Don't forget to dance!

Dancing and Funerals

You may ask me, what has dancing got to do with funeral?  I will tell you that when you go to the funeral of your old dancing instructor you can think of almost nothing else. Such was the case with the service I went to this week.  It was for my dear Ethel Friel Barker.

It all began when I was in about third grade.  My older sister was taking dance and gymnastics and so I wanted to too!  My younger sister followed along after.  Each week we would tromp down her stairs in our leotards, set our dollar on her piano and begin our lesson.

Bring on the tap shoes!  What fun we had learning those dances.  The costumes came next.  Many times they were made by our mothers.  I remember the rumba costume the most.  The top was all gold sequins sewn on to satin.  The bottom was an open skirt that showed off your dancing legs!  haha!… a pair of green satin shorts underneath..and nothing skimpy!…then there were the ruffles of satin colors on the trailing skirt. I remember Ethel teaching us all how to shimmy.  We all laughed!

Each year Ethel would travel to New York to Dance Caravan.  She would learn all the dances and come back and teach them to all her students.  She had students of all ages from the tiniest little ones to the high school kids.  I remember two boys who learned a Russian dance.  Their dance number was mixed with gymnastic moves.

Besides the lessons,  Ethel would arrange for us to have shows.. at no extra cost to us. We traveled to girls homes, boys homes, a home for the mentally challenged.. and then even some Christmas shows for the American Legion.  As shy as we were, it helped us to learn how to be in front of people.  We learned about different people and the situations they live in.

When we got to high school, Ethel helped us with our gymnastic routines.  She rented out the Grange Hall, lugged all her black mats over and we tumbled and practiced for our meets.  All for that same one dollar bill on her piano.

Our lessons continued through high school and we occasionally went to see her for a class… just for fun.  My last class was when I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I remember going slow… I did a limber over… and then felt my daughter kick! That was the end of that!  ha!

Many friends gathered for the memorial service.  My sisters sat next to me and three other friends, all in the same row.  When the minister asked us to read something, I watched as ALL of us dug into our purses for our glasses.  Ethel would have laughed at that sight!  We all laughed and cried.

When the service was over and we sat at our tables for a small lunch, we talked and talked about our dances, our costumes and Ethel.  Before everyone left, we spread the word through out the room that anyone who wanted to, could participate in the performance of the Waltz Clog!  This was the dance that Ethel taught every student. ( My sisters and I do it periodically, even now for fun).

The people gathered… most dressed in black and white.  We almost looked like we were in costume.  .. and then we began.  We sang the tune as we stumbled though the dance moves laughing!  Our last steps were always … just as Ethel taught us,  “step cut the pie” with our feet.

What a wonderful remembrance. What a wonderful person she was!  We will always celebrate Ethel!

This brings me to this thought.  I have been thinking about it a lot in the last few weeks since I know four people who have died recently. There are many people who live life helping others. It’s such a wonderful thing.  They give and give and give until it’s time for heaven. Their memorial services are happy sad, but often joy filled.  Others take and take and take until their last day. Those services are sad. … almost tragic.

I prefer happy! I like the thought of people dancing at my funeral. .. and singing loud!

Here are three pictures of our Ethel!  She lives on in our hearts always!ImageImageImage

A Sketching Day!

Oh what fun it is to sit and sketch. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, even if it’s only for me. When you were born to create, nothing else satisfies. In the old days, artists were reveered. They were sometimes supported financially so that they might go on creating. What a leap we have made to this century where artists are often misunderstood to be lazy and dreamy-eyed. Who would not be dreamy-eyed with all the ideas we have rolling through our heads!
All of that to say, if someone wants to support me while I sketch, step on up to the plate! Haha! back to.sketching!

via PicsArt Photo Studio




Artists live a life of wonder. At times, it’s wondering what to do next. I will not lie, I have been wondering this for the last few months. I am looking for the sweet spot! It’s my favorite place to be in Art. It’s the place where you are working and you don’t want to stop. I think it’s a divine place where God kisses your life with ideas that flow out in a steady stream.

A lot of things can bar you from this place. Looking in the wrong direction, self doubt, self pity, self self self. Ha! Get the point? You have to get rid of the”self” part. If the sweet spot is divine, then you have to seek out the divine.

A few nights ago I had a dream. My dad was in the dream. Someone had driven him to my house. He slowly came up the steps to my house and said to me, ” Bloom“. In a small whisper he said, “bloom where you are planted”.
Then he was gone.
I woke up knowing the “divine” had spoken to me.
No grinding out ideas, just let the divine IN me out… to make the art I was born to make.

