heart to heart

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A friend casually mentioned that I’m talented in many areas but not particularly strong in any of them.  We were sipping coffee as we conversed, and the comment slipped out somewhere between a bite of scone and a remark about career paths.

The observation might have bothered me in the past, but I took it in stride and felt pretty okay with the analysis. 
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Thing is, I’m busy exploring and writing and loving and reading and growing.  I’m busy living a life I love. And, perhaps more importantly, I’m busy living a life I’m proud of.  
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Tell me: what use do I have for success?

Success is not a feeling and cannot fill my heart with joy or my days with meaning.  If success comes, so be it, but I won’t waste a second regretting its absence.

outside the lines

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I’m a ‘doodle-in-the-margins’ kinda girl.  After a semester of classes, I consider keeping my philosophy and history notebooks just in case I become uber-famous and the notebooks end up being ‘where it all started.’  Okay, okay, so I guess I’m a bit of a daydreamer too.  No surprise there.

I worked in an art museum for a few years, but I never understood the popular ‘a child could make that’ reaction to modern art.  I’m a fan of Pollock, Calder, Rothko and Twombly, and, for my part – I certainly couldn’t make anything resembling their work.  Let’s be clear: I can doodle in the margins and not much else.

Jon and I visited the Minnesota Institute of Art last night, and my 3 favorite paintings were done by 5, 7 and 8 year olds.  At long last, I realized that some children truly can make museum quality paintings.  I, however, was never one of them:ImageImage
Earlier in the day I made a different kind of artwork that ended up looking, well, better than the doodles in my notebook.  Jon’s visiting his mom and grandma this weekend, and I wanted to make a Valentine’s gift for him to bring them.  What do you think?
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Okay, maybe dish towels aren’t the very.best.gift of all time, but I did my best 🙂  

2 dollars for 1 smile

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What could be more wonderful than stumbling upon friendship?  I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and oops, silly me, I didn’t take an Italian language class before I moved there.  Typical American girl just got too excited about streets of gold, palaces of art, and endless gelato.  Best decision ever.

The school arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.  Luckily, that representative forgot to show up, and I ended up walking to-and-fro in the Fiucimo Airport wondering how to get a cab.  I made a few inquiries, and within a couple minutes, I was swarmed with people claiming to be taxi drivers and promising the lowest price in Rome.

And then!

Like a dream come true, a pretty brunette grabbed my hand and asked if I was American.  I nodded my head yes, and she told me to come with her.   I followed her through the airport, and she explained about the importance of only using certified cab services, avoiding people without uniform, and always knowing the appropriate price beforehand.

We shared a cab to the university, and the 30 minute drive was filled with more jokes than a comedy show at Second City.  The two of us decided to meet up again the following weekend in Dublin.  Three weeks later we  found ourselves in Prague, six months later in Berlin, two years later in Chicago, and five years later (as in this past weekend) in Minneapolis.

Dear Clare, you’re the greatest friend in the world, and I’m so grateful that you came to visit.  I was going to post about making you a handmade Thank You card, but I just ended up writing all about you (couldn’t help myself).  Your card is included at the bottom of this post.  LOVE YOU.

Clare and Jen circa 2008:
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At my 2013 wedding:
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I made Clare’s thank you card by making sketches on paper, uploading the drawings onto my computer, and then arranging them into fun designs:
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