Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Grandma!

I woke up this morning to the sun shining and the sound of beautiful birds chirping and it reminded me of waking up at my grandmother's house, the special times that I got to sleep over. I am blessed to have so many memories of my grandparents growing up and am grateful for everything they taught me.

96 years ago today, my grandmother was born in Arcadia Ridge Wisconsin, to farmers. Their family was small, her sister, being born premature, and the loss of a brother in infancy, left my grandmother with the responsibility in carrying out many of the chores that come with farm life. Over the years she shared many stories with me about growing up on the farm,singing on the radio, and how she'd made the choice to move   to be with a family member in Winona, where eventually she would meet my grandfather.

In Winona, she went to work for a man by the last name of Jordan, learning the ins and outs of business, doing bookkeeping, opening a small grocery store with her husband and later on would open The Castle Dress Shop.

I can still remember being allowed to sit in the front window and color during visits to her store. I remember helping her bake for holidays, and the big thrills of licking the beater or in summer turning the grinder to make sandwich spread. 

She was always there to help with homework, to offer hugs and comfort after rough days, to make sure I practiced the piano, and to smile and play rounds of board games and bunco for pennies on rainy days. 

Even in college, she was willing to lend her kitchen to a classmate and I so we could make Spanish cookies for a class assignment, and helped us when we weren't sure of something.

In hind sight now, I wish I had asked her to teach me to cook or to sew, but Grandma taught me so much more then that. Last month, I had to give up my license, due to medical issues and for awhile I was feeling sorry for myself, and the negative thoughts were setting in, and then I thought of Grandma, who also gave up her license, but despite doing so, accomplished so much in her life-raising 5 beautiful, strong children and being a well respected businesswoman...

The most important lesson I think I will ever learn from her is that my limitations do not define me. My circumstances do not define me. What defines me is how I handle them, and I choose today and everyday to do my best to handle them with not only the stubborn determination that Grandma had, but with her grace and style.

Closing my eyes, for a moment, I sit here, listening to the birds and I can see her smile and hear her yodel.

Much love to you in Heaven, Grandma on this Blessed day of your Birth. Thank you for all that you taught me and for being a source of inspiring strength and courage.

Grandma on her farm, with her pet pig Applesauce.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

John Lennon once said, " Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."  It's been roughly 2 and 1/2 years since I last posted...not because I'd forgotten, but life simply had other plans. In truth since 2/1/ mojo has been an elusive mistress at times..often not surprising me until the panic of last minute inspiration sets in.  No time to post pictures of shiny happy beady jewelry, at least not properly as all I had handy was my camera phone...

Of course, there is also my overly anxious brain that I contend with as part of my daily routine.  Many days it runs amok on many different tangents on all the things I should be creating and on other days it simply seems to go on strike, mocking me, just waiting for last minute panic to set in.

I still go through the whole " why on earth would anyone ever want to buy my stuff?" phase...just as I'm typing this right now going..."people are not going to want to read my words."  (bad grammar blah..blah..blah))

However, things are changing...I am learning to dance with the anxiety, thanks to a teacher (whose classes I need to get back to asap) and a friend who inspired me today, to return to the blog, as we share a very deep and yet profound loss in the passing of our mothers.

My mother, God Bless her, didn't think that she was creative, but I disagree. Creativity can be found in many forms..and she loved the written word and took beautiful photographs.  Besides which, as any of my immediate family knows, If you are a Riska, then art and creativity are in your blood.

My grandfather was a well known local artist in Winona, MN. known mostly for his paintings of the Sugar Loaf and other wild life scenes. He was a self taught artist, that often joked that he learned using the paint by number method.

In truth, I believe that as human beings, we are all born with creative souls, but some of us forget to take the crayons back out now and then in favor of busy lives...Sometimes, we forget the joy of bright colors or how much fun it is to color outside the lines...and most importantly, one of the things that I'm guilty of, is that it's okay to make's okay if something looks stupid...because that is what practice is's how we learn.

I could, I suppose ramble on for hours as my brain is filled with tangents today...My muses want me to Zentangle, to bead, to braid, to write stories with friends...I'm not quite sure what the day will bring, but I am grateful that my mojo is dancing within me once more. Not as early, as I would have liked, as I had planned to get my inner Christmas Elf in gear, in June, but I am dancing.

I hope that you will join me as I return to my path. I plan on posting pictures occasionally of what I create, but also intend to share with you some of the things that inspire me and memories that I treasure...pieces of myself as I find my way back to the creative spirit within my soul and hope to inspire you along the way.

My mojo is calling, so it is time to honor my creative soul... Have a beautiful day.