She’s not in a race to get “there.”  She desires to maximize “here.” ~Tonya Leigh

I am giving myself permission to step back from the aimless searching, overwhelm, all the self-imposed  comparisons and expectations, the lists that no longer calm, the wasting of my precious time with a busyness of nothing. I want to delve more into me and make friends with myself, fall in love with myself. I have always felt like an extrovert but secretly wonder  if that is my truth. I really don’t like labels, that is my truth. My truth is sitting quietly, thinking, reading, writing, being, hoping, loving. I feel that I have strayed from these truths. I also want to add to these truths and know I can not do that while on the current path that I travel.

This is me~letting all that go, shifting my thoughts and outlooks to finally find my truth.



I thought there would be more words to aptly portray this phenomenal woman/ spirit. But now, even after all this time, it is still too raw…..

We had a hard year, that 1998/99 ~we lost mawmaw, Andy’s mother and an adoption fell through. Our world turned upside down in a matter of months. We made it through but I can say, not without some heavy scars.

Today, she would have been 79 …..we lost her 14 years ago. Fourteen long, surreal years.
I have trouble with specific memories but I do remember that she made everyone feel loved and important. My grandmother was a soft place to land and a staunch supporter of all that is right and good. She felt mostly unloved for a majority of her life so she was  determined to make sure that everyone around her would only feel love and acceptance. There are no words to describe how special she always made each and every person feel. We have a running joke between the 3 grandkids. She would make sure that we all knew we were her favorite – she would tell us individually, in a conspiratorial way, but we all knew she told each of us the very same thing (though I KNOW I was her favorite~seriously!). Having had such a great force of good for most of my life, it goes without saying that my life has not been quiet right since loosing her.

She suffered many a heartache  and health issues but she did not let that stand in her way. She was deeply rooted in her faith and her family. She gave reely, out of love, truly expecting nothing in return.  She loved a good practical joke and found humor in the oddest of things.

We were always on adventures, even if it was just sorting her buttons, making a car from an old bowl lid (with green beans for the gas and tomatoes for the brake) or going 80 miles out of the way to save a penny on a canned good. If she ever encountered a snake she would not run but rather jump up and down in one spot. She scared a few away like that! She loved a yard sale and would make my mother pull into any home with clothes hanging out. Many times mama would fuss with her, sure the clothes were merely someone’s wash hanging in the summer breeze. She made every day magical. I am so thankful that I realized it then and while I am saddened that I no longer have her as a constant in my life, a day does not go by without me thinking of her and her loving support.  She left a smile and hope in my heart.

I now try to honor her with my everyday interactions – trying to leave the world in a better state than that which I found it and trying to let every single person know that they matter. I hope to honor her Legacy of Love~

You lived, you laughed, you loved.
You were strong but soft at the core.
You shared all that you had
and asked only that we try our best.
Our lives are forever changed because
you loved. you laughed. you lived.


Happy Birthday, my sweet MawMaw! xo


Jenn Borek is a fabulous motivator and support system. She gently helps you develop and advance your ideas to places you never thought possible. She is always in high spirits and you would never know she lives with chronic pain. She was gracious enough to take time out of her busy e-course developing schedule to share her sumMEr thoughts. (a side note: I proudly share my “Queen of Post-It Notes” title with her!)

I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to post on Renee’s sumMEr of ME. Isn’t her positivity contagious? She needs to bottle that up and dispense it… wait she’s DOING that through this sumMEr of ME campaign!

We’ve briefly shared some common issues: learning to embrace a different reality due to being betrayed by our bodies. For me, my current reality is figuring out how to cope with chronic migraines. I moved back from my favorite life adventure (living in Hong Kong) after two years because the pollution induced chronic migraines (more than 50% of the time). It was affecting every aspect of my life. My first year back in the States was stressful, but the migraines were less intense.

For some reason, they’ve ratcheted up again to nearly a chronic state. I realized I needed to put some emphasis on self-care because I did some much-needed housekeeping in June. I had finally organized my home after re-locating temporarily to Kansas for a long-term contract. I spent a day doing housekeeping and organizing. I pre-organized my cleaning day so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and spin in circles. I included frequent breaks. Yet, the effort flattened me for an entire week. Three years of migraines had left me VERY physically unfit. Not fun. Then to add to that, because of my health, I find myself much more limited than I ever was.

