Mixed Media Art Straight From the Heart

There is nothing more gratifying than creating mixed media art straight from the heart. I am sure those close to me are getting weary of hearing my story, but my illness from two years ago is a big part of me and defines me in a way.  It has changed me so much. Since I was on the receiving end of so much love and support, I vowed to find ways to pay it forward and to share the love.


We received so many meals, etc. and I often pay it forward by making a meal for other people now who are going through a tough time.  But cooking is really not my forte, so if I made you something and it wasn’t all that great…I am so sorry.  It is the thought that counts, right. 😉  Maybe I should do gift certificates to local restaurants instead.

I decided to find another way to spread the love…and that is through art.  Art is more my “thing!”  My favorite is doing mixed media pieces that combine all different types of mediums. Sometimes there are people or stories that move me so much that I feel called to create a piece of art for them.  Some are people I know very well, kinda know and some are total strangers.  But lately, I have been creating pieces in honor of people who have gained their wings.  My heart bleeds for the family and friends left behind who grieve the loss of their loved one.

My first “Art From the Heart” piece was actually a commissioned one a few years ago.  A woman saw my work and asked me to create a piece honoring her sweet daughter who had passed.  She was the same age as my best friend who died when she was nine so this piece was near and dear to my heart.  I created it out of 100% love and through many tears after hours of looking at the inspirational photos and trying to capture her likeness.  When it came time for her Mom to pick up the piece I just couldn’t put a price on it.  So I gave it to her as a gift.  It was the right thing to do and sharing the love felt so good.


My second piece was to honor a great man who died so suddenly.  He was one of the builders that I worked for and he was truly admired by so many.  We were in the midst of building a spec home when he passed.  So I got to work with a team of builders and contractors to create this “tribute house” in his honor.  I made this piece for his surviving wife and children.


It isn’t always a piece in honor of an angel who got their wings. I have also created pieces for some angels here on earth.  When I was sick I had so many angels looking out for my young boys, but their four main teachers at school were a God send!  They looked out for and loved on my boys all day long, as if they were their own, when I couldn’t do it myself.  I am forever in their gratitude.  I used the boys classroom photos as inspiration to capture their likeness to create something special to thank them for their kindness.  If you live in Winston-Salem, I wonder if you can guess who these for teachers are!!  Feel free to guess in the comments section!




This past Christmas, my heart tugged at me in several directions to create pieces for three more beautiful souls. Two had gained their wings and one is a sweet girl who is still fighting the fight.  So for those of you thinking you were off my Christmas card list, you weren’t.  I didn’t send any.  I told my husband I felt my time was much better spent creating something that might help soothe the souls of these special families.  One piece can take up anywhere between 4-8 hours so writing out 100’s of Christmas cards took a back seat.  So, don’t take me off your list just yet!  I love receiving your family photo cards each year!!

I made this particular piece for the kindest women and her son.  They lost the love of their life and this was the first Christmas without him. This gentle man loved baseball so I was sure to incorporate that into this piece.  My whole family delivered it in person since we knew them. I don’t often get to deliver them in person and seal it with a hug so this was a special treat.  She later told me her son took it to church with him on Christmas.  My heart goes out to them often!  I know they miss “the bear” so much!


I have two young boys, and the tragedy of the loss of this young boy tugged at my heart so strong.  It was all over the news and my heart ached for this family.   I always research a little bit about my subject if I don’t know them personally, whether from obituaries, the news or from friends.  This young boy had accomplished so much in such a short time.  I know his legacy will live on through his family and friends who aspire to do good things too.  His love of soccer was so prevalent.  I had heard his favorite color was green, so I was sure to include that in my attempt to capture his likeness.  I think of his parents often.  I admire them for their strength and bravery as I get updates from mutual friends.


This was my third piece that I created at Christmas time.  This sweet little girl is fighting the fight so hard right now.  Her sweet smile captured my soul.  Sometimes you don’t know what to do for people, especially total strangers, so I thought I would make a piece of art.  It is therapeutic for me and hopefully for those that receive it. I don’t know them, so I just shipped it off and pray that it made it into their hands.  I am still following her story and send love and prayers her way that she wins this fight!


I just created another piece and finished it today but I haven’t delivered it yet.  This little angel inspired me to try something new and I will share it soon.  So, even the souls of those that have departed still shine down here on earth and inspire me daily.

So, why am I sharing all of this?  I actually debated whether or not to share this post.  I don’t create these pieces for kudos or anything. They are made out of pure love.  I didn’t want anyone to question my authenticity for why I create them and why I wanted to share this story.  But, then I thought that is just rubbish.  I can’t explain it, but sometimes I hear a story and my gut says to drop everything and just go make something for someone.

These art pieces and this post are nothing more than a way for me to spread the love.  We live in a crazy world right now with so much hate.  I feel that it is important to share honest to goodness, heartfelt things that mean a lot to us.   My reason to share this is to truly honor those who have received their wings.  I also want thank all of those who showed loving kindness to me and my family.  I truly commend you AND want to challenge you to continue to keep spreading your love.  There are soooo many good people in this world.  I have seen it first-hand and I have learned from the best.  Your kindness has inspired me to do things like these.  I feel that we just need to remember that even during the tough times that Love Wins every time.  Every damn time. Just keep sharing it and showing it!  So please go find your “thing” and keep sharing the love!  You are amazing.


