Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I grew- up Catholic. Every year I look forward to Lent. I love the ritual of making changes in my life. I find it a very healthy process. Sometimes the changes I've made become permanent additions or subtractions. Every Lent I not only give-up something negative but I also add something positive.

This year...

I'm giving-up : post- creative laziness. This means I'm going to clean-up my art studio every day for a minimum of ten minutes. Usually when I finish a project I don't clean-up after myself. This bad habit messes with my creativity. I'll be posting pictures of my art studio to hold myself accountable.

I'm adding : drink more water. I'll be keeping a log to encourage myself.

What are you planning to do for Lent? Drop me a line in this comment box and let me know. I'd love to hear and offer you my support. And don't be afraid... it isn't forever, it's only 40 days and 40 nights.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Learning From My Dogs

I was working with my dogs today. The trick we were practicing is called Work For Dinner. It's a fun trick and if you have dogs you may want to try it.

I grab a handful of kibble and a bar stool (or you can use a laundry basket). Every time the dogs interact with the bar stool they earn a piece of kibble. During this exercise I don't speak to them, I don't say good girl (or boy). Instead I let them experiment. The whole point of this exercise is to get the dogs thinking, experimenting and trying new things.

If Dash puts his paw on the rung of the stool, he earns a treat. When Jenny nods her head at the stool, she gets a treat. When Dash moves his paws on top of the stool, he gets a treat. If Jenny puts her paws over Dash's on top of the stool, she earns a treat. Every time they do something new I give them a piece of Kibble. They try the same moves over, but when they don't earn a treat after a while they will try something different. It is a very amusing exercise and one where the dogs are constantly trying new ways to earn food.

It struck me the similarities between Dash and Jenny playing Work For Dinner and me learning to trust God. Dash and Jenny are both Jack Russell Terriers and they require a lot of stimulation or they get destructive. The more stimulation they get the more calmly they behave. I realized the more I try new things, the more God is giving to me. Like Dash and Jenny, when I experiment with new play, God rewards me with more insight, better understanding, synchronicities and delightful treats. And doing this playing stops me from being destructive in my mind. Instead of the I-can't-do-it-right-attitude, I look at the little collage I just created or the painting I'm working on and say well at least I'm trying some new tricks. Maybe God will give me a little kibble too.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Power of the Buffalo

Jamie gets a hand from his beautiful wife, Penny.

Jamie Franki (above) shows the reverse of the 2005 nickel which he designed after his brother, Bill saw a contest calling for designs for the U.S. Mint’s artistic infusion program. I attended a lecture by Jamie for my A.D. last weekend. He spoke about how he feels a lot like a contestant on American Idol, his new found "fame" as the bison artist and how his life has changed in the past two and a half years. His success doesn't stop with the 2005 nickel, as his design for the obverse of the 2006 nickel was also selected. He said three years ago he never imagined his art on money. He humbly explains he's still just "Jamie" and not use to being compared to the likes of St. Gaudens and James Earl Fraser.

The thing about Jamie is he is such a down to earth man. Taking the time to tell his story and encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams. He says, after all his is a true American dream.

But the most special thing about Jamie isn't that he has created winning designs or that he is on his way to becoming a name in the art world, but rather, it is his deep and profound love for his wife. They are like two giddy high school kids when their eyes meet. It is very sweet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Painting Thus Far

This is the beginning of my painting
I drew it out
then under painted it.

Next I started adding some color.

I have no idea if I'm doing it "right" but so far the art police have not shown-up at my door.
I'm having fun!
It is like reading a good novel, I can't wait to see what will happen next.

Thanks to all who have encouraged me!

I took this self portrait in my art studio yesterday.
All the stuff behind me is my art! :)
Except for that red arm...it is A Story People (No Words)

No Words By Brian Andreas
I read once that the ancient Egyptians had fifty words for sand & the Eskimos had a hundred words for snow. I wish I had a thousand words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep & there are no words for that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Warming Up Out Of My Ice Age

Julia Cameron writes on page 108 ~The Artist Way
If you want to make some art, make some art. Just a little art.


