#HappyNewYear, and to New MAD Adventures in 2022! Lots of Traveling, Alaska and #VanLife Adventure! 2021 was a pivotal year for me. I decided it was time for a major change! For the previous three years I had become obsessed with mountain biking, racing, a team, my MAD Shredders kit line and my regular art. All of this gave me something to be constantly working towards, with lots of traveling and goals to be met.
But, I had been struggling with some really severe fatigue issues, that I would address off and on, but never really dealt with the problem, until it became almost debilitating. I had to finally stop racing, as I was unable to even train for more than a couple of hours a week, and even at that, it was still causing me issues. It was a very frustrating beginning of the year of 2021 because the fatigue had basically taken over my life.
I've never really spoken about this publicly, but sometimes I couldn't even muster the energy to get out of bed. It was very depressing and I was determined not to spiral down a dark hole of nothingness. So, I would make it a point to go for walks, or an easy road ride; mountain biking just took too much out of me so I rarely got out in the trails.
All of this was really hard to bear, but I knew my health was most important and I focused on doing what I needed to get better. I was dealing with almost non-existent testosterone, and out of control cortisol levels. All of which was exacerbated, and brought on to some extent, by intense endurance cycling, which I LOVE to do! But, alas, was not to be for most of 2021. So, I just focused on my art and came up with exciting new work and ideas, that I will be back to as soon as I hit the road in my van, The MAD Warrior!
Which leads me to the major life change I made in August. I was feeling kinda lost and searching for something, and one day it just hit me...I needed to #travel more, just get outside on long walks, #cycling and #hiking, to experience more of the outdoors I'd yet to see. And what better way to do it then in a converted, tiny home studio, van! I was instantly invigorated, inspired and felt full of life and excitement again...THIS was what I needed, a change, with new goals, dreams and adventures. And, I was ready to explore a new part of the country, and have always been fascinated by the #PNW and Southwest parts of the U.S., parts of the country that are meant to be spent outside exploring. I knew
I wanted to take on the challenge of converting the van myself and decided to drive it across the country last September to Washington state where I have lots of family. It just worked out so well to get to stay and visit with my family while having a place to work on the van. I've also started to recover from my fatigue issues and can finally go for longer, more intense rides without being incapacitated for days afterwards. I just needed to give my body time to fully recover, and to adjust the way I exercise and live my life. Also having something new to motivate and inspire has helped me to start feeling like my normal self again.
2022 looks to be an amazing, full of adventure year! Hoping all goes as planned, but prepared for any changes that may pop up. Planning to get on the road in the van by February 1st, even if it's not completely finished...as I REALLY need to get to some sunnier, warmer weather asap, haha!! Then, in the spring my daughter Aroon and I are going on a trip to Europe that she gifted to me for Christmas! Beyond excited for this adventure, as I've never been, and looking forward to enjoying the time spent with my favorite adventure partner 💖
Then I will be going to #Alaska in the summer to work on my MAD Island! Finally hoping to get even a small cabin completed so I can visit and stay more often. Have some really cool plans for the island that I cannot wait to implement!
Then spend time in Washington with my cousin traveling all over the state and even into Canada on Vancouver Island. And then head south again for the fall/winter months traveling in The MAD Warrior.
And all this time will also be spent focusing on getting back to work, creating new, exciting art! There will be a lot of new originals inspired by my travels, can't wait to get started on them! I hope all of you have some exciting new plans for 2022, and embrace any changes that may come your way with positivity and hope for a bright, shining future 💙🤍💚
It's my Birthday today! And for this entire week I'm offering some unique Circle of Life paintings at reduced prices as a thank you to my fans and collectors for following me and my art for so many years, I am truly blessed to follow my passion and make a fulfilling career from it. You can see all of the paintings as they become available on the Mini PoP Monday page. And I wouldn't be able to do it without all of you, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will also be donating 20% of all proceeds from original paintings sold this week to No More Tears, a Miami based charitable foundation that is devoted to providing individualized assistance to victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence in the U.S.
As a survivor of domestic abuse it is important to me to be able to give back and help other women who are in a similar situation as I was and be able to be free and live the life they truly deserve. I hope I can inspire other women to know that there IS a better life for them free from abuse and fear. This past year has been the best year of my life, I'm living my dreams, painting full time, building a new business, traveling and riding and racing my mountain bike, my second passion. I feel like I'm finally able to be myself after decades of being repressed, and fear governing everything I did and said, but no longer! This year has been filled with growth, change, revelations, and new beginnings. I wake up every day thankful and blessed, motivated to chase after my dreams and create new ones, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
This coming year is going to be even more amazing, I can feel it! I started a new business venture with my amazing daughter Aroon to create luxury, vegan purses from my art. You can see the current bags available at www.livinthemadlife.com and we release new collections every quarter to offer artistically beautiful purses for you to show your love and zest for life in a uniquely special way through art and sustainable fashion. This brand also donates a portion of all proceeds to both No More Tears and The Talkin' Monkeys Project. Giving back is a crucial part of my new life, whether it's by supporting charities close to my heart, or helping to inspire other women to live their best lives.
