Monday, August 6, 2018

Unapologetically Extra

With my recent move, daughter Jami gifted me a Welcome to Des Moines photo shoot with photographer Whitney Warne (Ivory House Photography).  Whitney calls these particular fifteen minute sessions Unapologetically Extra. I can honestly say, it was the most uplifting fifteen minutes I've experienced in a very long time.  I arrived for the session feeling a bit nervous but left  feeling strong and beautiful and empowered.  It was just what I needed.

Change.  Some days it feels as though my life has been nothing but change over these past few years...some of those completely out of my control.  We're always given a choice on how we deal with those changes and I've done my best to stay true to who I am as I find my way on this journey.  I've been thinking a lot about Whitney's word "Unapologetically" and how that is exactly how I want to live my life. Moving forward... with the purpose of putting as much positive energy out into this world that I can....spending my life making choices that make me feel good and happy about the woman I am....and spending time with people who I love and who love me in return.

 Designing that life...and living it Unapologetically.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Please Don't Judge Me on the Chapter You Walked In On...

Someone recently told me "You're in a unique get to write this next chapter.  You get to decide what's next for you.  Choose wisely.  Make it awesome."

Very powerful words that I haven't taken lightly.  It's been extremely difficult over theses past few years to have any clear direction on what's next.  Where exactly do I go from here. What makes my situation unique though is loss. For the first time in my adult life, I don't have to make a decision based on anyone's wants or needs but my own.  The things that I was holding onto as a security blanket and my excuse for not making any major decisions were taken from me.  More changes. It was as if the universe was saying "The time is now, Penny.  It's time for you to focus on you and you can no longer hide behind taking care of others.  It's time for you to write this next chapter."

The one thing I think I've realized most of all is that we are all authors in our daily lives.  We might use the excuse "I can't do that because..." or "I have to do this because...". Excuses.  We excuse ourselves from doing the very things we want to do most because why?  Fear? Fear of what ...failing?  That it might be hard? That it might take us out of our comfort zone?"   Do you feel stuck...because even stuck is a choice.  Stuck is easy...there is comfort there don't have to get uncomfortable if you just get to complain...which does nothing but make you miserable.

Every thought we think is a choice, tell yourself you can't about anything and you won't......every word we speak is a choice....the way we treat we react and respond to the situations life throws at us....telling yourself this is just who I am and that is all you will ever be. ...we are the ones with the pen in our hand to write our story.  Want something different....close this chapter.  Give it a positive it closure but also an ending that makes you anticipate what comes next....eager to turn the next page...and begin again.

That's where I'm at in my life's now...trying to figure out what's next. Many of you have played an active role in my story whether in person or following my online presence and I thank you for being here and for your encouragement and support.  My goal now is for you to say  "Look at the heroine of this story ....she has survived  the trials that life has thrown at her....she's rising above....she's shared her heart and shed some light....we've laughed and cried with her." And as you read the end to this last goal is for you to turn the next page and exclaim with delight ..."I never saw this coming!"

Thursday, July 20, 2017


When Susan Emory, aka: Swirly Girls Design, reached out and asked who might be interested in creating a quilt from her new fabric line "Hello!", I just could not resist!

I love that Susan continually uses bright fun colors in her fabric designs!  I decided I wanted to create a scrappy design so I pulled out my "go to" block when I'm looking for scrappy!  This block is perfect for using up those 2 1/2" strips.  The background (I used a turquoise blue) squares are 4.5".

 Look how fun this scrappy block turns out with this fabric!  Makes me Happy!

Even better is finishing up this quilt and getting to see it in Susan's booth at Quilt Market in St Louis!

Anyway you look at's just a fun quilt with a great new fabric line!

Monday, January 23, 2017

One small thing...because...LOVE.

There are those friends in life that you meet along the way that you have that instant connection just feel the love from the get go....and that would describe my friendship with Jessica Darling. If you've met her then you know...she's beautifully intense.  That girl is on fire for quilting...and a bit of a maniac...which admittedly is what I love most about her.  We've shared joys and sorrows...laughter and tears...but most of all....our hearts.  Her love has been steadfast and her experience with her own well of grief has allowed her to guide me through my own maze after my significant loss.  

