Grateful Review of 2013

Jan. 2013

As much as possible this year I have tried to live and enjoy each day as it comes. Looking for the good in the moment is my most helpful new way of living. That, and trying to quiet my mind so I can listen. Listening to my inner voice. I have found when I do, it pretty much leads me in the way I want to go. I would like to share my good days with you.

A few years back I was accepted into an artist matching funds program called Assets for Artists. I started the year having met the matching funds goal and in order to receive the total amount I had to write a business plan as to how I would use them. So I decided that I would add Paint & Wine classes to my business. I had been watching the growing popularity for over 5 years coming up from the south and kept hearing that inner voice saying jump into the river Colleen! So I did and I started YES to Art & Wine. I have met so many new people and have opened the world of art to them. People who have never painted before are now signing up for multiple classes. This has also increased my gross income by 27%!! That is an amazing increase for one year and I am so grateful!! I also donated $1 for every student to our YES to Art Scholarship Fund and have raised $400 to help students who need help with their class fees. This holiday season I decided to sell my demo paintings and start the “Grapeseed Fund” and we gave $275 to a single mom in need.

yes to art wine logo

This year I am so proud to have been recognized for outstanding achievement and inspiring leadership as a nominee for Entrepreneur of the Year in Enterprise Bank’s Celebration of Excellence. As an artist this meant so much to be recognized as an entrepreneur. I love breaking down the stereotypical ways in which artists are viewed and I am grateful to have enjoyed this celebration together with my pairs.

On the personal side I am grateful for the chance to have traveled to new places and enjoyed being with family.
Rob and I went to Turks and Caicos for a wonderful 6 days (Christmas gift).

Amazing Water

Amazing Turquoise Water

And for my Birthday Rob took me to Martha’s Vineyard (first time)

Marthas Vinyard

Marthas Vinyard

I rented a cottage for a week in Biddeford Pool and had all my kids together.



Spent a week on Lopez Island, WA with Rob’s family

Lopez Island

Lopez Island

Enjoyed Lake Winnisquam with my parents, sisters and brothers, nephews and nieces. Girls weekend away in Maine.
My beautiful niece, Allison got married. Bought my daughter, Johanna’s wedding dress (wedding in May 2014). Enjoyed my two Grandsons.

Looking forward to enjoying everyday this year!

Desire, Ask, Believe, Receive


“Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance – often visible to us, but invisible to those around us.”  – Julia Cameron

I am reading a book right now called “The Artist’s Way”. It is taking me on a spiritual path to higher creativity (or so it claims on the cover). It is a 12 week course or journey I am excited to be in the midst of. One of the exercises I have committed to do each day is what is called Morning Pages journaling. Each day I get myself up early to write three pages of whatever I wish to write about. The pages are only meant for me and no one else. Three pages is a lot! Some days it just flows and others, not so much. But here is the interesting thing I am discovering in just two weeks; I am getting unstuck! One day I wrote about something I was imagining someone was thinking of me. I mean I was totally making it up in my head. When I wrote it out in my journal and saw how I had made it all up, I decided to rewrite a new, nicer, kinder, story to myself. Within the hour I got a call from this person that shared with me something that was very close to my nicer, kinder story. Hum, maybe there is something to these “Morning Pages”? 

Each day whatever I write about, something, in some way, comes into my life to bring clarity or a new kind of freedom. “Desire, ask, believe, receive.” Is a line from the Artists Way that I would like to share my thoughts on.

Desire: We all have desires. That deep inner desire to do something that will bring fulfillment to our lives. Maybe you would like to live on a lake and have an art studio. You may have always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument or learn to paint. Or maybe you would love to travel to far-away places you have never been. What is your desire? This week take some time to write down some of your desires. Even if they sound silly and your mind wants to say “You can’t do that”, write it down anyway.