She challenges us on page 126 #2 to doodle will listening to some music just for joy. I listened to Jack Johnson's CD In Between Dreams. I bought it on an A.D. last week. As I listened I doodled and started warming myself out of my drawing/painting ice age. This is what escaped out of my brain.....

I can relate to John Hiatt's song Warming Up To The Ice Age
...this is the part of that song calling my name today...

She could melt the modern world
But she's just a modern girl
I think she's warmin' up to the ice age

Frozen like a punch bowl swan
Frozen like a mastodon
I think she's warmin' up to the ice age

I feel like this exercise was a great warm-up for the painting I'm about to do. The canvas is primed with Gesso and is now dry, ready and waiting for me. I'm still nervous and scared but this little fish drawing eased me out of my fear.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Checking In (Week 6)

Morning Pages: Proud to say I have not missed a day since I started AW. Although I still resent the fact that I can't reread my writing. This has bugged me since day one. I have been writing since 1974, I was twelve and needed a sympathetic ear. My journal became that ear, my trusted friend and rereading those pages is way for me to see myself in more realistic terms. Does anyone understand how crazy this is driving me? Julia Cameron can you hear me?

Artist Date: Went to Hobby Lobby and bought some rubber stamps and a tube of red acrylic paint. Tomorrow I'm going to stop being so afraid of being imperfect (this weeks theme) and open that paint and PAINT. This is a new road for me and I'm nervous and scared and afraid the art police are going to show up at my door with a warrant for my arrest.

Synchronicity: I met the owner of Beet Gallery last weekend on my A.D. When she asked me if I was a writer I was overjoyed!! I thought maybe I'm starting to look like a REAL WRITER. Then she proceeded to ask me if I knew my writing teacher. "Of course", I shouted with glee, "I'm almost like one of her groupies!" She showed me an oil suspension kaleidoscope she made. I wanted to buy it on the spot, but she explained it wasn't for sale and that she had just learned how to make them at Campbell. I had never heard of Campbell before. Then like a youngster learning a new word discovered later that week someone I know is headed to Campbell next week to take the kaleidoscope class. That someone is my writing teacher. Now that's what I call double synchronicity! Very cool.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cancel My Memebership

By: Lisa Otter

Me: All right I’ve waited long enough. I’m making the call to cancel my membership. This is the day I’m going to finally cross it off my list!

Operator: Club Procrastination. Ms. Delay speaking, how may I direct your call?

Me: Hi. I’m wondering if you could help. I need to cancel my membership.

Operator: No. I can’t help. You will need to speak to the director of membership services.

Long Pause

Me: Hello? Are you still there?

Operator: Yes?

Me: Well, will you please connect me?

Operator: Huh? Right now? Oh sure one moment please.

Puts down phone. Sounds of filing nails and rustling of paper; followed by a long silent pause. Ring ring ring ring ring.

Director of Membership Services: Hello. You have reached the voice mailbox of Tom Morrow. I’m always away from my desk but if you leave your name and number I’m sure it is quite possible that I may eventually get back to you. If this is of an urgent matter please press zero and ask to speak to my secretary Ms. Delay. Beep.

Me: Hi. My name is Lisa Otter and I need to cancel my membership. Please call me back so we can proceed with the necessary paper work. I am sure there are some forms I’ll need to sign.

Several weeks pass with no call from Club Procrastination.

Operator: Club Procrastination. This is Ms. Delay speaking, how may I direct your call?

Me: Oh hello Ms. Delay. I think we spoke a few weeks back. I left a message for the director of membership services and have not heard from him. I think his name is Mr. Morrow.

Operator: Yes. That’s right, Tom Morrow, though he never comes in to the office.

Me: What?

Operator: He did however tell me you may call someday. Although it is my personal belief that somedays never come.

Me: Does he have the paperwork ready for me to sign?

Operator: Paper work? Ha! No! But he did however leave you a message. Would you like me to read it?

Me: That would be nice.

Operator: Let’s see, I think I left it over here. Oh yes here it is. Clears her throat. It says he regrets to inform you but he will be unable to process your request...

Me: What?

