Monthly Archives: June 2009



All winter I’m stuck inside for dyeing fabric.  As soon as summer comes, I move the dyeing studio outside where I’m so much happier.  So now that it’s finally warm and has stopped raining, I’m up to my elbows in fabric dye and various discharge solutions – all outside.  I start with white fabric, dye it, overdye it, and screen it many times with different screens made from my own or my husband’s photos.  When the fabric is totally saturated and won’t take any more dye, I discharge some of the color, then dye or screen more, and then sometimes paint it.  Here are a few of the pieces that have been created recently in my back yard:





And here’s one new piece that has come from this process:

Weathered Text“Weathered Text” by Shelley Brucar.  Hand-dyed, screened and discharged velvet; machine stitching.

What, you may be thinking, does all this have to do with stress management and serenity?  Did I mention that fiber art is what brings me serenity?  If you don’t already have something you’re passionate about – something that makes the rest of the world disappear when you’re involved with it – find that passion now.  Then make time to pursue your passion.


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Filed under Art Stuff, discharge dyeing, hand-dyeing, Stress, thermofax screens



In my May 15 post, I explained the concept of REFRAMING.  Then in the May 27 post, I listed and explained some typical “irrational” thought patterns that result in negative thinking.  Today’s post is an exercise to help you: 1. define what causes YOUR negative thinking, and 2. brainstorm ideas for reframing negative thoughts into positive thoughts in order to reduce stress and behave in a more productive manner.

Silver Birchfiber art by Shelley Brucar

First an explanation:  The thoughts floating around in your head are known as SELF TALK.  I’m not implying that your are actually talking to yourself – although some of us do this too!  But we all have automatic thoughts going through our heads all day long, which usually do not even enter our awareness.  These are often old tapes playing from childhood about how we “should” feel and act.  These thoughts may have been useful at one time (or not), but they are probably no longer useful to you, and may be counterproductive in terms of how you “want” to feel and behave.  These thoughts are knee-jerk reactions to daily events which influence your behavior, often negatively.  The good news is, this is where you can intervene.  You can REFRAME your negative self talk into positive self talk, thereby altering your behavior and the consequences of your behavior.

Compare these photos.  CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS IN ANY SITUATION.  Choose what works for you.


Focus2photos by Shelley Brucar

Here is an 8-question exercise to help you identify and change your negative self talk and examples of negative self talk that could occur for a new artist (ask me how I know):

1.  TRIGGERS – Identify what specific events result in negative self talk.  Example:  I did not get juried into a show.

2.  FEELINGS – What are the feelings that occur in response to trigger named above?  Example: Sadness

3.  THOUGHTS/SELF TALK – What are the tapes playing in your head, what are you telling yourself about this event?  Example: My art is not good enough; maybe I should give it up.

4.  BEHAVIOR – What is your behavior, how do you react to this event?  Example: I refuse to enter other shows.

5.  CONSEQUENCES – What are the consequences resulting from your behavior?     Example: My work is not being exhibited and therefore, is not being seen.


6.  NEW SELF TALK – Name some positive ways to think about the same event.    Example: Maybe the pieces I submitted were not right or did not fit in for that show.

7.  NEW BEHAVIOR – How might your behavior change based on this new “self talk?”   Example: I will submit entries to other shows.

8. NEW CONSEQUENCES – What would likely be the consequences of your new behavior?  Example: I will be juried into some shows and exhibits, my work will be seen and will sell.

You can go through these 8 steps for any and all events that typically causes a negative and unproductive response for you.  Identifying your “self talk” is important because this is where you can intervene and make changes; this is where you have control.

Remember the serenity prayer:  TAKE CONTROL where you can and let go when you do not have control.  And by the way, here’s another version of the serenity prayer: 

“Grant me the Serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the Courage to change the one I can, and the Wisdom to know it’s me!”


Filed under Art Stuff, Coping, Reframe, Stress



If you like talking to automated systems, please press or say 1.

If you would like to hear a directory of names from the local phone book, please press or say 2.

If you would like to talk to a human who may or may not be able to help you, please press or say 3.  The wait is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes because we get so many calls about our products not working.

If you would like to speak with a human who will understand your frustration but will still not be able to help you, please press or say 4.

If you would like to speak with a human who will not be reading off a set script, please press or say 5.  Then hang up because we do not offer this option.

