The Brave Box….a beautiful add-on to your Brave Girl University membership!

brave box mockup with website WEBBrave Girls from all over the world anxiously check their mail boxes each month and jump for joy when their Brave Box arrives!

It’s a gorgeous collectible box packed full of premium-quality, beautiful, soul-building goodness that you will adore! Original art, gorgeous limited-edition collectibles, powerful learning tools, fun creative projects…a monthly treat for your heart and soul!

  • Available to Brave Girl U subscribers ONLY (what is Brave Girl University?)
  • $24.95 per month (billed separately)
  • Quantities are LIMITED and ordering will be cut off once they are all called for…although you can always make your subscription effective the next month
  • Ordering enrolls you in a monthly subscription so you will always have a Brave Box reserved for you (unless you cancel)
  • See the very bottom of this post for how to enroll in BGU and add on a Brave Box subscription….
  • AND see the very bottom of this post for what this means if you are already a Soul School subscriber…
  • To be clear….Brave Girl University is $24.95 and the Brave Box is available (in limited quantities) as an add-on subscription for an additional $24.95 per month.

Just what’s included in a Brave Box? Here’s a glimpse….

full-brave-box

Here’s a sample of the type of contents you’ll find each month in our gorgeous Brave Box! It is jam-packed with goodness….tools for creating and living a brave and beautiful life.

everything from august brave box

brave box full

 

collage-sheets

You’ll love working with the premium-quality, saturated-with-color collage sheets, patterned paper, word sheets and graphics to use in art journaling, mixed-media projects, and anything else your creative heart comes up with!

 

art-print

You find an original 8×10 art print on lovely linen-textured paper, all ready for framing and displaying.

 

affirmation-cards

Each Brave Box contains a collectible, limited-edition Affirmation Card to carry with you and remind you of the month’s theme. You’ll find gorgeous original art on the front and a read-out-loud affirmation on the back.

 

buttons-collection

Each month we include limited-edition collectible buttons…colorful, fun ways to remind you of true things.

 

wise woman flashcard

back of wise woman card

front and back of flashcard

flash-card-sets

This is one of our favorites! Collectible, limited-edition Flash Cards…a new set every month to help you remember the lessons learned with the monthly theme. Two-sided….a short message with original art on the front, an entire soul-lesson on the back. Each set contains seven 4″ x 6″ heavy-weight premium-quality cards with rounded corners.

 

greeting-cards

We love sending cards in the mail, so we include two original greeting cards with matching brown-paper envelopes…ready to drop in the mail to someone you love.

september patch

 

patches-2

Each month’s Brave Box contains a stunning new collectible patch…absolutely the most beautiful patches you’ll find anywhere…each with a powerful Brave Girl message.

more collage sheets

decision cards

 

promptsetc

Journaling pages, worksheets, and lesson pages help you learn the life-changing soul-messages from each month’s theme.

 

recipe

We bring a taste of Brave Girl Camp to you with a collectible monthly recipe from our camp kitchen.

 

rough-day-kit

Each month you’ll receive fun and meaningful surprises, like the kit for this ‘Rough Day’ tin for keeping little bits and pieces that remind you of what makes you the most happy.

butterfly canvas kit

finished butterfly canvas melody ross

or this beautiful collage making kit that came complete with the canvas to create it on….to get right

into making something that feeds your soul.

stitcheries-670

Most months we’ll include an original stitchery pattern based on the month’s theme. So many ways to create beautiful things!

How to subscribe to get the Brave Box?

  1. Subscribe to Brave Girl University here  (the Brave Box is only available as an add-on for BGU Subscribers)
  2. Login to your Account at my.bravegirlsclub.com
  3. Click on My Account, and then click on the box that says Brave Box.
  • If you’re already a Soul School Premium subscriber, you don’t need to subscribe again…you are already good to go!
  • If you’re already a Basic or Deluxe Soul School subscriber and you want to upgrade to get the Brave Box, just login to your account at my.bravegirlsclub.com, click on My Account, and then click on the box that says Brave Box.

As always…no long term contracts. Cancel at any time. We think you’ll love it!!

But do it now, ok? Because we have a limited supply every month and we want to make sure that your box reserved and shipped to your door!

xo,
melody & kathy & the brave girl team

PS. If we have run out of our limited supply, you will have the opportunity to subscribe effective the following month so you don’t miss out again! :) 

 

You have amazing ideas…..please let them be born. (yes, YOU.)

This is another one for all of you beautiful dreamers, creatives…makers, artists, visionaries…musicians…writers….mothers…gardeners…friends…lovers…..PEOPLE. It is in ALL of us.

And this is just more about what I talked about in THIS POST.

I am writing this because I am now 100% certain that I am not the only one who used to feel like I was the only one who feels this way. AND when we find that out…that we are not the only one…and ALSO that OTHERS thought THEY were the only one…..a whole bunch of little candles get lit…and what used to seem so dark now is light….and it’s not so scary….and not so confusing…and there’s nothing to feel ashamed about anymore. Because…it just IS….and it doesn’t separate us anymore, but it unifies us. That is soooo awesome.

