Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

My Photo
Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fixed and not-so-fixed

The air conditioner is fixed...for now. It really needs replacing, but the tech got it going for the duration. We were all SOOO relieved. Tom did not do well with the A/C being out. Note to self: If air conditioning is going out, get fixed ASAP because otherwise you will be dealing with both a hot house and a hot-tempered spouse! We had one night where we were all pretty miserable. The cats were panting, which worried me. But everyone is okay now.

My sleep schedule is totally out of whack. I've been going to bed at 6 a.m., followed by 11:30 p.m., followed by 6 a.m., followed by an all-nighter...I don't know whether I'm coming or going anymore! Really, I gotta get this under control. Life would be so much easier if I were on a normal schedule. I think.

Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine called me and wants me to work on something with them!!! We've been playing phone tag, so I haven't actually found out the details yet, but I'm very excited about having my work in a national wedding magazine!!

I need to get started on another wedding order. Right after I finish de-furring things, since we have friends coming to stay overnight tonight and tomorrow, and one is allergic...our house is not a great place to stay if you're allergic to cats....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If you can't stand the heat...don't move to St. Louis

Wow, it's been a while since I posted! I'm sure if I had 3,000 people checking my blog every day, like Debra at the Barmaid Blog ( ) , I'd be more inspired to post regularly. If a person posts to his/her blog, but there's no one to read it, does it make any sound? ...uh...or something like that.

Latest news is that our air conditioner, which we think is the original one for the house (house is 26 years old, we've owned it 16 of those years), is in the process of expiring. It's been showing signs of its age for a few years, but the last few days, which have all been 100+ degree days here, it's been over 90 degrees INSIDE the house in the afternoon and evening. I got home about 9 p.m. tonight after delivering an order and hitting the grocery store, and there was an extension cord running from the front door across the yard and around the corner of the house. What the hey?? At the end of the extension cord there was a small fan, which was blowing on the box for the big A/C fan, which has apparently just retired from duty and gone to cool off hell, or something else more feasible than surviving another St. Louis summer. It's currently 11 p.m. and when I checked a little while ago it was 93 degrees and 46% humidity inside. It's actually only 92 degrees OUTSIDE. Hmm. Maybe we should give it up and open the windows now. The weather report indicates that the excessive heat warning remains in effect until tomorrow evening, and maybe longer. I called an A/C repair service yesterday and the earliest they will be able to get to us is tomorrow morning. They're swamped, when the heat index has been over 100 for a week; imagine that. I hope our poor cats can take this a bit longer. Me, I just try not to drip sweat on the paper while I'm working.

Speaking of working, I'm swamped too. Weddings, poems, corporate's all pouring in. A lot of it is thanks to a stationery designer I've been working with for a few months, who does a lot of East Coast weddings...I'm getting a ton of weddings through her. People on the coasts just have a totally different attitude about spending money on things like wedding stationery than people here in the... frugal...midwest. I just completed my biggest wedding place card order ever...almost $2000.00 just in place card calligraphy!! I also decided to lower my prices temporarily, starting a month or so ago, because I decided something had to give in order for me to get more work. I went to a calligraphy conference in early July and talked with a lot of fellow calligraphers, mostly professionals, and most of them said they were very busy with work, unlike me up to that point this year (actually for most of the last six years, ever since 9/11), and most of them either are in New York or charge less than what I was charging or are much faster, or some combination of those things. I figured if they were busy, I could be too if I could just figure out what to change, because my work is at least as good as that of most of them. I figured the most obvious thing was to lower my price, so I did that, and I think it's helped some. The other thing I need to do is FINISH my website!! I still have a bunch of pictures to prepare, but I'm so busy with paying work I'm having a hard time getting to the website stuff. Of course, if I wait until the paying work is mostly done before finishing the website, the pipeline will be pretty empty and I'll be hurting again until my web traffic helps me get busier. Kind of a catch-22; gotta do the marketing so you have paying work coming in, but it's hard to find time to do the marketing when you have a lot of paying work! However, my new designer cohort did shepherd my work to Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine last week, and she says they LOVED it! And, also though this same designer, some of my work may be featured in New York Magazine! Is that cool, or what?? (And right now I'll be happy to take almost anything that might be considered "cool"!)