If you would like to jump through the phone line and strangle someone, please press or say 6.

If you would like to talk with a supervisor, please press or say 7.  Nothing will happen because supervisors cannot be found.

If you would really like to manage your stress, please press or say 8.  Then hang up immediately and go for a walk.

If you would like to be transferred to a different, but equally unhelpful menu, please press or say 9.

If you are seriously considering giving it all up and becoming Amish, please press or say… oh sorry, we’re out of numbers.

This probably sounds familiar to anyone who has ever phoned just about any company, agency, institution, etc. in our current, advanced technological society.  If by some chance you do get to speak with a human, you can explain that the phone on your account – along with internet and tv – are all not working.  The person at the other end of the line will inevitably ask you if the phone on your account is a good call-back number in case you get disconnected.  Take at least 3 deep breaths and explain that the number you are currently calling from – which actually works – would probably be a better call-back number in case you get disconnected, which by the way, is going to happen fairly soon if that person keeps asking questions like that one.

At the end of any conversation, the voice at the other end of the phone will ask you if s/he can help you with anything else (obviously part of the script).  This wording, “anything ELSE”,  implies that you have already been helped with something.  And you may also be asked how you would rate the service you have received.  They do not want to hear that the “service” you received is quite possibly the worst you can remember in your lifetime.

Swirling Leavesso far “Untitled” by Shelley Brucar – hand-dyed fabric, machine stitching, stretched over canvas.

So yes, in the last 24 hours, I have had the lovely opportunity to deal with three different automated phone systems.  For 2 out of 3, service, or lack thereof, was absolutely appalling.  The voice in my head was telling me I was going to have a stroke if this kept up.  Then the mail came, and I got the (“normal”) results of my “almost annual” mammogram.  I immediately realized that if those results had not been “normal”, all this other stuff would not have the gigantic importance that I had allowed it.  In fact, it would not have mattered at all.  So I went for a walk/run to the gym, worked out, and walked home.  And look at this – up and running again, at least for the moment.

The switch from “I think I’m going to have a stroke.” to “I am so grateful to be healthy.”  – THAT is what I call Perspective.  THAT is what I call REFRAMING!

If you enjoyed reading this post, please click “forward” and share with anyone you choose.

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Filed under Art Stuff, Coping, Reframe, Relax, Stress



all photos by WAYNE BRUCAR

Wayne and I love New Orleans and have been to “The Big Easy” many times.  We  just returned from our first trip back since Hurricane Katrina hit in October, 2005.  After 3 1/2 years, New Orleans is slowly coming back from the devastation of that hurricane.  It was as much fun as it always has been to be there, and in spite of some subtle differences, we had no trouble finding great food, music, scenery and relaxation.  We returned to some of our favorite places – The Old Coffee Pot, Mothers, Red Fish Grille, the Garden District and galleries on Royal Street.  We also found some new spots and had some new adventures – The Crazy Lobster, Plantation Laura tour, galleries and museums in the Arts District, and Audubon Park and Zoo.   We heard wonderful New Orleans music at the Royal Sonesta jazz club as well as on the street, and we were happy to find one of our favorites, Doreen, still going strong. 

New Orleans has not yet returned to the level of tourism from pre-Katrina, and if you’re in the mood for a get-away, this is definitely a place for many wildly varied experiences.  From the decadence of Bourbon Street to the elegance of the Garden District and the beauty of Audubon Park, here are some photos from NOLA.  So “Laissez les bon temps rollez” or Let the good times roll!

Blog4“We’re jazzed you’re here” – the ever-present trolley makes it quite easy to get around

Blog3Bird of Paradise at Audubon Park

Blog1Egret at Audubon Park – There were hundreds of them!

Blog6Audubon Park

Blog11Audubon Zoo

Blog12Did you ever see a white alligator?

Blog8Jackson Square where there is usually music, art and good people-watching

Blog18And here’s Doreen – We found Doreen and Lawrence Ketchens on Royal Street

Blog16This was the first time we saw a street musician with a piano!

Blog23Beautiful windows in the Garden District

Blog26The Garden District

NOLA – Cajun food, incredible jazz, beautiful parks, history and a variety of art.  It’s only a 2 hour flight from Chicago – what a fascinating and relaxing get-away!

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Filed under Relax, travel