Ask: It’s as simple as that! Or maybe for you it’s as hard as that. If it is hard, ask yourself why? Write it out. When we ask for what we want it is an action toward our desire. You may be saying, Ask who? I just throw it out there, first, into the universe. Saying it out loud makes it more real. You may ask God. You may ask a person who has already done what you want to do. Get advice. Sometimes I just start talking about it to friends, family and anyone who seems like they may have good insight.

Believe: What do you believe around the thing that you desire? Write out your beliefs. You may be surprised by what comes to the surface. Fears come out. Look at the fear. Question the fear. Question your belief around the fear. Where did this fear come from? When did you start believing the thoughts that are holding you back? Did your mom or dad have a belief that you have taken on that no longer serves you? It’s ok to let go of old beliefs for new ones. There are things I use to believe that I no longer believe. Getting to the truth, your truth is an act of faith.

Receive: For some of us, it is easier to give than to receive. But when we walk down this amazing path of desire, ask, believe, the most natural thing to do next is to receive. If I walk into a bakery, ask the baker for some bread, believing he has the best bread in town; it would be silly for me to turn down or not receive the loaf of delicious bread he hands me. Yet we ask for what we desire, the universe shows up to give it to us and we turn it down. Why? I believe it has to do with our beliefs. For example: Let me ask you, “What are your beliefs about artists?” Do you subscribe to “the starving artist” belief? How about “artists are a little crazy” belief? Or “artists do their best work when they are blue” belief? I say question your beliefs. See if they are true. Ask why you believe that it is true. Inquiry is the road to personal truth

Here is what I believe about artists:  “Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance – often visible to us, but invisible to those around us.” 

Friendship Wisdom 101


I enjoyed a “Sister Birthday Night Out” last week with my two beautiful sisters. My older sister and I are September girls. I feel so blessed to have two sisters that are also my dearest friends. I love them from my soul. My eyes and heart fill up even just typing this now. We have shared a life time of everything together. I am their biggest fan and they are mine. Their homes are filled with “Colleen Art”. Some they have paid me to do for them, insisting on supporting my talent. As I handed my sister her birthday gift I said, Please let me know when I have given you too much art”. They both said in unison “Never!” As we sat and got caught up on each of our children’s lives, we began to talk about friendship. That conversation has inspired me to share what I have found over the years that I will call “Friendship Wisdom 101”.

Be your own best friend. When you like being with you, so will others. Also it is always good to ask yourself, when going through a difficult time, “What would I tell me, if I were my best friend?” It is amazing how quickly the answer will come.
Invest time! When I say invest time, I mean make the time. We can busy our lives with “things & stuff”, when in reality if we look at how we spend our time watching TV or on the internet and add up those hours, we will find the time to spend with a friend. I have a group of woman (seven of us) who go out once a month at 2:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon. Last year we planned a weekend away and had a blast! My older sister has had “Wild Woman Weekends” with a group of her high school friends for over 35 years now and they are the best of friends.
Listen to your inner voice. When I listen to my inner voice regarding friends I never go wrong. Sometimes it’s just seeing something that reminds you of them and you give them a call or shoot them a text. Sometimes I will get a thought to send a card and when I listen, it is exactly what they needed that day. They got a tooth pulled and you check up on them. She lost her mom and you go over and clean her home. You see some earrings and the inner voice says buy them for your friend just because.
Trustworthy. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Need I say more?
Always stay current. Clear the air. If something happens that hurts your feelings, go right to the source. This one thing will make for a stronger friendship. DON’T talk it out with your other friends; DO talk it out with the friend it has to do with.
Tell your needs. Some of you may have no problem with this, but if you are anything like me, this is good advice. I am a the-cup-is-half-full kind of person. I tend to be the one that is encouraging others and sometimes my friends forget that I too need encouragement. I did this recently with a friend and I discovered when I told her I needed to hear her encouragement sometimes, she was so happy to hear that I needed her like she needed me. That was a big ahha moment for me.

Who are your friends? I believe we all have different kinds of friends. Some are closer than others. Some you can laugh and cry with, while others we see every so often and simply enjoy the time we do have. The key is this; know what kind of a friendship it is and give your time accordingly.

