked me to paint over the base of one of her moving racks in June. It was a quick two day project (just dry time in between trips to the shop). I used my favorite Benjamin Moore ADVANCE Interior Paint for a self-leveling finish.

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For the same store, I refinished the top of the owner's cash wrap / desk. The wood was worn and scratched in places, but a new coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Mahogany.

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Another staining project I did in June was on these hand-me-down deck chairs. The wood had worn from weather, so I sanded them down and stained them with Minwax Wood Finish Dark Walnut Oil-based Interior Stain. Here's the before:

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After stain, but before polyurethane:

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And in their new home on my front porch:

Other small projects include some quick edits to this cow painting (covered the word Montana with grass, and stained the frame darker), and painting the client's wedding date on this rustic door to hang in her kitchen.

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And here's the door:

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I also painted over some stained glass for the same homeowner. It took two thin coats of primer, and three thin coats of Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Stonington Gray (HC-170), but I love how the windows now match the farmhouse feel of the whole house!

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