~MB, Chief Bucket Filler


Surface Pattern Design Doodle Prompts

One of the assignments for my Surface Pattern Design Classes that I am taking is to doodle with various prompts.  Here are two different prompts I am working on for class.

The first one was to Doodle Objects.  We got a list of objects to choose from like tents, boats, pens, cars…etc.  I took the transportation route.  I have been obsessed with Vintage RV’s right now.  I am trying to convince my husband to get one!  We both love the show Flipping RV’s on TLC.  Watch it.  It is fantastic.  Anyway, I doodled a variety of vintage RV’s.  Swoon!  I have a whole Pinterest Board on Glamping!  Follow me if you want.  I warned you I was obsessed!


I sit out on my back deck with my pencil, pen and paper and doodle away.  I think everyone should get to work outside in the fresh air.  Ah-Maze-Ing!   Can I get an AMEN?  I could do this ALL DAY LONG!!  So good for the soul and a total bucket filler for me!

The other prompt was to doodle Characters.  I was stumped at first.  I was originally thinking of doing chickens.  Which, I still will do.  A lot of people are starting to raise chickens.  I think it seems so fun!   But, then I looked up from my desk and saw this cute little guy looking down at me.  A ha!  Perfect!  Cal had made this Super Hero for me.  He told me I was his hero while I was in the midst of my journey to recovery.  If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.  Cal is a cute little bugger, isn’t he?  I think I will keep him.   I just love this, which is why he is soars over my desk everyday!


I recreated this Super Duper Hero on the computer.  I showed Cal when he got home from school and his whole face lit up.  He was so happy and proud that I created something from what he made.  Seriously, priceless!!  I need to play with his hair a little more but this is my first draft.  Super Cal to the Rescue!  I think he’s got character!

Captain Cal

These exercises are all about finding our style.  Mine is definitely simple, playful, whimsical and fun.  It is interesting to see all the students post their work.  So many different styles!  I admire the ones who draw so realistically.  I tried it but it is so not me!  I love the simple quirky, hand-drawn feel.

Just wanted to give you a glimpse into how a pattern begins.  I take my doodles, scan them into my computer and then edit and manipulate them in Photoshop and Illustrator into art and patterns.  These doodles will be turned into so much more…just wait.  I will post a photo of this little guy in a finished repeating pattern.

Doodlefully yours,



Learn What You Love

I am a big believer in doing what you love.  I truly believe that you should follow your passion.  I could never work in a job that I wasn’t passionate about.  My career path has been a winding one, but I have loved every curve in it.

I am currently headed back to the classroom to follow a passionate itch that has been scratching at the surface for a bit now.  I am enrolled in a series of intense classes to learn the skill of becoming a Surface Pattern Designer.  What does that mean?   It is basically fabric design. Hopefully, someday companies will license my designs for fabric, home decor, art and even fashion!

Here is a sample of my Run For It T-shirt.  I will sell some items like this on my shops like Zazzle and I will be opening another one soon that has more home decor items.   Stay tuned…  I am trying to find a balance between working, parenting, creating, learning and branding.


What got me here?  There have been numerous times when I was shopping for something for a client and I just couldn’t find the right fabric or design.  Sometimes I would end up making the art myself if I had the time.  That led me to thinking…why can’t I design fabric that people would want to buy?  So, I researched the industry and found what I needed to help me learn what I love.

Classes are intense and i am learning so much.  I feel like all of my previous work experience has led me here.  I am drawing and doodling again on the computer like I did when I started my home-based stationery business so many years ago.  And, you all know I love to do art!  Plus, I get to use my interior design experience by creating interesting color palettes.  And, it also has helped me a lot to know how to make a collection using large prints, small prints, stripes, plaids, polkadots, etc.  I am finishing up my first floral collection consisting of 6 different coordinating patterns in yummy plum, sunshine yellow and gray!  I will post that next!

It is a gamble.  The industry is super competitive.  But I would rather die trying than never having tried at all.  So, I am all in…

I gather inspiration everywhere I go.  I take tons of photos from nature and our travels and have been using them in my design. My first creation was inspired by our trip to Boston.  I of course over indulged in lobster, my favorite food of all time!  So, I decided to create a fun lobster print.  Here are two mock ups of what it could look like on a product.  What do you think?

Lobster Oven Mitt 2



I am still doing Interior Design work, just on a smaller scale basis.  Especially, while taking the class.  It can take hours upon hours creating a collection, let alone the classroom time.  I will be sharing my designs and collections along the way to hold me accountable and keep me motivated.

I am still trying to figure out branding…if I am doing it under my own name, Marybeth Barrett, or Art & Soul Living.  I am leaning towards using my own name…because just like the Cheers theme song, I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if everybody knows your name?”  Thoughts?  “Anyone, anyone…Bueller?”

Well, wish me luck on my new journey to learn what I love!

Cheers to fabric design!


My Top 5 Favorite Sherwin Williams Paint Colors

We moved into our forever home 1 1/2 years ago and started creating our Color Story right away using my top 5 favorite Sherwin Williams Paint Colors.  The house was built 20 years ago so it came with some extras that are a bit out of date.  Hello, Brass!  Hello, Floral Tile.  Goodbye, Wallpaper!  Eep.

We are slowly but surely chipping off our remodel list and putting our stamp on it.  Patience.  Must have patience!   But the designer in me is screaming “for the love of all things holy…change it all now!!!”  This is when I revert to my “Peace Begins With Me” tactic.


We inherited a very jewel-toned color palette from the previous homeowners.  Look familiar?  These colors were very popular for a good period of time.  But, now?  Not so much.  I have to admit we actually had some of these colors in our previous homes over the years.  Yup.  We sure did.  Ahhh, newlyweds!  They say (whoever “they” are!?!?) that your tastes change every seven years or so.   Thankfully, neither Dan nor I like the deep reds, golds and blues anymore.  We are totally on the same color page.

This is one of those occasions that I am grateful for my day job.  I feel very lucky that I do Color Consultations for a living. One thing I have found is that it is important to know how you want your space to feel when making your selections.  I wrote a blog post on “How to Dress Your Walls with Paint Color” so be sure to check it out if you missed it.

Dan and I knew that we wanted a casual, warm, welcoming, chill and neutral vibe.  Over the years I have selected many colors for my clients and builders so I have had the privilege of seeing a lot of colors firsthand.  It is often very hard to pick a color based on a tiny little paint swatch.  Having the opportunity to see paint colors in real life gave us an advantage.  I have definitely found some favorites along the way.  I was so excited to use my favorites in our own home!


Here are my top 5 favorite Sherwin Williams colors.

  1. Sea Salt – it is so calm and soothing.  One of my clients said “it makes her feel weak in the knees”  p.s.  That was a good thing for her!  Sea Salt is a muted blue-green and can sometimes looks grey depending on the light.  I used it in my office and art room.  It makes me feel happy.
  2. Oyster Bay – it is on the same strip as Sea Salt.  It is just two shades darker.  I used it in the “No Girls Allowed” study because it is sort of masculine and the kitchen.  It looks so good with our new white cabinets and driftwood toned island.
  3. Nantucket Dune – what is not to love about Nantucket?  Did someone say beach?  Yes, please.  It is my all time favorite tan.  It doesn’t turn yellow, green or pink like a lot of neutral tans do.  I love it!  We used it in our bedroom and all of the main living areas.
  4. Portabello – I wanted something rich and dark for our dining room.  I knew I wanted chocolate brown.  I chose Portabello based on it coordinating with my turquoise china hutch (future post).  Is Portabello my favorite dark brown?  Maybe not favorite…it is probably ties with Down Home, Warm Stone, Mega Greige and Hopsack.  I have used all of them.  I would choose the right shade of brown for you based on what other things were in the space.  In my case, the Portabello worked best with what I had in my space.
  5. Mindful Gray – It may seem weird to mix this with the Nantucket Dune but it works in this house.  I used it in our laundry room and powder room.  It is also a very soothing neutral color.  Not too blue or purple…or sterile like some grays can get.  I also used it in the boys bedrooms.  I “let” them choose their wall color.  I put let in quotes because one selected Duke Blue and the other wanted neon green.  Eep.  My solution was to paint stripes using gray as the main color and sprinkle in their color with stripes.

The 6th color you see in our color story is an accent color used on furniture and accessories and varies from room to room.  I swoon over turquoise…and you will soon see it in many future posts to come.  I will also go room by room sharing the transformations, some DIY projects and my favorite things about each room.  I am working on editing some photos so you can see the before and afters, so please stay tuned!  I try to have something in every room that has a story to tell so I plan to share that with you.

Note: We used Alabaster for the trim.  It is my favorite white to use on trim – not too stark.  If you need something a little warmer, try Dover White.  It is a tad creamier.

So, that’s our color story and we are sticking to it.


Well, at least for 7 years or so until our tastes change again.  😉

What’s your color story?


Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Up Survey Results

I kept having some Swimsuit Cover Up survey results trickle in so I wanted to wait for the flow to stop before I posted the results. At long last, here are the highlights of the survey results.  (Original Blog posted on this topic is here if you didn’t read it)

**The biggest red flag to me was the last question so be sure to read all the way to the bottom.

Swimsuit Cover Up Results

Swimsuit Cover Up Results

What is your gender?

  • 100% who answered were female.

This didn’t really surprise me.  

100% Female Reponders

100% Female Responders


What is your age? 

What is your age?

What is your age range?

  • 50% were between the ages of 45 to 54
  • 42.3% were between the ages of 35 to 44
  • 3.5% were between the ages of 35 to 34
  • The rest was 55+


Do you have children under the age of 18 living under your roof?

Minors living in Home

Minors living in Home

  • 92.3% have minors under the age of 18 living in the home


Do you receive a copy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Magazine in Your Mailbox?

Receive in mailbox?

Receive in mailbox?

  • 69.2% do not receive it in their mailbox
  • 26.9% do receive it in their mailbox
  • The rest buy it in the store

Do you let your child under the age of 18 read the Swimsuit Edition?  

  • 100% said no

Do you feel that Sports Illustrated should place a Cover Up on the Magazine during distribution and mailing like the example displayed to help protect minors?

Cover Up for Mailing?

Cover Up for Mailing?

  • 96.2% said yes
  • The remainder said they did not care one way or the other

For those of you who do feel that you would like to see it covered up, you can still sign the petition by clicking the link below!  Every name helps to take a stand.  Be the change.

Sign the petition to Cover Up the Issue

Here was my suggestion for a mailing cover up:

Swimsuit Cover Up Label

Swimsuit Cover Up Label

Did you opt out of receiving the Swimsuit Edition Magazine from being delivered to your home?

**This was the most significant answer to me out of all the questions in the survey.

Aware of Opting out option?

Aware of Opting out option?

  • 80.8% were not aware that this was even an option
  • 15.4% Did not opt out from receiving the magazine in their mail
  • The remainder opted out

My thoughts and analysis?

I feel that most parents of minors would love to see the Swimsuit Edition magazine mailed with some sort of cover up.  I agree.  How hard would it be really?  Not hard at all.  And, it would shield the innocent eyes of our children.

I was informed that Sports Illustrated includes a little information in the magazines leading up to the Swimsuit issue being released giving subscribers the option to NOT receive this edition.  But, as seen in the last answer most of us aren’t aware that this is even an option.  I feel they need to do something about it!

As noted, 100% of the people who responded were female.

Who is reading this magazine?  Mostly male.  So, sometimes the Dads may not think things through like the Moms.  Sigh.  Our Mama Bear instincts kick in when it comes to stuff like this.  🙂   So, I encourage you to talk to your spouses and ask them to give you a heads up when those notices start rolling in for those who feel that this is important.  Or you can contact Sports Illustrated at (866) 228-1175. You’ll need your account number, which is on the cover of your issue above your name.  There is also a yearly cut off day so maybe do it now before you forget.

Here is a great article written in the NY Times about the Opt Out.  It’s older but still relevant.  The interesting thing is I googled “how do I opt out of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?” and not one thing popped up with information directly from the Sports Illustrated magazine website.  Hmmm, makes me wonder.  Maybe they don’t really want us to know about this option.  I think I am going to email them links to both of my blog posts on this topic.  Can’t hurt.

And, don’t forget…you can always sign the petition.  Sign the petition to Cover Up the Issue

That’s all I have to say about this for now…I am curious what you think!  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

All my best,


Handmade Home

As a designer, I often hear “I bet your home looks like it is straight out of a magazine!?”  My answer is always “Ummm, no!  Far from it!”  I used to feel pressure about that.  I felt like my home should look like a showroom floor.  But then I was like…”who says?”


I often ask my clients how they want their home to feel.  I asked myself and my husband that same question.  Dan and I both want our home to feel warm and inviting. We want people to come and feel like they can kick back and relax!  So, our style is comfortable eclectic.

Our nest is yet to come!

We moved into our home 1.5 years ago and have slowly been making it our own.  I am going to share our transformation and the makings of our much loved “Handmade Home!”  I break pretty much every decorating rule in the book.  It is just how I roll.  I will be doing a series of Show and Tell posts so you can get a glimpse into our world and hopefully gain a few decorating ideas and inspiration.

We have a ton of projects on our wish list and have slowly been knocking them off. One of the first projects consisted of refinishing the main level floors.  We had beautiful hardwoods, but they had like a 1/4″ bevel between boards.  I did not like how it looked.  See the huge grooves?  Dust and dirt trap!


We took a big risk.  I actually had one of my floor guys turn us down.  He didn’t want to do it because he couldn’t guarantee that it would have a consistent look and feel.  He was afraid we would not be happy.  And, we had to shave the floors WAY down to get rid of the bevel – 3 cuts!  So I asked my other floor guy and assured him that I actually would love the look.  It would look more casual and rustic, which worked with our design aesthetic.  We thought we had lots of room for error because the floor boards varied in width anyway. You can really see it here after the floors were sanded…1st round.


We crossed our fingers and held our breathe and hoped for the best!

(NOTE:  this is a really cool look to incorporate if you are installing new hardwoods!  The variation in width gives it so much character.)

And, the original color was so not us.  So we refinished that too.  We took out some of the orange tint.  I wanted something a little more brown and muted.  We were toying between Minwax Provincial and Early American.  This was our one coat sample.


We chose Early American and it turned out exactly as we had hoped.  The risk paid off.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my floors!!!  Do you see how much tighter the seems are?  So much better!


Project # 1 in our quest for a Handmade Home complete!

Our nest is yet to come!


Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Needs a Cover Up

Do you think the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue went too far?  I personally think Sports Illustrated Needs a Cover Up!


I am not here to ask Sports Illustrated to STOP exploiting women by producing the swimsuit edition magazine all together. Someone else can take that stand if they feel strongly about it. But I do have strong opinions on the fact that I feel that the Swimsuit Issue needs a cover up when it comes to the DISTRIBUTION of the magazine and I am here to offer a simple solution.

Here is my simple solution.  

A tiny little cover up with an added little warning.  That is all I ask.

Future Mailing Example With a Simple Cover Up:

Please note their is a petition to sign at the bottom of this article.



Do you feel that the editors of this magazine have a moral responsibility to protect our children?

Let me paint a picture for you and put it another way.  How would you feel if I took a scantily clad photo of myself, while playing peek-a-boo with my lady parts, and knowingly placed it in hands of a minor (child under 18)? How would that make you feel?   What do you think would happen? How would parents of these minors react? I think I would be deemed certifiable and probably have charges of indecent exposure brought against me. Am I right?

I know this Swimsuit Edition is a touchy topic and the haters are going to hate. And let me spare you from having to share any hateful comments towards me.   Yes, I am fully away that I DO NOT look anything like a swimsuit model and that only 1% of the population would want to see such a photo of me in a barely there bikini.   And that 1% just so happens to be my husband, who lives under the same roof and loves me just the way that I am. But my point is the whole concept of placing a sexually explicit photo into the hands of a minor and it just doesn’t sit right with me.

My concern and discontent started when my 8 and 11 year old boys came running into the house yesterday after getting the mail. I just want Sports Illustrated to know that they successfully sexually succeeded in introducing a pre-pubescent tween/minor to the world of looking at women as mere objects and wonder if they are OK with that. I had been stalking the mailman daily knowing that this edition was coming…but I missed it today and they got the mail.  Oops, there it is!

I have a problem when this explicit cover photo is so easily accessible and ends up in the hands of a minor with such an overly seductive cover.   We have a huge problem when such a sexually charged photo, like this years cover, is so easily placed in the hands of a minor, whether it is in their own mailbox or simply by standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and seeing it on the magazine rack.  Houston, we have a problem.

My opinion or interpretation of this year’s provocative photo is that it is soliciting and inviting a minor to want to look further into her bikini bottoms to see her lady parts.  Yup, she is all about the Nether region.  My question goes back to my example above that if it is not acceptable for an everyday citizen like myself to place such a photo in the hands of a minor, when did society determine it was OK for a large publication to be able to do so? It makes no sense.

It is hard enough raising children in this day and age of electronics. We are dealing with issues of sexting, youth sending inappropriate photos, etc. These are issues that our parents never had to deal with. My problem is that my children were exposed to this sexually explicit photo and I can’t erase it from their innocent brain. I don’t feel that Sports Illustrated protected the innocence of my children and I have a problem with that.

Monica Swanson wrote a great article about Kids and Porn: the Slippery Slope. Does Sports Illustrated want to be a key player in this introduction to the slippery slope of seduction at such a young age simply by innocently getting the mail from the mailbox on that particular delivery day or standing in a grocery line? 8 & 11.  My sons are 8 & 11!!!  Monica posted statistics from the Covenant Eyes Site and the numbers are startling.

**9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography during their teenage years.
**6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography during their teenage years.
**71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.

Did this issue of Sports Illustrated cross the line into pornography? Where do you stand?

Please take a moment to read Monica’s article to learn more about this topic. This is a serious issue and one that needs addressing. I don’t have girls so I can’t speak to them, but I also wonder what kind of impression this is making on young girls who see it. Do they want to emulate it? Do they feel they need to do this to be liked/loved?  Sigh.  It is too much, too fast, too young.

Dear Sport Illustrated, would you please just cover it up?

I have to believe that I am not the only one who has a problem with this kind of material openly being displayed in my mailbox or on the newsstand? I don’t understand why society has deemed it acceptable to have such a sexual, seductive photo so easily accessible to our minors. My husband and boys are avid readers of the regular Sports Illustrated issue.  We get both the adult and kid version.  So we support the magazine 99% of the year and love it.  My husband did say that you can opt out from receiving this Swimsuit issue. So, Sports Illustrated has made some strides to do something. I give them credit for that. But, it isn’t enough.  Were you even aware of this option…I sure wasn’t.

I am here to take a stand to help protect our minors. I would love for Sports Illustrated to be responsible by merely covering up this issue during distribution. It is a VERY SIMPLE request and task. Just cover it up!   Other magazines like Playboy, Hustler, etc. have to mask the cover photo. Why doesn’t Sports Illustrated?

Like I said, it is this simple.  One teeny tiny cover up.


I know that Playboy and other Porn magazines place a plastic wrap around the magazine to protect young eyes from seeing it.  I am aware that the other magazines have full nudity, but you can’t tell me that this year’s Swimsuit cover is just a photo of a bikini model. It is NOT just a girl in a bathing suit. She is clearly setting off a very sexual vibe with an invitation for people to want to take a peek into what is left to be exposed under those barely there bikini bottoms.

First, let me state that I think the cover model is beautiful and has a gorgeous figure. There is no mistaking that.  Clearly this cover model had to make a conscious effort to get some serious waxing done before exposing her bikini briefs.  She had intent to bare it all.  I wonder if morally she gave any thought to the fact that she could be responsible for arousing minors.  I can’t speak for her, I can only wonder.

I get that it is like a right of passage when a boy finds his first Playboy magazine.  I know it happens.  I remember finding some hidden Playboy magazines in piles of leaves as a kid in my neighbors backyard with some of my male friends.  But, at least the Dad tried to hide them.  We didn’t find them in the mailbox.

I try to be a good Mom and protect my kids where I can.  I block websites and certain TV programs.  I am certainly not a prude.  I am not perfect.  I curse like a sailor.   I just don’t like the fact that my kids didn’t have a personal choice whether they saw this controversial photo or not. They opened the mailbox and bam there she was, Little Miss Leave it Little (or No) Beaver!”  (Please note that finding Humor is my defense mechanism!)

Of course I would love this swimsuit model and others like her to really think about the effects of what she is doing by exposing herself to minors. I truly feel that if she knew the extent of it, she would not feel so good about herself.  I would love for them to speak up and ask for the cover to be shielded from the eyes of children during distribution. I don’t see the glamour is arousing children. I will gladly give her the benefit of the doubt that she never even thought about the fact that she may be seducing an 8 or 11 year old. Gosh, she is probably just past being a minor and is almost a child herself.  And, if she doesn’t have children I highly doubt the thought of any of this has crossed her mind.  I guess the term is true, if you got it, flaunt it, but lets spare our children.   I do have children and protecting their innocence, where I can, is clearly on my mind.

So, the parent in me is very curious. Are you OK with this or would you love to see future delivery of this Swimsuit Issue covered up so our children can’t see it ?   Monica Swanson wrote a great article about Kids and Porn: the Slippery Slope. Does Sports Illustrated want to be a key player in this introduction to the slippery slope of seduction at such a young age simply by innocently getting the mail from the mailbox on that particular delivery day? Monica posted statistics from the Covenant Eyes Site and the numbers are startling.

**9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography during their teenage years.
**6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography during their teenage years.
**71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.

Did this issue of Sports Illustrated cross the line into pornography? Where do you stand?

Please take a moment to answers some short questions on the survey.  This will be my first of many Parent Polls that I will be posting on this blog.

Great Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Up Debate Survey 

(Select the Link above to take A VERY SHORT survey)

It has simple questions as far as your gender, age, if you have children and if you would prefer to have the Swimsuit Edition Issued Covered up. I will post the results on March 2, 2015 so you can see where we all stand on this issue. And if it turns out that it is just me who ends up a minority and I am just being a very overprotective parent, then so be it. I feel better just getting it off my chest. But, my mother’s intuition tells me that I am not alone and that we should rally together to do something about it.

If you have a strong opinion like me and would love for next year to have the issue covered up upon delivery and distribution, please take a moment to sign this petition. Let’s Cover up this Issue!   We aren’t asking Sports Illustrated to stop making the issue, just to please simply mask the sexually charged material that is not suitable for minors.

Who is with me?

Thanks for listening to my Great Cover Up Debate.

All my best,

~Marybeth, Chief Bucket Filler


Share the Love with a Scavenger Heart

In honor of upcoming Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to join me in a Scavenger Heart!  Get it…Scavenger “Heart” instead of “hunt”!?  I thought it was clever.  Just amuse me and play along with me.  Tee hee.  😉

Scavenger Heart Mushroom

I am a visual person.  It is one of the things I am most grateful about.  I love that I see things that some may never notice or think of.  I don’t know if it is because I am looking for things or that it is just the way my creative brain works.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.  I am just grateful that I see and notice things out of the ordinary.

One of my favorite things to hunt for is hearts.  If you look you will start to notice them everywhere.  I have a few friends and mentors who share this same love of hearts and they too find them all over the place.  I love seeing their photos too!

Over the years I have been capturing my hearts with my camera.  I just love them <3!  I found the heart mushroom above while on a hike in Brevard with my family.  The red heart was just screaming at me out of the ground!  Beauty Full!!

I decided I wanted to start compiling them all in one place.  It can be a reference tool that I can use when I am having a bad day.  I can just scroll through all of my random hearts for a quick pick me up to help fill my bucket back up on the days it feels a little empty.

This is a great experiment to do with family.  We took a family trip last year to Boone, NC and we went on a walk around a park.  I challenged all of my boys (Dan too) to find hearts on our hike.  This is one heart we found in the ice.  I love how it almost looks like it has an arrow going through it.  Can you see it?

Scavenger Heart Ice

The boys loved the challenge.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching them explore and discover things that they may not have noticed if we weren’t on our Scavenger Hunt.

Scavenger Heart Boone


And Dan did too.  He even etched one in the ground for me to find as I fell behind while snapping photos of random things.  XOXO

Scavenger Heart - Dan

So, I am going to challenge you too.  Do you want to join in my Scavenger Heart?

Share the love.  Post your photos.  Use the hashtag to label it so I can find them!  #ScavengerHeart  I will be posting and sharing them on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my blog. I hope it ends up being the Board with the most pins on my Pinterest page!   If you have a blog or Pinterest board, please leave a link along with #ScavengerHeart tag so I can follow you too!

I hope you will play along.  This challenge doesn’t expire on Valentine’s Day…there is no end to the fun!  Let’s keep the Scavenger Heart going all year long.   It is an easy way to help us keep our hearts full.  Don’t you agree?

Please feel free to share this post to help me spread the word for this heartfelt little scavenger hunt!


Share the love,

~MB, Chief Bucket Filler

Vintage Christmas Stockings

All is merry and bright over here as we are running around trying to check off all of our last minute preparations. However, my kids are a little nervous about my new vintage stockings that I hung by the chimney with care.  Tee hee.  They aren’t too sure how Santa is going to be able to fill these bad boys!   Ha, I will keep them guessing!

Vintage Christmas Stockings

They may not like them, but I love them!

Can’t believe we have just two more days!

Here’s to wishing you a Christmas that is nothing but Merry and Bright!


~MB, Chief Bucket Filler

Open the Doors to Peace

I took a class recently that talked about signs and symbols.  It was pretty interesting. One thing that I have never really paid much attention to before was numerology.  We touched on it in class.  My take away was that some people say there is meaning behind numbers and if you keep seeing a specific number or series of numbers, I encourage you to google “what does the number XXX mean?”  It can be quite interesting!

I hadn’t noticed this before but I was admitted into the hospital/ICU two years ago on 12-12-12.  (I posted an excerpt from the journal Dan had written from that day at the bottom of this post for those who had not read it before so scroll to the bottom is you want a quick blip of my illness)

It never even crossed my mind until recently when I had a follow up appointment scheduled today for something my doctors have been monitoring.   When the nurse scheduled my biopsy for December 12, I was like…what the heck is up with 12-12?

Some of you have seen this photo but this is me back in December 2012 just before the crash.  Just two very short years ago. 2013?  All a blur.  This photo still makes me laugh and kinda sums everything up.  I am a mad mess.  Look at my hair!   And I could just float with all that bloat!  I TRY to keep finding humor…laughter is the best medicine and sometimes the only medicine.  For those who haven’t heard the story behind this photo, here it is.  If you have heard my story before…please read on even if you just skim the middle part.  I promise that in my quest for knowledge I have uncovered a really cool message and really want to share it!

Must Have Oxygen

I took this selfie but have no recollection of doing so.  Even though I was fully functioning at this point in my hospital stay, sending texts and emails to people I actually have no memory of doing any of it.  I had a fever of 105.9 and was on drugs so I think my brain was shot.  Apparently, I had taken this photo and sent it to my two sisters asking them if they liked my new mas!?  This was to get some oxygen into my body.  It didn’t work.  They had to pull out the big guns and insert a ventilator.  Fast forward to over a week or so later when I awoke from my drug induced coma…I was scrolling through my phone and found this photo.  I was like “who the hell took this horrific photo of me and why would anyone want to do that!?”  My sister Kathy chuckled and said, “Um, you did!”  A ha ha ha.  Oh, my gosh, I remember laughing as hard as my sick little lungs would let me.  Still do.

Even though I have recovered from my crazy 2012 illness, I am being monitored for three unrelated conditions.  One is gallstones.  The option is to remove my gall bladder, which is one of the causes of my stomach problems.  That was actually the first concrete answer I had gotten to my illness.  The other is a cluster of varicose veins in my lower abdomen/pelvis.  Both cause stomach pain and require Laparoscopy surgery and I may just do that, but for now I am working daily on “Mind Over Medicine” and trying to “will” or pray them away.  “Where there is a will there is a way!”  Because despite having these lingering conditions and random extreme bouts of total body fatigue, I actually feel good.  Really good.  I am not ready for another recovery period but will do so if it is necessary.

Which brings me to today.   I am having more tests done.  Hi Ho Hi Ho, off to the OB-GYN I go.  I am nervous about the unknown but I have not let them tell we any “this could be…!”  I could figure it out if I wanted to but like I said, I am doing mind over medicine and everyday I repeat the mantra “I am whole, healthy, happy and strong!”   I don’t want to plant the seed for any negative thoughts in my head unless something presents itself that needs to be addressed.  So, we have agreed to just call it an “exploring exercise”.  If you are one who likes to pray for people, feel free to pray away my weird little trifecta of medical wonders.  Dan has taught me that it helps to pray for very specific things.I believe in the power of prayer.  I am living proof that it works.  I almost hate to ask because I have had more than my fair share of prayers.  I know that there are so many others going through way worse things but I welcome and truly appreciate it nonetheless.  🙂

Life is Good Socks and Stirrups

On a lighter note, unlike my previous hospital selfie, I will not posting one of me and my lady parts at the doctor today.  Tee hee.  You are welcome. I thought you would all appreciate that.  So, this is all you get!  A photo of me and my lucky “Life is Good” socks.  The Doctor got a kick out of them.  It was my reminder that even when life has you hiked up in stirrups, you just have to trust that it is going to be OK! 

(For those skimming…this is where my message begins!!)

So, back to the point of my post…What does the number 12 mean?  12-12?  12-12-12?  When I googled 12-12-12 in particular, this is one of the first articles I found was titled:

“Once-in-a-lifetime 12.12.12 excites pseudoscience numerologists…but was it just another day?”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2247043/Once-lifetime-12-12-12-excites-pseudoscience-numerologists–just-day.html#ixzz3LgrjBTtk

There were quite a few things noted from this article, but this one really stood out

“Indeed, the number 12 for numerologists represents completion, or the coming together of a whole, perfect and harmonious unit.”

I thought, well my illness sure did bring my whole family together.  They came from Seattle, Boston, Colorado, Charleston, Raleigh, etc. to see me and support me Dan and the boys.  But, it was so much more than just the showing up at the hospital from my family.  The biggest thing I learned from all of this was about what COMMUNITY means and how a Community raised up around me and my family.  I believe this is the message that God was trying to teach me through my whole illness/recovery and perhaps many others too.  There is a lot more backstory to that but I feel like I needed to hear this message.  And I heard it loud and clear!

When I came out of 7 day drug induced slumber, all I could do was watch and observe.  I had the ventilator in my throat so I could not talk and lost all muscle control so I could not write.  My point of view from the hospital bed was nothing but a whole, perfect and harmonious unit working together to fight to get me back home.  That unit consisted of all the doctors and nurses who fluttered about every few minutes to tend to me and my needs.   To my friends coming to sit with me to give my family a break.  To my fabulous village of girls who brought a feast fit for kings to thank my Dream Team Medical staff for working as a harmonious unit to tirelessly fight to save me.  To all of my family members who dropped everything to fly from the west coast, east coast, drive from Colorado to NC after haven just arrived in CO from NC from a 25 hour drive just to do it all over again to get to me, to my brother in law driving 14 hours in a snow storm with a not so cooperative niece who did not want to be restrained in the car…  No questions asked.  They all dropped everything to come together and moved mountains to get here.

One other poignant point from the article was that Stephanie Sterling stated that 12-12-12 was

“one of ‘energetic significance’ and explains that when all the numbers are added up one by one – 1+2+1+2 etc, they equal 11, and that is a very powerful number.”

That date and those numbers will always be a powerful number indeed.  Sometimes God and life present very difficult things.  Sometimes you will often question the why?  And, sometime we will never know why.   But I encourage you to look deep into what signs or positive messages are supposed to come from it.  My lesson was to the learn the value of community and how lucky I am to live in one full of amazing people made up of my family, dear friends, acquaintances and even strangers.  All of them came out of the woodwork to support me and my family in a desperate time of need.

My heart goes out to any of those who are currently suffering some sort of loss or medical fright, especially at this time of year.  We know a few people who have recently lost loved ones and are experiencing such deep sorrow, loss and pain.  We know that they will celebrate this holiday season with very heavy hearts.  Thinking of them really drove me to write this post.  My thoughts and prayers go out to you as your days may seem dark, scary and stormy.  And even though it may not be 12-12-12, I know that you will see that beautiful sun rise again soon.  And that one day you will feel like that whole, perfect and harmonious unit that you deserve to be.

See the Sun Rise Again

The final piece of the article that touched me was when Sterlind said to the Huffington Post that 12-12-12 was a 

game-changing day. It’s a day of intuition and peace, like we are walking through a door of peace.”  

I have learned that I need to try to make every day a “game-changing day”, even if it is just doing one small thing to make it a better and brighter day for someone, or even just for myself for that matter.  I hope you do the same.   Some days I think I really suck at it and then some days I feel like I am doing quite well!  But, I just constantly remind myself to be grateful and continue to “walk through that door of peace.”  There will be days when that door just feels stuck and I don’t feel like I have the strength to get it open.  But I have learned to try to live each day with patience and curious abandon because I know that there is often something so beautiful waiting to be seen through that open door when the time is right.

So, let’s continue to be a community where we show love and support.  And just like my community has taught me, let’s continue to open that door for others when they just can’t seem to do it themselves!


Open the Doors to Peace

So here’s to a year filled with opening doors of peace!

Peace out,

~Marybeth Barrett, Chief Bucket Filler

Here is Dan’s first post that I mentioned about our journey back in 2012:


As we start this blog and spread good mojo for Marybeth’s speedy recovery, let me first say THANK YOU! Thank you for your prayers, thank you for spreading the word to people all around the world and thank you for caring enough about MB and my family to send your thoughts, prayers and love. It is beyond humbling and overwhelming.

A quick recap – MB developed a low fever Monday morning as did Cal, our 6 year old. Off to the doctor to get them both checked for flu. All kinds of bugs have been going around so safety first. Cal had the flu, MB did not. She felt miserable al day Monday and fever rose a bit. Cal was playing indoor basketball and vacuuming – go figure. On Tuesday, she woke with a temp of 104 and drenched from sweating all night. Later that day it spiked to 105.9 and off to the ER (Thank you Amy for taking her while I was out of town and Bennetts for watching the boys). They say it takes a village and they weren’t lying! ER treated her for flu like symptoms and sent her home after several hours. I was on the red eye home for sure and got back Wed. morning. Wednesday fever kept bouncing around 101-105 and not responding to Tylenol and MB needed to go back to the ER.

Got to ER around 7:30pm and got in quick. Very low BP (80/50) and fever. Got her on 2 IV bags and then the fun began. All the fluids didn’t help drive up her BP, but did hydrate her lungs that were full of stuff and the cough awoke. By around 11pm the doc said they wanted to admit her overnight until BP goes back up, and two hours later a normal overnight turned into them wanted her in the ICU for a couple days. I definitely took notice of this change and the pace of care she was receiving. As MB said throughout the night “I feel like I”m getting worse.” Boy was she ever right.

Checked her into the CICU around 3am and things got more intense. Very low blood oxygen levels, low BP, getting some productive coughing going, etc. She has been poked, pricked, prodded, tests of all fluids taken and waiting on results. Been treating for pneumonia based on many chest x rays, but who knows. I knew we were in for a long battle when I asked yesterday how long she might be here and the response was at least a week. WTF is going on with my wife I wondered.

In last 24 hrs, they have really focused on broad spectrum antibiotics, some steroids and concerns of blood O2 levels. put her on the Bi-Pap breathing mask yesterday to try to get more oxygen, but that didn’t work. MB hadn’t slept in days and was working so hard to get air in her sick lungs and things weren’t improving. So this morning they decided to get her on a ventilator to help her breath, good sedation so she can rest and let her body try to heal.

As I type, she has been out for a couple hours and I pray her body is fighting inside as she has been the last few days. I’m sure I missed some details, but petty sure you get the deal- our girl is really sick and I hope they can lock in on what is the main culprit once the test results come back.

More to come as this goes on, but thanks for prayers and reaching out from so many people. I am so blessed to have Marybeth, Mac and Cal and so many wonderful people in our lives.

God Bless and Much love!


For those who haven’t heard our story, you can read the rest at Caringbridge. Password: theycallmemb