Catching my own butterflies

Is anyone else dreaming wildly, and more vividly than usual during this pandemic? With my barely recognizable sleep cycle and Defcon-5-level of worries and what-ifs, it’s even more noticeable for me these past few months. Some dreams are noteworthy, but mostly I’m just exhausted all day.

I’ve always had pretty good recall of many nightly adventures, especially the crazy ones. And while I seldom write them down or try to analyze the deeper meaning, there are those that hit me on the head in the morning letting me KNOW there’s a message in there I can’t ignore.

I recently stumbled upon a page in one of my countless notebooks describing one such dream that took place when I was in the process of starting my business. I had completely forgotten about it so I was pleased I had the awareness to write it down at the time. It went like this:

I was discussing a potential job with a woman who seemed to work for Apple. She was enthusiastically explaining how much money I would make – millions! – and what a huge asset I would be to the company.

She said, “you’ll be responsible for catching my butterflies and making them pretty!”

As a designer and a writer, I’m used to being given concepts or words and then asked to ‘make them pretty’ so I was understandably excited and confident. However, I had misunderstood what she was expecting of me: I was to help organize her brilliance but not in a creative capacity – as a personal assistant to her and the team. In spite of the promised riches, I declined the offer because I knew I could do so much more.

I recall waking up and feeling good that my subconscious knew what was best for me as I embarked on my new venture. I’ve had many jobs over the years that were fulfilling and educational, but I was ultimately working on someone else’s dream – not mine.

It was time to catch my own butterflies.

Bottoms Up!

As we enter our 384th week in the global pandemic of 2020, certain things have become the norm:

  • Calculating on my fingers the last time I showered, then factoring in the 6-foot buffer before venturing out in public.
  • Practicing “eye smiling” in the mirror with my mask on so I don’t make other shoppers uncomfortable while waiting for my turn in the vodka aisle.
  • Obsessing over The Numbers every day and pretending they will magically change things back to the way they were pre-March.

Meanwhile, I was listening to a favorite book for an online book club – and hoping to spark my creative embers. It was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and truly, she could read tax codes and I’d be soothed and reassured of a positive outcome to all of this… *gestures at the world*

Two items she touches on in Big Magic are the basis of my little story today.

The first time I read it I was captivated by Liz’s mining of literary gold as a bartender. I myself have often mentally bookmarked someone’s interesting story or snippet of conversation for future exploration. The day after my mom died I woke up drained and sad, but I announced to anyone who would listen that I would now go be a bartender as well, in order to invigorate my writing career.

Well, if you received this email you know I started a business instead.

Another chapter tells the story of a writer who was creatively constipated after a massive failure, so he distracted himself by painting his children’s bicycles with hundreds of stars. And then their friends’ bikes. And before he knew it, his virtual bowels moved and he could return to his own work.

Flash forward two years and that guy’s story felt very relevant with a pandemic sucking the life out of our usual passions. However the internet has also been full of people resurrecting past hobbies, learning new skills, and painting stars in their own way. Long story long, I was likewise inspired to try something creatively different that didn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of art or writing.

I set up bar at my own house and made drinks.

As my hobby has developed, I’ve since discovered the disarming Quinn Cumming – former child actor, current writer and cocktail purveyor – who is sharing her own quarantine gig for a good cause every week on Zoom. And for that book club I crafted a pretty drink for the group dubbed Big Magic. The recipe is below if you’re so inclined.

You probably won’t find me behind or AT a bar any time soon (Hello! Have you seen The Numbers??!) but it has spawned a fun outlet to help me feel less frustrated and resentful over my inability to complete a novel or two with all this down time. I’ll drink to that!

Let me know what hobbies, skills or diversions you’ve embraced this year. Stay safe and be well. xo

Big Magic recipe

Abstract Notions

Red Dot by Jim Klein

Attend any modern art exhibit and you’re bound to overhear remarks like “my preschooler could do better” and “they want how much for that?”

While even the most educated art lover may have strong negative opinions about a piece that involves seemingly random brush strokes or splotches, there is much more than meets the eye behind the most well-known modern artworks. Indeed, there’s a rich history behind the abstract movement that can shed light on the value of this art form, and maybe enhance your appreciation as well.

Abstraction literally means to take something away from and that was the notion inspiring the artists of the late 19th century. The first signs of the movement can be traced to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism, which all flirted with non-representational art. Expressionists like Henri Matisse focused more on color, shapes, and the emotions they evoked. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali painted real things and people in an unreal manner. The artist most associated with the birth of the abstract movement was Wassily Kandinsky.

The commonality of these artists is that before experimenting with the non-representational, they were accomplished illustrators and painters. They understood perspective and color theory and the golden ratio – a compositional strategy in art. They saw modern art as an emotional response to the fundamental changes in society due to technology, the economy and philosophy.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Artists throughout the last century continue to be inspired by the early movement of contemporary art – especially with popular and thriving urban centers around the world that are ideal for large, bold statements in paint and sculpture. Jim Klein can be counted as one of the inspired.


Meet Jim Klein

About two years ago, I was exploring the arts district in Scottsdale, soaking up the art, and looking for potential clients, when I entered the J Klein Gallery. It was a small space with vibrant colors and eye-catching canvases juxtaposed with traditional bronze sculptures of the animal world.

Turns out, I moved all the way from Colorado five years earlier to stumble upon a gallery featuring three familial artists from the very region I used to live! The owner, Jim Klein, splits his time between Scottsdale and Northern Colorado and created the space to showcase his own work as well as that of his nephew (Jeffrey Berryman) and cousin (Dan Ostermiller).

To make a long story short (haha, not likely), I ended up working with the gallery on some design projects and eventually came on as a part-time art consultant. This fulfilled a need for all involved and got me out of my pajamas and back into the joy of sharing art with the public.

Trappers Point by Jim Klein

As a former gallery owner, I sought to represent all types of art including abstract and non-traditional. I immediately appreciated Jim’s successful mix of interpretive and figurative imagery, with a broad, kaleidoscope of colors for his palette. His work is inspired by both Colorado and Arizona, flora and fauna, friends and strangers, as well as impulsive journeys through his own curiosity.


Speaking of journey, Jim’s artistic trajectory was not typical. Although he’s always been creative, his entrepreneurship was based in the agricultural industry. Upon retirement, he dipped back into painting and music and found a deeper well from which to draw. You’ll find conspicuous influences of his previous business and current farm life in many of his contemporary landscapes and the occasional cow.

“The subjects of my paintings are very seldom intentional. At a certain point, something takes over the brush, canvas, and paints and I have no control; the art goes where it goes,” explains Jim.

A man after my own heart, Jim relishes the marriage of art and story, often sharing his thought processes and sometimes humorous behind-the-canvas anecdotes. He doesn’t take the art world too seriously, and genuinely loves when his work makes people happy.

He gets it.

Before settling for a famous starry night poster or black & white photography for your own home collection, explore the diversity and delight behind names like Rothko, Pollock, af Klint and Klein. And next time you hear someone profess, “I just don’t get it!” remember that art appreciation doesn’t always require comprehension.

To learn more about Jim and the work at J Klein Gallery, visit here. Contact me for an exclusive 40% discount and free shipping while we’re closed due to the pandemic. [Portions of this post are from an article written by Susan Richards and reprinted with permission by DLP Marketing.]


Has Anyone Seen My Attention Span?

How are you doing?

Who knew six weeks ago this would be such a loaded question, right?
In just the past couple months:
Art festival season was in full swing in Arizona.
I joined a local writer’s group.
My “little girl” turned 18 and was looking forward to graduation in May.
I had a fabulous singer/songwriter scheduled for a house concert at the end of March.
A collage/journal workshop was on the calendar, and so forth and so on…
Then, suddenly our lives were turned upside down in what seemed like a matter of days.
Even though I already worked from home most days and consider myself an optimist, the past month totally knocked the wind out of me. Anyone else is in a similar, overwhelmed headspace?
Sure, I have more time now but my creative muse has left the building. My attention span seems to have vanished along with happy hour dates, summer concerts, and even hugs. My art supplies are collecting dust and incomplete sentences litter my writing like…
I’m sorry, what was I saying…?
The one thing I know, as the days pass it will be easier to get through to the other side of this crisis if we stay connected and supportive. I have been moved by such wonderful displays of community, generosity and outreach in our neighborhoods, from our schools and teachers, at the local essential stores and restaurants, and more.
For my part, I’ll be highlighting the talents of creative individuals who can’t share their gifts in the usual capacity right now – artists, musicians, writers, etc. I will post on my blog two or three times each week so if you’re interested, please follow for a small virtual showcase.
Meanwhile, you’ll find some people and resources below that have elevated my spirits in the past few weeks, providing much needed entertainment and inspiration. Enjoy, and reply to share your own feel-good finds.

For now, stay safe, stay home if possible, be well and wash your %#&* hands!

– Susan

• Follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram for regular love and light. She also recorded an amazing piece about facing fear on the Insight Timer app.

• I’m head over heels for actress Mary Neely who is staying home while recreating musical numbers and costumed scenes from her favorite Broadway shows – all by herself! Check out her Twitter feed @mneelzy for ALL the joy.

• The Facebook page Viral MUSIC–Because Kindness Is Contagious is showcasing indie performers from all over the world. The live music is free but you can contribute to their digital tip jars whenever possible.

• The Getty Museum has challenged home-bound art lovers to recreate their favorite works with common things at their disposal. The results have been crazy fun and creative!

• One of my favorite people on Twitter, writer Chuck Wendig had a great post on his Terrible Minds blog last week that perfectly described how many of us feel.

covid help

Don’t just find your purpose, create it!

Last summer I celebrated one year of Suzu Creative and knew I wanted to find some kind of mastermind or program to help me fully clarify my business goals and provide a circle of support and professional knowledge.

Serendipitously, Quinn Tempest – a vivacious business coach and bright ray of sunshine on Instagram – launched just such a group and invited me to join the inaugural beta program! It has been an amazing experience of education, friendship, sharing purpose, and much more. Quinn has trademarked Create Your Purpose™ because that is her passion – helping people MAKE their path, not just find it. She has opened the collective to new members and I encourage you to check it out if you’re forging a new business, improving on an existing one, or trying to figure out what to do with your side gig that brings you joy. I know I’m looking forward to benefiting even more from Quinn’s expertise as well as that of dozens of smart, funny, wonderful women in business. Hurry, though! Registration closes this Friday.

Hit me up if you have specific questions – here’s her link to check out…

Fantastic photo shoot by Delight in the Desert Photography 😍