Failure Supercharges Creativity

“The essence of creativity is not necessarily getting things “right”. At the heart, creativity is based on risk-taking, on being willing to make “mistakes”. – Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler

I am reading a book right now called “Amaze Yourself” by Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler. Dr. Jill says, “Many who say they are not creative say this because they have tried once, failed and gave up. Creative genius goes hand-in-hand with failure, there is simply no creativity without failure.”

If you dive into the arts, you know that logic uses a different part of your brain then creativity. I have found that when I live in that place where I want to do everything right, my creativity gets stifled because I am afraid of making a mistake. However, creation, by its very nature, is bringing into existence something that has never been done before. Therefore, we can not make a mistake when we work with the unknown. There is only exploration.

In a recent adult class I was teaching, I chose dragonflies as the subject to paint. I had just finished four small paintings of different color dragonflies for my sister and when my students saw them, they asked if they could also paint some. They were simple and looked easy to paint and they felt confident they could paint them too. I cut up 5×5 squares of watercolor paper and they began to paint, however, by the time their first dragonfly was complete they were discouraged because it did not quite look like they had pictured it would, like mine. That is when I handed them their next 5×5 piece of paper and showed them my first “failed” dragonfly painting. I then said keep going. After two hours and four paintings later, each one of them were thrilled with the way their last one had turned out. They soon discovered that each dragonfly they painted that they didn’t quite like, informed them of the way they wanted to make changes in their next painting. I see over and over when students reach a point in their painting where they are ready to throw it in the trash, it is at this point that failure can stop or supercharge their creativity. This is when I step in and say, “Well, since you are ready to throw it in the trash, then there is nothing to be afraid of anymore so just keep going and see what happens.” Nine times out of ten the painting ends up being one of their best yet!

Most of us get hung up when we start comparing. Our creative process stops when we begin to judge our own work because all judging is based on comparison. If you truly are creating, then there is nothing to compare, for it has never existed before this moment. You are about to create it. If what you create does not hit the mark you intended, it will always inform you on your next go around. So in a sense what appears to be failure, does in fact, supercharge creativity into an exploration.

Something to ask yourself: How could your life improve if you begin to allow yourself and others to be “perfectly imperfect?”

Happy Birthday to ME!

ImageLast night I went to bed about 11:30 pm and at exactly 12 midnight my phone sounded that I had a incoming text. At first I was not going to get it, being I was half asleep, but then I got up wondering if all was OK with any and all my loved ones. I smiled when I read, “Happy birthday mom!!!!! Love youuuuu<3:D woooooooooo mom mom mom!” from my 18 yr old son in the next room who had waited up to be the first to send me a happy birthday. I woke up this morning at 6:30 had some breakfast and took myself to the gym. As I walked out the door of my apt.I said “Happy Birthday to ME!” Starting my 55th year taking better care of me is my #1 goal. While on the eliptical my phone rings, I answer and my sister is singing happy birthday to me and telling me how much I am loved. She asks what I have planned for the day and I say not much, driving my son to and from work, working at gallery,  teaching a class tonight. We plan a sisters night out for next week and I walk into my apt. to my sweetheart standing up with his arms open saying, “Yeah! Happy Birthday girl!” He gives me the best hug and I rush to get dressed quick to make a 9 am nail appointment (and it is 8:30) As I do this, everywhere I turn there are 5×7 cards with hearts and words on them like, “Creative You” “Beautiful You” “Laughing You” and more! Now I am giggling. My son is in the bathroom and I knock to come in with him as he is getting ready for college classes, we stand side by side in mirror getting ready and then he grabs me and hugs me and says he loves me, then he says you don’t need to pick me up after work I got a friend to get me. As I am leaving Rob offers his time in my day and next thing I know he is going to give Dave a ride to work and come meet me for a late lunch. I grab my purse and find yet another love note and rush to my car (with a smile on my face) for I now have 15 min. to get to my appointment in morning rush hour traffic. At this point I give it over to God and say part the way for me and He did. I arrived exactly at 9 am on the dot! I have a wonderful time with my friend and nail artist (of 11 years). Lavender nails today! I get to my gallery and bump into a friend coming out of one of the other offices, who hugs me and congratulates me for getting voted Billerica’s Woman of the Year in front of my mail lady, who then tells me how much I do in this community and deserve it. I then sit down in my gallery, take a deep breath, sip my pumpkin DD coffee and open my Facebook to find 70 Happy Birthdays on my page and it was only 10:30 in the morning. Even as I sit here in write this birthday blog my phone is going off with love messages and future birthday get together plans texting back and forth.

