Friday, January 27, 2017

Welcome Home!

My lovely daughter is coming home this weekend. Several thoughts scrape the layers of my brain. Red Herrera Ellisor would like that thought, as she is studying to be a neuroscientist.


One clarity is that home should always be a happy place for children to return. They remember the sounds, scents, doohickeys, that are always part of their childhood home. And, where ever you are, even if it's a new place, is home. You are home.


They even remember our smells. When I hug my youngest, she often breathes me in and says, "You smell like mama." It's a good feeling. Building new, happy, memories with your children post-divorce is important. It is how they will remember you.


Fill your home with joy, light, and laughter. Fill their soul satchel with it to take with them when they leave. If you do, they will want to return to refill it. 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Headed to the Women's March in Austin today. It's an interesting conundrum. I'm not protesting anything, and just like being in crowds of eclectic people and enjoying the view. Plus, if something is monumental or has the potential to be, I like to be in the center of it. I wasn't going to do this, but my daughters said I should. Then, after I thought about all I have done in these last few months, and what I am going to do, I thought it would be wrong if I didn't participate in a march that lauds women and all we have to offer the world.  We are more likely to have college degrees than men. We are the mothers of all the presidents, doctors, teachers. We are the mothers of everyone. I have found my voice. Perhaps this is an opportunity for all women to find theirs. A voice for positive change is a good thing. 

A friend of mine said I should wear the wedding dress from the AcidNeutral project. I laughed and said, "No it's boxed up in the closet." It's part of the past. I am moving toward the future.




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Acid Neutral Art Project by Clara G. Herrera

Acid Neutral Art Project
By Clara G. Herrera
Twitter: @acidneutralart

Title: A Different Kind of Train

Photo credit: Rachael Ellisor
Garza County, Texas
Enriching Music: If Love Was A Train, Michelle Shocked

Howdy y’all! This is the tale about a divorced bride from Austin, TX. When the crap hits the fan in a divorce, you can do two things. You can either wallow in it, and let it slowly consume you like ashes in a fire, or put your big girl panties on wearing a good pair of cowboy boots and dance on the flames retaking control of your life. I chose to do the latter wearing my wedding dress and trouncing across Texas, and a few other places.
I may be the only woman who has the gumption to haul my old wedding dress in the back of my pickup truck in a scented trash bag to take photos at someone else’s family reunion, with drag queens, in front of the Washington Monument, or while climbing a hay bale. But I am not alone in my decision to divorce. About 69 percent of women are the ones initiating divorce, according to a recent article in the New York Times. 
Even women who have remained in marriages for decades, who are entering retirement years, are not staying in unhappy unions, according to an AARP study. These stateside studies are duplicated abroad, as well. A new wave in the women's movement is not - divorcee - but solo artist. 
In this new liberation, women aren't burning their bras. They are metaphorically burning their marriage certificates.  
And, at least one, decided to drag out an old wedding dress, relabel it Acid Neutral, and create meaningful art for herself, and her children. It is taking something old, making it something new, borrowing nothing, and leaving behind the blue.

Why do this? 
From the beginning, I envisioned this project as my new "Baby Book." You know, when you have a baby, you write down everything and take pictures, noting the date. First step, first solid food, first time saying, "mama." There are even those embarrassing photos of our babies sitting on the potty for the first time.
  Now, I wasn't going to take a photo of me using the potty for the first time in that dang dress after asking my husband to move out and then filing for divorce, but you get the idea. 
The truth is I walked around my house like a caged animal for awhile not knowing what to do.
  I worked out, prayed, cried, listened to music, played basketball with my son, wrote so many dang journals I could invest in a paper company and retire. I continued therapy that I affectionately called "torture sessions," in the beginning. None was enough. I needed to find my own way to heal.
  I wallowed and I hated myself for doing it. I didn't want to be sad anymore. I didn't want my children to see me like this.
This is not who I am. But who am I? I was once bubbly, artistic, a writer, a force. I had to find myself again but didn't know how or where to start looking for me again.
  Consumed by my own thoughts of the past, I thought about my wedding dress in the attic sealed and boxed for my daughters to wear. Why would they want to wear a dress from a failed marriage? 

Why keep it?
Yes, why keep it?  

