The Creative side of Central Texas


Locals shop at Ten Thousand Villages and admire local art

After I relocated back to my home state of Texas during the holidays, I have had the opportunity to write for our local newspaper, The Belton Journal. My first assignment was the perfect fit for me. I covered an Artist event at The Hub in Temple, Texas. Imagine my surprise when I saw that The Hub was also home to one of my former volunteering efforts, Ten Thousand Villages.

It is such a great thing to have a fair-trade and ethical shopping opportunity right near my home town. If the words fair-trade sound foreign to you… go here for some more info! If you’re in the Central Texas area, you should definitely check it out. I have included the article I wrote for the Belton Journal below if you want to read about the event earlier this year:

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The Hub in Temple hosted the first Artist Meet & Greet on Friday, January 13. Eighteen local artisans shared their creative work with the community. This included watercolors, acrylic and oil paintings, metal work, photography, custom leather handbags, art glass, sculpture, pottery, quilts and jewelry. Artists involved hailed from Belton, Temple, Waco, Salado, Troy, College Station and surrounding areas.  

In addition, a variety of central Texas arts organizations were represented such as Central Texas Art League, Temple Cultural Arts District, Waco Cultural Arts Fest, Bell Fine Arts Association and the Brazos Valley Art League.

While art lovers were treated to wine and food, they mingled amidst the booths as the artists shared the inspiration behind their pieces. One of the artists featured was a local veterinarian, Beau Whitaker, who specializes in western graphite pencil art.

“My inspiration comes from my everyday job,” says Beau. “I am an equine veterinarian, so I work all day, every day with horses and the western subjects I draw. Living and working on the Four Sixes Ranch also had an impact on my art.”

Another artist, Darrell Crisp, a wildlife photographer who focuses on endangered animal species as his subject, donates a portion of his proceeds to Habitat for Humanity, The Nature Conservancy and Land trusts in Molokai, Hawaii.  

His wife and supporter of this event, Karen Crisp, remarked, “We are excited because now there is a venue in the Temple/Belton area for artists to showcase their work in a synergistic creative explosion. These types of events are helping to revitalize Temple like Waco has done, and there is now a creative hub within The Hub.”

Joe and Pam Shepperd are the visionaries behind the Hub concept and construction. They approached Bonnie Chapa, President and Founder of Central Texas Art League, about organizing an event after seeing her artwork in The Belton Journal.

“The Temple Cultural Arts District is beginning a movement, and the Hub has joined in this endeavor,” said Bonnie Chapa. “People begged for more art events, and we listened.”

The Hub in Temple resides in a turn of the century building that was once a harness shop. It opened December 1, 2016 and houses 22,000 square feet of retail space, including an event rental space and Sweet Eileen’s vintage cafe and ice cream shop. For upcoming events with the Hub, visit their website at www.thehubtemple.com or call 254-598-2293.


So if you’re in the Central Texas area, check out The Hub in downtown Temple, Texas!

-lme

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Ambrosia Tea Room


Tea for two was the theme for a lazy, late lunch one Saturday afternoon on the first of April 2017. My mom and I visited Ambrosia Tea Room in Salado, Texas for our midday meal. Upon entering the tea house, one can quickly observe the care and attention to detail that has been placed into the creation of the tea room. Each room has relics of days gone by, of a sweeter time, menus don feminine fonts and shabby chic adequately describes some of the final touches. One of the decorative highlights is the glass tea cup chandelier hanging above the register in the main dining room.

Lunch was unique and delicious. We both drank the sweetened cranberry tea, and it reminded mom of wassail. A springtime wassail if you will. I had the turkey, cream cheese, avocado and cranberry spread on a croissant while mom had the same on wheat and a side of zucchini soup. The sandwich was the ideal pairing of sweet cranberry, rich cream and a little salt with the turkey. The perfect touch was what they call the “Ambrosia Salad,” which came in a little dish on our plates. It’s the amazing mixture of heavenly fluff composed of strawberry yogurt, whipping cream, cheesecake mix and probably some kind of magic 🙂

If you haven’t been to this place, you definitely need to check it out on a shopping day out in Salado, Texas.  They have also been the recipients of the KWTX Clean Plate Award! Ambrosia Tea Room is located at 102 N. Main Street, Salado, Texas 76571.