I started my day thinking I didn’t have much planned for my birthday today except life as usual. Turns out life as usual for me has reaped all the love I have sown and then some. I am truly grateful and blessed beyond measure and I just wanted to share that with you!

Breathe and Believe

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” — Jonathan Swift, author

As a visual artist I so get this statements. For I see things with my internal eyes and I paint them. I also know that, as the artist and the boss of my own painting, I have the license to even change what I see in real life and then have the amazing privilege of calling it “art”. I am awakening to the realization of using this creative power within myself to create the life that I want and to help others do the same.

I know every parent out there who has teenagers will understand what I mean when I say, that somehow the child we thought we had disappears into what I call “the teen tunnel” and you wonder what happened to my child. After raising four children, I know what it is like to be holding your breath for five years and praying to God that they will just make it through without messing up too bad! Yet every time I noticed, I was holding my breath, something inside would say, “Breathe and believe”. I would then see my child as a grown responsible adult living into all the amazing qualities that makes them who they are.
I remember one day one of my son’s said to me, Mom I don’t think I have integrity, after telling him that his character and integrity where the keys to a successful life. I looked right at him and said, Oh yes you do! Even though he had just done something that was not so cool. I had vision and I kept having vision and kept saying my vision so he knew what I saw in him. The invisible came forth one day while taking a dinner break at a local eatery and my son’s high school teacher approaches me to talk about how great it has been for her to see my son grow over the years. She then offers her summing up of my son by saying, the one word I would use to describe him is integrity!

I believe that whatever I put my focus on will increase. When I decided, I wanted to open my art gallery and art class center I knew I had to get a vision for what I wanted. One day I was at an art show and I saw a clock that an artist had made that looked like an artist pallet. I loved it and thought this would look great in my new gallery. So I bought it with a vision of the invisible. This one act of faith set in motion a whole series of events that led me toward my vision and here I sit writing to you in my gallery/art class center of ten years.

Here are some key steps that I hope will be helpful in creating the invisible for you:

Decide what you want. I decided that character was the one thing in life that I would make a big deal about while raising my kids. No mater what they did or said, if they got an F as a grade or talked disrespectful to me, because character was what I focused on that is what I would pin point my talks with them around. I would say, Years down the road no one is going to know if you got and A or an F but they will know if you are a man of integrity. When I decided I wanted to cut down on my expenses, my biggest being my rent on my apartment, an opportunity appeared for me to move to an artist work-live space in a newly renovated Lowell mill that cut my living expenses by more than half.
Opportunities are everywhere, be open. Once you decide what you want, it is amazing how many opportunities you will attract. Including, oh my, the opportunities for that teachable moment for your teen! When the lottery for an amazing mill apartment came to my attention in Lowell, I needed to be willing to be open. I had made a commitment with my son’s dad to stay in Billerica until he graduated from high school. The apartment was coming available one year shy of his senior year. We shared custody and my son spent every other week with me. I talked with his dad and he encouraged me to go for it. I did and simple drove my son to school on my weeks for a year and now he lives with me full time and will be going to college right down the street here in Lowell saving thousands of dollars!

Be Still and Know


I have a dear friend whom I have known for thirty-eight years. We have been there for each other, through jobs, marriages, babies, moves, divorce and deaths. We have laughed and cried together. She just bought a house and needed help with painting, so I offered my skills.