I've also become much more involved with my biking, and have some great events coming up soon that tie in with my art, it just doesn't get any better than that for me! My biking has been my saving grace this past year, it allows me to leave any worries behind and just be outdoors and focus in the moment. I've also met so many wonderful and amazing people in the South Florida cycling community who have welcomed me with open arms and are so supportive of my biking endeavors, including Arnie, owner of Bike Tech stores and VeloSport Events, who I am doing a very special event with soon, and am honored to be an Ambassador for. I'm also going to be racing an entire mountain bike series for the first time ever, wish me luck, haha!! As a woman, cycling is a truly empowering experience in so many ways. It's very much a "mans sport", the ratio is close to 80% men to only 20% women; but myself and other women, and organizations, like VeloSport Events, are working to change this and get more women on bikes! When I'm riding I feel free, energized and focused on the job at hand. Knowing that just by showing up at the trails, racing and sharing my overall love for the sport I'm opening doors for other women to do the same; to make women aware of how rewarding it is to be on a bike, whether as a way to workout, be competitive, for the sheer pleasure of it, or all of the above! And to also let more men see women on the trails and road, and that we are here to stay and help grow the sport. It's one of my goals and dreams to inspire as many women as possible to get out and ride and experience the freedom and joy that comes with being a badass woman cyclist!
I'm also starting to paint some new abstract, symbolic paintings that incorporate my love of biking with my art, truly a fulfilling experience for me to combine my two passions, look for more of these paintings to come to life soon! I have also started to video all new paintings and create time lapse videos that can be seen on my YouTube channel.
So many wonderful opportunities coming up for my art and cycling over the next year, I'm super excited to share them with all of you as they happen. Thank you again for being a part of my life and art journey, YOU all inspire me to keep reaching for the stars and following my passions, I hope I can do the same for you.
Time to do some inner awakening and self development. When we go through life changing events there is no better time to really take a look at ourselves and determine how we can be a better person for ourselves, the people in our lives, and anyone new we allow in. Reading books from others perspectives on how to maximize our potential and be the best versions of ourselves provides insight we can't get on our own, so I'm delving into these books while looking to improve myself :)
I know I have several issues that I need to learn to control and use for better purposes, or just not to do at all, here are a couple of them. First off, I have the need to always be right...problem is, about 90% of the time I am, causes quite a conundrum for me! Because along with this need to always PROVE I'm right is my obsessively competitive nature, more on that in a bit. I'm a well educated person that loves to constantly learn and know what is going on in the world around me, so I do know a lot, but the problem is...I don't ALWAYS have to show that I'm right. What purpose does it serve, other than to stroke my ego, to prove I know the answers to a lot of things? There is a place and a time to share information, and THAT'S what I need to remember, if people ask me if I know the answer for something, or it fits in with a conversation that's fine, but I need to not interject and make a point out of knowing what I do if it isn't serving a higher purpose to help others learn...this is my challenge and one I will be actively working on.
Now, back to the obsessively, intensely, competitive nature...this one is a toughy for me. I've been this way as long as I can remember, ask my family, they get a lot of laughs at my expense over this one! They love to think up stupid challenges just to be entertained because they know I won't back down from any of them, hahaha!
Here is an example of how ridiculous I can be, I tend to lose a little control when competition and adrenaline get together, lethal combination for my nature, haha! On my 40th birthday I went mountain biking at the local trail, I was feeling super strong and had on my Strava biking app where other bikers can compete against each other for the fastest times on the trail. Well, I knew I was on a PR time and the adrenaline was through the roof...that's what happens when I get competitive, waaaaayyyy too much adrenaline. So, I come around one of the last corners before the end of the trail, and next thing I know I'm off my bike sitting in the middle of the trail in a sandy patch. I looked around and realized my front tire must have hit the gnarly, crossed up root in that corner at just the wrong angle and launched me into the sand...well, no time to worry about that, I needed to quickly hop back on my bike and finish my PR Ride! So, I went to stand up and my left foot completely gave out from under me...what the heck? There was no pain, nothing, just was not able to use my foot, it was completely collapsed. So, I started hollering for my husband and other biking friends who I could hear in the parking lot talking. They immediately knew something was wrong and came running, my husband got to me first...and here's the really stupidly, awful competitiveness kicking in overtime...I literally tell him to take my backpack that had my phone with the Strava app still running, and tell him to quickly run past the finish of the trail (just around the corner) so I would get the full ride with my fastest times....yeah....pretty.bad. He of course looked at me like I was a lunatic, and rightly so, and kudos to him for telling me no, even when I insisted...well, it ended up that I broke my foot in three places and needed plates and screws. But, here is where my competitive nature actually helped me, I didn't stop riding my bike once my foot healed, I got right back on and wasn't going to let the fear of getting hurt hold me back. I love to mountain bike and wasn't going to let a little setback like that stop me, but I did learn my lesson to not be so ridiculously stupid with it, that's just plain dumb, haha!! But, it does give you an idea of the extent of my competitiveness and how I CLEARLY need to learn to control it, before it gets me into more serious trouble.