A Comman Case of the Shoulds


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Photo Credit: DeathtoStock Photos

We spend a considerable amount of mental time and energy in the world of the “shoulds.” I should have been farther by now. I should be married. I should look like him or her. I should not still be struggling with this. This should not bother me. I should have gotten so much more accomplished today.  I should, I should, I should…. let’s breathe. And consider a few things about the should thoughts that tend to float into our minds or rather attack our minds…

  1.  You are where you are today. And that’s ok. One powerful thing a therapist once told me was- “you’re exactly where you need to be.” There’s purpose in that. There’s power in the process, in learning how to gradually grow. There’s beauty in realizing how vulnerable and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. No matter what the struggle, no matter how deep, no matter the pain, or how big that heap….. every mountain can be conquered step by step if you keep moving forward.
  2. How much of the “shoulds” are actually imposed perceptions by others OR supposedly imposed perceptions by others? Begin to ask yourself questions when a should pops up suddenly. Do you honestly want the things others want for you? Do you have the same worldview as them? Do you care about the same things they do? How much should their opinion affect you like the ankle weight they are? What if we began to challenge what others decided for our lives and decided to consider what was truly best, healthy and balanced for ourselves.
  3. Let the “should” only be used as a short emotional spurt of inspiration to spur you onto greater accomplishments. Want to conquer a goal and say I “Should” be here in my career? Then turn that statement quickly into a “how could I accomplish that” or “how might I find that purpose or enjoyment in another area of my life if I can’t be there today?” Then begin to map out small steps for improvement in that area. Even the tiniest incremental changes are STILL CHANGE 🙂

All in all, the “should” statements and thoughts focus on what we lack in our being. What if we were less harsh to ourselves and encouraging of the growth, gifts and goodness we did see in ourselves. Lovingkindness should be directed not only to others, but also to ourselves. And THAT is a “should” statement I think we can all get behind.

~lme

Open scars


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Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I burned myself recently on the heating element of my oven…. yes, cooking accidents are my forte.  And that burn was a doozy.  And as I’ve watched it heal recently, I began to think about it.  I thought about how I hadn’t covered it with a bandaid, and I hadn’t even really doctored it.  I just kept it clean and watched the skin began to re-construct the layers that had been melted.

And then I thought about what a perfect metaphor and reminder it was of scars in general and the struggles we endure in this life.  And I thought…. What if we didn’t hide our scars?  So what if I wasn’t able to keep my left index finger from scarring.  A blemish- the horror of horrors! What if each time I saw it, I was reminded of that painful memory?  And what if I didn’t try to cover it up, make it heal prettier or sugar coat what really happened to that piece of skin? Why not leave the scars and the stories on myself of all the things I’ve experienced or lived through in this short life on earth.

And just like letting my skin scar, I thought a little more.  What if we were more open about our blemishes, struggles, failures and imperfections.  I know we claim pretty openly to be imperfect, but do we really believe that and own it?  Or do we still feel we are trying to reach some unattainable goal the world or culture has set for us? In a world fixated on perfections, fancy creams, liposuction, tanning beds, hair dyes and spanks, it’s rather hard to want to accept and be ok with the shortcomings, blemishes and limitations we all deep down realize we have.  And to that I say- stop it right now, self and world.  I’m human, and I struggle.  I know others have had their share of struggles too.  But what if it was ok.  Ok to not uphold some image of feminine fabulousness. Ok to be not ok at times.  Ok to not always know what the future holds.  Ok to show your imperfections to others.  Ok to not try to cover up every little so-called flaw on your face.  God loves this mess.  He blessed me and many others with creativity, time, talent and heart that wants to find joy in the world around me.  So it’s time I, and you, stopped listening to the voices of negativity that try to tell us to cover up things that aren’t perfectly perfect.  Accept the imperfections, work on the things you can and be really thankful for God’s grace as he fills in the broken pieces of your vessel 🙂

