Art and photography retreat in Central Oregon

Amazing weekend at our latest Ignite the Heart retreat. This one was held at my home in Sunriver. It was absolutely everything we could’ve hoped it would be! Amazing creative women with a zest for life…time to reflect and create…see gorgeous Central Oregon scenery…and drink wine and talk together 😉

We will be hosting retreats in the future and I will be teaching classes at my own studio in Vancouver, WA. The next one is iPhonography & Encaustic painting on October 29th, 2016. SIGN UP HERE to keep in the loop about all Ignite events.












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Posted in Adventures of ARTSY GIRL, Digital fine art, Events for the MPG, Fab MPG women, Happiness, IGNITE THE ARTIST, Ignite the Heart retreats, iPhoneography, Lara's photography classes, MPG Party Girl, MPG stirrings, MPG travelista, My photography world | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Art and photography retreat in Central Oregon

iPhoneography and encaustic class

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” Great quote…you’d be surprised what your little phone can do.


Learn how to take amazing iphone images with the best apps, composition and lighting (all in studio and in the Magic Forest at my home). Then create beautiful encaustic pieces with wax over your images.  $99 for the entire day experience. All materials and lunch is provided.

Email me (link on sidebar) if you’re interested in attending! It’s going to be an amazing day.




*If you’re a teacher, my other blog SuperheroTeacherToolkit is a lovely place to visit for inspiration!**

Posted in Adventures of ARTSY GIRL, Digital fine art, Events for the MPG, Fab Photo Friday, IGNITE THE ARTIST, Ignite the Heart retreats, iPhoneography, Lara's photography classes, MPG stirrings, My photography world | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A creative life is the best life


Three years ago I walked away. I’d been living this creative, colorful life for years and I closed the door with a little crack to let the light in. I love teaching 3rd graders and it is abundantly clear that I made the right choice to go back into this important profession. And to be clear, I use a lot of creativity as a teacher, but not necessarily at my own personal art table. It was just that I didn’t see myself having time for all of it…the long, tiring classroom days…the paper grading…the meetings…the schlepping of my own children for sports and sleepovers…the meals that needed to be cooked…and a neglected house…oooh, the neglected house.

I just didn’t see how my creative pursuits could be wedged in the nooks and crannies of our packed schedule in this season of our lives. I know I believed at the time that I couldn’t live without these things in the longterm, but I was shying away from that crack in the door…it was confusing and a little sad.


June 1, 2016: I was a on a run and a wave of desire for all things creative crashed over me. I actually had to stop in the middle of the trail and ask (out loud) “What in the world? I need to pick up my camera. I need to write. I need to do another Ignite retreat with Elida.” It was so clear and so wonderful, that I am still in awe of how fast these feelings seeped into every ounce of me. I guess I was adjusted enough in this new career to feel ready to return to the things I love most. I’m so grateful for epiphanies…they are the glue that holds me together in this vida loca.



I’ve been voraciously reading books about encaustic photography, a love that I made some headway with a few years ago. Working with wax is a magic process and I have all my gear at the ready for when I return from Sunriver in our beautiful house Elida and I are using for our retreat in August. I get inspired here in the high desert—the light through the trees is sparkling and happy…and I have, thankfully, charged my DSLR camera (the Big Kahuna) instead of fumbling with my iPhone, which is convenient, but doesn’t do the scenery justice…nor can it be used to enlarge pictures. A hallmark of a good shot for me is always, “Would I blow this up and put it in the powder bathroom?”

I’m pretty sure that all of the creative endeavors I’ve worked with (photography, encaustic, soldering charms, collage, plaster paintings) will transpire in some sort of teaching event. I can’t help it…I was born a teacher and I get tremendous joy watching other women unfold their creative wings and take a leap. It’s one of my favorite things to do. So I shall do it…not sure how it will all fit, but there’s a room in my house just waiting to be transformed into a beautiful studio for inspired women to meet.