It was a rainy morning when I showed up at her new house in my painting clothes and with one look, I could see that she was stressed as she sat in her car smoking a cigarette that I thought she had given up. I could feel myself go to a place of peace as I hugged her. I became present to the moment and as we entered her kitchen, she turned to me and asked me to pray with her. We held each other while she prayed and I agreed that all was well. At that moment everything shifted and no matter what came up for the day, like the toilets not working, the paint being the wrong paint, the floor guys finishing the work so she could move in, they all got resolved within a short amount of time. We enjoyed each other, we shared our dreams, and we danced and laughed as each mini victory happened through out the day.

Prayer has changed over the years. I use to think that my purpose in prayer was to change God’s mind to what I wanted. However, I now see that it is more for me to come into alignment with God’s heart and mind. So when my friend and I prayed it set us in a listening mode or a flow of being in tune to the good in this wonderful life. Now when I pray it is more about listening than it is about speaking. This changes prayer from an event to an everyday awareness of the present moment. And this my friends is where all the magic happens. God is no long out there, He is now in here, in you, in me.

This week I would like you to try something new. When you pray try being still and just listen. “Be still and know that I am God.” is one of my favorite scripture verses. When I say this it has two, yet one meaning. Let me explain; I can say it as if God is saying it to me or I can say the same words as if I am saying it to myself. The second way might make you squirm a little just reading it, never mind saying it out loud to yourself! Let me suggest that if God is everywhere, including in you and me, then it stands to reason that God and I are one. If God and I are one, then I can stand knowing this and be still and know that I and God “am”. If this is true then prayer is being still and simply knowing.

Gratitude Times Five

ImageAfter watching Oprah’s Life class about gratitude recently, I was deeply motivated to start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day as I climb into bed, I write down five things that I am grateful for and I am noticing a shift in my state of being. I am finding myself being present to the moment and enjoying even the simplest tasks like cleaning and shopping. In the Life class Tony Robins said, “ Fear and gratitude can not live in the same space.“ I even see that I am more comfortable in my own skin when Rob and I go out dancing; I dance with a new freedom. Yes, kind of like, no one is watching!

Sunday we went for a walk at our favorite walking spot, Walden Pond. We met and chatted with people along the way as we usually do. One such woman was French and when Rob spoke back to her in French, she came alive. She then gave him a card written in French and began teaching him how to read it correctly. She turned to me and handed me the same card in English. At the top of the card, it said GRACE. The word described how I had been feeling lately; like I was living in a state of grace. As Rob and I continued on our way, we decided to go get something to eat at Chipotle in Burlington. We went through the line and Rob was being his usual friendly self as he ordered his meal. We get to the register and the person, who happened to be the manager, says, “This meal is on me!” We were both surprised and grateful. After the meal, Rob took out a pen and began to write a thank you note on one of his business cards along with the offer for a free coaching session (Rob is a life and business coach). As he was writing the girl at the register came over, slipped a card on our table, and said, this is for you. The card read, “Share the Love” and on the other side, there was an offer to come back with five friends for a FREE meal on the house!

I don’t know about you, but I am seeing a pattern here and this is the five life lessons for me:

  1. Gratitude opens us to enjoy the present moment.
  2. Gratitude brings with it a real sense of personal freedom that pushes away fear.
  3. Gratitude allows for living in a state of grace.
  4. Gratitude perpetuates more gratitude.
  5. Gratitude leads to sharing the love.

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now,” Oprah says. “And the more grateful you are, the more you get.”

What five things are you grateful for? Write it down and see how your life shifts in five ways and then some!

Painting of the week #3 Morning Glory

I did this painting in one of my classes this week and one of the ladies decided to paint something else. The reason? Superstition about birds in her house. It is so interesting how we create our own stories around things and stuff. Here is what is interesting; What we believe, we will attract. What do you want to attract into your life today? Remember, change your story, change your life. Oh, yes, it’s that simple. Try it!

Art, Words & Life # 10 Fruit of the Spirit

What came first the fruit or the seed?