Wednesday, January 18, 2017

She Sheds

I'm so excited to announce that my photography is featured in She Sheds, a beautiful new book by Erika Kotite available through Cool Springs Press. It was featured in Architectural Digest this week and is available via Amazon. The two featured sheds that I provided photos and contacts for belong to Dinah Lundbeck in Central California and Tymmera Whitnah in Eastern Oregon. Both spaces are so special and totally unique. To see even more She Shed goodness, follow the book on Instagram!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Maya Riviera Photo Album

By a miraculous stroke of luck and timing, my husband and I were able to get away last week for a 6-day retreat to the Maya Riviera. My husband is a teaching artist and I'm a writing painter, so we don't usually have the means to travel for sheer pleasure. When we realized that we might have the ability to make it happen, I asked for help from my smart, savvy travel agent friend D'Lane of D'Lane Maselunas Travel.

We ended up staying at the Valentine Imperial Maya near Tulum, Mexico. My husband and I have never stayed in a resort and this was our first brush with an all-inclusive accommodation. The Valentin was immaculate and completely gorgeous in every way.

The service was so good that at times I felt embarrassed. The level of care provided by the Valentin staff rivals the kind of attention and pampering I imagine is experienced only by royalty, babies and the 1%. I'm so used to taking care of myself and my family; so accustomed to making all of the meals, planning all of the activities, overseeing household budgets, attending to my sons' many needs, not to mention managing the health and well-being of my special needs child. It's difficult to let someone else do for you what you know you can do for yourself. But after some adjustment, I was able to fully relax and allow the week to unfold.

The best part of this vacation was that I was with my husband for long stretches of uninterrupted time. We weren't burdened with the care and feeding of our real life, which meant that we could celebrate our little victories over the past few years (years filled with an unusual amount of grief and strain) and talk at length about our future plans. We were also thrilled to enjoy some serious reading, a favorite pastime for both of us. My husband read "Moonglow" by Michael Chabon and I read "A Book of Silence" by Sara Maitland and "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" by Anne Lamott. We recommend all three! Anyway - I'm so grateful to have had this once in a life-time opportunity to get away.

Here are some snap shots from the trip. The hotel was nowhere near full, so we were able to enjoy many of the spaces in private. The weather was windy and spotted with rain showers and the ocean was too wild to swim in. But it didn't matter.  We had the most wonderful time.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


My husband and I are headed to the Riviera Maya in Mexico this week. We'll be staying near the bohemian beach town of Tulum. Instead of Christmas gifts this year, he and I decided to invest in a little rest and relaxation. We haven't been on a trip alone together in five years and I'm so grateful for this incredible opportunity to get away for the week. I promise to share photos when I return in a week!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Empty Consumption

My family and I spent New Year's Day in church, where we participated in a ceremony that required we write down on a slip of paper something we wanted to release this year. Then each participant burned the slip of paper in a metal tray. The ashes from this ceremony will be mixed with oil and water for our Lent ceremony in a few weeks. It was a beautiful ritual and we all walked away feeling a bit lighter and more focused on the important things.

Empty Consumption. 
That is what I wrote on my slip of paper. 

I've been on a path of simplification for a while. When I had my ranch house in Dallas, I was interested in using the space more efficiently and effectively. I engaged in the sharing economy by opening up space for Air BnB. I also tried co-housing. I still am on the Radical Homemaking path which you can read more about HERE. And all of my Radical Homemaking posts can be found HERE.

At the end of 2016, our family went even further. We sold our home, sold or gave away two-thirds of our belongings and moved into a 1,000 square foot apartment. We took these measures for many reasons - some personal and some more global. But it comes down to the fact that America is a culture of mindless consumerism and it is not only detrimental to the earth, but it is detrimental to our relationships and our happiness. Our family wants to step away from this and try something new.

I burned Empty Consumption in the fire. What does that mean to me?

- Don't Buy or Eat What I Don't Need.

- Before Consuming Anything, ask this question: "Does this add real VALUE to my life?"

- Count the Hidden Costs of Each Purchase. (Was it made and prepared in a humane way? Was it shipped a long distance? What will it cost to store it, maintain it, use it, fix it, replace it?)

The three key points listed above point to deeper spiritual questions.

"Don't buy or eat what I don't need" requires that I understand myself in a deeper and more authentic way. It forces me to examine my own addictive behaviors and explore what I really want in life. It also asks that I truly understand my motivations. This is real soul work and it takes time and energy to find the answers to these questions.