Operator: Says here you have a lifetime membership in Club Procrastination.

Me: So?

Operator: Well Lifetime Memberships are nonrefundable, nontransferable, noncancellable, nonnegotiable, and are not ever intended to be terminated. It is part of your unalienable rights.

Me: But I want to cancel my membership!

Operator: I’m afraid that will not be possible, didn’t you just hear what I said?

Me: Yes I did, but I don’t want to be a member anymore. I want my name removed from your system and from your mailing list. I am sick and tried of receiving your mailings. Did you know the seminar mailings always come three weeks late? Anyhow I make lists now. I’m a real doer. I don’t put anything off.

Operator: You are making lists?

Me: Yes!

Operator: Oh I see. This is serious. Please hold for one moment.

Me: Why?

Operator: Well I’m going to connect you to someone I believe can help you.

Me: Yes! Really? I think I’m finally getting somewhere! Who are you connecting me to?

Operator: Our list prevention specialist. She is excellent, just excellent. She’s a real miracle worker. She helped my Uncle Fred with his nasty little list habit back in the late 90’s. He’s completely cured now. I think you will be very pleased with her. She’s the best of the best.

Me: Really?

Operator: Oh yes, she is.

Me: But I don’t really want to be cured. I love making lists. In fact I’m making one right now.

Operator: Stop! Put down the pen. Back away from the list. I will connect you immediately! Do you need me to call an ambulance for you ma’am?

Me: What? No! Listen I’ve got to go. There’s something I need to do.

Operator: No! Please don’t go.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Money and Me

I am lucky. I married a man that has financial talent. It is what he does for a living. He has spent his career rescuing companies out of economic trouble. The company he now works for was on the brink of financial ruin until he stepped in on his white horse. The owner keeps a letter from the bank in his top desk drawer to remind him how close he came to losing it all. My husband is a hero!
When we were fairly newly married and learning how to merge two financial lives he set us up on the "bucket" system. Actually they were plastic stadium cups from Texas A&M. Each Aggie cup was labeled and in each cup a certain amount of money was placed. It really helped us understand where we spent our money. When the cup was empty that was it. Sometimes we had to "rob" money out of one cup and leave a note explaining why we "stole" the money. We no longer use that system but it taught us the lessons we needed to learn about money.

I admit I'm not good with money but I am lucky to be married to a smart smart man. He has helped me become a fiscally responsible adult and I am so grateful for his wisdom.

at Julie's request I'm writing....
More on the "Bucket" System....
Every time we got paid all the money was divided up. First, checks (or automatic deposits) were cut for "fixed operating" expenses. These are the things like rent or mortgage, electric and/or gas, phone and savings. More on the savings part later.

Credit cards were not to be used unless...
a.) it was a business expense and the company was reimbursing us.
b.) check or cash was not permitted. An example of this would be renting a car on a vacation.
c.) it was agreed upon in advance by both of us. An example of this maybe a new suit for work or something major for the car. Basically big purchases where it wasn't practical to pay by cash or check.

Each cup was labeled with the category of the weekly expense items:
"Gas for the car"
"Grocery Store"
"Lunch Money"
"Dry Cleaning"
"Dinner Out"
and etc........
Any item we regularly spent money on had its own cup. Each pay period after all the fixed operating expenses were paid the rest of the money was withdrawn in cash and placed in the various cups.
I know what you are thinking. There is no way I'm doing that! That is far and away the most ANAL thing I have ever heard. And it is! I will be the first to admit it, but take my advice it works!

O.K. now to the savings part. Saving is like paying yourself. It is the VERY MOST IMPORTANT part. Do you hear me? I'll repeat it. SAVING is Paying yourself. It is the very most important part. Even if it is only $5.00. That $5.00 adds up. And don't forget your 401(k). Please tell me you are maxing out your contributions. At least contribute to the level your employer matches. Please do this. Skip the Starbucks and increase your pledge to your FUTURE self. PLEASE!

When my kids were toddlers I use to pay myself $.60 a day. Honestly I did! I took and put $.60 in a cup everyday. Then every so often I took that money to the bank and made a deposit. Sometimes I used that money to buy art supplies.