I also need to NEVER, ever again, play Monopoly with my significant other, that is just asking for trouble, haha!! You can ask my daughter Aroon and her friend Alissa...I think we traumatized her. It was NOT a "family time" moment, that's for sure, it was very cold, out for blood competition between me and my ex and didn't end well. I don't think he and I spoke to each other for the rest of the night...so I learned my lesson with that one, just.don't.do.it...DON'T.
I have been able to successfully use my competitive nature as an athlete, both as a kid with running, and even as an adult with mountain biking, and within my business, without causing harm to others. But, there are instances where I do stupid stuff in the name of competitiveness or get competitive with people I shouldn't...these are the situations I have to be wary of and instead focus my competitive nature on positively growing and building my art business to be the most successful I can...this will be my competitive focus (along with sports) for the most part going forward, turning what can easily be a negative for me into a positive :)
By looking within ourselves and our actions we can understand who we are and how we can fix ourselves, if we never delve deeper and acknowledge our faults we can't fix them. It's not always easy to dig deep and face the parts of ourselves that need to be worked on, but we can't be the person we should be and deserve to be if we deny ourselves that insight.
By speaking out loud about our faults, and sharing with others, it makes us really look deep into how we can better ourselves and hopefully inspire people to do the same for themselves...share your story!. We should always be striving to grow and mature throughout our entire lives, we are always a work in progress, just like my art :)
So far, most of my blog has been all art oriented, which is a huge part of my life, but I would also like to start sharing other aspects of my lifestyle. Sharing what I do for fun and health, and I love fashion, particularly high heels :) I think it will be fun to get a closer peak into my life and see how I incorporate my creative side into all aspects of my life.
Art absorbs at least half of my waking hours, sometimes all of them!! We recently moved into a new home that needs to be completely remodeled and I ended up with a fabulous space for my studio, with it's own full bath and walk-in closet, although we are currently using the closet to store our clothes...and my shoes, while our other closet is being rebuilt. Here is a sneak peek of what I'm doing with my studio, more photos and video's to come to show you my "Happy Place".
Since I do spend such a large portion of my time in the studio I'm usually in a pair of shorts or sweats with a t-shirt, and a sweater nearby. Not very glamorous or fashionable! But, whenever my husband and I go out to eat, to the movies, with friends, etc. it's my chance to dress up a little. I tend to lean towards a chic, classy style with button up shirts (obsessed with the Express Portofino shirts), white jeans, blue jeans and a few accent pieces of jewelry, or on a rare occasion I will even wear a dress/skirt and even have this cute polka dot romper hanging in my closet. Since I live in Florida, the summer's require mixing it up a bit with shorts or capri's, tank tops and sandals. But, my one go to is pretty much to always wear heels, with sandals as a quick go to if not feeling to dressy. There is nothing like a pair of heels to instantly dress up an outfit, even the simplest tees and jeans, and I actually prefer to walk in heels, it's more comfortable for me, I have a very tall arch. I will be taking more fashion photos, and posting on this blog and Instagram. I felt inspired to add the fashion aspect to this blog and social media after taking photos of my daughter Aroon Melane for her fabulous fashion blog! It's so much fun, it's like playing dress up, takes me back to my childhood :)
A natural extension of being an artist for me is I LOVE interior design! And with this new home that has almost 4,000 square feet of living, four bedrooms, five and a half baths, all of which need to be completely redone, I have so much opportunity to really delve into it. I've been creating mood boards to inspire me, and you, to follow our creative paths within our homes, and I will be doing more of those and sharing the design process as our new home comes to life. Here is a before photo of the house, it needs an insane amount of work inside and out! Basically every inch of the house and property have to be cosmetically redone, but nothing my husband and I aren't used to, I was a
Mood Boards for inspiration, click on images to see where to purchase all the products shown.
I LOVE to travel! There are just so many amazing and natural man made places to see in this world, that a whole lifetime could never see them all. But, I hope to spend a little more time traveling in the next few years and take in as much as I can. One of the places I regularly visit, and never gets old, is my home state Alaska. We have a cabin in the remote Alaskan fishing village where I grew up and I visit several times a year. I will be heading up there soon to get out of this crazy Florida heat and humidity!! I will sharing photos and stories of my adventures, and hope you enjoy and are inspired to create your own travel adventures.
And finally I will be sharing my journey on being as healthy as I possibly can! Without our health everything else in life becomes unimportant and difficult to enjoy. I've struggled with a low immune system most of my life, so I try to be as healthy as I possibly can, through food, exercise, minimizing stress, etc. Several years ago I had some major health problems, since been fixed, and shortly after that I broke my foot in three places mountain biking, still out on the trails, I didn't let some broken bones stop me, and had to have two surgeries. It was a frustrating period of my life that really made me be thankful for when I am healthy. I gained about 25 pounds and it's been a difficult process losing that weight, but this year I am making a truly concerted effort to get back down to my most comfortable weight. So far I've lost 11 pounds!! I will be sharing more about my healthy habits, recipes, exercise, etc. and hope it will motivate all of you to be the healthiest YOU!!
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