***The Ignite the Heart retreat in Sunriver, OR Aug. 4-7 has two spots left. We’d love to have you come! Here is the link with all of the information: ***


Posted in Adventures of ARTSY GIRL, Digital fine art, Events for the MPG, Fab MPG women, Happiness, IGNITE THE ARTIST, Ignite the Heart retreats, MPG stirrings, Prairie Girl Dreams | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

6 steps to overcome a complaining habit

It’s been awhile, my lovelies. It seems that third grade is swallowing me up…yet not in a bad way. I am completely submerged in  9-year-old Land and it’s wonderful. A ton of work, but wonderful.

* * *

So, I was hit by a cosmic 2×4 yesterday on my evening run. When stress hits and I’m feeling overwhelmed (as in busy teacher with a non-driving teen scene in my house), I have a horrible habit of looking for what’s wrong/unjust/irritating/bothersome in my little world. It’s actually quite gross and I’m done with it. The 2×4 was a voice that asked me:

What if you chose joy instead?

What if you let go of all your past resentments and fears and surrendered to the potential of joy and gratitude?

What if you assumed that everyone you encountered (family/friends/strangers) had their own story to tell and you were willing to embrace them just as they are?

Would that change your day to day? I bet it would.

It was a voice so clear that I stopped running and stood there for a minute. This idea overpowered me and I felt amazingly receptive to letting go. I mean really letting go.

How does one do that?












1) Recognize that resentment is usually based on FEAR: Nothing good is based on fear. Fear blocks, sabotages, hinders growth and acceptance. Just recognizing an emotion in disguise as fear is starting to work…a little…in my quest to let go.

2) Live in the present: Replicating old dramas and trauma does not help anyone. I’m starting to be on to the little gremlins in my subconscious who look for past hurts. Mooovin’ on is hard, but worth it, I’m realizing. Time is oh-so-short.

3) A gratitude practice must become a habit: I’m finding that time in the car (alone, so I can talk to myself without backseat ridicule) is my best spot for listing the things I’m grateful for. It is a huge list! It is so hard to bitch and moan when I’ve got that list hanging in the air of my minivan.

4) Clean and organize: This is a weird one, but for me it has to do with feeling relaxed because things are in order and I know where to find what I need. I also feel amazingly grateful for my house when it’s clean and tidy…I’m less likely to complain about what’s going on inside it.

5) Observe quiet time: I didn’t realize what an introverted extrovert I was until I didn’t get alone time on a regular basis. Our family’s been taken hostage by club volleyball and there have been weekends when I am up to here with whistles/chatter/crowds/girl drama—-I feel completely rattled. Once I figured out how much of a monster this makes me (and I discovered the incredible joy of earplugs), I am diligent about carving out alone time.

6) Dwell in THIS moment: I am so good at getting the motor going on worry and annoyance about things that haven’t even happened yet. So tedious! The more I breathe and actually pay attention to the place/moment/conversation that I’m in, the more joy I allow in. It’s a pretty simple equation. Why don’t I insist on this from myself? It’s time.

* * *

The above, of course, is a massive work in progress. Sheesh…I’m such a work in progress in general..but!! Friends, I am finally seeing the awesome in being in my mid-40’s. I’ve had some moments lately where I’m so grateful for experience and perspective. You couldn’t blast me back to my naive 20’s for millions of dollars! So that’s something :)

Here’s hoping you are finding time to hurdle your fears and find the joyful parts. As always, I am so glad you’re here to write to. It always helps when I’m workin’ it out.




Posted in Confessional Sunday, MPG stirrings | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

My word for 2015

If you’re interested you’ll do what’s convenient, if you’re committed you’ll do whatever it takes.

Commitment….That’s my word for 2015.

This word can conjure up scary images of runaway brides on the Hallmark Channel or a personal trainer berating a person in the face of a new diet plan. It may even give a visual of some crazed struggling individual being checked into a 1950’s facility.

