"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
        - Mother Teresa
Valentine's Day is a "love it" or "leave it" kind of day. Why, you may ask, do I feel this way? Well, typically commercialism is latent and palpable amidst the genuine love and small acts of kindness; As such,  this can turn people into a "believer" or a "skeptic" of this confectionarily, rosy day.

Interestingly enough, I am a sort of hybrid of the day and proclaim to be a "LI-LI" Valentine's Day celebrator. I love the idea and essence of the day - a day that embraces those who you care about and love; a day that encourages us to take a moment away from our hectic lives and truly relish in the power of personal connection. On the other hand, I have a hard time justifying the purchase of "things" to express just how much I love someone.

So, this year, I tasked myself with thinking "outside-the-box" to create a meaningful and whimsical way to express my true feelings to my valentine. Struggling to capture to perfect intention, I decided to go back to the foundation - the basics - of things I knew I loved about her....artist...craftsman....potter....
woodworker....pin-hole camera builder....chef....dog-lover.... so many things to focus on as I thought about why she is special to me. Then, it clicked....     EUREKA!       Wood!

Wood, the most beautiful Valentine I could give my love. Although one might think I am like Betty White (Off My Rocker), but even if I was, the rocker would be made of WOOD! Just like the children's classic, The Giving Tree, love is unconditional and can grow and give...

Wood you be my Valentine? 
"Out in Front" January 27, 2013 by Jennifer Awe
"Catch Me If You Can" January 27, 2013 by Jennifer Awe
Acclaimed sculptural artist, Patrick Dougherty, made his mark at the home of the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA (not yet open) over the past two weeks as the artist selected featured in the "ARTmuse" program.  By weaving twigs, vines, trees, and other natural material, Dougherty is able to create whimsical yet architecturally-sound structures anticipated to last more than two years.  

As a nature enthusiast and art connoisseur, this installation piece is not only a stunning work of art that defies the rigid definition of semi-permanent structure, but also a symbol of community support for the arts. It was a great pleasure to be a part of this historic event and have an amazing opportunity to snap a few stunning photos for my portfolio.

For more information about Patrick Dougherty, please visit his website at www.stickwork.net.

It is an interesting concept to me that a day is dedicated to express the feelings toward someone whom you should express feelings of love on a daily basis. This has only come to my frontal cortex recently, recently as of this year. Although I love the thought of truly celebrating loved ones on special days, why do commercial holidays encourage this thoughtful expression only once a year. If you love, love every day - love out loud - love without reason. Life is short and deserves to be lived to its fullest capacity... celebrate life & love without reason. Love is an ocean, wide and vast, and should be celebrated each day like the tide that rises and falls... renewed each day and cherished for its range and depth.
I recently over heard a conversation between a faculty and a student at my institution. The student, after a devastating crit, was seeking the strength to continue in their installation piece while contemplating her creativity and purpose as an artist. Wise, the instructor did not provide the answers to concept, process, and creative flow however, he told a story - a story of nature vs. the artist. Expressive and engaging, the instructor lead the student down a path of possibility and ended his story with these words to the student longing for direction. He said, "You are here, studying your passion for a reason. Although the crit process is a hybrid of theory, artistic fundamentals and personal subjectivity, ultimately everything that is not made by nature is made by an artist..." Her wheels, although rusted by the tears she shed, started to slow turn and generate enough power to make her creative light-bulb glow. Ultimately, the instructor re-opened her eyes and invigorated her soul to the possibility of creating work that would only complement and be in competition with the beauty of her natural surroundings.
Often times individuals embrace a "new year" with a "new me" mentality. This encourages times of change, often drastic, including: weight loss, exercise, spending more time with friends and family, spending less money, quitting smoking or drinking, learning something new, or even just getting organized. Many of these resolutions, although well-intended and important to the individual, are often not sustained through the days or even weeks that follow the big bash and dropping of the New York ball in Times Square. 

Why is this? 

Some might suspect that the resolutions are not S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, or timely) or others might purpose that the resolutions made during this time are inauthentic to the individual (i.e. they make these goals based on what they think others want them to do). I would, on some levels, agree with both these hypothesis and to the mix add that there is a lack of accountability - on part of the individual - to really be held to the resolutions they make. If this is the case, how can we hold ourselves accountable to ourselves? Can we?
Stephen Covey says that, "accountability breeds response-ability" and Benjamin Disrael purposes that "the secret of success is constancy to purpose"... Although both of these quotes are very applicable to resolution accountability, I would also suggest to tell as many people as you can about your goals for the new year; tell your friends, family, co-workers, even your pets. Why you may ask? Because it is difficult to hold ourselves accountable to ourselves... Maybe this is a sign that we need to ask for help and allow others in on our world, goals, and resolutions.Try it and let me know what you think!P.S. My goal for this year is to add to this website/blog at least once a week. Off to a shaky start but it's probable because I didn't tell you...so much for my personal accountability.

It's an amazing time to share with family and friends and one that I have been waiting to experience for over 30 years. This past summer, I graduated from Nova Southeastern University with my Doctorate in Education and could not be more proud of my accomplishments.

As a first-generation college student, the road traveled to this point may not have always been clear; it may not have always been mapped out for me; and it may not have been very easy... but non-the-less, it was well worth all the bumps and bruises along the way. 

Nowadays, the value of a "formal" education should not be understated as it opens many more doors that could not be opened without one; however, the value of "experiential" education should not be overlooked as it is the core...the heart and soul...of how one applies the "formal" education via their own personal flare. 

Two roads, one "formal" and the other "experiential", merge together to create one exciting new path for the future. Although Robert Frost explains a divergence in the woods and the need to select a specific path to travel, what he neglects to explain as that just beyond the "yellow woods" and the "undergrowth" in the distance lies a GPS unit and a Parkour training video - wrapped in a pretty box with a note that says, "Now you have no excuses"!

Plymouth Review Newspaper Article