The major reason I wanted to participate in your sumMEr of ME is that, as Renee highlighted in her introduction, that by taking care of me, I can be in a better position to do more for others. That’s what brings me joy and happiness and fulfillment in my life. Since I’ve been sick, my ability to give to others has been severely hampered. I have to realize that I may never get back to the level I want to, but through proper care of myself, I may be able to increase from the levels I am currently at. This is about embracing my new reality. I am still in a position to try to do something about it. But, I find I am in a cycle and habit of “being sick.” I want to see if I can break out of that pattern. So, a little bit of this is about setting expectations and working within those guidelines.

One of the first things we talked about in one of our e-course Facebook groups was eating better. I found a liver cleanse that I think will be a good starting point for helping me eat better. Then exercising – I’m going to start walking my dogs. They LOVE walks. Love them. What better way to spend time with fur-babies than giving them some exercise and burning their energy. In the meantime, it’s a soft way for me to work back into a habit of exercise. I remember starting exercise regimens in my 20’s and 30’s and I would dive in headfirst, sore muscles and everything. I loved it. When I do that now, it flattens me for a week! (I felt the effects of the aforementioned housekeeping for over a week later!) One of my dreams is to eventually work from home, part-time so I can increase my volunteer work again.

On a more positive, note, two of the reasons I went on a “cleaning and organizing” binge was to be able to keep up with two e-classes. I signed up for the other class Beth Nicholls developed with Rachael Taylor, The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design. AND! I’m excited to announce (thank you, Renee, for letting me share this on your blog), one of my first WHAT’s that I have been able to develop as a result of the Hello Soul, Hello Business class was to take my knowledge as project manager in the corporate world and transform it into a time management class for artistic community.

Because of these two classes I needed to:

  • Model my own time management system and demonstrate how I use this method in my personal life
  • Keep up with serving the class with great content, responsiveness, and personal coaching
  • Be able to take the Surface Pattern Design class while maintaining and running my own e-class

More about my e-class – I’m really excited about putting this class together! The first class will be launching at the end of August called

– a fun, beautiful, hands-on way to get stuff done for Solo Artists / Creatives / Entrepreneurs. I ran a test class to work out the kinks, the pace, the ordering of the content, and writing it to cater to the artistic community. I want to make it a wonderful experience and help artists take their natural creative energy, natural gifts at flexibility, churning out fabulous ideas, and begin to capture those ideas, make the ideas even bigger, and then start making them a reality. It’s designed as a more flexible and gentle way to manage time and produce creative ideas. It will help you mend your relationship with time and harness time in a flexible way instead of letting time terrorize you with rigid to-do lists (post-its are the cure! Seriously!). I would love to have you join the class if time management and project management is a challenge for you.

1)    I’m putting together an e-book with the minimum framework  free of charge. A gift to you.

2)    If you want to take the class, I’m offering a one-week crash course to introduce “just the facts”

3)    If you want to get into the habit of making better use of your time, developing your ideas, and receive a lot of personal attention and coaching (and brainstorming!) from me, I’m offering the one-week crash course + 9 weeks of gently realizing 1-3 of your ideas into existence.

I appreciate Renee’s generosity in including me as part of her “sumMEr of ME” program. I’m looking forward to the other contributors as they share things that might help me with my program of improving my health through better eating and exercise. I hope I might be able to help you through a system of flexibly managing your time around your life priorities…which might include more self-care!

Jennifer Borek


Mary Sterk is settled into her soul and body. In the world of today, that is a hard thing to accomplish but something of which to be very proud. She has already accomplished a lot in this life but her willingness to share kind words of encouragement is one of her greatest gifts. This sumMEr she invites us to accept and be proud of ourselves, to shine unabashedly. Through her art, she helps you to realize you are perfect just as you are, you can be more than what you glance on a scale, you are Fab-You-lous! Embrace it so that others might recognize and be at home in their radiance. Go, be shiny!


Music – everyone has their favorite, their opinion but all can agree that music is crucial and can help you when you are feeling low or accentuate when you are on top of the word.

In case being surrounded with phenomenal artists was not enough, I am proud to be the wife of one! Andy Burke is the kindest soul (the razor blades are mostly for show…..mostly) and I know that the only thing other than our marriage that he might be more passionate about would be music. It runs through his veins. Music is his reprieve. Music carries him through. Music speaks when there are no words. Music calms my savage beast.

Since Renee’ is doing the sumMEr of ME I thought I’d participate as well – even if it is in my own special way. I’ve chosen to celebrate/honor myself by retracing the steps of my past to try & reconnect with the young man I used to be. In doing so I’ve chosen to engulf myself in the music of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BAND – W.A.S.P.  Sure, it sounds crazy and to the rest of the world it might be, but not to me. This band has everything to do with who I am, how I think and how I approach every day life. They were my best friends, my confidantes and when nobody else understood or took a second to stop and ask me how I was doing, W.A.S.P. always did and they never failed to deliver a message be it or good or bad.

It started in 1984 when Mom hooked me up with the now legendary 12 records for a penny deal from Columbia House. I chose to order all “Heavy Metal” records because they looked cool and from I’d been hearing and seeing it was sure to be phenomenal! Well in that special pile, we ordered the self-titled album from a band called W.A.S.P. No, I’d never heard a song by the band but the name sounded so cool and it had songs like “Hellion”, “Sleeping In The Fire” and “I Wanna Be Somebody”. How could it not be good? When the records came in, I went directly for the W.A.S.P. record and opened it as fast I could and dropped the needle in the groove. To my satisfaction “I Wanna Be Somebody” started and it was everything I had hoped for – loud, aggressive, cool and rude. By the time the record was over I was in love and I just couldn’t get enough of this new band. The singer’s name was Blackie Lawless and he looked like a leather bound psychopath. The same can be said of the rest of the band specifically, guitarist Chris Holmes; he looked to be 7 foot tall, he was tattooed up and looked like the meanest man I’d ever seen. Oh, yes! From there I had to have everything the band released, I saved any and all money I could get my hands on – I never ate lunch at school – I had to have records – specifically W.A.S.P. records! Don’t fret, I’m still the same way – if Renee’ wouldn’t kill me I’d eat crackers all day and drink water just to buy records/music equipment.

The music of W.A.S.P. made me feel fearless, invincible and free. No matter what came or went, I felt as long as I had their tunes to back me I could do or be anything. In some ways, the band was a negative influence but then again so were all the Horror movies I watched. I’ve always been a loner and that has nothing to do with anything specifically, it’s just who I am. I live in my own world and I most often don’t care what’s going on in yours because it’s yours, not mine. W.A.S.P., with every release over the years they’ve only helped to solidify those feelings, but it’s not all negative or short sighted – the music is fun! I learned about all sorts of wonderful emotions, situations and other things – “Harder Faster”, “The Manimal” or “Animal F**k Like A Beast”. Most importantly I learned the art of being passionate about Rock N Roll and that I wasn’t alone.

Now that I’m all “growed” up and, in certain circles I’m old as dirt, I still love W.A.S.P. The music still brings a smile to my face non-stop and I’ll still jump at a chance to purchase any kind of merchandise from the band and go to a show if they come anywhere near us – which NEVER happens. The last time I got to see them was on the Unholy Terror Tour in 1999. A dear friend bought me two tickets for my birthday and I dragged Renee’ along. The show was great to me but Renee’ giggled the entire time because they were abit old, tired and a little worse for wear, but hell, a lifetime of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll will do that to you! I was enthralled; you suffer for your art no matter the cause and there were at least 150 people at the venue who came to kick some ass and hear the mighty Winged Assassins lay it down one more time! Great times, great band and the company of Renee’ was great to me. Although she doesn’t share my passion for W.A.S.P. AT ALL she doesn’t take away from it and she supports it at every turn because she understands what they meant to me back then and what they mean to me now. I’m all smiles with every spin, my horns go up and my heart palpitates just as it did the first time I heard any of their songs. And if you called me tomorrow and said “W.A.S.P. will be in Atlanta tonight” I’d be busting ass, selling stuff and breaking plans all over the place to get to that show. The band represents my youth, my pride, my love and who I am as a musician and as a fan. And if ‘nothing don’t happen’, one day I’ll be able to say I was able to make someone feel the same way W.A.S.P. makes me feel with music of  my very own music!