She and I are all about finding hearts in, I have to admit nothing makes me laugh so much as to open a message from her on my phone and find she's sent me a random toilet paper heart with a note that says "In the bathroom...thinking of you!" I truly believe those hearts are messages from beyond...and they have become even more prevalent in my life over the past year and a half. A reminder to me that above all else.... to LOVE.  

As painful a process as grief is....there is also beauty in the journey if you open your heart enough to  allow yourself to see and feel it.  There are lessons to be learned along the way but you must be willing to feel the experience at the deepest level and that can be incredibly scary. You have to learn to love yourself as yourself and not somebody's wife, or somebody's child...or somebody's mother.   I made it through that first year relying heavily on family and friends, like Jessica, who seemed to sense when I needed them the most and reached out to remind me "we've got you."   And because somebody cared enough to take a heart is learning that it is safe for me to love again...and I will always be grateful for that.

Recently Jessica asked me if I would consider joining forces with her on a special project...releasing a pattern...with than effort to promote love by doing one small thing.  Her pattern, a heart named Penny...after me.  <cue the tears>  The plan is simple...make a block.  Make a bunch of blocks.  Use those blocks in a quilt, Swap those blocks even...but whatever you do...let them go out into the world promote LOVE. Click on the hashtag below to watch her video explanation

Here's the pattern and info you need to get started!
 3 1/2" squares and I cut my HST's 3 7/8".

10 12x22" cuts (we call em Fresh Cuts at Villa Rosa) will do the hearts and about 3 1/4 yards will do the background, OR 10 1/3 yard cuts will make a 72x90ish quilt, if I did my math right? A 4x5 grid for 20 blocks total.

I've already started on my heart blocks...thank you to the awesome and amazing Amanda Herring (The Quilted Fish) who is a fabric designer for Riley Blake for sending me some beautiful red and pink fabrics.   

So who's ready to make some heart blocks and share some LOVE?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Emergence....'s been a couple of months again since I have taken the time to write anything...perhaps this is why I can't many words and the feelings attached to them, swirling in this head of mine.   I have shared so many pivotal points in this journey with all of you and felt so much love and support in return...and for that...I can't thank you enough. 

In my attempt to put into words what these last fourteen months have felt like I have described it like this to many...on August 21st last year the world I knew came to a complete stop.  I felt like I was trapped inside a bubble where time had stopped....and yet that bubble was trapped inside a bigger bubble that seemed to be spinning so fast and out of control.  Looking back now, I realize that inner bubble was my layer of held me without fail while the outer bubble took on the rest of the hits from  hard stuff that would continue to come.  It's funny...when I think of one years time...I envision it in an oval shape...kind of like a running track. (am i the only one who does that?)  Well...I made it...all the way around...bumping and bruising along the way...but I made it.  I know there were times when I fell down, but there was always someone there to reach out and bring me to my feet, and maybe even a few times that I just helped myself get back up...and even though there are parts that feel like a blur I can look back and see that even in my darkest moments...I kept moving. For the first time in my adult life...even though I had a great tribe of family and friends...I was alone. And even though sometimes that was painfully hard, l can see now that it too, was a gift.  It's made me stronger.   I still accomplished things....and even though there were times when I got scolded for not reaching out for support (yep, talking about you Brandi Jo)...those were the things that I just knew I needed to feel and to experience on my own...  

 It's an amazing gift to give yourself permission to feel what you feel....

Over the past couple of months I have literally felt this change happening...and I've dubbed it "The Emergence".  

  1. 1.
    the process of coming into view or becoming exposed after being concealed.

I can physically feel myself leaving the protection of my bubbles  Easier said than done, it's scary as hell and yet exhilarating at the same time...they have held me and protected me and of course, I've decorated inside with modern eclectic leaving....leaving what I know is hard...and yet I know it's time.  I liken it to a butterfly leaving it's cocoon.Now, I'm not saying I'm a butterfly by any means...I mean I did one of those Facebook questionnaires asking "Who is Your Spirit Animal" and I think I got something like a raccoon or a unicorn, I can't remember...but we all know how spot on those are, right?  

If I were a butterfly.....