  Then it literally hit me. What if I haul my butt up to the attic, pull that dang dress out and take pictures of me in it as I dance into this new phase of my life? All of a sudden sadness was replaced by excitement. I gathered my kids on the couch and joyfully told them my idea. Just so you know, my kids are well aware that I am a bit on the quirky, artsy side, so they didn't balk at the idea one bit. "OK mom," they said and then scuttled off to text, play video games, and read.
  In the furnace that is known as Texas in July, I hauled that ladder up the stairs to the attic sweating like a pig as I threw that wedding dress box on the floor. I noticed "Acid Neutral" was written on the glitzy gold box. Didn't know what that meant, so thanked God for Google.
Acid Neutral is when the acidity from paper products is removed so wedding dresses don't yellow over time sitting in that box. It creates pH balance. Just like my life moving forward, I am achieving balance. Only months after completing the full project, I realized green is the color on the pH scale that equals neutral. Green is growth. Green is life. It has always been my favorite color.
       The Acid Neutral Art project is a culmination of photo, song, art, and poetry of an emerging, growing life into the unknown. Just like art, life is all in perspective. You can see a Jackson Pollack as total crap, or you can gaze on it for hours and find meaning in it. You can create new paintings of your own and reinvent yourself with each stroke of a paintbrush on a canvas.
  I have decided to paint in brilliant hues, in life, in rich fulfilling meaning splashed with color. I refuse to let life paint me or leave me blank or muted or devoid of purpose or worth. Besides, what’s fun about being ordinary? It’s just so ordinary.
 I am artistic. I consider myself a solo artist, not divorced. I am moving forward in all the color, glory, and love as the universe intended.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


There's never been a better time than right now to learn to be your own hero in your life. Soar to new heights, fly freely into the world, and be super in all that you do. 


You got this.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Embrace the life that is given to you!

That was really a wrong title. You don't need to embrace the life that is given to you. You need to embrace the life that you give to yourself. Are you willing to take the good and leave the bad? That is up to you.
Be willing to take in all of the nuances of life that give you meaning, a hug from a child, a smile from a stranger, dancing in the shower to music. Know your worth and embrace it. Find light and joy in all you do. This is not mainly for others. It is for yourself. You deserve it!

Art to come!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Make this New Year memorable by achieving goals, not just making resolutions

Make Life Resolutions!

This first appeared in the Huffington Post. Click above for hyperlinks, and my family photo.

By Clara G. Herrera

New Year’s Day is probably one of the most optimistic days of the year. Like most folk, you are ardently deciding to scrape off the crap that shellacked your otherwise golden year, and begin all Au again.

It’s a good day to start, but why do you need an arbitrary holiday to do that? For most people, it doesn’t work.

I purposely have no New Year’s Resolutions. I know that after a few weeks, they will fall out of my head. Instead, I post sticky notes to myself on my bathroom mirror to remind me what my timeless resolutions are: be a better mom, better teacher, person, writer, artist, in shape, smart.

So far, in the last year, this has worked for me. I went from an anonymous elementary school science teacher to a Huffington Post blogger, and artist.

A soothsayer, five years ago, could have told me what my life would be like today. I wouldn’t have believed them. In Spanish, I would have said they were full of caca.

You never know what life will bring you. So, a New Year’s Resolution, in my opinion, is caca.

I challenge you to make life resolutions, instead. They take time, and are more meaningful. Science has shown that meaningful lives give more joy than instant happiness.

We all have the potential to live a kinetic life, we just have to want to do it and actually achieve it. Say less. Do more.

One of my life goals that I have achieved is not to be bored. I got this goal from a friend of mine, best-selling author, Jeff Guinn. My holiday photo here reflects that.

It is not the stark family photo of us fake smiling. It is of us as we are today in color and costume that reflects our personalities. I told my kids, “You will never be bored.”

Be you in all of your glory.

I don’t know what that is for you. You have to decide. It could be being a better neighbor, friend, giving a compliment to someone daily, or even finding homes for abandoned reptiles.

And there is a place for that. Sam Makki does this now in California. He helped form Reptile Rescue Orange County in 2008, an organization to adopt reptiles. Now, they have a public adoption agency for homeless reptiles that includes snakes and turtles.

Yes, Virginia, there is a home for your reticulated python.

“I saw a need for a rescued reptiles organization,” Makki said. “They are always shed in a negative light. But, they’re not really.” 

Now, they have a public place for adoptions that includes about 30 animals in California, including a reticulated python.

For the record, Makki doesn’t make real New Year’s Resolutions.

“Usually my New Year’s Resolution is to hit the gym more, eat better like most people, but it goes out the door in a week or so,” Makki said.

Instead, he aspires to help more animals annually, and so far, he has done that.  

Do what you can in your own corner of the world to make it better.

Mahatma Gandhi is attributed with saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Although there is no empirical evidence that he said this, it is on a crap-load of bumper stickers on mostly bad cars.

I would change it to say, “Be the change you want to see in you.” Do it a little at a time, make these goals achievable. Make them with purpose and worth.

Don’t surround your resolutions by an arbitrary holiday that makes them unachievable. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or failure.

Find the joy and meaning in life, in all you do. It is there. You just have to see it and want to grasp it.

Resolution is only one letter away from revolution. Revolve means to turn around. It is one letter away from evolution.

Be an evolution of revolution throughout the year and remain resolute about it.

(Enriching music: Live-In Skin, Foo Fighters, You Are The New Day, King’s Singers)