To round out my sumMEr of  ME declaration, I leave you with one of my favorite songs from W.A.S.P. “Mean Man”. “A tattooed man, I’m hell on wheels, born a wicked child left alone in the fields. My father was the wind, my mother was fire, raised by the wolves and I grew up wild”!

Write a reply…


Lori Moon is wise beyond her years. In a bustling city and hectic schedule, she takes the time to notice and be. When she smiles you see possibilities of all the good in the world. When you read her words, look at her photographs, art or jewelry, you know she is a thoughtful, loving artist that wants to leave this world a better place than she found it. She is the best kind of artist~an artist of life and love. Below, she shares her words and photos on sumMEr with us today.

It is okay if it is all about me.

Me, yes I said me.

At least that is the message that I believed the universe was whispering to me the day that I took this picture. I believe that the universe speaks to me and remind me of something that is inside of me.  The message conjures emotions or thoughts relating to something within my heart, my mind and my soul. I secretly call them soul whispers.

The universe often reminds me to pause and focus within on me.

So often in our lives we are focused on the external.

Working at our day jobs all to serve or benefit someone else. Fixing dinner, yes I too have to eat, but I also need to feed my family. Rushing to attend a concert, a game, an activity that a family member is involved in, helping a friend, listening to others, caring for a parent, and the list goes on and on.

How often to do you do something just for yourself?

What was that?

Did I hear you say, Ummmm?  Are you trying to remember the last time that you did something for yourself?

During the sumMEr of me I am consciously choosing to spend a little more time with me.

I want to encourage you to start a new habit. I would like you to get up 10 minutes early. Fix yourself a cup of coffee or tea and spend that new found 10 minutes with yourself before everyone else gets up.

Listen to the birds, watch the sunrise, enjoy the quiet, write, sketch, simply just pause at the joy that surrounds you by writing down the 3 things that made you smile the day before.

During one weekend a month, I want to encourage you to promise to spend 1 hour with yourself outside of your home. Take yourself on a lunch date, to a coffee shop, lie on the grass and watch the clouds, take a drive, or grab your camera an capture moments that touch your heart as you walk around your city.

I will leave you with the image below.


Yes, I = LOVE.  Me.

I find that I am a more generous person, a more loving person, a more patient person, a more joyous person when I take a little time and focus on me.

So, take a few minutes and spend some time with yourself.

Lori Moon is a photographer and artist living in NYC. You can find her Messages from the Universe shared Monday’s on her blog where she shares the adventures of her creative life, hopes and inspirations.


Jessica Brogan is a talented artist, photographer and writer. She is thoughtful and kind,  fun, exuberant and quirky in the best of ways ~ leave it to her to introduce us to a new name to an old, much needed idea! Her sumMEr plan is so simple yet so necessary. We need to slow down and just be…..we need to Moodle.

I am also excited to share with you that Jessica has single-handedly coordinated a fabulous online book club for Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist Way’.  Joining this group and delving in is actually part of my sumMEr! Please feel free to join in!


I had the immense pleasure of actually meeting today’s guest blogger for sumMEr a few months ago. Love shines through her eyes and her genuine caring ways are evident within minutes of being near her. Kathleen Conard gathers the discarded and makes old into new; there is beauty in everything and she wants to share that. Sometimes there is no need for words, we need to discover the beauty that surrounds us. Kathleen has posted several pictures that represent taking the time to be with the beauty.

And don’t forget to drop by Kathleen’s etsy site – so many wonderful things!


My friend, Linda Barutha has joined us today to talk about her sumMEr plans. Linda is crazy talented and teaches her art and craft techniques and hosts artist’s retreats through her company  Live, Laugh, Love Retreats, LLC. She is kind and nurturing and she always goes out of her way to be helpful. She spreads her joy of life everywhere she goes. Click here for her latest blog post that is for us, but do peek around her site and get to know her a bit~you’ll be so glad you did!! xo


Happy Friday the 13th! You might feel this is an unlucky day but today Cat Athena Louise is our guest blogger and believe me when I say she is magical and only goodness will come of this day after you read her post. She is truly a free, loving spirit . Cat submitted her post to me a few weeks back and it got buried. Realizing my error, I read her post and was moved beyond belief – another sumMEr message, just for me it seemed, at just the right time. I am sure it will move you, too – please take a moment and read her words here. xo