As I was struggling this morning to try and figure out just how to put into words what I'm feeling about what's next for me, I saw this quote that I posted exactly four years ago today....and it says it all.  

"The only real failure is the failure to try. It's true that the person who risks nothing does nothing and has nothing. And the measure of success is how we cope with we always must! Can we be blamed for feeling we are too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We came here and we tried, all of us in our different ways. All we know about the future is that it will be different. Perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes. Are we going to be alright?...No, it's going to be extraordinary!!!"
-----The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel-----

Much love to all of you....thanks for loving me.


Monday, August 1, 2016

An incredible gift....

Just last week at 2:45am, I received the call from the nursing home that I'd known was coming. I had left there at 8 p.m. the night before and I knew...I knew it was coming.  My father in law had passed.  The nurse on duty was kind and soft spoken...she explained that my mother in law was able to be at his side as he took his last breath.  Still on the phone with her, attempting to gather myself and my things to head over to the nursing home, the conversation switched to the hard questions.
"Is it okay with you if we call for the funeral home to come and retrieve the body?"  When I responded with a quiet yes, she said "Well, some families do choose to come and view the body first"....and the words "please don't make me do this again" that were in my head, apparently had escaped my lips.  I realized then I'd said them out loud.  I quickly explained that it had only been eleven months since going through this with my own husband and quite frankly, I'm still not over that shock and trauma.  She told me I could wait to come as she thought my mother in law was okay for now...but then something clicked in my brain.  My mother in law....had just said good bye to her husband of almost 69 years.  This was no longer about me.

I drove to the nursing home and sat with my mother in law until the funeral director arrived.  When he got there, he sat with us for over an hour, just talking about Loyal...who he was...what he did for a living...asking my mother in law how they met and other questions about their life together.  At the end of that conversation, he explained what was to happen next...he would bringing in his own wheeled cot and would transfer Loyal to that before taking him away.  He held my mother in law's hand and promised her he would take good care of her husband.  As they wheeled in the cot, I noticed there was a black bag on top and all I could think of was keeping my mother in law distracted so that she could not see that.  As we sat there talking quietly while they worked, I glanced up and what I saw then... literally took my breath away.  No longer a cot with a black bag, but instead, my father in law...a WWII veteran...would be leaving draped in a flag.  This is where I became a sobbing mess...overcome with tears at such a beautiful and respectful moment.  What an incredible gift I received that morning...that this...this will be my last memory of him.

Had I chosen to be selfish and waited to go....I would've had no idea that this...this is protocol. I would've missed it. I made them stop before going out the door so that I could snap this photo to share with my family.

Later that day, sharing this photo with son Aaron, he commented how even not actually seeing it person...but imagining how that must've looked.....down that silent corridor....out the front door in the still of the quiet the waiting car.  What a beautiful sight that must've been as well.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 30, 1989....27 Years Ago

Another first today...... 

Twenty seven years...seems like a long time when you say it outloud...until you get there and you realize that in reality it went by in the blink of an eye.  Twenty seven years of joys and sorrows...highs and lows....for better and for worse.  Guess there's a reason that line is in the vows....  

We were never ones to make a big deal over anniversaries...maybe dinner...maybe a card.  
(confession:  I had a run of a couple of  years where I recycled the same card and he never noticed.  In my was a great card)

I wish I could say I feel like I was in less of a time warp than I was 10 months ago....but I can't.
In exactly 50 days, it will have been one year since he left and it still feels like it just happened. 

In June, I spent three weeks in Ireland...walking the now familiar places...hiking up mountains as well the along the sea...and the one thing that I kept noticing were the flowers that were blooming in the most unusual of places.  In the middle of jagged and sharp rocks and cliffs that loomed over the sea were flowers blooming.  Dangling off what appeared to be the edge of the earth...they still bloomed.

In the middle of a pile of rocks...this foxglove reached for the sun and sky...despite it's surroundings.

All along the stone fences....the flowers worked their way through the hard surfaces and still managed to bloom.

It's the message I carried home with me....even in the midst of circumstances that seem so incredibly hard and impenetrable around us...despite the surroundings that appear jagged and sharp...we can bloom.  We must....

Not needing any pity today...not looking for sympathy....just sharing my message.   

Go Bloom....