O.K. I'm hopping off my soap box now. If I helped just one person then... Yea for me! And a bigger YEA for you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!
With Love,
In Otter Space

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Dark Side of My Reality

I am having a crummy day.

Being a mother is always so much tougher in real life than in the movies. There are no cute little wrap-ups with beautiful fade aways....everyone smiling. The truth is being a mother is the damn hardest job I have ever had. My son is "spirited". That is the P.C. way of saying he raises hell and gives me hell everyday. And I feel like I'm living in hell. I know I'm not alone. I know I'm not the only mother to raise a "spirited" child but today I'm just having a horrible time of it.

I have been trying so hard lately to be an artist, a writer but who am I fooling? As my dad use to say, "the easiest person to fool is yourself." And you know he's right! I basically suck at everything I touch. I mean I'm not totally horrible but then again I'm not that great either. So what is the point?

Whoever reads this... Thanks for listening to my pity party.

re·al·i·ty (rē-ăl'ĭ-tē) n., pl. -ties.

The quality or state of being actual or true.
One, such as a person, an entity, or an event, that is actual: “the weight of history and political realities” (Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.).
The totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence.
That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tagged Twice

Never tagged before... then I get tagged twice in a day. Thanks ViewFromLifeOnABench
Although I think this is a Blog version of chain mail I will play.

Four Jobs I've Had:
T.V. commercial for KFC (my first W-2 at age seven...I've always been very industrious)
Disc Jockey (for the college radio station)
Bus Driver
Runner at the Chicago Board of Trade

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
The Sound of Music
Ferris Beuller's Day Off
It's a Wonderful Life
The Wedding Singer

Four Place I've Lived:
Lincolnwood, IL
Chicago, IL
Raleigh, NC
Weddington, NC

Four T.V. Shows I Watch:
Anderson Cooper 360
The Carol Duvall Show
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

Four Musicians I Adore: (This is Very Very Very Hard for me to Limit to Four)
John Hiatt (My favorite musician/poet)
Bonnie Raitt
Bob Dylan
Neil Young

Four Place I've Vacationed:
Private Island (Island H) in Ontario, Canada
Quetico National Park, Ontario, Canada
The Exumas (aboard a private yacht- Awesome)

Four Foods That Make My Taste Buds Happy:
Chicago Style Pizza
Superdawg (corner of Milwaukee, Devon & Nagle)
Scrambled Eggs with cheese and onions chefed by C my 12 year old son (he just may become a world class chef when he is an adult)

Five Sites I Visit Daily:
Destination Unknown

Four Place I'd Rather Be:
My Art Studio
In a Cabin in the Woods

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ready or not I got Tagged

My first tag........ (one more to follow later)

I've been tagged by SpiritDoll and it's the first time I've been tagged....twice in one day!....It is an Artist Way inspired kind of play....

4 Wishes, Dreams, Desires....

  1. I hope to move myself from the “shadow state” to the real stage. A real Writer, a real Artist, a real contributor (of my gifts) in the world.
  2. I desire a 2006 Black Mustang fully loaded (which says “Cool Chic”) instead of my Toyota Sienna (which says “Mom-Mobile”).
  3. I dream of a cabin in the woods with 15 or more acres.
  4. I wish to build an Art Farm. A retreat haven for artists of all kinds. This is part of the reason I want in that cabin in the woods.

4 Imaginary Lives
I have a vivid imagine nation. Literally there is an entire nation going on in my head!

  1. Young adult writer- novelist
  2. Singer/songwriter/poet (like John Hiatt or Bob Dylan)
  3. Children’s book writer and illustrator (like Dr. Suess)
  4. Disc Jockey (Alternative Radio not afraid to play Any Genre)
  5. Painter/ mixed media artist
  6. Vet
  7. Professional Wood burning artist (Like Sarah Grant of Sticks)
  8. Glass blower
  9. Middle School/Junior High School Teacher (like Mr. Piggott)
  10. Librarian
  11. Free Lance Writer
  12. Nature Guide
  13. The person who gets to name the O.P.I. nail colors
  14. Art Teacher
  15. Rubber Stamp Store Owner

4 things I should change

  1. Procrastination (and cancel my membership to its club)
  2. Use my time more wisely (sort of like #1 but different?)
  3. Be less insecure and more willing to take artistic risks. After all the art police do not currently have a warrant out for my arrest.
  4. Hire a housekeeper…paint more picture...play in my art studio more!