This is one of those things

I am finding that when I am in my creative cave, trying to let a new product line, or class, or a new phase of my marriage, or a serious issue with one of my children…..whatever sacred thing it is…..when I am in my cave of creative solitude trying to let something sacred be born creatively, it is a kind of difficult that has no words.

I used to not talk about it because it all felt so unexplainable…and so sacred/ridiculous/out-of-control. Embarrassing even. Humiliating sometimes. Because….when something is trying to be born….an idea….or something sacred….it is sort of all-consuming. No one seems to want to talk about it…..mostly I think, because there are no words. It doesn’t always feel good…..and then you have to explain/defend yourself to others why you are dedicating so much of your life and energy to something that is difficult and sometimes does not feel good. I have found that I hate having to defend myself. Especially when I am trying hard to just live as authentically as I can. When I am doing exactly what my deepest truth is telling me to do. But sometimes…..special people just need to know what the heck is going on with you. They wonder why you are doing what you are doing……

Well….the answer is because sometimes you can’t NOT do it. When an idea or a sacred something creative wants to be born…….it won’t let you NOT let it be born.

I used to think I was the only crazy person who dealt with this dilemma. So…I just didn’t explain my long bouts of creative isolation or brain-fogginess or distraction.

Then, I started to talk to a few of my creative friends and found that as women…..we are always trying/needing/feeling-called to birth SOMETHING. It is part of us, part of who we are….maybe it’s the same for men. I just feel like we are always on our way to creating SOMETHING. And sometimes we just try to hide that part of ourselves, because we think…WHO AM I TO CREATE ANYTHING? But, it still calls to us.

Some of us keep trying to resist it for years and years and years or even just for weeks or months….and truly, it is the worst kind of misery…..way worse than the uncomfortable parts of sitting on bed rest with your idea, nurturing and letting it be born the way it wants to be born….whether it’s a collage or a book or a song or a room needing to be decorated, or a journal entry or letter, or a marriage or a cake or a garden or a scarf to be knitted……or a class to be taught or a home to be built or a new life to be remade.

When we resist it we are miserable.

Sometimes the creative bed rest need only last a few hours, sometimes a few months….sometimes even longer….just depends.

And we get phonecalls and emails and text messages that say “are you mad at me?” or….”why haven’t you called….”  and we just don’t know how to say……I am in the middle of growing something sacred and it hurts and it also is beautiful and wonderful and exciting and real, and it is taking all of the energy that I have right now…………

and we don’t know how to ask…..”can you be patient with me? will you still be there when I can get up and get going again? When this thing is born?”

So we get up and do things that we shouldn’t be doing right now. We put our sacred something at risk to get up and do things that are not the most important things right now….things that satisfy the guilt we feel when we don’t know how to explain that right now…for this little short time, I am doing the most important thing that I know to be doing….I am letting something sacred be born.

We have to start letting ourselves go on creative bed rest. It is short…it is not forever. Most importantly…we have to let EACH OTHER go on creative bed rest and not get testy with each other when we have to decline invitations, or when we can’t return phonecalls or emails for a bit…..when we can’t do extra things…..it is temporary…but we must allow each other that. We all have a need to be creative. We need to allow each other that need.

AND THEN….when the beautiful sacred creative thing is born….we need to feel safe in sharing it with the world. We need to cheer each other on in the whole process, and then treat each other’s sacred something with sacredness and respect.

And most of all….we all just need to not really care too much what other’s think of our sacred something. Because that is not what it is about……it is about letting it be born, then loving it exactly how it is, protecting it as fiercely as we can,  and then letting it have a life of it’s own……no matter what the critics have to say.

We need to not have to feel afraid of what others will say or do if it is not good enough……..or if it is SO GOOD that it makes others feel sad or jealous or angry or whatever……..because sometimes…..OFTEN TIMES….the thing that wants to be born just HAD to be born…..and it is not in our control. We did not create something to be better or to turn heads…..or to impress or to be judged in any way. So if it is NOT GOOD ENOUGH or if it is TOO GOOD……..we are scared to share it once it is born. And many times, it was born FOR THE VERY PURPOSE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS….to bring JOY, BEAUTY, TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, HAPPINESS, PEACE and UNDERSTANDING to the rest of us. Sometimes what is wanting to be born in us has NOTHING to do with us……..and we have to let it go out and have a life of it’s own.

Again…whether it is a song or a poem or a photograph or a painting or a meal or a novel relationship or an event or a solution to a problem. Sometimes we are the only way for it to be born….and if we did not stop and listen to that calling…it would never be born…..and someone, somewhere needed that EXACT thing….and that THING, that creative masterpiece was BORN with that purpose in mind.

…and then we knew it was worth it.

I write this to tell you to stick with it. I write this to tell the girl in Colorado who is writing a novel that you might not ever know why you have felt so called to put everything aside in your life aside from your family, and live in this deep loneliness, to finish it……but that you know that you MUST…and that it will be worth it! .And you are not alone!!!  And the clothing artist angel girl in Texas who pours her heart and soul into every beautiful masterpiece creates for the world because she wants everyone to feel her love and that’s how she shows it…I write this to the sweet beautiful artist in California who sits in her house making art videos to teach thousands across the world how to make art online…even though it’s so lonely sometimes, because she can’t NOT do it….it is her calling. I write this to the heartbroken soul in Florida who just keeps making art….night after night….because it proves to herself that she is listening to her soul….and because she CAN’T NOT make art…..it is healing her. I write this to the young grandma in Melba, Idaho who pours over every cookbook looking for the PERFECT recipes to feed to others so they know how loved they are. She can’t NOT…..it is one of her callings. I write this to the songwriters and the gardeners and the knitters and the jewelry makers and the painters and the yoga instructors and the dancers and the singers and the comedians and the quilters and the teachers. To all of us who are called to CREATE (and I believe this is all of us)….WE CAN’T NOT.

WE MUST.
AND WE MUST LET EACH OTHER.
WE MUST HELP EACH OTHER.

So if you must do it, you must. And some days it won’t feel good….and that is ok. Some days you will doubt yourself…and many days others will doubt you. Some days you will feel guilty and many days others will attempt to make you feel guilty. MANY days you will not understand and MANY MANY MANY more days others will not understand.

It is ok.
It has to be born.
Let it be born.

We need your light, your creativity, your unique contribution to the world.
YOU need to let it happen.
pass it on….pass on the love, the encouragement and the appreciation to every artist you know……
xoxo
melody

you will fly again…

This is a blog post I wrote on January 21, 2009…I just really keep feeling like someone out there needs to hear it. xoxo Melody

You will fly again
Want to know 4 words that changed everything for me? Here they are…“You Will Fly Again…”

This blog post is for anyone with a broken heart right now…anyone with a broken spirit…anyone with broken wings….anyone who is trying to figure out how to put their life back together. This is for you……

I met my darling friend Lula some time last year….a beautiful, tiny woman with small hands and kind eyes and long white hair. When she looked at me the first time I felt like she looked right through my skin and saw everything I ever felt. After we talked for a few minutes…and I thought I was getting away with the surface conversation we were having…she took my hands and said “you feel like you have been fired from everything you thought you knew, with no explanation, don’t you?” My mouth fell opened, so stunned….I had never had anyone put my feelings into exactly the right words…but she did it.

Then…she looked at me deeply, and softly squeezed my hands. We were sitting knees to knees….she made sure I was really paying attention, waited for a few more big tears to fall and she said…”Melody, You will fly again…I promise.”

I then went on to tell her about the dreams I was having and the way I was feeling and the books I was reading and how everything just pointed to broken wings…..wings that felt like they could never heal or mend…..that my best years were over…….and…how devastating that was. How permanent it felt.

I told her how I’d always been a huge proponent of PICK YOURSELF UP, DUST YOURSELF OFF and START ALL OVER AGAIN. I told her this time it was different. I couldn’t do it….I felt broken and I didn’t know how to ever feel whole again.

I told her about the recurring dream…..of being a little birdie, and sitting under the tree watching all of the other birds fly…..birds I used to fly with….and new birds…and birds that didn’t even know how to fly when I used to fly up there….but now they are flying. I told her how I would just sit under the tree and watch all the birds fly, and cry…..BUT, that I didn’t know for sure why….I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t fly, or if I wouldn’t fly. All I knew is that I wasn’t flying, and that it hurt.

I told her that I read books about how to find your passion, how to ‘fly’….I read books about how to find out who you are and what you want to do with your life…

But…….they only made things worse. You see, I told her…I KNOW how to fly. I have flown before…I used to fly fly fly day and night. I don’t need anyone else to show me how to fly or how to find my wings……my wings are broken….what do you do when your wings are broken?

Sitting birdie Well, it hurts. It doesn’t make sense…I think that’s one of the hardest parts….that, one day you feel like you could conquer the world and soar to the highest heights…one day you feel like you are riding the wind, letting the current take you away…..everything flows….you have a bird’s eye view of life….

and then, something happens….and now that I have been through it, I am seeing it happen again and again to other birds….and it doesn’t matter why you feel like you lost your wings or that they are broken past repair….it doesn’t matter whether it’s because your husband cheated on you or your business partner betrayed you or your cancer test came back positive or your house went into foreclosure or you lost the baby that you waited so long for or the parent that you need now more than ever…or that one of your children has gone astray or your husband is chronically ill or you are chronically ill or your business failed or your prayers weren’t answered the way you wanted them to be….

doesn’t matter…it all hurts the same….and lots of times it leaves you to crash to the ground in a botched emergency landing.

there’s one truth that ties it all together, though…….that you WILL fly again….you will.

We humans, we fly with our hearts. All we need is hope, and faith….when we lose that, that’s what puts us under the tree, flightless…..watching everyone else and wondering what happened. I know it’s hard to find hope and it’s hard to find faith when we feel like the whole world just got swept out from under us…..when we feel like we are too full of holes to be anything but empty. But, I promise…you can fly again, and you will. I know that…….let me tell you how I know……


Vintage butterfly
I found out today that there are over 17,000 different species of butterflies…..
Different butterflies

and that there are over 10,000 different species of birds.

Anatomy of a wing
Anatomy of bird

I learned that the anatomy of wing is so super-high-tech that it absolutely, positively HAD to be by divine design. I learned that God takes ALL of His masterpieces VERY VERY VERY seriously. He gives his winged things, and ALL of His creatures, great and small…everything they need to be successful, to fly….not just to fly, to soar. (unless you are a chicken….but, I’m sure there’s a big huge reason that they don’t have soaring wings but hot wings instead….)

And….I didn’t just learn today, but a very long time ago…..that…..even though we are all human beings (created in God’s image, by the way) that there are millions of different kinds of US…and that we are all made with everything we need….and like wings on a bird or a butterfly…..We fly with our hearts.

AND WE WERE MEANT TO SOAR.

Let me show you and tell you why I know that……This is about as personal as I have ever gotten, even though anyone who has ever read my blog knows…I am a pretty open book….I put it all out there, and take it or leave it, love it or hate it..this is me…no apologies…none….but, this here, what I am about to show you….wow, this is REALLY personal. And, let me tell you why I am doing it. You see, since my last real blog post…I have gotten SO MANY LETTERS and emails…so many…of people who are in so much pain…and I have tried so hard to keep up with personally writing people back (and I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to you yet)….and, I am seeing, that for every person with the courage to admit how broken they feel…there are hundreds more who are too ashamed…because….I was. Weird to feel ashamed for being in pain…but, that’s us…we are human. Weird to feel ashamed that you can’t fly…but, we do…I know I did.

Here’s my big personal secret…this sculpture. This, I made one night when I could not find any words. Then, when it was done, I put it in a dark box…..and put the lid on…and left it there for many months….I did not want anyone to ever see it….because…this sculpture was me…..and it was YOU, if you are broken or ever have been…this sculpture is wingless and hairless and clothesless and eyes-less and hopeless. This is where I was. But, what I see is that I did know that the only thing I could do was to give my heart to God. (that is what is in her hand) This is when I felt like my arms and my legs were barely attached to my body (just by a thin string) and my wings were not attached at all. This is when I did not know how I was even breathing because my heart was not in my body but in my hand…this is when all that I had left was enough hope to hand my heart off to God…to beg to Him to help me fix my wings….that was all I had left. This is when I was crying out and begging…begging for the courage and strength and the will to fly again.

I want my wings back

Wow….this is vulnerable huh? this is personal…like I said…take it or leave it…this is my truth and I am committed to living my truth for the rest of my days….no apologies…none. I just know I have to tell you where I was so that you know that I KNOW that you will fly again. I know you will.
I KNOW YOU WILL FLY AGAIN!

Because I AM FLYING again…..and, it is miraculous and beautiful and amazing and…….now I can see the birds under the trees…where I used to be….not only see them…but really really FEEL them…so, I have to tell them what I know. YOU WILL FLY AGAIN.

Now…let me tell you what else I learned today..I learned what to do when you find an injured bird……directly from the ornithology society it says…

“Place an injured bird in a covered box (with air holes punched in it), and keep it in a warm, QUIET place. Do not try to administer first aid, offer food or water to the bird, and avoid lifting the lid to check on its condition. The less it sees of you, the less stress it will experience, and the better its chances for recovery will be.

 

Hmmm…I thought that was great considering I had put my little sculpture in a dark box, put a lid on it and let it be.

So…are you giving yourself a break? Are you letting yourself heal up? Are you understanding that it’s ok if you need to be left alone to get things figured out? For me….once I was in a “covered box in a warm quiet place” I was really able to let God do what He needed to do for me….but that took lots of trust. That’s back at the end of 2007 when I CLOSED FOR RESTORATION….I really did too….we moved way out in the country, an hour away from everything for a whole year….that wasn’t planned on my part, but it sure was exactly what I needed.

Here’s what happened……and it was sort of uneventful…and natural….without a big ceremony or any kind of warning….the lid came off the box…..I sat there for a minute..and then I tried to fly…and guess what? I still knew how….and, I was strong enough. And….I am flying a little bit every day now…feels so so so good….especially when I think about how I REALLY HONESTLY BELIEVED that my flying days were over………oh no, honey…..no way…that’s not the kind of life that was meant for us. We were born to soar….

Flying birdie
so here’s me…..a little flying birdie……and it feels so good….even though I am not one of those really fast and really elegant and really exotic birdies….I am who i am and I am flying….and I am so happy. It was time for me to fly again….and it was not on MY timeline because I would have chosen for it to come much sooner…BUT….God is never early and never late…but always right on time….(in the words of Egonda’s daddy, one of my greatest teachers)

I will leave you with one final little message from my sage friend, Mary Kay……..we sat in her Pilates studio earlier this week…..and, as she always does, she coached me with some really wise words……she said….that she wishes that New Year’s resolutions did not come in January…that it’s just the worst, most unnatural time..during the Winter..when everything is dormant and we can not plant or grow anything…that it is just not natural…that winter is for rest and renewal and recharging…..and that spring will come soon enough….

and I realized….that flying is that way too….some years we are in the winter of our life……..and it seems like nothing is happening…that everything has stopped…that it’s cold and lifeless…but, it’s only a season…and then spring comes…and we can fly again.

YOU WILL FLY AGAIN…I just know it. YOU WILL. Now…go make a list of all the things you can do while you are in your little box, resting, mending, healing….make that time for yourself…because before you know it…you will be soaring….

….when you are sitting under that tree, all alone…seeing all those birds flying above you…..look past the birds that are flying…and look past the clouds…and ask our God, who loves you and knows you…ask Him to show you exactly who you are, give Him your WHOLE HEART…and then you will know FOR SURE that you will fly again as soon as it is time….

xoxoxox
so much love to you little birdies…..
melody

You will fly again 2

You may have heard some rumors about Brave Girls Club….(and they just might be true)

So….there are little teaser photos and messages showing up all over the place about some big stuff we have going on…some awesome collaborations with incredible people….we’ve been INCREDIBLY busy the last few months…working on the most amazing projects. It’s not quite time to tell you about the biggest one of all…but we wanted to tell you about what’s been going on around here…

First…we had a big feature story in Boise Urban Magazine…which is a huge honor because we are native Idahoans…5 generations deep. We love Idaho and we love doing business here. We are so honored to have been featured in our home state…
Boise Urban Magazine Brave Girls Club

 

Today, I found a couple of 4 leaf clovers in my great big Idaho lawn……..such a picture of just how I feel……and I know Kathy feels this way too…

4 leaf clovers

We have hosted 3 camps so far this year…we have 2 more this Fall. We completely renovated the Art Barn…where we have our classes and make art and just have all sorts of life changing fun…..

Brave GIrl Camp Summer 2015

 

We’ve been spending LOTS of time behind the camera filming for our upcoming projects….

kathy and melody filming by firepit

…one of the great honors of my career was being invited to speak for the Boise TedX event…….

Blog Post - Ted Talk

 

 

…in our “free time” (ha!) we have been renovating our new world headquarters, room by room…..an amazing historic home in the town where we were born! Here’s just one of the gathering rooms where we meet as a team each day to plan all of our Brave Girl fun….

livingroom-before&after

…and then we keep adding new and amazing touches out at Brave River Ranch, where we host our retreats….this summer we added a new sign to the outside of the barn and a few incredible chandeliers to the inside (plus new paint colors inside too!)

brave girl camp new sign

art barn doors
The photo shoot for Boise Urban Magazine left us with so many incredible photos that capture the life we feel so lucky to live…doing this beautiful work alongside our family…..here’s my husband and I with Brock and Sabrina….Brock is a huge part of Brave Girls Club and Sabrina is too….and 
Boise Urban Magazine BGC

…and speaking of family….whether we are at the Clubhouse (our name for our office/world headquarters) or we are at the ranch…..our children and grandchildren are always welcome…so we get lots of visits throughout the week….lots of baby holding….here’s Kathy with her newest granddaughter, Kate….

kathy and kate

 

…and I get to see my grandson and granddaughter many times a week too….(so lucky)….

melody ross with grandchildren

Marq and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary…and if you know our story….you can imagine how thankful we are….

marq and melody ross

I’ve even been able to fit in some time to paint and have painted some of my favorite pieces I have ever done (and our new headquarters has a beautiful new studio with tons of windows!)…

melody ross stewards of the truth painting melody ross flying birds painting

……and I was honored to have a book published with Andrews McMeel this Spring!!! It is such a beautiful little book and I am so happy and proud of it….I hope you will check it out…..

Blog Post - Choose Happy

My family helped me when I signed almost 2000 books for the release….. (moral support) :)
melody signing books

Then we decided to throw a big project into the middle of all of it (we sort of have a habit of doing that)….after learning about ancient cultures who have special tents for the women to gather and take care of each other…we decided to build a gorgeous red velvet tent at the ranch……we wish EVERY woman could come and be in the tent with us. At our last camp, about 30 of us gathered inside and shared an unforgettable evening of sisterhood….it’s going to be a huge part of every camp we have moving forward…..it’s even prettier at night because the ceiling is decorated with lights and lights and lights……absolutely magical…

Blog Post - Red Tent


Blog Post - Red Tent at night

yep…..everyone in this picture gathered in the tent…..(don’t you love the new chandelier in the barn?)

Blog Post - Brave Girl Camp

We LOVE camp…and all of the places we get to gather together…

Blog Post - Brave Girl Camp Tables
…and we have been celebrating the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SOUL SCHOOL!!!!! Soul School has grown to include thousands of subscribers….and we have some HUGE NEWS about the future of Soul School…so stay tuned. Soul School keeps us hopping, with new lessons every month and a new box of goodies every month. We would sure love to have you if you haven’t checked it out yet!!!! We are so thankful for everyone who comes together every month for Soul School!

Blog Post - Soul School 1 year later

And one of the really fun parts of my job is that I get to go to really great locations to film new classes. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity to connect with all of you!

melody ross filming by waterfall

….and we LOVE packing up your SOUL SCHOOL boxes every month…here’s Lynette and the gang packing everything up beautifully to be sent out to all of the Soul School subscribers! (we love these amazing women!)

brave girls club packing brave box

Not only do I love to do the retreats here….I also love to go to other retreats. This Spring I got to go and teach at Handmade U in Nebraska with our friend and fellow Brave Girl Rachel McGough…it was so much fun and I loved every minute of it…melody ross handmade u

…and I also got to go to a beautiful retreat in Washington hosted by another fellow Brave Girl, Serena Berry…..where we learned from Misty Mawn, a master artist and very special friend and sister. I love gathering as women and sisters!

melody ross art friends

….and that leads me to the tiniest little teaser about what we have going on. I have been teaching my courses through Brave Girls Club for 6 years now. It has been such a joy and such an honor. And I have had teachers too. I have so many incredible friends who teach incredible courses….and so many more who have so much to teach about but who don’t teach courses yet. So……….our hearts here at BGC have longed to bring all of them together…and bring all of you together…so that it is then all of US…….so…..stay tuned for a huge announcement in the next few weeks about the big sisterhood of learning that will soon be available through Brave Girls Club….not just Soul School….but SO MUCH MORE….lots of you have seen pictures like the ones below on social media…….pretty soon you will know what it’s all about…and it’s all for YOU.

angelas bgu invitation

So…..we are just joyful and content around here. And thankful…….thankful thankful thankful. We feel so very lucky. We feel so very fortunate. We have worked so hard and it has been worth every minute, every tear, every long day and long night. Big things are happening around here to grow this worldwide sisterhood.

 

….and I LOOOOOOOOOVE doing this with my real flesh and blood sister…….and all of the thousands of sisters we have hugged virtually and in person over the last 6 years. Can’t wait to tell you all what’s next.

 

melody and kathy brave girls club

 

We love you all SO MUCH.

xoxo

melody and kathy and the awesome BGC team

We Must See Past What it Seems…..

After a dear friend telling me about a hurtful experience she’d had this week…..I began thinking again about a story I have told a few times….a story that my children will tell to their children, and maybe even beyond that… because it was such a learning experience in our family….maybe even a turning point…it’s a story that I think about often because we were the main characters in it 3 or 4 years ago, and even though it was something that lasted less than 15 minutes….it changed all of us….and now I see others differently, especially when it seems that they might be main characters in the same story…or one a lot like it. I used to be too embarrassed to tell this story….but I am not anymore. This is a human story that everyone needs to hear, I truly believe this…I hope you will stay with it, it’s kinda long.

As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.

First, if you don’t know my history because you are brand new to Brave Girls Club…welcome welcome welcome! I need to start this story by giving you a little bit of background….. you see, my husband had an accident in 2004 that injured the frontal lobe of his brain……it has taken 6 years to get him back……but in the middle there, between 2004 and now…lots and lots of stuff happened. He was essentially out of it…but not just that….he changed to someone else, we lost him. His personality changed completely, he could not work, he was angry and depressed and could not cope with human beings.  He did not feel love or affection, really he only felt anger…rage…and he was suicidal most of the time. He did not remember a lot of things. He could not take care of our family or even himself, really……..(and I want to mention again that through lots of miracles, he is 100% recovered now…we are so thankful….he is even BETTER than he was before his accident)

But……during that time…..he would have these confusing and amazing glitches of time when he would be totally normal. It was bittersweet. They would last for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for days…or even weeks…then he would sink back down into that horrible place. When he was sick, I protected him fiercely. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that…I had faith that someday he would recover….but man oh man it was lonely…I wished every single day that I could just walk around with a sign like this….

….because on the outside…I looked like I had EVERYTHING GOING FOR ME…I looked like I might just have a perfect life….but I was hiding a very painful secret….

Well…a lot of other things happened too………you can imagine what might happen over the years while we have a 7 acre farm, a pretty big international business that we own with lots of employees…..a life that  HE managed before his accident, while he just let me do the fun and creative stuff….now we had lots of medical bills…lots of sorrow and lots of distractions……we also had LOTS of kids…..and no one competent managing the business…

Well…after a few years, I couldn’t hold it all together…our business was suffering for all of the reasons listed above and a few more reasons on top of that……..and we discovered that we were really SINKING. Well……one day when he was partly lucid….he was THERE…he was coherent….I told him the condition of our life.

He kind of panicked and he went straight to work figuring out what he could do. It was insanely heartbreaking when he would “wake up” after weeks or months and I had to tell him how much things were deteriorating financially, etc. It was very hard. But when he could, he did what he could….before his mental illness sucked him back into the prison it kept him in most of the time.

He called a sign place and had a huge sign brought out to our house…the kind that you can put letters on, and it was electric and lit up…….He put it by the road in one of our horse fields……then he drove our Suburban….both of our trucks….my classic Thunderbird that he got me for my birthday a few years earlier…..our tractor…all of our tractor implements…the boat that I worked 10 years to get for him (and that caused his brain injury, incidentally)……….and he lined everything up along the fence and he put a price tag on every single thing. Then, he put the letters on that big huge sign and plugged it in.

You have to understand that we had worked for MANY years for those things. We started a business in our twenties and we sacrificed everything we had for all of those years to make it work. We owned almost all of it outright…….but, when I told him that the business was struggling….this is what he did….

Sooooo…..there it was….all in a row……all of our stuff…..out in our field.

All of the neighbors driving by…our friends…the community…..people who knew us most of our lives and people who knew nothing about us…..we were just the young family who lived in that beautiful little farm house on Beacon Light road with the perfect lawn….or what USED to be.

You see, in addition…for months….our once beautifully manicured yard started to be filled with weeds that were now several feet high. I just couldn’t keep it up. The lawn was a nightmare. Everything was just falling apart all around me and my heart was broken over my husband, too. It was humiliating and exhausting and horrible, really.

Well, the sign was not up in the field for more than a few hours…….when my husband’s phone rang….it was someone who saw all the stuff and my husband’s phone number on the big huge sign. We were sitting out in the yard while he was still coherent and he was feeling devastated about the condition of our lawn…..I was apologizing that I just couldn’t do all of it………..he was so heartbroken at his limitations and that he had left me to try to handle our life alone……we were trying to make a plan…..

He answered his phone…I saw that he was just listening…I could hear that the person’s voice was getting louder and louder and louder………..my husband just listened. He turned his back to me a little so I wouldn’t hear. But I could hear it….It seemed to go on and on and on……..

These were the things I could hear on the other end of the phonecall….

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

I sat there, mortified, embarrassed, humiliated, mad, sad, devastated. I was certain that this would snap my husband back into his dark hellish place.

But, when the man was done ranting, my husband waited a second and then very calmly said something that I will never, ever forget…….

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”

***************************************

I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART….  but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs.

HAPPY NOVEMBER….so much to be thankful for!

xoxo

melody

Stay with it, Brave Girl…your courage does not go unnoticed

Dear Sometimes Tired Girl,

It’s interesting how the last leg of a journey is often the most difficult, especially when we don’t even know how close we are to the finish line.

Very often, the biggest most incredible breakthroughs happen during this last leg, and so often people quit JUST before it’s over…just before the luck would have turned…just before everything would have started to make sense…just when the difficult stuff beings to turn to beautiful stuff.Brave Girls Club - You will get through this

Stay with it, Brave Girl. You are courageous, strong and beautiful. People are watching…your courage does not go unnoticed. You are touching lives as you are becoming a woman of character and strength and depth.

…and quite possibly your next finish line is just around the bend.

So proud to know you.

You are loved loved loved.

xoxo

(…pass it on…)

 

I made some art for you….step by step….so honored to be a part of THE DOCUMENTED LIFE PROJECT!

colored lovers

So….I worked on this art journal spread this week, it was so very very fun…and let me tell you why I have put a step by step tutorial about how I did it…. (and if you are coming over here from the Art to the 5th blog…WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME!!!)lorraine and us

This is a picture of Kathy and I with one of our dear soul sisters…Lorraine Bell………we met Lorraine wayyyyyy back when we first started Brave Girls Club…she came to one of our first camps and became a friend and sister for life (just like everyone does!!!) …..Lorraine came by herself, and then later brought her dear friends,  Sandi Keene, Rae Missigman and Barbara Moore. I bet all of these gals sound familiar!! They all teamed up with their dear friend and incredibly talented artist, Roben-Marie Smith to start ART TO THE 5th….and let me tell you, my friends….this is something that you need to check out!!!

www.arttothe5th.com

www.art5academy.com 

They asked me to be a part of their wonderful and very popular Documented Life Project 2015 as a featured artist!! So, my prompt is “The Fabric of Your Life” and I am challenged to work with TOUCHY FEELY fabric in my art journal. This is perfect for me because I use fabric as a texture all the time!! CLICK HERE TO SEE THE CHALLENGE

and here’s my project!!

colored TWO page spread

I have been working in an old LIFE Magazine annual…it’s a perfect art journal with thick pages and lots of amazing photos…I just use them as a starting point for my journal layouts…..here’s how the page started…

1 the book BEFORE

and I gathered some fabrics from my life! I always save old clothes that I love but I am done wearing…and I search out clothing at thrift stores, etc that have beautiful trims or lots of texture and embroidery…..here are a few of the things I gathered…2 clothing fabric

Then I started painting the background with some turquoise paint. I thought I might save part of the words so I didn’t paint over that…..I just scraped the paint on with a drywall scraper….

3 scraping the paint on

I also dropped some alcohol ink for extra color & interest…

4 painting the pages

then I scraped on some white paint…

5 painting the pages

I LOVED the poses of the people……but I wanted it to look more hand drawn…so I just wet my Stabilo pencil and started roughly sketching over the photo…

6 drawing over the photos

7 drawing over photos

and I decided why I loved the photos so much….because they are full of love…and they inspired me to love even more…and I love when LOVE inspires more love….so of course, I took my wet stabilo and wrote…LOVE…

8 writing the words

and I thought about how cool it is that those photos inspired me to feel love and to want to create more love and have more love….and so I added the words PRACTICE THE KIND OF LOVE THAT INSPIRES MORE LOVE…and then I thought…wow, that’s going to be my new mantra! :)

9 writing the rest of the words

and then I started adding the fabric :) When I put fabric in my journals or on my art….I soak it in collage medium…I am loving Collage Pauge but I also use Mod Podge and when I’m doing a piece for the wall, I use gel medium….but the important thing is that you soak the fabric so it sticks down and becomes part of the page….10 adding the lace

One of my favorite things to do is to dress my people in my journals and art! So I started crafting some sweet fashion out of the fabric…

11 adding skirt fabric

and again…had to really soak the fabric to paste it down…

12 adding more fabric

then I started adding trim…..the photo of her dress already had such fantastic trim that I just added to it…

13 adding lace trim

then I decided to put lace all over the word LOVE…

14 adding lace to the words

…and I LOVE how it turned out! So much beautiful texture!!!

15 lace on LOVE

yum!!

16 love lace closeup

 

I also added white pen to the outside of the letters!

17 practice love angle

then I just kept going with dressing the lovers….so fun!

18 texture on people

19 clothing closeup

20 people closeup

 

and I added a few flowers and stems…

21 people closeup angle

22 people closeup angled

then I took my Inktense blocks and colored some of the areas that I wanted to have more color. I LOVE these…they are like pastels, but when wet, they become permanent INK. Really awesome. They also have Inktense pencils…

with inktense

I just wet my paintbrush and painted the pigment where I wanted it…where I had colored it…

colored lovers

and voile! it is done!! I love how it turned out!! I hope you will try out using some fabric in your art….and that you will start saving old clothes and other fabrics from your life to put into your art stash! It’s so much fun!

colored TWO page spread

Hope you loved it!! And I hope that you will check out our monthly Soul School class, CHOOSE HAPPY! Premium subscribers get this BRAVE BOX full of beautiful treasures…this is a great month to try it out because you will receive the gift of a free signed book in your box this month only!!

soul school box

Along with SUCH wonderful treasures! Check it out in this blog post HERE ABOUT SOUL SCHOOL >>>> and make sure you check out Art to the 5th!!

I’m so honored to participate in this wonderful challenge!! Thanks for sharing this time with me!

Have a beautiful day!

xoxo

melody

Live big in your own skin and take charge…

Dear Steadfast Girl,

One of the most powerful thing we can do it is to stand in our very own skin and proclaim out loud (even if we are our only audience) what we will and will not allow…what we will and will not believe in…what we will and will not fight for, or fight about….what we will and will not accept as truth for our life or ourselves.

Sometimes we think things…but we never claim those things powerfully, or proclaim them. Sometimes we know something is not right…or we know something is very very right…..but we never stand in our own power and make it real.

Beautiful friend……try it. Try to stand up tall….get your big beautiful soul into your own skin…and say some things out loud that you believe….that you may have been afraid to say out loud before. You will find that it will be incredibly amazing to hear your own beautiful self say things with such power and conviction…and you will find that your actions will follow your proclamations….come on, just try it.

Brave Girls Club - DECIDE to live an extraordinary life!
You have the right, you have the choice…you even have the responsibility to live big in your own skin and to take charge of what you will and will not do..will and will not believe…will and will not allow…….let yourself hear it from your own mouth…..miracles will happen.

Come on…be brave.

You are so very very very loved.
xoxox

Want a better world?????????? PRACTICE what you want the world to be

Want a better world?????????? Seriously…..we all need to PRACTICE more….all of us.

Sometimes it all makes me tired…makes me sad what is going on in the world. Holy moly there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world.

Here’s what I think………………….if we need more love in the world (and we do)….then really the only effective way to have more love in the world is for each of us, individually, to practice PRACTICE practice the kind of love that inspires more love.

If we want tolerance, acceptance, equality……we each, individually, need to PRACTICE the kind of tolerance, acceptance and equality that inspires more tolerance, acceptance, equality.

If we want strong, good values in the world, in our communities, in our families……then each of us, individually must PRACTICE the kind of strong, good values that INSPIRE more strong good values.

Because the rest of it is such lip service, you know? You can’t preach or beat or fight goodness into people…..you can’t convert others to your way of thinking by telling others that their way of thinking is wrong.

The only way to create change is to INSPIRE others to want a better way….and the only way you can inspire others to want a better way is to PRACTICE THAT BETTER WAY YOURSELF……..and let others be inspired and choose that better way.

Love and then love more….take responsibility for your own self and your family…….968983_10151865697671410_1667711035_n (1)BE what you want the world to be. Know what I’m sayin’?????

xoxo

melody

You get to decide….

Dear Brave Girl,

Sometimes, beautiful friend, things happen in life that make us forget that we get to decide. Sometimes we just put ourselves on autopilot and take whatever comes along, thinking that we have to put up with all sorts of abuse, neglect and yuckiness…whether we are doing it to ourselves or letting others have that kind of influence in our lives.

Did you know that you have the right to make rules for your life? Did you know that you are the ONLY one who can make soul deep rules about what you want, how you want to feel, who you want to be with, what you want to spend your energy on and in what ways you want to contribute and give back to the world? Do you remember that you are the only one who can decide what YOU will tolerate and put up with?
rules

Decide today what you want your life to look like, and then start living in ways that point only to that plan. Make some rules…you are worth the time it will take. You are worth the sacrifices it will take. It is entirely possible to live the life that your heart yearns to live, friend!! And it is never too late.

You are so very very very loved.
xoxo

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