Okay, I think it's time to go open the windows now...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why librarians are like God

For some time now (as in, several years) I have been wanting to break into the wonderful world of exhibiting in art fairs in order to sell my work and hopefully actually show a net annual income of more than three figures. (You think I'm kidding? Wanna see my 1040 Schedule C?) I finally realized that one of the big problems I was having was uncertainty about what to do. I don't mean creating the art, or finding art fairs--I have a handle on that (although I could be doing better on the getting-my-creations-out-of-my-head-and-onto-the-paper business, but that's not the primary issue here). The problem is that I am mystified about what exactly I need to buy and how I go about preparing to exhibit at a fair, which is undoubtedly different than the bridal fairs I'm used to exhibiting in. I tried searching the internet, which normally gets me more information than I know what to do with, but this time no matter what keywords I searched, nothing was giving me the sort of results I was looking for. Solving this conundrum puzzled me for a while until finally it struck me--ask the reference desk at the library! Those people know EVERYTHING, or if they don't, they know how to find it out! (Don't ever mess with a librarian, because anything they want to do to you in revenge, they can figure out before you can say "electronic card catalog.")

So today's adventure involved doing just that, and I came home with a foot-high stack of books with titles like "How to Make a Living Selling Your Art." Bull's-eye! God bless capitalism and American ingenuity!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rules of Relationships, and mission statements

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of the holiday, I have an addition to my Rules of Relationships (see my last post, January 30th, I think), inspired by a conversation Tom and I had over brunch this past Sunday in which he told me yet another jaw-dropping tale about one of his relationship-clueless young female friends. I swear, I don't have enough imagination to make this stuff up.

Rule #2.5:
Do NOT get romantically involved with anyone who is in prison. Definitely do not get engaged to, or marry, such a person. This goes double if the jailbird has been convicted of a sexual offense. Jeez!

In other news, I had been struggling with a mission statement for myself off and on for a few years. Tom and I read Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about ten years ago and found it very inspirational. One of the things he recommends is to come up with a mission statement for yourself, as a guide for your daily activities and long-term planning. It is not set in stone and is likely to change from time to time, so you are supposed to rethink it regularly. I had not been entirely satisfied with what I had to date and always had that in the back of my mind, running a mental background process that could be entitled "What is my mission?" I was doing some journaling today and when I finished writing, I realized that in the process I had inadvertently come up with a new mission statement for myself. It goes something like this:

My mission is:
--To make the best use I can of every moment, and to do my best in every situation, based on the best information and insight I have been given up to that point;
--To be open to God's guidance to change direction at any time;
--To enjoy my life as fully as possible!

That last item came from the insight I had today that my being miserable, especially for no good reason (i.e. depression), serves no one, and hinders me from doing whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing here on earth in this life. I know, it's a simple thing, but I had never quite looked at it that way before. I hope this will help me keep a positive outlook and not succumb to the fits of depression so much. I'm pretty tired of being depressed and having a miserable life even though there's no obvious reason to be unhappy. I find it hard to believe that this is why I'm here. My latest mental "trick" is that even though I don't actually believe that what I do will really make any difference, I'm going to try pretending that it will. What a concept; acting as though one could actually make the world a better place, even if it's just in a small way!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Website progress, and Rules of Relationships

My website text is finished! I had been slogging through the read-through/revision process, spending a fair amount of time on it over the last week, and then yesterday I sat down at the computer before I even took a shower or got dressed or anything, "just for a minute," and ended up sitting in the chair in my bathrobe, working on my website text, for six hours straight. I didn't even leave the room for a drink of water. I finished it just after midnight last night and immediately sent it on its merry way to my tech dude. He e-mailed back today that he's in Florida for work right now, and he'll contact me next week, but at least he has it and I'll stop fussing with it for now. And maybe Tom will have a chance to read it and make suggestions. It ended up being 90 pages in Word, although a few of those pages are instructions for my tech guy. Now I'm going to start working on getting the pictures together, some of which I have to create stuff for before photographing rather than just collecting it. Fortunately I do have a decent start on the photographs, although there's still quite a lot to do.

I'm starting to think I need to set up some way to send samples and price list information electronically, because I'm starting to get quite a few e-mail inquiries. It would be a lot faster than paper samples, once I got the initial setup done, and cheaper too. But on the other hand, I probably won't need to do that once I have my website set up, because it will pretty much all be on there. Maybe it would be best to just concentrate on getting the website up and not get sidetracked on the other thing.

