Wednesday, July 30, 2014

London Calling

I never wanted a dog. Everyone else in my family did and I was always the nay sayer, sure it would be a disaster in too many ways to count. 

Turns out we are a total dog family and the two pups we're lucky to live with have brought more joy and love than I ever could have imagined. 

I never thought about being an adventure family. Options and variables and what ifs  along with family and familiarity kept our traveling comfortable and remarkably the same. We've been on countless cruises and seen a variety of beaches. We've been down to the Jersey Shore every summer for 14 years. The roads to Florida and Vermont are well traveled. 

This year though, with big birthdays to commemorate (2 50s, 16 and 13) we decided to shake things up and head to London. 

Nothing but unknowns. 

My stomach is in a knot. 

Part of me is thrilled. 

Another part is terrified. 

But I have a feeling this, like our pups, will be a game changer. 

Feels like the right time to discover we're far more than we think we are. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

turning 50

I'll be turning 50 this month and I'm finding that fact brings up 3 very distinct reactions in people. 

1. Oh my god I had NO IDEA! You look so much younger! (gratifying)

2. The other side of 50 is even better.  (reassuring)

3. Time to break out the Metamucil, colonoscopies, AARP card. (annoying)

Birthdays can have so much attached, especially one that has come to have such social significance. I remember thinking 50 was ancient when I was younger and yet here I am, staring it down and I don't feel any different. 

The number doesn't matter. Who I am and what I do does. 

2 weeks before I turned 30 I graduated from art school. 

Right as I turned 40 my publishing projects started to take off. 

Heading into 50 I'm taking on leadership of the PTA at the biggest school in the country, an opportunity to hone my communication, fundraising and community building skills. And who knows what that will bring with it. 

Birthdays are convenient ways to take stock of where I've been and where I'm heading. Nice to stop for a moment to look back and then forward. And after that to be here. 

I'm proud of what I've done. Nervous and excited to live what's next. And, as always, grateful for the here and now. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

photography and me

My kids have heard all my stories. At least they think they have and I often feel like I've got nothing new to add to what they know about me. 


Often, when I launch into something eyes roll and I know they've heard it before. But yesterday, as I was talking about my nondescript high school experience, leaving college after 2 years and then heading to art school in my mid twenties there was a nugget or two not yet shared. 

My road to design school was in no way linear. It wasn't until I'd left college, had been working my way through various positions in retail that I even learned what graphic design was. My last job before art school was a liaison between an art studio and their biggest client - close enough to see what was going on but still no with no idea how to be a designer. 

Then I went to art school and was basically torn apart. I was terrible at every foundation class my first year. My painting teacher would shake his head in dismay at my utter lack of talent. My sculpture professor stopped critiquing me early on and in one drawing class models learned to skip my easel. 

Then there was photography - the only class that I didn't cry before. As I put my final portfolio together my teacher thought I should seriously consider declaring that as my major instead of graphic design. I was tempted but back then it was timing and chemicals and darkrooms and lenses. All that took away from the art for me. 

Rediscovering photography has been one of the highlights of this new jewelry project: finding the right light, angle, props, setting. It feels right to be doing this again. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Today someone asked me what my favorite colors are. 

Hot pink and orange. 

Favorite nail polish?

Electric blue and purple. 

I may often be cloaked in the black uniform of a New Yorker but my souls resonates with color. Brightness. Tone. Shades. Saturation. 

I would love a job naming paint chips or nail polishes or yarn swatches, finding the words to describe the deepening turquoise at the horizon's edge on a sunny day in the Caribbean. Or the green that's more olive than spring but not even related to khaki. 

The rich coral bordering on red that reflects off skyscrapers at sunrise. 

The darkening purple blue of dusk. 

The not quite white of snow falling in shadows. 

Color feeds my soul. Sparks my imagination. Kick starts creativity in moments it might be challenged. 

Feeling it's time to dive into a new project. Happy sigh. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


My mom once told me that she wished she was creative. Her mother sewed beautifully - was a costume designer for a Broadway star many years ago - her sister was an art teacher.

She didn't see the things she did, and took for granted, were amazingly creative. She's a baker and took such care and paid such attention to presentation and detail. I remember there was always a rejects pile - cookies and tarts that didn't live up to her high standards - we gratefully were allowed to eat those right away.

My daughter wishes she was more of an artist. She doesn't paint or draw the way her friends, who are in the fine arts programs do. But she has more creativity, more original ideas, more unique projects, more inspiration than just about anyone I've ever met.

People think of creativity within such tightly drawn boundaries at times. If you can't recreate a perfect still life or play the violin like a master what you're doing doesn't count as creative.


(it took me a long time to realize that)

I was such a creative kid only I thought the things I made, crocheted, sewed, designed weren't worth anything. I couldn't draw or paint realistically. And I didn't know what I was doing might be valued by anyone. Not monetarily but for originality or crafting or even perseverance.

My life as a graphic designer, as a writer, as a knitter, jewelry maker, costumer came after years of being shut down and shut off. In retrospect not having a creative outlet was soul starving.

This new endeavor - imagining projects, shopping for supplies, crafting disparate pieces into a finished whole, photographing my work, writing about it - is pure, joyful flow.

Now that I'm back to making things, I will never stop.

Click here for what I'm making now.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

out in the world

Today I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen since high school. And while we'd passed each other in the halls, we hadn't really been friends since elementary school, maybe junior high.

Our mothers went to kindergarten together, up in the Bronx, so I've known her for a very long time. 

She was very cool. 

It was lovely. 

At one point we were talking about shyness and I said that I used to be painfully so. I was so often the person who wanted to disappear into the crowd, to have no one notice me, to melt into a wall. Especially when I was little I dreaded attention, my heart would race when it was my turn to answer a question or have attention focused on me.  

I've left most of that by the wayside. 

It was one damn slow process.

But now I like talking in front of groups of people. I wear ridiculous things. I love to lead things, to be in charge, to instigate change. 

I think the difference is that I believe in myself. I have confidence. A sense of security. Balance. Gratitude. I'm finally accepting who I am and appreciating what it is about me that makes me different, not wishing I was more like someone else. 

I am so grateful I am putting myself out into the world in new ways, stretching to try things I haven't tried before, letting myself step outside my comfort zone, even if it's only tiny steps right now.

That's what Sparklefant is. Me expressing in a way I haven't before. In a public, shiny, bright glittery way.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

making things

I've been making things for as long as I can remember.

Nothing's changed.

I'm using different materials to get to another end result. Instead of poster paint I found beads. Instead of clay I'm using cord. Instead of crochet hooks I stitch with open eye needles.

But still, I'm just making things.

Finding combinations that work. Pulling disparate items together into something cohesive. Spotting colors and shapes that speak to me out of countless options.

Knowing when something is enough or too much.

I'm in the zone, flowing, grooving when I'm making things. Hunting down supplies. Setting up photo shoots. Stitching quietly away as pieces evolve in my fingers.

When I was little making things was my greatest joy. Turns out it's still way high up on my happiness list.