Today's 'Art Everywhere' is about jobs.

651,000 jobs were cut in the U.S. in February, and unemployment is at its highest in 25 years. The total of unemployed persons in the United States now stands at 12.5 million out of a labor force of 154.2 million workers. "No sector or population group is spared by this ugly recession," said Harm Bandholz, economist at Unicredit Markets. "Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for the labor market slump." (from Washington Times, 3.7.09)

We are all feeling it. Whether in our own lives, or in the lives of people we know and care about. Last night I sat in and listened to a small group of women sharing what matters most to them right now. 5 of the 6 middle-aged middle-income women expressed serious concern about personal job loss or change. We're all saturated with economic instability and a shaking job market.
With that in mind, I've posted the art of this ad campaign. Not to make light of a serious situation, just to give reason to smile at it for a minute. The following graphics were a part of the "Wrong Job" series for employment opportunities. It's says "Life's too short for the wrong job." But the way things are right now, maybe not. Maybe there is a whole slew of covert employment to consider -- jobs we don't even know about. And, frankly, I suspected some of these were true, especially the ATM!

Today's very thin silver lining: At least we aren't spending today squashed into a gas pump or washing machine!
Hang in there ...


Some thoughts for a Sunday...

Rob Bell

Something on the Road ...

This past week in my family has been pure, true, deeply settled happiness. We have spent many calm & unhurried hours listening to global stories, looking at pictures, and recalibrating our worlds to include each other again in the same space. My oldest son is the same in so many ways. He plays with and laughs at his brothers. Yesterday, he and Christian Outlaw sat on the couch with Ty, and played music like they always have. And it was joy to feel the familiarity of it all. But, Andrew is also changed profoundly by what he has seen, what he now knows.

These words are not his, but, for me they quietly capture what we've heard in his responses about the places where he has been, the people he came to love ... and who he is now.

(The video clip of this song by Sara Groves, is below.)

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me, your dreams inspire
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
(what I am made of)
and what I know of love

we've done what we've done
and we can't erase it
we are what we are
and it's more than enough
we have what we have but it's no substitution

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

I say what I say with no hesitation
I have what I have and I'm giving it up
I do what I do with deep conviction

Something on the road, changed my world....
and what I know of God.

~Sara Groves, I Saw What I Saw

Snow Day

Today in Our Back Yard.
Does this look like Spring Break weather to you?
(It's ok. We really need the moisture. )
"A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations,
but look what they can do when they stick together!"
~Author Unknown

Waiting and Arrival

Increase in Numbers

at the Denver Museum.
Then, 5 waited at the airport.
And 5 waited some more...
Then at the arrival gate,
when the 5 was looking in the opposite direction,
the sixth snuck up behind.
After happy surprised shouts,
tears, and strong hugs,
5 became 6
and piled back in the car.
And now, home again...
It was a very
good day

There and Back Again

This is a re-print of an article I posted (9.08) after my son departed Denver on his trek around the world. As you read this, our family is probably in some part of our journey to retrieve him at the same airport in Denver. In reverse symmetry, this time I will watch brothers be reunited. Instead of saying good-byes, Steve and I will embrace our son and welcome him home. Today is a day of homecoming, not departure. Today, we celebrate.

These thoughts, written at Andrew's leaving, still ring true at his arrival. Even after the globe has been circled, and all the moments have been counted down to reunion, we still remain in a parent's cycle of release, into another season of birth, and release again.


Pictured: "Poppy before the Lightning." 8.12.08 KjL

We measure the things we care about. Be it body weight, interest rates, age, or days to delivery. I remember measuring out my pregnant months until delivery; days and hours counted down. Then after each birth, I would pay attention to the moments until each boy reached 9 months old. After that point, each life begins a slow crawl away from me. Every day after nine months is the marking of a son's life lived longer outside my body than inside. At nine months, independent life overtakes the gestation process. The process of weaning begins ... and never ends. All of life is a constant pulse of gestation and birth, nursing and weaning, embrace and release.

There have been too many times that I have lost the pulse. I have been too distracted when attention was needed; nursed when I should have weaned; released when I should have held; over-protected when I should have let go. For all the times I have missed the mark, regret reminds me. It is a relentless companion that I constantly fight to silence. And, last summer as the days to Andrew's global departure counted down, I measured the moments, and fought regret.

Firstborn children carry the privilege of age and the affects of their parent's inexperience. So, as Andrew was packing and checking off his last lists before leaving, I felt the weight of my many failures. Thousands of frightening and beautiful moments slip by in motherhood. I had sworn to capture them; to remember, to document, and share it all. Funny quotes, pictures, life-events, vacations, sports, music, you name it. And, I couldn't capture it as it all sped by. For several months before he left, this was just one regret that constantly followed me around the house like bad weather. I'd feel it creep up and settle in. But a certain grace recently came to me. It helped me silence regret and loosen my clenched grip on the past.

Hummingbirds. We have a hummingbird feeder by our living room window. One brown and orange 'Rufous' hummingbird arrived late in July and claimed the feeder as his own. In so doing, he became "ours." Rufus was possessive and mean. He would run off any visiting hummers, including a humming mom and small baby. We came to learn his only fear was large bees, and the cat. Rufus was strikingly brilliant in speed and color. To catch sight of him drinking at the feeder would always make me gasp and involuntarily point, "LOOK!" to anyone in the room. This motion would inevitably startle Rufus and he would take flight. Over and over, my finger was left pointing at an empty feeder. My sons would gasp and point. My husband would gasp and point. Like a flint spark, Rufus would disappear before the experience could be shared.

Shooting Stars. This past summer, all six of us went on a 5 day backpacking trip up into Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado. We stopped in transit on a gravel road. Traveling under a black night sky in our big old Suburban, Steve pulled over. Steve, Ty, and Isaac got up on the roof of the truck and watched a meteor shower. I craned to see out the window while they shouted and admired, "LOOK!" Each time, before I could locate the shooting star, it would be gone. Isaac saw three meteors fly across the sky, and I did not see one of them. Those were his moments of wonder; not mine. Shooting stars are very hard to share.

Lightning. Back home, in my front yard, the warm sun was setting just right. It was breaking in beams over the mountain and trees, down into my garden. Certain flowers were being spotlighted from the sky. I grabbed my camera to capture the poppies, glowing red on tall wiry stems and swaying stiffly in the breeze. I caught their tall papery poses in high definition. As the camera clicked, the mountain backdrop became dark and stormy. The breeze went cold. I turned to get an image of the imposing clouds. At that moment, a huge bolt of lightning struck the top of the Peak. My finger was ready on the shutter. But, I missed it. Too fleeting to be captured, that moment of lightning was for my eye alone.

There are moments of childhood that are hummingbirds, shooting stars, and lightning. A toddler pulls himself up to stand, smiles, and falls; a nursing infant looks up at my face, and stops to touch my nose; a tiny son stops and signs "I love you" when he gets out of the car to go to kindergarten; my guitar player or drummer, looks down from the stage, and catches my eye, in the crowd. Adrenaline rushes deep with joy, one second, and it's gone; too fleeting to be shared; no way to catch and keep; no place for regret, only gratitude. Gratitude, instead.

For me, this was a truth full of grace. As I counted down the days to releasing Andrew out into the world (literally), as his departure approached, some of my regret lost its power. For me to pine away over how something should have been, is to miss what is, right now, in front of me. In this life, we are given breath-stealing moments; unmerited, and untethered from future burden or past regret. They are the hum of a bird wing, the flight of a star, a streak of lightning in the sky ... or loved ones, home until they leave. Afterward, our fingers are left pointing at an empty feeder, or poised on an unclicked shutter. They are joys and sorrows, not meant to be kept or possessed. We can not hold it all, or clench it tightly for the future. The moments we measure are meant to be lived fully, and let go. The waiting of gestation always means a moment of birth. Birth and release.... and release ... and, release again ... sometimes to the ends of the Earth, and back again.

V-Team Departure, Denver International Airport, Sept. 2009

A Lifted Haze

Spring Break has arrived. That means I finally have a moment sit down and admit it's been too long. This blog has been beckoning, and I've been ignoring -- running after the million other little things that hollered louder for my attention. Rats. 'Makes me think of the lyrics from this 3 Doors Down song:
All these little things in life they all create this haze
There’s too many things to get done, and I’m running out of days
Will all these little things in life, they all create this haze
My friend, tell me why it has to be this way.
~3 Doors Down, Running out of Days.
I'm shaking off the haze from all the little things today. Instead, significant things about sons:
Lucas (11) informed me the other night, as he was laying in bed with a book, surrounded by his family of stuffed white tigers that, "I just don't talk to them the same way anymore." He went on to explain how he doesn't 'see' them anymore. They aren't 'alive' very often anymore. And he summed it up as possibly being due to having more 'real' friends, and a now, a real dog. And in that, I saw again, the richness of a young child's imagination fading with age. I wish the inevitable arrival of life's reality wouldn't steal away invisible friends. But it does. Like Christopher Robin and the House at Pooh Corner, it happens to us all. I'll miss the white tiger family being alive on his bunk.
Isaac (13) has decided (entirely apart from school) to put cuttings of various plants in neatly labeled clear glass jars. He has started a journal to map their growth in a notebook. The notebook has been soggy however, and Isaac has deemed the cat as possessed-by-Satan for constantly knocking over his water-filled jars full of tender roots. Who knew this botanical interest was sprouting up in him? Since Kitty also gets into wild & random scratch-and-bite outbursts -- directed only at Isaac -- I'm not real hopeful for a truce between the two.
Tyler (17) is getting his license this week. This means a new season of freedom and responsibility for him. Ty has an ability to be very focused on one thing. He is hard-wired to have laser focus, on one thing at a time. He is precise and accurate at any singular assignment he has. He is a great student because of this. However, this ability makes driving in a city full of many many many different things to focus on ... um ... well... sometimes it made last year's Learner's Permit experience a real white-knuckle adventure.
Andrew (19) comes home tomorrow. After traveling around the world, many months away, with Christmas, birthday, and 3 seasons gone by, he will be back with us. He will not be the same. We know this. We expect it. And we will embrace whatever change he brings after the long absence. It will be pure joy to see 4 brothers reunited. I can't type it without crying. Tomorrow will be a very good day.
No more haze of small things. No more things to get done. We've run out of days. Tomorrow is upon us. And tomorrow, is a very big day, indeed.

Art Everywhere

mixed media
K. Leigh

Today's installment of "Art Everywhere" literally was art everywhere in my house. The picture (above) is a mural I produced for a friend. It is now installed at Insight Services, in downtown Colorado Springs, CO. However, before it found a new home on the wall of Jason Freisema's offices, it lived in pieces, and was assembled by the creativity of a little team of brains. I won't miss the piles of 1,000's of ripped magazine graphics strewn all over the living room, or the glue drips, or the sawdust. But it sure was fun and gratifying to see it all come together and become a fixture in a waiting room.

My 17 year old son, Ty, designed the shape and dimensionality of this 4 ft x 8 ft piece. And I'm really proud of his eye both for art in public spaces, and architectural lines. When he was in 7th grade, he designed the art which is suspended in our church foyer. (It is a flock of wire birds flying high in a large vaulted area). He's one to follow as he pursues his passion for engineering, design, and architecture. If you're in Colorado Springs, stop by the office, look around. There's also a poster I did a few years back, on the adjacent wall. Jason has put this little gallery in his office, and it makes me chuckle because I have real honest-to-goodness professional artist friends who actually have their stuff in real galleries. They graciously humor my occasional novice projects. Anyhow, you can go see it, too, only if you remember this isn't my day job. And, while you're there, see how many hidden pictures you can find in this "Insight" wall art!

Check out the assembly pictures and production credits below ...
Thanks for making a little "K. Leigh Gallery," Jason!
'Very awesome of you. :)
In need of addiction counselling or family therapy?
Insight Services 115 East Costilla, Colorado Springs, CO

Check out the website for contact information --
and, less importantly, to see more pix of their waiting-room art!


Print Graphic Collage: Kelley Leigh
Design: Ty Leigh
Frame Assembly and Mounting Process: Steve Leigh & Jason Friesema
Graphic Ripping and Base Painting: Isaac & Lucas Leigh
"Helpers": Noah and Kezie Friesema


Sometimes a picture speaks for itself. Little or no explanation is needed for this one.
This is Andrew Leigh, in New Zealand, holding a ridiculously cute little girl who is waving and smiling at you! How can you not smile back?

Go ahead and pass a smile along to someone else.
Have a great day.

"Every time you smile at someone,

it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."

Mother Theresa

Herding Cats

I vacillate between being a dog person and a cat person. Our dog is the best one we've ever had. She's great. As our kids affectionately describe her, "Senny is a great dog. She smells like garbage and she licks a lot. But she can't help it." There are downsides even for the best of dogs. Our cat is also one of our best ever. But truth be told, he gets in demon moods and knocks fragile things off shelves just for spite. There is something about having pets that points to parenthood. No matter how much we love them, there are bad days full of things we can't control -- more so with cats than dogs. And it makes me think, some days are "dog days" for parenting. Dog days are days when our kids are just fun to be around. They make great companions, and they happily do what they are told. But there are also cat days. Those are the days when you feel more like a slave than a master. When it's a bad parenting day, and it's just plain hard work to get anything to go in the right direction ... that's a cat-herding day.

This Superbowl commercial captures the true essence of it all. Take a look ...

It's Been a While

No time to adequately catch you up ... just a few phrases to paint a picture ... and I'll just title it all "Missing the Boat."

  • I was gone to the East Coast for 5 days.
  • Came home on Valentines Day wiped out and emotionally spent. 'Totally missed the boat on Steve's awesome Valentine's Day set-up. He had a clean house, flowers, and home-made valentine waiting for me. All I had to offer him was a tired and crabby disposition.
  • Steve left the next morning for a business trip.
  • All sons at home got sick with the flu.
  • Steve came home.
  • Dishwasher broke. Steve spent soggy time on the kitchen floor with screwdriver and plastic pieces.
  • I got sick with the flu.
  • Washing Machine broke. Had to farm out laundry to amazing friends.
  • Steve and I started avoiding eye contact.

I relationally floated past my husband for a couple weeks. I watched him wrangle with dishes and the dishwasher, and a sick wife. My sons ran fevers and generally felt lousy. Dishes waited patiently in the sink. And the laundry room went chaotic.

On Monday, Steve and I finally had some time to have a real conversation. It was one of those hard conversations where you have to go back and speak the really hard and awful things that happened, and the ways we hurt each other. It's a necessary process. Like cleaning out the drain in the dishwasher, washing sheets in hot water, or fixing the pump on the washing machine. It's important to do clean up and maintenance -- physically and relationally. Otherwise stuff just continues to break, and pile up, and make you feel sick. So, today, my word to you is my own Note to Self:

If you are missing the boat with someone you love, just say it. Speak what's been happening. It is really unpleasant and feels bad to admit where things have been broken or unhealthy. But in the long run, it's way better than the festering silence or distance that come with avoidance. The first step to getting things fixed and healthy again starts today: Say what you need to say. Hear what you need to hear. Ask for forgiveness. Start over. It'll be worth it.

So now, things are up and running again at our house. Steve and I can look each other in the eye and smile again. And, it feels like coming out of a bad sick feverish dream. Ty found this clip on YouTube. (It's not our dog). And, maybe it best sums up a little bit of how the waking-up felt. Maybe you relate.