I have been thinking about Tom's friends and their outlandish relationship situations lately, and I've been a bit horrified at the things these people have been doing to themselves and each other. In light of that, I've come up with:

Cheryl's Rules of Relationships

1. If you are dating someone and the two of you split up, regardless of which one initiated it, DO NOT try to get back together romantically. Friends, fine, if you like, but do not try to rekindle a romantic relationship. Once it's finished, give it up, because whatever caused you to split up the first time is not going to go away. If it were only temporary, you wouldn't have split up over it in the first place.

2. Don't sleep with anyone to whom you're not married. I know no one will listen to me on this, but it really is possible (although difficult) to control your raging hormones long enough to establish a relationship based on other factors, and if you can do that, you get lots and lots of benefits, with no negative side effects. No, I'm not dreaming. It can be done, and I am not aware of anyone who waited for marriage who regretted it, and I know a lot of people who are unhappy with at least some of the consequences of having slept around.

3. If you are thinking about getting married (or engaged to be married), take a good hard look at your significant other. Are you sure you will be able to deal with the things you don't like about this person for the rest of your life? 'Cause they're probably not going to improve. Don't get married unless you're completely and totally convinced that you can live with those things.

4. Once you're married, STOP looking for stuff like that--stuff you don't like about the other person. Now you need to concentrate on finding the good in your spouse. It will probably get pretty tough sometimes, but keep looking. It was there before, and it probably hasn't gone away, despite how it might seem sometimes.

4. Once you get married, recognize that relationships (and people, for that matter) go in cycles, in both the long-term and the short-term. If you're convinced your spouse has turned into an ogre, be patient, and also try to figure out what you might be doing to contribute to the problem, and more importantly, what you can do to make things better. Maybe, just maybe, you don't realize how difficult you're being. Maybe your spouse is just under some temporary stress that you don't really understand.

5. If you've gotten to the point of considering divorce, get help. Go to a pastor, or a therapist, or a counselor. Take a class, or go on a retreat, or read some books about marriage renewal. Maybe one or both of you could use some help individually, or maybe together. Don't just give up on your marriage unless you have absolutely no other options left. Why did you marry your spouse in the first place? Is this person you're now married to really that different from the one you married? Do you really want to throw the years you've spent together into the trash? Take some time to think this through and try to work it out. A marriage is not like a Kleenex!

6. Even if you are sure you are getting divorced--or are to the point of actually being legally in the process of doing so--as long as you are still officially married, don't date anyone else, and most definitely do NOT sleep with anyone else. You deserve whatever consequences you get if you do that.

7. At no point should you ever, EVER sleep with anyone who is legally married to someone else, no matter what they tell you about how horrible a person their spouse is, or how difficult or prolonged the divorce process is. If you are really meant to be together, it can wait until there are no legal entanglements.

8. Finally, if you do get divorced, don't just jump right back into the dating scene immediately. If you don't take the time to figure out what you contributed to the failure of your marriage, you'll probably do it again. Do you really want to keep making the same mistakes?

And that is the wisdom from my mountaintop. I've seen every one of these violated, mostly recently, and in many cases multiple violations by the same person. This is not about moralizing, it's about treating people (including oneself) with the respect they deserve, and avoiding negative consequences. I mean really, don't people believe they deserve better than, for example, to have to sneak around behind someone's back? Wouldn't it be a better world if people focused their romantic attention on the person they were officially partnered with?

Sigh. If everyone would just follow my advice...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Positive ramblings

Over the weekend I finished adding all the stuff to my website text that I thought of after I thought I had finished it. It's now 83 pages long in Word. I still need to go over it one last time and make sure I didn't do anything stupid, and I need to add the link references so my tech guy knows where to link to. Going over it one more time is going to be difficult, not because I think it will be tedious or anything, but because the reason this whole process has been dragged out so long is that I keep tweaking it, and it will be hard to resist the temptation to do yet more tweaking. At this rate, I'll be retirement age before the website is ready, and that just won't do. Not acceptable. I am so ready for this website to actually be done, but there's still so much to do before it is.

Okay, I can do this. One step at a time. Don't agonize over how much is left, just concentrate on the next thing to be done, and eventually there won't be any more "next things" left because it will all be finished. Just keep moving forward. Okay. Today's goal is to start on the final read-through and not get too sidetracked. Just start. Make progress, even just a little bit. It will still be progress. Make notes for the link references along the way and number them as they come up. Yeah, I can do that.

