Tell a Good Story

I read. A Lot. Tracking my reading in Goodreads because I can. You can follow me if you’re curious about the books I read.

How many of us heard these words of wisdom from our ninth grade English Literature teacher?

The best way to learn to tell a good story is to read. A lot.

To read 52 books was my goal this year. At this point I know I will surpass my 2017 goal. I finished Austin Kleon’s book: Newspaper Blackout last night – number 52. Through reading I will continue to work on learning how to tell a good story. I also write and/or journal daily. My youngest son feels that one of my greatest strengths is writing and that he’d like to see me write more books!

Let me know if you agree.

My dog is snoring next to me as I write this post. Her snorts are a lovely sound with the backdrop of heavy rain outside. It’s early and very dark out. I am sipping coffee with soy creamer and cinnamon sprinkled on top. I awoke ready to start my day, and so here I am…with you!

In the 5 sentences above, a story could evolve. I could take it further. Or not.

Is the Trump thing a good story? Is that why we listen to the drivel? Not knowing the ending. We can endlessly imagine endings. Actually not even knowing how the story started and got so far. So far.

In the 5 sentences above, a story could evolve. I could take it further. Or not.

Austin Kleon‘s weekly newsletter often has nuggets of wisdom. I saved this entry, knowing that one day I would write a blog about telling stories — George Saunders explains about how to tell a good story. So smart! Enjoy!

I have nothing more to say right now about telling a good story. However, if you are curious about what books I have read this year go here.

Thanks for reading.

PS. I get nothing for tooting Austin’s horn!


Create Compassionate Goals

Do I create compassionate goals? Do you? For me the answer is: Um, heck no! I tend to create too many goals then beat myself up for not reaching them or any, due to lack of focus or “whatever.”

Yep, my truth.

I DO get stuff done, but never satisfied…

Here is a noodle of information or a “starter” idea towards creating compassionate goals:

One way to create compassionate goals, according to yogic wisdom, is to reframe them 
as an ongoing practice of sankalpa (resolve)—
san means “born from the heart,” while kalpa means “unfolding over time” — recommends Richard Miller, PhD, a clinical psychologist 
and author of Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart 
of Yoga.

So, to be compassionate to myself I would need to resolve to allow the goals I set to first, be from the heart and second to unfold over long periods of time. This I have done! This I can do! For example, I set goals for myself as a parent when my children were 4 and 2 years old. They are now 20 and 18. The five goals I set for myself, for them, have taken many years to unfold. In fact, in many ways I am still resolving to be the parent I set out to be.

Was I a perfect parent while reaching the goals I set for us? Did I follow the outlined goals (I had 5 concrete written down goals) all of the time? Of course not! And I am totally OK with how much I have done and how much I didn’t do. I know that for 95% of the time (maybe less) I did my best with the kids.

Then there is my art life.

Somehow, for my art life goals — like writing another book, making more fine art, making fun art postcards and note cards, sharing free art, creating coloring books from my drawings, and so many other things… I am not as compassionate with myself! I feel like I let myself down because I want to do so much and I only have so much time. And I have added a full time job to the mix – uh oh!

Small space has big rewards. LOVE, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I want to do so much that I loose track of which project I am working on. This is real. This is the life of a creative. This is the me I have created. I hardly ever feel like I have met my best self in my creative pursuits. This is why the idea of creating compassionate goals caught my attention.

How would I create compassionate goals? How can you?

Seriously, I really am struggling with this. When I look back, raising kids did not happen alone. I had help! There were teachers, coaches, tutors, other parents, family, and others along the journey with me. I woke up each day and did the work, or as yogi’s say—the practice.

Creating compassionate goals for my creative life might mean being kinder to myself. If I go back to the quote above, that means two things, do work from the heart and practice. Practicing working towards goals—compassionately. OK, I get that.

In writing this reflection, I realize that I may also need a team, peers, mentors, and others to join me along the journey. To create compassion for self may require a network of people to help and support the goals along the journey. (I think of my readers as a part of this team, wink, wink…).

Compassion starts from the inside, but also needs to emanate from the outside.

SO lets hear it for NOT going it alone as creatives! Let’s also build compassionate goals not just for our creative lives, but also for life in general. The world needs our heart and practice towards compassion.

Schedule Wild Idea, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

A “Real” Job

In January of this year my plan was to rest, read, sleep, eat, draw, paint, do yoga, walk, meditate, and play with my dog. All in the comfort of our primitive cabin on a lake in Oregon. I wanted to begin the long process of healing from a traumatic family experience and begin to plan and reflect on what is next in my life once my youngest son goes off to college (next week).

Life, as it often does, had a different plan for me.

I had applied for a job as a three month Artist in Residence position for Washed Ashore on a whim — I basically wrote a quick e-mail and sent links to my website. Washed Ashore is a company in Bandon, Oregon (near our cabin on the lake). In Arcata, CA, I had applied to many jobs and received zero response from all the applications I filled out. I expected the same from this inquiry. Zero. Nothing. Nothing was not meant to be.