"Does this add real value to my life". This question requires me to live in the present moment and understand the nature of nourishment. I am the queen of the coffee drive-thru. This habit costs lots of money over the course of the year and allows me to consume hundreds of thousands of mindless calories as well. To understand if something adds real value I have to be intimately acquainted with my own values. What do I stand for and what makes me whole?

"Count the hidden costs" is a big one. Everything we consume was created, built, sewn, cooked, prepped, shipped, driven, hauled, handled, and delivered by someone. When you start counting hidden costs you are immediately aware of our interconnectedness. You can't help but feel reverence for earth as an organism. This questions points at social justice issues and the preservation of our natural resources.

If you're interested in digging a little deeper into ways of challenging consumerism in your own life, THIS article by Joshua Becker is a great place to start. I also recommend Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It is definitely worth your time if you're interested in strengthening the "why" and "how" of effective downsizing and less consumerism. There are a lot of great points and points of view in this movie.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Delights to Cultivate in 2017

I've given up New Year's Resolutions. You know those terrible little nagging tasks we outline for ourselves at the beginning of each year... that horrible list of things we neglected last year that we drag into the new year to haunt our idle hours. Yes... New. Year's. Resolutions. I gave them up. Why? Because new year's resolutions always seem to be about NOT doing something or losing something or stopping something. Lose weight. Quit wasting time. Stop mindless spending. That doesn't interest me nearly as much as it used to. I want to live more fully in the present moment. I want to sink into my experiences and really imbibe the beauty all around me.

In THIS lovely article, Laura Grace Weldon explores the idea of "Delight-Driven Willpower" and creates a great list of goals for the new year. She talks about traditional goals and how they zap energy from the truly delightful things in your life. I couldn't agree more. So again, for the third year in a row, inspired Ms. Weldon's example, here are my delight driven goals for 2017.

1. Nourish my children in a peaceful demeanor.

2. Romance my partner in surprising ways every day. 

3. Celebrate each morning with a long stretch.

4. Explore the world of deep breathing and meditate.

5. Walk for pleasure.

6. Enjoy my naturally greying curly hair by wearing it down.

7. Tune into sensory pleasure - herbal tea, warm breezes, fresh sheets.

8. Explore new painting techniques in the studio.

9. Be a woman who listens deeply to the world around her. 

10. Write and send letters via snail mail to my friends.

11. Wear fabulous statement jewelry.

12. Share whatever goodness comes to me.

13. Read wonderful writers.

14. Relish whole foods and clean eating. 

15. Write my story. 

Interested in more from Laura Grace Weldon? 
Check out THIS great post about creating Life Lists.

And now it's your turn, dear reader. 
What delights do you want to cultivate in 2017?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 | Year in Review

Every year I do a little recap on New Year's Eve - a sort of celebration of all that has transpired. I love the energetic push that comes after Christmas. Everyone is looking forward and turning a new leaf. As I look at the highlights below, I am struck by how supported I felt this year. None of these events or accomplishments happened in a vacuum. Each was buoyed by someone who loved me and/or believed in me. I'm so grateful for my community.

On a national and global scale, its been a tough year. The rise of Trump has been terrifying. The continued violence in Syria mixed with our own domestic terror - I'm thinking of the Pulse nightclub shooting, and the murders of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and so many other black citizens. Here in Dallas, we had officers gunned down during a peaceful protest. And while I can hear my Grandfather's voice saying, "It's no tougher than any other year", we have to understand that we are living in a time of enormous shift. Whatever veneer we were maintaining as a society is being stripped away. The divides are deep and we are all processing it in a visceral way.

In years past, this New Year's review usually features home improvement projects. But as I look back on 2016, I see lots of internal shifts, travel, and personal leaps of faith. But before we get to the review, I want to acknowledge YOU. Thank you, friends, for your committed readership. Even as my blog morphs and I go through fallow blogging periods, you're still here. Thank you, thank you. I hope you have a beautiful New Year's Eve and that 2017 brings peace, rest, and a renewed sense of community and healing.

Okay... enough chatter. Here is the 2016 La Maison Boheme Year In Review!

I began the year by completing an 11-piece art series based on a recent trip to Cape Cod, where I was visiting family. These pieces were commissioned by local interior designer and hung in a Dallas dental office. You can see the whole collection read more about the series and the inspiration for these pieces HERE

The beginning of the year is a great time to brush up my business tools, which is why I re-tooled my website this year to include multiple galleries and an online shop where clients can purchase available work. I was also laying the groundwork for adding art workshops and classes. Come visit me at

In February, as Trump emerged as the Republican candidate for President and gun violence was seeing a national uptick, I was feeling particularly low. I wanted to engage locally and see what might be done in my own community to combat the xenophobic rhetoric. I joined a multi-faith social action group and also attended a racial justice workshop with activist and author, Chris Crass. This was a life-changing month for me.