~leah

 

A word in context


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Photo Credit:  Maria Ellen Photography

Awhile ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Italian Fashion Exhibit at the Frist Center for the visual arts, and it was fabulous. So much detail, so many beads, so many layers of fabulous fabric beautifully hand-crafted as an art form. There was also a Jaume Plensa exhibit and one of his pieces, composed of letters, foreign words and all sorts of text really struck me.  In the plaque about the piece (and I’m probably not quoting verbatim), he mentioned something like this:

“One letter seems nothing but in association with others they could compose a word.  One word with another word could compose a text.  A text with another text.”  I thought about this in regards to being an artist.  As an artist, you are one.  But when you start connecting the dots from artist to artist and building community, you begin to be enriched.  Your medium of art becomes richer, more developed, more intense with emotion and relation to something outside your tiny world of self art.  The art then becomes a piece in a larger painting, and you can find your place of belonging in the realm of creativity.  The idea of individuality is great, but in relation to a larger picture, it has more context.  If you are an artist, think about yourself more as a word in context.  Here are some ways to think of art in terms of context:

1.  Don’t restrict your music to just being influenced by what you can give to it.  Let other artists influence it, help paint a stroke on the canvas and move it forward in a direction you might not have considered before.  Sometimes the growth comes from the interaction with others.

2.  Don’t try too grip tightly onto it like a helicopter parent.  Realize that music is an entity all it’s own that moves and breathes and has to become.  A song sometimes is something you can’t control.  You need to let it happen naturally.  I’ve heard people in the recording industry talk about it in terms of what is needed to “best serve the song.”  It’s like having a love for your music as if it were a child, and you would do well to let it have room to become.

3.   As an artist, consider that you are not merely an isolated creative force.  Rather, you are a force being acted on and acting on others every day as an inspiration and a muse.  And take it a step further, and don’t only let your career be focused on pushing your music into the atmosphere.  Don’t merely shout, but listen.  Connect with others, offer them help when they need it, volunteer with your other musical friends and build relationships instead of just trying to take something all the time.

When I see others who seem to be just waltzing through with roses everywhere, I tend to get discouraged.  Some days I’m not sure what to do with these gifts I’ve been given.  Perhaps other artists’ paths are not as winding as mine have been.  But those uncertain times are those that build our faith and teach us to trust.  Maybe we must first be lost to then find ourselves.

~lme

 

Liberation through Limitation


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Photo Courtesy: Maria Ellen Photography

Limitation. What an unpleasant concept to us, creatives and more. We hate being limited by time, talents, energy and finances. We want everything now and to be able to do everything we want when we want to with unlimited funds (I mean, that’s realistic right?). But what if our limitations are really something that liberates us? And what if those limitations actually help us instead of hurting us like we think. Allow me to expound.

Limitation provides:

  1. Context– Limitation gives us a field or a boundary to work within.  It’s a good thing we aren’t able to do everything with our own two hands.  By learning where our skillset lies, we are able to focus, hone our craft and really find where we can excel and best serve. Limitation actually helps us narrow that search. Surely we can learn and grow, but some people have stronger aptitudes for certain areas.  I don’t personally consider myself a super strong instrumentalist, but I have other gifts in a different facet of music.  Once you begin to see where your skillset lies, you can begin to center on where you would experience a truer fit and ideal opportunities for yourself. The ability to say no to things that aren’t well-suited for us actually leaves openness in our schedules to say yes to things that are a better fit.
  2. Creativity– Limitation actually make us stretch our creativity. If I’m not proficient on an instrument, I may try to make that same sound using an instrument I do know how to play. Throughout that process, something innovative can be born. We learn by our limitations in time, talent and finances how to be effective where we are right now. So you can’t afford to fund a massive marketing campaign, so you roll up your sleeves and get to work making your own things, building connections and going out and networking in your area. Despite seeing limitations as hindrances, you might do better to see them as actual gifts.
  3. Cultivation of acceptance and community– Early on, we believe that we can do it all. Every super mom and wonder woman leading her team at work makes you think you can do it all (or you are lacking when you can’t). But let me tell you, it’s a big fat lie we’ve been fed. I’ve been told early on that there are trade-offs for everything, and I can see it very clearly now. You may think you are doing “it all,” but you cannot do everything to an effective level by cramming as much as possible into your day. You will choke out the moments of realization, creativity and joy. Some facet of your life will not be excelling. Now almost a year into my 30s, I’m learning how valuable it is to have a grasp on reality. I cannot expect myself to be at a level where I am not. accepting that you aren’t a rockstar at everything, you begin to employ the use of other talent, fostering community and building relationships. You develop a mutual respect for people and their skillset that is stronger where yours is weak. You are humbled by the fact that you do not “rock” at everything and are stronger as a team of people striving for one goal. You also learn to appreciate the level of talent you see in others and working with them is a pleasure.

So, go create, accept your limitations, but be willing to work to press them where you can. Also work toward a better version of yourself despite those limitations. Happy weekend 🙂

~lme

Something every musician must have


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Every serious musician, in some form or fashion, dreams of success, whether it’s being paid for their craft or fame that is far reaching and iconic.  Success is defined in various ways across a large spectrum, and they tell you to define that early in your career what that looks like for you. That’s not my point here, but that is just where we begin.

Let’s talk about success in terms of non-monetary terms for a moment.  Let’s view success in terms of setting goals and achieving them one at a time.  Interestingly, success is not one moment or one mountaintop goal achieved.  Take it a step further and I say success is not an isolated event.  Rather, it is a culmination of many years of hard work peppered with moments of trying, doubting, finding a way and refusing to give up.  And even more momentous is that success is not isolated to an individual, despite the emphasis we place on one person.  If success was dependent on and resulting from one person, I think achievements could be made much faster without other factors involved.  I am nothing without the countless people who paid for my music lessons, friends and family who encouraged me along the way, people who told me not to quit, and those who held my hands when I felt lost and let me cry on their shoulders.

When you reach career milestone goals like playing at some amazing venue, selling out a show, or gaining traction in some way, don’t forget to remind yourself of one thing.  Repeat after me-“This moment is not just for myself.”  This moment is for all of them out there- all of you who were cheerleading, encouraging, hugging, praying, telling us not to quit and to stay the course.  We musicians are merely the vessels, the channels through which the gift comes.  It is not without the shoulders of giants that we are carried throughout all of our creative phases.

Dear artists and musicians of the world, please consider a new vision.  May we, especially musicians, learn to leave ego at the door.  If used properly, success can humble us instead of puffing up our vanity about how great we are to the world around us.  We should view it as giving back the gift to the world around us.  Something every musician should carry in their gear case….  Thankfulness for the gift and the ability to use it.

~lme

Tupperware Kids


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Tupperware kids

The city dump

Is one big place

But to me

I see the face

And the bodies

Of us all

Kept tucked behind an iron wall

~~~

To the left are shells of cars

Like the structures that we are

Hollow inside without meat

Dripping with our own selfies

We grew up nice

We grew uptight

We packed in tupperware

At night

And now I know that it’s not right

Yet I can’t stop myself

~~~

Our parents never seemed to mind

And now we teach our kids it’s fine

If you don’t like it

Just unwind

And cast it to the side

Landfills full of junk we used

Thrift stores are for cool kids too

Hear, hear the Tupperware kids

Our cry

Don’t you tell us what to do!

~~~

Look at all my stuff I scream

I’m rich and pretty,

See my newsfeed?

The more likes

That I can procure

will heal my troubles

I am pretty- pretty sure

Broken marriages

Disheveled people

Worshiping under

broken steeples

Building bigger barns

Although

The book says don’t

Do that?