4 people I admire

  1. My husband - There are many things I admire about him but I especially admire his ability to focus on one project at a time (men are so lucky to be able to do this) and his wisdom to achieve his dreams at such an early age. Whoever thinks C.P.A.’s are boring never met my husband.
  2. My sister-in-law (Kay) - she is a gift of wisdom and friendship. Her insight has been invaluable.
  3. Donna - she is a constant source of humor, courage, wisdom and grace.
  4. Judy – the best boss I ever had. She taught me more than she will ever realize. I admire her ability to believe in me and see my invisible potential. Her guidance has helped shape not just me but everyone I come in contact with.

4 things I like about the Artist's Way

  1. The blogging community that is doing this current journey together- thanks Kat!
  2. The structure – It keeps me plodding along, challenges me and permits me to safely come out of my shell.
  3. The artist's date - the awareness and permission to fill my creative well
  4. Morning pages – Have not missed on yet…but I am a writer by nature so this is my oxygen.

4 things I still hope to get out of the Artist's Way

  1. I want to deepen connections and I hope that many of them will last beyond the finish of the Artist's Way. Maybe those of us most interested in continuing can form a support Circle for the Artist Way
  2. I want help coping with fear. Some days I get so scared of that stupid critic sounding off in my head that I don’t take any artistic risks.
  3. To open my blind-mind, to jump up and down and get excited and scream “YES! YES! YES! I made this little piece of art! Isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it so Lisa!?”
  4. Mostly, I hope to remain open to the journey through the AW and for that matter to remain open to LIFE!

I'm going to tag...

No one. Unless you (yes you, the one jumping up and down saying “Hey I’d like to answer those questions”, want to. Then feel free… and drop me a comment so I can take a look.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Inspiration Has Gone To The DOGS!

Today :
Inspiration comes from Jenny Furr the Jack Russell Terrier

What would you do if you discovered this?
Would you laugh or cry or do both?
Well this REALLY happened to me and guess what I did?
I taught Jenny how to paint!

Go Jenny! Paint Girl!

She likes to wear her beret when she paints. She also gets to eat when she paints. LUCKY!

An original by Jenny the Jack Russell Terrier.

True to say... she is a better painter than I am. And I love her for teaching me that just because she's a dog doesn't mean she can't be an artist!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Inspiration Week...My Turn

Inspiration Comes Out To Play....

This book (page 38 Inking stamps with markers)

(+) plus this left over fabric from a jumper I made for my DD

= This card

Friday, February 03, 2006

I Can't Take It Anymore

Reading Deprivation Week seems all wrong to me. Reading has never stood in the way of my creativity.
Surfing aimlessly on the Web YES!
But NOT reading. In fact I have a confession to make...I'm a recovering non-reader. I use to love to read and then I had kids and I stopped reading for myself.
OH sure I still read but Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle don't REALLY count. So depriving me from reading is like asking a recovering alcoholic to hang out in the bar or a recovering anorexic to just skip a few meals.

*****BTW -I gave up T.V. as of 12.21.2005 almost 100% (except for E.R. I watch no T.V.)
Aimlessly surfing the web? Not yet but maybe for Lent this year.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Visual Journey

Because we are in week four of The Artist's Way this will be the only post this week. Here's a visual look at my life...it requires almost no reading!

This was the Otter family's table cloth. I still find it so interesting. I use to stare at it while I ate dinner. One reason I liked it so much...it has my initials in it -"LO".

In December before Artist Way began I drew this picture for my blog. I was pretending to be seven again! It really fits with this weeks' time travel theme.

As part of my Inner Compass project I challenged myself to try ATCs. This is my first Artist Trading Card. I'm hooked!!! More to follow next week!