In February I began working with Washed Ashore. At first, provisionally. I told the owner I’d give her a month. You can do the math.

I have not had a “real” full-time job since… 1995. Oh lord! I found it so hard to type that number! By the way, who gets to decide what a real full-time job is anyway? But that is another story for another blog for another day!

For now, I am the Artist and Art Production Facility Manager at Washed Ashore. Mostly, I build sculptures and I do what needs to be done so that the team can keep building sculptures out of marine debris (read: dirty sandy wet smelly garbage) that comes to us from volunteers up and down the Oregon Coastline.

This is what I typically look like at work: see here. Click at your own risk! Ha ha!

I have a “real” job. Yep, that’s the story.


Follow Up

Life changed in a crazy extraordinary way! In January, I applied to an Artist in Residence program at a non-profit organization called Washed Ashore in Bandon, Oregon. They  advertised a stipend and a room to live in for three months of work in their organization. I got the interview. We hit it off! Instead of a residency, I was offered a job.

I am now a full-time Artist creating huge sculptures made out of marine debris –mostly plastic– that is found on the shores of the Oregon Coast. I, along with a huge team of volunteers and other paid team members, make the sculptures over several months time and then, the sculptures travel around the country to public venues to educate the public about the overabundant use of plastics in our culture. This is crazy hard work! I create with a power drill in my hand 40 hours a week or more…

I wish I could show you my work in progress, but the boss says no to photographs of works in progress… (insert sad face). Go ahead and visit the web site. Soon there will be photographs of the sculptures that I have been making added here, but for now you can see what we’re up to!

Pinch me! I cannot believe that I get PAID to be a full-time artist in an organization that shares a message that believe in. I work outside most days (I love being outside, even when it is raining out—well, that does make life wetter), my dog Luna comes with me to work, and I am taxing my creative skills to the limit!

The other life adjustment is that my husband still lives in CA, a 3 hour drive away. I live in a little room with no kitchen, but I have my own bathroom. We see each other most weekends, and spend much more time on the phone these days. We have already planned a summer vacation together.

My son in Boulder continues to get many surgeries to repair his body from his horrific accident last October. Amazingly, he is continuing as a student in Environmental Science and Geology at CU Boulder! His last Geology exam fell on a Thursday in between two surgeries –one on Monday and one on Friday– and he Aced the exam! The healing continues… He is an inspiration to me, he keeps such a positive attitude and outlook!

My youngest son is now less than two months away from his high school graduation and he has decided to attend Montana State University in the fall. Proud Mama!

Our cabin in Oregon fell apart this winter and we had a decision to make: keep pouring money into a 40 year old cabin that had reached it’s life expectancy, or start over. Due to the age and decay of all the home components, extreme windy and wet conditions that made the South side of the house buckle this winter, and a large tree branch that crashed on the roof a few days before Christmas creating several leaks… we realized the best course of action would be to tear down what we have and build a brand new house!!!

I get to tick off a bucket list item in 2017! I have dreamed about building a personalized house since I was a child. I cannot even tell you how many times I have drawn floor plan ideas. Now the dream is becoming a reality. In about nine months, we will get to move into a 860 square foot custom house on a lake in a beautiful area surrounded by farms, trees, nature, with the ocean only a short walk away! Did I mention kite boarding? My husband’s favorite hobby/sport, the lake is the perfect place for him too!

So, yea, for a little while Silly Girl Factory is on hold… but she’s still in my heart, now working with plastic, a drill, and dreams instead of paper, glue, ink and paint!


Happy New Year, 2017

I have not written for my blog in over two months.

I have not known what to say, or how to say it. “It” being a story too big to tell.

On October 29, 2016, I had a phone call no mother ever wants to get:

Your son is in ICU, he had ___________ surgery, he is stable, etc. etc. etc.

I almost lost my eldest son to a bicycle accident. He was riding home from work on a Saturday afternoon. He was zipping down a hill. He was going too fast. He was preoccupied. He had the coming evening’s events on his mind. He had coffee in one hand. He had an earbud in one ear listening to music. He ran a stop sign. He rode at an estimated 30 miles per hour into the passenger side rear window of an SUV.

My life has been anything but normal since that fated day.

I flew to and lived in Boulder Colorado for two months. I became a nurse, cook, wound care specialist, chauffeur, coach, and more…

I did what any mother would do. I tried my best to do whatever needed to be done to help my son heal.

After a long hospital stay and countless appointments we were grateful to get the “all clear” to travel home for the Holiday’s.

Once home, we hibernated as a family. Ate nutritious meals. Played games. Slept often and late. Enjoyed nature. Laughed. Talked and told stories. Worked on puzzles.

The event created waves of change in our family, in life, and in my fledgling newly hatched business.

You might have noticed, I closed my Silly Girl Factory Etsy Shop. The shop I had opened for business in October 2016 was and is now closed. I stopped making new projects. I stopped writing. I stopped drawing. I stopped painting. I stopped regular life. Instead, I focused on him.

I did whatever I could to bring him to health and healing. Our hours, days, and schedules became completely intertwined. All for him.

