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So this is ME, on any given day. It typifies my daily doings for this year. Oh 2012, how you amuse me.

Really, it is a metaphor for every business. Every day you have new challenges and a high bar to set. I am doing it! Some days it is custom work. I love collaborating with customers to create something wonderful or beautiful or memory-filled, maybe all of the above. Other days I am working on an entire line of wall tiles, or a set of  functional table ware, a keepsake memorial piece, a specialty line of jewelry or a _____ fill in the blank! My sky has no limit. I love the challenge that each day brings and the amazing people I get to meet. It is all about relationships and how we connect to each other. How will I connect to YOU? Challenge me. Hire me for a new project. I will jump through the hoop of fire!

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My teenagers and their friends have this new favorite activity…they call it affectionately “Goodwill Hunting”. Looking for treasure in other people’s discard.  No metal detector required, just the time and patience to have vision at your local thrift store. Honestly, I am a participant, but begrudgingly so. I recycle most of what I find into a myriad of Art projects. My first leather project was up-cycled from a rather large pair of suede pants. Great find, no doubt! Yesterday, I did a little local show where I was , basically , the only Artist displaying hand-hewn wares. I always like to watch and listen. Gatherings of random people are like a parade of comedy for me, well, and a social experiment too! That is the bonus part really! For some reason, “new and shiny”  (OOOOoooohhh, shiny!)  was not on the agenda…”give me something used and cheap” was the theme song du jour. (like a W-mart after market, what?) As always, I made some new friends, told funny stories and exposed people to some art. If I had fun, then it was a job well done. Onward to the next event…just gathering material for my future comedy tour.

I am a Mom who chose to stay  home and raise the children while Dad trotted off to work. While raising small children, women need some friendly voice outside of the mommy groups and diaper discussions, ew, by the way.  Well, my voice was none other than Oprah.  By the time 4 o’clock rolled around, we had been to the park, washed, eaten several times, napped (not me, them!), played, played some more, cleaned some stuff, done laundry and dishes, etc…it was a FULL day. So now, 4 o’clock is time to sit, plan dinner  and sometimes fold while Oprah shared an hour with you. It was a valuable hour too. You got a glimpse into other worlds that did not always effect your bubble of parenting and people forming. I was thankful for her resonant voice and  undying enthusiasm. I always envisioned myself on Oprah for saving the world in some capacity. Maybe for being a Mom-preneur. Or maybe, one day, I would just get to sit in her audience and bask in the experience. I used to travel for work before staying home with children and Chicago was my business destination a couple of times a year. (LOVE Chicago) I asked my business associate if he could score tickets to her show for me. His reply was something terribly bigoted and appalling. It changed my, already less than stellar, view of him too. Once again, no Oprah. Well, this is her last season and my opportunity has again slipped away. Tickets on-line are the hot tamale du jour and virtually un-score-able.  Now, knowing I will not get to fulfill  my Oprah vision, I feel so bummed even watching this last season. Maybe Oprah will vacation in Florida when she has some down time…you know, after this last season. I still have hope!

(THIS  is a small departure from  my regular entertaining blog, I promise our regularly scheduled programming will return. I just cannot hold this in any longer)   Now I am not a flamboyant sort of person and not one to cause a ruckus, but I was just reading about the current TEA (Taxed Enough Already)party and the rallies and protests involved. You will never see me at any event. I think the true  path to enlightening our government is to cut to the bottom line, quietly. Middle America holds all of the cards. We pay our taxes, pay our bills and watch our credit scores while the upper sector steals our country blind with loop holes and ear-marks  in legislation. Many non-tax payers drain the system from the other end. It is like some sort of rampant flu that nobody is man enough to cure. We sit idly by doing the right thing. WELL, what if, unilaterally, we all decided we really have had enough. We augment our W-4 form and reduce our tax paying habits, yank our money from big banks, and pay cash for everything we need. Can we ALL go to jail? Na, those are clogged up with other issues. If we don’t kick into the system, then the system cannot survive. Our national debt is through the roof . What happens when we all decide not to pay? NOT PAY? Why that is preposterous…of course we will pay. High salaries for officials, lifetime superior health care, exotic vacations, multiple homes,  bail outs for big banks and the investment sector, you know this list is long. Do you really want to pay these? Oh yeah, a revolution is on the horizon, but not a kicking screaming one…it needs to be quiet, peaceful and diligent.  Last time I checked, when there is nothing left to feed upon, the parasites go away. Middle America needs to see just how powerful it really is…everyone depends upon it! No rally necessary. Put your money, literally, where your mouth is. Change is imminent.