~~~

Walking shadows

Bathe in despair

We are too advanced

To care

Tell me how to live?

Who dares

Cause I’m a Tupperware kid

I’m so smart now

So we say

The trash is piling up today

Let’s bury it so no one knows

The skeletons of our no no’s

~~~

I feel sick inside a lot

I imagine there’s a reason

It’s all rolling down the hill

Into a colder season

Tiny snowballs gainin speed

How they slowly grew

We’ve learned to throw it all away

For something shiny and new

~~~

Here I stand in the city dump

With other rejected casings

And to my left foot

I kick

A piece of Tupperware from some

Manufacturing station

Cause I’m as dirty as this trash

an entitled Tupperware kid

Of the toss it generation

~lme

Platonic City


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Platonic city here we come

To the ocean

I must go

No one but my heart

Can know

The waves that pull

My body so

And hold me

In their sway

 

Like a love

That must end

Shorelines

That begin and end

The golden globe

Is sinking in

into a rising summer

Moon

 

Get me

Far away from here

Where the ground

Is crystal clear

And I won’t be forced

To hear

A man

With lies profuse

 

I know something

Waits for me

Blues and greens

And calm bliss be

he pulls me in

but owns not me

for I

will not be caged

~lme

The start of an Italian love affair


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Italy. Few places have pulled me in so tightly initially and held me in their warm embrace. Italy was different from the trips before, and I completely fell in love with the culture. I enjoyed soaking up the cultures of Peru and New Zealand, but Italy is, well, brava. The people are warm, inviting, loving and willing to hug you, shake your hand and kiss both of your cheeks. When they talk in an animated way, they’re not mad. They just use their hands and speak with passion and can be intense, because they mean what they say about the food! Oh and the food- fresh fish at the fish market, cheeses (especially the water buffalo mozzarella), vegetables, olives, olive oil, Sorrento lemons, fresh baked breads, tomatoes, meats, lightly dressed salads and the ultimate local meal with all food taken from 100 feet of where we sat to eat Christmas Dinner at Chef Luca’s house on the coast, were perfecto. I felt at home there.

Travel is part of what makes the world a  more beautiful and better place to live. I truly believe that if more people saw more of the world, there would be fewer wars, less hatred toward others and a more peaceful and kind place to live.  We think others are different because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, the way they dress and the food they eat. But really, deep down, there are countless common threads woven within our makeup as human beings.  We all want safety and peace, freedom to go where we choose, worship how we choose, pursue our dreams, raise children in a healthy and safe environment, be fed and sleep calmly with a roof over our head.  I believe our similarities far outweigh our differences if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves. I think that’s why i’ve always felt so emotional watching an Olympic Opening Ceremony. It seems that for a brief moment in time the world, full of some many different nationalities, languages and races can all come together to celebrate something we love and be at peace. That coming together has always been something I love about the Olympics (maybe I should be doing their marketing or something).

This trip was only the start. I have to return. I have to see what people, adventures, stories await me in South Italy on the coast. Positano bites deep- said John Steinbeck, and I can see why. It grabs a hold of your heart and doesn’t let go.  The village nestled on the side of the mountain is unforgettable. It’s magical and frozen in time with no shopping malls, fast food, Wal-Marts or massive American commercialism. It’s a haven for simplicity and connection with nature.

The narrow cobblestone roads in Rome to the little marketplace alleyways of Sorrento that offer hours of strolling and searching for scarves, pasta and more, and the Italian fashion, refuse to disappear from your mind. They merely linger as if to whisper- come back and please come soon. It’s hard to ignore the beckoning of the Italian coast once you’ve been.

Here’s to the future and travel adventures yet to be had!

~lme