I am trying to develop a habit of thinking more positively this year. I guess you could call it a New Year's resolution, although I don't really care for such things. It is, however, easier to make changes when something is in a fresh, renewal-oriented state, so the key is to keep finding ways to think of something as being in a fresh state. I have mixed feelings about the success I've had in making improvements in my life, but because of this positive-thinking thing I am going to concentrate on finding the silver linings. I did actually create a rather involved calligraphy piece a month ago that wasn't for a client or a class, and I like to think that this will be the beginning of a trend. I even created another (much smaller) one this past week, for a fellow student in the year-long calligraphy class I took in 2005 whose husband just died. Granted, it wasn't my idea, but I did it. I couldn't think of anything very elaborate to do, and I didn't have a lot of time anyway, but I did something. Okay, that's good. And I am making progress on my website text, and I've started taking some photos of my work with the website in the back of my mind, and I did manage to get a photo and some text together for my Knot profile. Okay, those are all things I've done in the past month. Good.

Okay, enough babbling. Next time I may post about the fear of success. Or perhaps just about the fear of posting about the fear of success....

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Snow and soap (operas)

It's 11:45 p.m. on Saturday night and it's snowing big, fluffy flakes. I just heard the snowplow making its way up the road, and when I looked out the window for it I saw that the snowplow blade was throwing a three-foot-high shower of sparks the whole time I watched it going by. Fire and ice. Well, fire and snow, anyway, but that's not quite so poetic.

We just got home a little while ago. The refrigerator was pretty much empty except for condiments and the like, so I wanted to make sure to get to the grocery store tonight before they closed and the snow started (I go to Whole Foods now for almost all of our groceries, and they're open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, which is pretty good, but not the 24-hour thing I'm accustomed to with the standard places). Since Whole Foods is half an hour away, I persuaded Tom to go with me, suggesting we have dinner beforehand at Fitz's (in the Loop, on Delmar)--home of the famous Fitz's root beer, which is the only kind of soda I ever drink (and even then it's about once every two months). When we went into Fitz's, it was cold but not precipitating. When we came out of the restaurant, at 9:15, it was snowing. By the time we left Whole Foods, about 10:20 (yes, they closed at 10 p.m.; don't ask), it was snowing harder. Tom was in the parking lot with the car waiting for me when I came out of the store (he went to Borders bookstore while I did the grocery shopping, because grocery shopping gives him hives or something), but I don't think he was too bored because he was on the phone with one of his friends who lives out of town. He finally persuaded her to get off the phone and let him concentrate on driving in the snow when we were about two miles down the road. Getting home was a bit more of a challenge than usual, what with the snow coming down and obscuring the road markings, and the other drivers doing foolish things. Tom talks to the other drivers when he thinks they are being stupid, and tonight it was almost an even split between the time he spent telling me about his phone call and the time he spent talking to the stupid drivers.

Remember a few posts back when I talked about Tom's friends and their personal soap operas? Well, this phone call was from one of those. In fact, it was the fourth time today that she and Tom talked. This friend just started talking to her husband about a possible divorce on Thanksgiving weekend, and they've already filed the paperwork to make it official, less than two months later. Two weeks after the initial divorce discussion, her husband was dating around and she was already dating a guy who is seventeen years older than she is (which is more than half again her age)...and this guy is still officially married. I understand that he told his wife last week that he was leaving her for good. The current plan is for Tom's friend's soon-to-be-ex to be dropped off their joint mortgage and for her new guy (or old guy, considering the age difference) to have his name added to hers on the mortgage, and new guy will move in and soon-to-be-ex will move out (hopefully not in that order). And there's a bunch more stuff related to this whole fiasco that's too complicated to go into right now, but just take my word that it's a complete mess.

I can't believe I actually know people who do things this stupid. Honestly, breaking up two marriages and not just moving in together but actually jointly owning a condo, for what will probably be a temporary relationship? Knowing that they each cheated on their prior spouses, they think they can actually trust each other? I should be used to this sort of idiocy by now--Tom's had plenty of his friends tell him about the completely imbecilic things they are doing (usually in their relationships), as I described in my other post--but I still can't get over the "Doesn't this sort of thing just happen in scripts?" feeling. Sigh. Well, as Tom said this evening, if only everyone would just listen to us....