Naaa, just friends, sans the oil. (BP can suck it) Today I had a candid conversation with my friend Jason Dowd, a fellow Artist, whom I met many years ago when I started an Art Group in my area. We brainstormed for viable ideas to get his newest collection of photos to the public. While dipping into his dark side, he realized how people are connecting to this particular body of work that addresses your ” Dreams, Nightmares,Fears and  Fantasies”. He says it has helped him overcome his fear of spiders while working on a shoot with a big, hairy tarantula. It is really like therapy without the expensive therapist. You can dress in outrageous costumes and live out your wildest or scariest of scenarios, capture it in photos and hang it on your wall as a reminder how you kicked fear in the Ass (and, yes Ass is capitalized because the world revolves around it, but that is another post) ! Then, you get to move on and live your real life…without fear. Wow…I am thinking Jason is brilliant.  Brainstorming with friends is always the best idea of the day. OH, and to conquer your fear du jour, please call Jason.  His rates are reasonable, his work is good, and he loves to have some fun. Go to http://www.dowdstudios.com to book your session

Yes, I am Gaga for my furry friends. I am sure Lady Gaga is too! In the far corner of my studio sits a small container of ashes of my beloved Poodle-man, Baxter. It has been over a year since he passed away. I have a line of jewelry geared toward the cremation keepsake market for humans and do pets as well. I am comfortable with the topic. I took it as a sign that if my Baxter is sitting unaddressed, and I am IN the industry…then how many other people out there have similar situations? Our pets are a great part of our families (sometimes the BEST!!). There is not the urgency to gather family and grieve over a pet like we do for our human members and many times they get left, literally, in a corner. Last year, I made several bowls, sun catchers, pendants  and desk top memorials with pet ashes integrated into  glass.  This month, I am adding my pet memorial items to my website. It is time I addressed the whole issue, mine especially. I would love to hear your pet story and maybe have the opportunity to create something in  your pet’s memory.

Over the years, the one thing I have learned as an independent business owner is to assemble a great team of people around you. Easier said than done. I know unemployment is really high, but there are so many people who have viable jobs but seemingly do nothing…and are apparently happy about it. I am not interested in hearing how your business is in the toilet. You don’t do your job, follow through  or follow up. Be gone with you.

Today, I salute those who do what they say in a timely manner and get the job done!! My list is short, believe me.

Lia Gallegos, http://www.sleepygirl.net who does all of my web stuff, PR, human cattle prodding, and occasionally, my therapist (sorry for that one!!).  She does a great job, has great insight and just plain “knows stuff”. Contact her…she rocks.
Lindsay Milner, owner of http://www.adesignstory.com is a new member of my team.  She specializes in home interiors and consultations for the transformation of any space. Once again…getting the job done.

And Mr. David Gershman of http://www.infogoods.com …lightening fast and quality service for all of your trade show needs. All it took to get something done was one phone call and an e-mail with a file. THAT is how it is done.

Everything great in life hinges on action…not just talk.

Well, actually, I DO…several of them. I am an anvil loving, tool using, torch wielding kind of gal! I love fire and metal and glass,hehe…and pearls! (but not all together) As a child, I remember distinctly playing in the creek with frogs, watching mosquito larvae twist violently in a puddle of rain water (which I found FASCINATING by the way!!), catching lightening bugs, making little sculptures from shells I had collected at the beach,  and building forts in the woods.  Science and Art all twisted up together. And I mean twisted. Not “crazy serial killer” twisted or anything that extreme. I guess I spend a lot of time in Michele-land, that wonderful place between my ears where rose-colored glasses are all the rage in fashion.

This week, the sound of hammer on anvil has permeated the studio and I am happy. It does not seem to bother, Lola,  the Greyhound who sleeps on my floor while I work. It is a beautiful ringing tone.  Sweet and resonating. Oh and I also have found the many joys of leather…that is for next time. Until then…hammer on!

I guess my favorite thing, work wise, is creating a piece of art for an individual. I cannot list the many joys of custom work. It is waaaay too long. It is enjoyable because I get to float in an ocean of color and memories and/or information about that person and really focus in on the task at hand. Seldom do I draw anything on paper…I just tend to let it all flow. Color is usually my jumping off point and I can take it from there. Letting your Higher Self direct you is reminiscent of childhood. Back then, everything you did was new and you just did what came naturally. No analysis or research involved…you just were. It was that simple. I truly enjoy that. Happiness really is that simple. The double dog downhill is when your creation arrives at its destination , taken out of the mile of bubble wrap  and is immediately loved. And now…for my next act…like the Magician’s scarf trick, another one follows.

Well, to answer that question, you cannot ask a dinosaur right? (I hear they have really strong opinions anyway) I do love the news, especially science in the news. Global warming? Just a theory. Pollution? Makes me sick. Gene therapy? To be handled gently. All of these become a non-issue with the onset of active volcanoes. This one in Iceland is purging debris high into the atmosphere and bringing European air travel to a standstill. With the increase in seismic activity, they expect another fissure to appear to belch even more debris. I have watched most of the disaster movies and marveled at the special effects. This is real life. I am usually a person with a plan B, and I realized if the sun were blocked out by a cloud of volcano dust, baby…there is no plan B. No sun, no life. Period. SOOOOOOOO, as not to be a fatalist, I say make today count. Be nice. Choose to feel good about yourself. And give as many hugs away as possible…they tend to multiply.

Michele Palenik & Baxter

Michele Palenik & Baxter

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