As he gained some independence, I tried to move forward in my life as well.

After a while, I began going to few yoga classes. This was not an easy step forward. I was still to afraid to go into public because talking to strangers was too hard. How could I contain the hurt? How could I express the hurt? How could I act normal or be normal? Nothing was or is normal.

Not now. Not ever.

Slowly, I began to draw or create collages or write again, a little, each day. Allowing my work to feed me and ground me. I have so much hope for myself and my little business: Silly Girl Factory.

Self-Care Free, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I have so much hope for his future and his “regular” life coming back to him.

His healing will take a year, maybe more, not less.

My healing might take longer than his. My spirit took a deep hit. I never wanted to see my child suffer, especially not so much.

I will continue to dive into making my art, my writing, my unique ways of expressing, and creating. I long to share.

Joy. Life. Love. Peace. Hope. Health. Silliness and fun!

I also know that my art will be a container for the hurt, the pain, and the expression of all I have inside that is too big to express.

Thank you for being a trusted reader. May your 2017 be filled with hope, love, peace, health, and everything else you desire. Now you know why the silence came so soon after the excitement of opening my Silly Girl Factory Etsy shop. I plan to re-open. When the time is right.

Happy New Year


Getting Interrupted

Have you ever though about what it means to get interrupted?

I interrupt myself far too often!

Stone Doodle. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.
Stone Doodle. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.

I keep wondering if I should blame the internet. Unfortunately, outside stuff is not the problem. I am my own problem. I interrupt myself regularly.

I’ll work on… this…

no this…

oh, how about this…

The problem seems to be getting worse, with no end date in sight.

I guess I’ll roll with it and see what happens, after I get interrupted… once again!

Rectangle Doodle Pattern. Paper, Ink. 8 x 5 inches.
Rectangle Doodle Pattern. Paper, Ink. 8 x 5 inches.

The only time I seem to not interrupt myself is when I am making art, drawing in particular. That’s when I am fully absorbed. I found an article that stresses the 10 words every girl should learn — I was interrupting myself at the time I found this article. The article stresses that women need to keep boundaries around being interrupted.

Not me, I just need to keep making art!

You do not need to read the article, here are the 10 most important words:

“Stop interrupting me,”

“I just said that,” and

“No explanation needed.”

Now, go back to work! Or buy some art! 😉



Hey there! It’s time for another vocabulary word!


When I first saw this word it made me think of cooking lobster! However here is the actual meaning of potboiler:

a mediocre work of literature or art produced merely for financial gain

Yes, I do worry if my work is mediocre. That does not stop me from being a maker tho!

Dorky Doodle Octopus Head. Paper, Ink. 12 x 12  inches.
Dorky Doodle Octopus Head. Paper, Ink. 12 x 12 inches.

Can you think of an example of a mediocre work of literature or art produced merely for financial gain? If you can, let me know. Because in my world artists are always attempting to show their best work, not crap work.

Dorky Doodle Backbender. Paper, Ink. 6 x 6  inches.
Dorky Doodle Backbender. Paper, Ink. 6 x 6 inches.

Baby Records

I have always been an artist. How do I know?

Dorky Doodle Flower Girl. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.
Dorky Doodle Flower Girl. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.

My mom kept great records in my baby book.

Nursery School notes from teacher at 4 years old:

She has become much more social. Shows real adaptability to cutting, pasting, drawings, and art work in general.

Favorite types of play at 5 years old:

Always could amuse herself with crayons, paper, scissors, and glue. Enjoyed imaginative play with friends.

Seven Years old, Mom’s notes:

Could pick up a brush and paint for hours, until something was finished. complete immersion for her. Spent hours modeling with clay at ages 7 & 8.  We bought a chalk board at age 7 — for drawing, very good response.

Eight years old:

Started showing interest in sewing clothing for barbie.

I am sure it surprises no one that I haven’t changed! Most of all, my Mom!

Dorky Doodle Ruler. Paper, Ink. 8.5 x 5.5  inches.
Dorky Doodle Ruler. Paper, Ink. 8.5 x 5.5 inches.




Hi there! I finally have new work to share on my website!

You see, the thing is, I’d rather be making the work than photographing and Photoshop-ing the images in preparation for sharing the work on-line. No more wait! My new work is here! Here now! Finally!

Schedule Wild Idea, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”
Schedule Wild Idea, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I know, I know — it’s been a whole year that you have waited! Jimmney Cricket a whole year!

Continue reading “Finally!”



I love this word! Opuscule! It describes my new body of work to a “T”!


  1. a small or minor work
  2. a literary or musical work of small size

Reassemble is a series of work that would be considered diminutive in the fine art world. At only 4.75 x 4.75 these little paintings are quite small!

GO! make something beautiful, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”
GO! make something beautiful, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I do not see any reason to work bigger when the message and the meaning can come through on a smaller format. Do you?

fresh green, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”
fresh green, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I hope you consider a purchase of a piece or two or three… $35 each. Or you can just comment below and say: “Hey Suzanne, these are fun! and Silly too!”

Opuscule means: small work! Bonus, you learned a new word today!