A flower does not worry about the bloom. All the coding for that bloom is IN the seed. It simply drinks up moisture from above and the roots go down and the bloom comes.

So… BLOOM today! You were meant to be like none other.

Time To Imagine

Each day is filled with work. My work is fun, but there are still decisions to make and a path to stay on. There are meetings to schedule and deadlines to meet. It can be a constant process of thought and movement.
I have stopped for the day. I stopped to look over my idea book and enjoy the summer breeze. The are ideas everywhere and sometimes you cannot find the ones that are in the calm of the day if you don’t stop to look and listen.
My doggie stands guard to protect me from squirrels, my other doggie wanted the cool of the air in the house. I listen to the wind kicking up. I hear cars from a nearby street. I feel sure that the birds are discussing what’s for dinner. My feel are hot in my sneakers that are still on since my morning walk. My daisies look like they are reaching for the sky. The weeds are tall on the north side of my house. My thoughts travel to what to make for dinner. (I resist that thought for now). My daughter turned 35 today! That makes me smile as I remember her entrance into this world and her loud voice!

All of these are but fleeting thoughts. Sometimes a fleeting thought will make into a story, but you must take the time to stop, look and listen.

Now I dive into my idea book!


Re-inventing Oneself

Funny words. It suggests that there was something wrong with the first invention something that needs fixing. I suppose that is true. When something isn’t working you should look for another way. You should fix the thing.

I began working on a new set of children’s books. I was hammering away at a story, trying to get something good down in order to illustrate it. Everything was flat. Nothing was working, nothing felt right. My characters were looking at me like I was crazy. They were all yawning! Try writing when your characters are shaking their heads!

It was then that I realized I was going about it all wrong. As an artist, I need to star with the art!!!! …the story would follow.

I sat with sketchbook in hand and began drawing little cartoons. One thing led to another and star was born! I will share more. This is a discovery for me. I will let you know how I make out in the days to follow!

For now, I’ll just keep sketching!


To Be Or Not To Be!


That is the question! The answer is in you. Will you be who you yearn to be in this life? Will you accomplish your dreams? Much of it is up to you.
My neighbor is an example. I met her three years ago. I was so excited to have an artist move in next door! She is a potter and when I visited her she would show me what she was making. She had some really fun pieces.
Last December she agreed to be in a garden show. She was one of two artists that would show their work in a specific garden. She knew she needed to fill the yard so she began in earnest to produce pieces with a garden theme. All winter long the kiln was firing wonderful creations! Colorful pots, bird houses and bird baths began oozing out of her garage. Her work began taking on a personality and a style like no other artist. I saw her grow in her skills.
Last Wednesday was set-up day. We placed her art all over the yard. By the time we finished, the yard look like it was out of a fairy tale! I could see that her pieces told a story. There was color everywhere! We were so excited!
We returned on Saturday for the sale. No sooner did we sit down at our table when the crowd of visitors began forming a line to buy my friends pottery. The line did not stop until the day ended. It was wonderful!!! All of her hard work paid off.
So what is my point? Find what you love and DO it! Find a way! Keep moving in the direction. To be or NOT to be? It’s up to you!

Pottery by Juanita Estepa




Change Your Destiny

I was sitting in the movie theater today, minding my own business, (and Captain Kirks!), when all of the sudden three words came to me. “Change Your Destiny”. I was so surprised that I dug down into my purse ( the black hole), looking for my notebook so i might write them down.
Along with the words came a sudden rush of hope and direction for my future. Instead of watching the Star Trek movie, I began thinking of things I could turn around in my life that would mean a different future, even 3 months from now.

How many times in our lives do we stay the course because it is easy or familiar? What would happen if we chose three things in each day, and purposed in our hearts to do them differently? Perhaps that would mean venturing out to see a neighbor you hadn’t seen in a while? Or put down that cheese sandwich and opt for a salad? Why not carve out an hour of the day to work on your novel or write a letter to a relative? Maybe it’s time you tackle your To Do List?

I will think out loud here and list some different areas of interest to me.

Home front

Under each heading could be multiple topics.

Imagine if you took a new course of action for each heading, each day. How might that change your life by this time next year? Just think! You could come to the end of the year, a new person! Or perhaps you might become the person you were meant to be! What area might you work on this week?

Heaven! The final frontier! But what will you do before that??? I LOVE the thought of CHA CHA CHANGE!!!

Are you with me?