2015 was marked by grief for me and my family. In response to my own feelings of overwhelm, my mother-in-law gifted me with a motherhood sabbatical to California for a few weeks in March. My trip to California was so restorative. I traveled up Highway 1 to Big Sur and the Henry Miller Memorial Library. I also spent time with family and made my way to L.A. to visit Center Theater Group where I met with The Kilroys, a gang of female playwrights and script-writers working for gender equity in the arts. On my way home from California, I stopped for a two-day excursion to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.

Upon returning home from California, I dove head-long into the ground breaking for our local school garden. This is a project I had been working on for two years. I would say this was my greatest accomplishment of the year. Our community came together to support this effort in such a strong and beautiful way. The ground breaking was on Earth Day and you can read all about the whole process HERE.

In April of 2016, in the wake of the release of the cringe-worthy reality TV series, Real Housewives of DallasI was featured in D Magazine as one of "7 Incredible Women Who Deserve More Attention than The Real Housewives". It was a huge honor to be included in this group of powerhouse women. Read the full article HERE.

My own garden flourished this year. My family had countless meals harvested directly from my little backyard eden. It was my fourth season as a backyard vegetable gardener in Texas and I think I am finally getting the hang of it!

For my mother's 65th birthday, she took me to the outer banks of North Carolina for an art retreat. Squam by the Sea was pretty magical and I was able to spend some down-time with my mama and some dear friends. I also was able to attend a painting workshop (pictured below) with Danna Ray.

In May of 2016, I was in a play by Ruby Rae as part of the Women Galore Festival in Dallas, which focused on gender imbalance in the Dallas arts scene. It was a blast working in collaboration with House Party Theatre for this production.

My chicken coop saw a lot of action this summer. It was on a Dallas urban coop tour and was also used as the backdrop for a fashion photo shoot with photographer Dixie Dixon and model Roxanna Redfoot. My favorite hen, Gladys, wasn't signed to a modeling contract, but she did great anyway!

In June of 2016, I took an enormous leap of faith and moved my studio out of the house and into the Continental Gin Building in Deep Ellum, Dallas. The studio was pretty rough when I first moved in, but I had it up and running in short order. Thank you to my studio mate, Jay Bailey, for making this all possible!!

In June, I ran a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Statera Foundation, a non-profit for which I serve as Chief Creative Officer. We raised over $11,000 to assist in hosting our 2016 Conference at the Denver Center.

This summer, I started hosting art workshops in my new studio! I'm thrilled to be teaching and so pleased at how well-attended these classes have been. Sharing this fabulous studio is an important part of the work for me. To find out about upcoming classes, please visit my website!

This year I added a new skill to my tool belt - figure drawing. One of the huge boons of sharing a space with Jay Bailey is that I am able to attend his Drawing Club sessions, where we sketch and paint with a live model. This new practice is informing my work in some surprising and beautiful ways. I'm so grateful!

This October I ran an auction for the local PTA, where I serve as president. Then a week later, I headed to Denver for the Statera National Conference on gender equity in the theatre, for which I served as co-chair. The Statera team worked on this conference all year and it was an enormous success. The photo below was taken during my opening remarks for the conference at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Learn more about Statera Foundation HERE.

This  fall, my family and I said goodbye to our home of seven years. We bought the house in September of 2009 and have LOVED living there. It all started when my husband and I decided that we needed more time and resources to devote to our special needs son, Charlie. I could feel, on a deep level, that change was coming. And it was becoming an urgent priority for us to simplify our life. (I mean, I love hosting social justice conferences and fighting for gender equity and building school gardens, but it taken every ounce of energy I have.) So, the first step was to divest ourselves of the thing that was absorbing the most time and money - our house. We sold it to a company called Open Door and they have it on the market right now. Wanna buy our house? You can see it HERE.

At the end of October, we moved into our new apartment. We love it. We sold two-thirds of everything we owned in a blow-out estate sale and walked away from the old house. Now, we are in a sweet little two-bedroom and couldn't be happier.

And just before the holidays, Jay and I hosted our first Open Studio event in the new space. Our next one will be March 25th and 26th!

Thank you all for a great year here at La Maison Boheme!
More to come...