In my own small world I plan on using this word to activate the cattle prod of production so the big plans I have been stock-piling will actually happen. It’s a positive thing…like a goal on your bathroom mirror or a friend who does a voicemail check-in to make sure you’re hanging in there. Unfortunately, there are some chinks in my armor when it comes to big projects. I’m a random combination of artsy/flighty/unorganized and scheduled/driven/motivated and it’s a bit difficult to give myself the proverbial kick in the tuckus that comes with the start of a new year. There have been some amusing moments when I can’t hide my own surprise in the face of someone who recognizes something biggish that I have completed. Oh, I dunno…creating a photography business (not one, but three times with our moves) and transforming my teaching credential in three months from expired to ready to rock in roll. I’m ashamed to admit there’s a pattern there. I hate patterns when they reveal one’s character flaws. Don’t you? It involves desperation and a hunger so strong for change that my scheduled/driven/motivated self aggressively grabs the steering wheel. This leaves my arsty/flighty/unorganized self to sulk in the corner of the front seat, playing with the contents of the middle console, trying not to look sheepish.

Donald Miller, a writer who leaves me with bated breath every time he announces an upcoming novel, has some great advice when it comes to projects. He advises to choose only three big projects to complete in a year. Of course, there’s some subjectivity when it comes to analyzing what “big” is exactly.  Some might find organizing a bathroom closet to be their Mount Everest and then there are folks who take on a running plan that ends in a 2:30 marathon (neither of these are on my list, btw). I think what Miller is getting at is: find a project that meets your personal definition of “big”, make a list, prioritize by time-commitment (there’s that word again) and importance, and then boldly write down these three in a place that you frequent every day. Miller actually includes his big three on his daily to-do list to keep himself focused. He does acknowledge that this type of goal setting brings about a fair amount of No’s. People don’t like no’s. They’re uncomfortable with the fact that a no means their request is not important to you. Yet, I’m not sure if it’s a matter of importance as it is a dire need for focus. And as a half artsy/flighty/unorganized person, I definitely see the value in taking that metaphorical table comb to my crumb covered schedule to ensure success. I just wasn’t made to tackle more than one project at a time.

Now for the projects. This year I will finish at least half of my novel I’ve started. I’m thinking the summer months will hold the bulk of my early morning writing plan. Exercise takes precedent at 5 a.m. during the school year simply because it does not happen in the evening when I’m dragging my sloth body into the house, laden “to correct” files and groceries to put away. I love the early hours (much to the dismay of my “I’m a night person” family) and my internal alarm usually doesn’t fail me, even in the summer. It is a magical time of day that I relish like chocolate cake. It’s quiet, productive, inspiring and lovely. Waking at any time after 7 am feels like a loss for me—those precious early hours are that important to my well-being. So—Super Gluing my rear to my desk chair will, of course, be of ultimate importance in this endeavor. Funny how clearing the dryer of lint and organizing magazines by date can take precedent when there is serious writing to be done. Seeing my own procrastination, I usually sigh loudly like an exasperated teen and slink back to my hovel and then somehow find something else to quibble with on the way! It’s maddening. This is where my new buddy, commitment, jumps in with a flowing cape, hands on hips.

”How much do you want this?” Mr. C asks in a radio announcer voice. “How important to you is the completion of this novel?”

I’d like to think that it’s important enough to be one of my Big Projects, so I better get a move on.

The second project for 2015 is to complete my ProCert (a professional certification that all teachers must complete in five years). It’s a P.I.T.A., for sure, but it’s a necessary evil and I need to man up and get ‘er done by June. I’m taking a class that’s walking me through each section (and would lose my job without it), so I’m relatively optimistic that this one’s in the bag with consistent effort.

Third, I’d like to commit to Cross Fit three times a week. My 5 a.m. dreadmill routine is in full swing five days a week, but this 44-year-old body needs some lift, so to speak. As in butt, arm flags and bread basket lift. We’re geared up to a fault out in the garage, with tripping hazards all over the place. Big weights…small weights…random weighted hula-hoop thingee…pull-up bar that has seen more action from my 13-year-old than me…and a yoga mat that looks like a scratching post. Yup..they’re all at the ready and I need to be as well. An impending trip to Hawaii looms in the distance. Perhaps that’s enough to choosing weights over reruns of Modern Family. Or maybe I should just combine the two? That might be the way to go—ample entertainment to mask the sound of my screaming tight muscles.

So, friends—what is your word for 2015? I’m dying to know.

May the new year bring you good health, family time and work you love.



Posted in Adventures of ARTSY GIRL, MPG quote and wisdom, MPG stirrings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments