Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Morning Delight

Delightful to see but why do I wonder why I've never been able to produce a garden with flowers and vegies here?

(of course no pictures because I'm an idiot who ought to have her camera welded around her neck!)

Scene - Cool, for the time of day and date on the calendar. Midmorning. Still shady here on the westerly edge of the lake. I'm perched on an old counter stool set outside for breaks sipping a last mug of coffee. reading a bit in SARK's 'Prosperity Pie' (because I was looking the other day for 'Succulent Wild Woman' in my daughter's room and she took ALL the other SARK books back to college). In my peripheral vision over the edge of the book, two fawns leap across my view from the south to the north, followed momentarily by a third and I grin. (and silently curse not having my camera at the ready) Hardly a second goes by as I follow them out of sight to my left and one and then another comes right back followed by a doe and then the third little one. From where the fawns first appeared at my right comes another doe and the first two fawns stop in front of and to her side. Still grinning, I think to myself a mother's dialogue of Mama Doe #1 being glad her child has come home from play but irritated if those other two think they're gonna stay and hang out.

"You two can't stay here now. Go on home." she scoldingly says.

And I remember how I used to sit and watch the male and female mallards the first Spring I lived here strutting through the back edge of the property, peeking and poking at every clump of weed and grass growth, and imagine human conversation to their clucks and quacks as it they were a couple shopping for real estate as they scouted out a good nesting spot for egg-laying high enough from the water's edge so it wouldn't flood when the rains soon brought the level up. (You're probably thinkin' I'm crazy but I SWEAR that must be how 'Bambi' and 'Winnie The Pooh' were created. And now they're CLASSICS!)

This morning I imagined the does were sisters and Mama Doe #1 was none too pleased that Mama Doe #2 might be considering pawning off her twins when she had places to go and things to do and one was enough to handle. And about the time I get that far in my fantasy deer dialogue from where Mama Doe #1 had come comes a third doe and two more little fawns!

Three does and 5, f-i-v-e little fawns. WOW! (Now the language of my mental cursing is getting even more foul at not having my camera ready to point and shoot!) I want so badly to get up and grab the camera, but I'm certain my movement and the sound of the sliding screen door will spook them so I just sit still and watch. And grin some more.

And I'm grinning still as I type this out to share. GOSH, IT FEELS SOOOOOOOOOO GOOD! When was the last time you found yourself unabashedly grinning at something just plain delightful?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

OPEN! OPEN! OPEN! - This is IT!

I just opened up my 2nd blog here - (complete with my original photography header) my intent to expose my most authentic, creative expressions and pursuits. Please come visit!

WTJ Wrap Up

Well, yesterday was the close of this Summer's The Next Chapter - Wreck This Journal and I can't help feeling like the end of Summer Camp and like there should be quiet singing of taps, hands crossed in front of our bodies and held in a circle 'round the fire. I can hear the music in my head but would you believe I CAN'T REMEMBER THE WORDS to that old Girl Scout rendition??? Can't get beyond "Day is done, gone the sun.", la,, la, la... Oh, well - you get the idea.

I'd love to summer camp with this Wrecking Crew anytime! Can you IMAGINE the art supplies stash? The 'mess' hall with Suzie as overseeing Camp Cook ???? And First Aid with Kavindra as Camp Nurse???? Come and go 'WRECK'-reation all day???? All the journals laying out to dry in the sun or dangling by clothes pins from the line after swim time or outside the showers? The overheard giggles and whispers from atop a cabin roof as you pass and dodge the plummeting of journals dropping from someplace high or the visions of journals tossed wildly flying like birds through the air? Nine and 18 hole journal golf courses springing up everywhere in the camp? Or, my personal favorite vision - seeing Wreck Stars twirling journals on strings through the air like cowgirls practicing with lariats. And then there would be the encounters on the hiking trails with Wreck Stars 'walking' leashed/strung journals through the dirt and bumping along on the rocks behind them or carrying them as they write in them/draw lines while hiking.

Maybe I'll open a 'Camp WTJ' here in the foothills with side trips to Yosemite. That's the ticket! And for the non-camper types, inside I have 3 bathrooms, 3 unused bedrooms, 3 tables that would seat 8-12 comfortably, (make that 2 tables and 2 bedrooms - the third(s) are for studio use - more on that later) and there are sleeper sofas in the family room and front rooms...hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Nah! I don't think so...but the benefit I'm seeing in myself from the WTJ experience has been significant - to me anyway. I'm taking more chances, trying new things, being surprised and delighted and inspired when things aren't perfectly prepared for and done and something I wouldn't have thought was practical or sane or smart or comfortable turns out to be fun, funny, entertaining, interesting, and sometimes even pretty. 'Why not?' more often doesn't have a good reason not to so...just go on and give it a shot. I'm almost finished with my first page of a new 'art journal', I'm starting a 2nd blog for my creative writing, quilting and dabbling in photography & mixed media, 'Studio Lakeside' - and I hope to post my first 'art journal' attempt later today and will be exosing my rejuvenation/rebirth/reclamation of me as a practicing creative there.

Aside from that - three things I've learned from the WTJ participation are:

1) I need (well, okay, need may be an overly strong word), I want more art supplies - paint that isn't latex semi-gloss would be great and I keep hearing about some gel medium stuff I want to play with (looks like spackle but spackle doesn't work very well anyplace but dry wall, that I've found - yet)

2) I can now download pics to Windows Vista as well as Windows 98 from the digital camera my daughter passed on to me when she got a 'better' one. (there's 'better'? Wonder when she's gonna replace THAT????)

3) Dial-up internet services SUX for accessing videos shared by WRECK STARS!

Thanks to Jamie Ridler for hostessing an amazingly fun summer's journey! I'm going now to listen to the Wrecking Ball Call I missed - I did call and the 'greeter' said I was the 1st caller and I'm NEVER 1st for anything so I panicked and hung up thinking I hadn't translated EST correctly to daylight time and then on to Pacific time and I'd be waiting maybe another hour for Jamie and others to get on the line. So sorry to have missed it LIVE and in person!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Flip Side

There must be an evil wind blowing through blogland's various creative regions - kind of like a chinook, according to weather guys and my reference books, blows warm and moist out of the southwest over Oregon and Washington. A number of places I've visited lately have been writing of fear - confronting it, what it may be indicating, how it paralyzes. Of course, reading about it I can't help thinking about it, ruminating on from whence it comes and what to do about it, with it, and so on.

Floating on the surface of the pot those thoughts are bubbling in on the stove of my mind, is the distilled phrase from the historical wartime address - there's nothing to fear but fear itself. When out in a boat on the lake with the gals of my book club this past Sunday, I was bound and gagged - paralyzed, by fear. Even though I could manage (with some very appreciated recent improvements in pain level and subsequent increases in freedom of movement) to walk down the dock and get on-board my friends' boat without assistance, once on I was stuck - caged by fear. As invitingly cool and refreshing as a dip in the lake in a spot I'd never before had access to from shore seemed - I couldn't get in like the others because I was afraid once in the water I wouldn't have enough arm strength to swim and would not be able to get myself up the boatside ladder back inside. I feared not being able to rely upon my body, being a nuisance and burden to my friends, and appearing to be a complete fool. One of my friends, trying to encourage me to take a dip, said they'd pull or push me up if need be, but I couldn't make myself take the plunge/trust someone else's presence at the crucial moment/risk needing assistance. And so, while present I wasn't fully participating and I missed the best part of the day's experience, perched right there, observing only. And, oh how my hot, itchy skin longed to be skimmed with the cool, refreshing water! Almost as intensely as my body thrummed with yearning to dance to the music of the live band at a birthday celebration among friends a couple of nights before...

I often wish I had the habit of constantly carrying my camera whenever I go out the door like so many of my photographer friends seem to do. Yesterday I saw an image I'd love to share with you outside that speaks to me of fear so clearly. Here in California dozens of vultures at a time circling overhead in the sky is a common sight. They're HUGE and dark and ugly predators and appear so hypnotically serene and graceful unless you know what they truly are. (I'd never seen them before in the midwest, nor on the opposite coast) They seem to come from nowhere and I often wonder when I see them on air if they're poised over some road-kill or stalking some weak outdoor pet.

Thoughts triggered by other blog writers of late regarding fear and creativity and dreams/desires have been, like prey to vultures, my creative ideas and inspirations will perish like road-kill and be picked apart by vultures of disapproval, lack of understanding/enthusiasm from observers/witnesses and results won't be pleasing. Following those though it has occurred to me that all of those thoughts like my tendency to perfectionism are about control and something I have absolutely no control over. I repeat - I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL! What a freeing concept!

Honestly, some of the things I love best in life and the world around me are things I can't even IMAGINE controlling:
>seeing 'shooting stars' across the dark night sky

>deer and other wildlife that occassionally come wandering close enough to see every detail of their coats

>color and light of remarkable sunrises and sunsets

>just one time each being at the right place and time to witness the short-lived flourescent plumage of a male indigo bunting during the height of its mating period and a bald eagle 'resting' atop a nearby oak

>the glittery sparkle just after first morning light upon the foilage this side of the lake out back

>unexpected and earth moving desire stirred within me for another

>tears that come unbidden upon the reading or hearing of a tale of great sacrifice or generosity for another

Whether I creatively write, quilt, cook, or decorate my home fear can and has been disabling. I am concerned about if I'll be understood and please a reader, diner, visitor, recipient or viewer. Truth is, I have NO CONTROL over any of that. A reader/diner/viewer may have had a disappointing day, be too short on time to consider, have a bad taste in their mouth or a headache - any of which will affect their perception and acceptance of my creative effort in a way unrelated to what I've done.

What we cannot control is as much an opportunity for faith/trust/confidence as it is for fear. A wise older woman once told me that negative characteristics are just the 'flip-side' of good, strong ones. A stubborn child or man, for instance, is just exhibiting the 'flip-side' of determination. It won't ever kill me to not have what I write, quilt, cook or how I decorate loved, admired or appreciated and it's been said what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. There really is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bad Trip

I've been on a trip the last several days, a bad trip, not hallucinagenically induced by any means, but a bad trip just the same. Sorry, well not really sorry, perhaps more like blessedly for everyone else, there are no photos or picture postcard momentos of this journey to and from the 'twin cities' of Woe's Me and Self Pity, Misery/USA. (In my head sounds like someplace in Missouri so don't blame me entirely for getting off the bus at that desolate stop in the dark) Thanks for your indulgence in my subsequent moan - at the end of it is a really nice and refreshing reference to something TOTALLY different.

I was raised in the old school tradition of and subscribe to the adage, "if you haven't anything nice to say, don't say anything at all", thus the infrequency of blog writing save for the admittedly (and so titled) Cheap Blog about a celebrity wedding - a notch, just barely, but a notch above commentary on the recent rash of celebrity passings.

The extraordinary and prolonged mercilessly high daytime temps have been so oppressive. Even holed up in my 'cave' with the swamp cooler running daily from early morning until past sunset, I've felt drained by early mid-afternoon and crave a nap, often finding myself indulging in one whether or not I choose to. And even with the cooler pumping I've noted internal temps in the cave exceeding my comfort level. My scalp gets itchy from perspiration and anyplace where skin touches other skin is mucky feeling. My irritability level is so enhanced that were I to attempt a self portrait it would be of someone resembling a cactus, a porcupine or a barbed wire wrapped mummy. I thought I may have just been being hyper-sensitive having joked over the phone with Dearest Darlin' the other day that I could probably 'grill' food on his gas grill without even turning on the gas until a local news story on last night's late report showed someone who'd actually 'baked' cookies on his dashboard. (the public service aspect of this little feature was to remind folks not to leave children or pets in their cars. DUH! )

I've been feeling bored and lonely, confronting my reality of being unemployed with no prospects and my bank account dwindling to an impossibly low balance with bills still coming in my mail box and feeling both financially and emotionally broke and bordering on depressed. Thus, I've become jealous as friends post on their Facebook status activities I'd love to participate in - ventures to town for entertainment, dinner out, karaoke at local watering holes, birthday pool parties and such.

The other day, last Thursday, was the second anniversary of the date my divorce was stamped and filed by the court. Last year, I 'forced' myself to 'celebrate' it, asking women at work to join me for margaritas after work. This year I suggested to a couple 'friends' they come by for drinks - one suggested we make it part of an already planned girls night out the following week, the other was 'busy'...I was, am, miffed, and hurt. Nobody knows what a hard time I have just saying the words 'I'm divorced'...picture the scene if you recall where Henry Winkler who played Fonzie in the old TV seried Happy Days had to say he was 'wrong'.

Book club is this coming Sunday, my month to hostess and my choice of book (Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett) and a club member and friend generously offered their boat for holding our get together and it seemed a good idea at the time but I'm feeling inadequacy because I know I can't pay to fuel the boat for the day or for the rum I'd intended to make cocktails with to serve. (thankfully, one of the gals doesn't like seafood of any kind and instead of the shrimp/pasta salad I'd have liked and planned to serve, I'll substitute chicken I have in the freezer)

A few hundred miles south, a sattellite version of quilt market/festival is happening and I'd hoped since early in the year I'd be there. A good quilt show/festival is like 'church' for inspiration to my creativity and a Thanksgiving Holiday all rolled into one and I'm craving it SOOOOOOOOOOOO intensely. Makes me ill not to be able to even consider being there.

So, imagine my delight today when a blog I 'follow' actually put a genuine smile on my face! I bet it would yours too. See Journal Love here-

And, thanks Connie for being a bright spot for me this Monday. {{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheap Blog - Celebrity Wedding

Okay - I can't help it, the first thing that caught my eye when I opened my puter this morning was a celebrity announcement of marriage. I usually don't get hooked by celebrity gossip - means next to nothing to me, but I must for some reason be susceptible to a 'crush' state (yesterday's blog I confessed I was 'crushing' on Josh Taylor at the moment) This piece of news was re: a film star crush that has stuck with me for, can it really be, 40 years. Robert Redford married a 51 year old artist from Germany,
and I couldn't help but think there probably aren't many red blooded 51 year old heterosexual females who haven't thought at some time or another they might could go for Robert Redford. Swoooooooooon! The cowboy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the student or Naval officer in The Way We Were, the journalist of All The President's Men or Up Close and Personal, outdoorsman and adventurer in Jeremiah Johnson or Out of Africa, baseball player in The Natural, etc. So MANY men he's made me fall in love with.

The bride is Sybille Szaggars, a contemporary 'mystic' artist. You can see her work here:

And would you believe, not a single DVD or video of his in the house...pout

Chuckling to myself - one day now young women will be remembering when they 'crushed' on Brad Pitt for 40 years too. tee hee

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Morning Coffee with Wildlife and Toys

A second mug of coffee, GAC on TV and 'crushing' on Josh Taylor's slightly rugged good looks and voice singing 'Another Try' (he has to beg, even in song???? For goodness sakes, WHY???)....

The sun had been up an hour or so when I made my way outside this morning to sip the first mug of steaming coffee while sitting a bit before the heat uncomfortably crushed any desire to be outdoors. Sliding the screen door open and closed again, I startled a young deer that must have been nibbling on something green and tasty just beyond the overgrown brush about 10 yards from the door. She swiftly high tailed off to my left presumably to the North rim of the lake. Apparently she wasn't the same doe I'd seen yesterday afternoon in the same area with the teeniest fawn I'd ever seen because no little fawn followed.

A slight breeze tickled the leaves of some thin branched tree I can't identify (Note to self: get a field guide to tree/plant life) but the oaks were oblivious. Not a leaf stirred on them. Floating through the air like ash from a far off fire was a wispy curtain of downy, white seeds. It's too early yet for the cat-tails to erupt into seed but I wonder what has.

It was unusually noisy for early morning and I couldn't see enough birds gathered in tree branches to create such a racket. I wished I'd had my mini binoculars 'round my neck for a closer look to see if the source was camoflauged in the dense limbs of oak foilage. Suddenly I noticed movement in the corner of my left eye and turned to see a quail topping the pile of dead limbs rising almost to the crest of the hill dropping from the end of the driveway and waiting for the next legal burn day or to be fuel for the next not-so-legal fire pit use. I'm always amused watching the jerky, bobble head movements of the quail on flat land - like less domesticated versions of farm hens. Watching, I noticed another and another of the birds move higher in the pile of limbs and realized there must be an entire flock feeding on who knows what. There may have been ants or some other insects or larvae but I always thought quail diet was seed. (Note to self: find out primary diet of quail) I quickly realized though I'd only experienced them in silence the quail are the source of the 'noise'.

It didn't sound like any birdsong at all, but rather the sound they made reminded me of a childhood toy I used to play with my little brother with when I was 5 or 6 and he was 3. I was reminded distinctly of the sound of wheels of an all wood train set on its wooden tracks when we'd try to make the train go REALLY fast. If we were that noisy at play I gotta wonder that our parents didn't wax the wheels or the track grooves to quiet us. Or maybe, like when my own kids were little, they could tell without actually seeing us by the noise of our toys that we weren't getting into any serious trouble.

I saw a similar set used as wall decor in a preschool little boy's room on an HGTV show the other day. Figured it was vintage and had been garnered by some collector from EBAY or something. Curious, after my vivid memory this morning, I checked the internet and found they still sell similar train sets with bare wood tracks and painted wooden train cars. Brand name sets go under the label BRIO and compared to toy prices I've seen as I've shopped WALMART and Target for my grand kids on occasion they were surprisingly reasonable. A little sadly, I think though, that my Lil Leo, turning 5 next month, may already be too high tech mature for a toy of such simplicity and that's a shame. Even more of a shame, his younger sisters (and mother) might think a train set from G-Ma in California for them is a goofy and gender inappropriate gift. (sighs)

Which brings me to another thought - I'm glad I had a little brother close enough in age that I got to play with toys I might not have if I'd only had girl toys and I always liked his toys better than mine anyway: Tinker toys, Lincoln Logs, tons of Legos. But I did love my lace up cards I'd 'stitch' with colored shoe strings through punched holes. I wonder which of those toys contributed most to making me the creative grown up I became?

So, I'm wondering what toys do you remember from your toy box????

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Giving participation another go as part of an effort to exercise my writing discipline. The prompt this week is 'indulgence'.

The majority of my adult life, aside from a few notably unexpected windfalls, I've barely gotten by financially. I wouldn't have described myself as poor - poor is when there isn't enough money for even the barest necessities of food and shelter (though there were MOMENTS)- but it was most often more have not than have. You learn to get by though and making do or doing without becomes as natural as being either right handed or left or having brown eyes and hair when red hair and green eyes is what you find striking. You not only accept getting by but find blessing in it - $3 grocery sacks stuffed with 'like new' newborn size baby clothes from a garage sale, bakery thrift store bread 5 loaves for a mere buck, re-tread tires, junk store lamps with working bulbs already in them. You develop a disdain for the folly of those who succumb to the marketing and advertising ploys of retail stores.

Anything not an absolute necessity becomes indulgence - the blue box of mac 'n cheese or the Big G or K marked cereal instead of the black and white generic packages, the full measure of sugar mixed with the envelope of dry powdered drink mix, 3 slices of bacon with eggs over easy on your plate instead of crumbled throughout a skillet of scrambled for the family, turning up the thermostat on a cold morning in January instead of putting on a sweatshirt or sweater.

Despite mandatory frugality I have consistently had one significant personal indulgence - magazines. I love, love, LOVE cottage/country decor and gardening magazines, craft and quilting magazines. Their colors, creativity and representations of texture and hominess totally seduce me. I keep them forever and spend hours upon hours escaping to beautiful surroundings there and finding inspiration for tweaking junk store and yard sale treasures to appear as more than they are in the rooms I inhabit.

Exercising restraint , doing without or just making do trains you tough it out. It's a form of discipline, building of muscle. Too much indulgence and one grows soft, flabby. Distinction between want and need blurs. Not enough and I wonder if you lose the capacity to embrace pleasure for yourself, or maybe, you have a greater appreciation. I know many women who routinely have their nails 'done'. I have had two professional manicures in my entire life, once for my oldest son's wedding and a second time for a family reunion. I felt like royalty both times! Would it have affected me so if it were 'routine'? I'm sure not. But, should I ever win the lottery and become able to - manicures, and a pedicure perhaps now and then, will be on my list of regular indulgences.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

WTJ - Week 6

Ebb and flow...maybe I ought to find a pic to insert of waves flowing onto and receding from the sand as an expression of my journal mood for this post. I didn't make a post for Week 5 - not that there was NOTHING done in my journal that week but it was pretty neglected to be honest. I have excuses - expected my Sweetie home for the July 4th weekend and was focussed on preparing for his homecoming and then when I was even later preparing a post for Week 5 than I had been for Week 4, it just seemed logical that rather than appearing late it would be better to just skip it and combine Week 5 and Week 6 and look on top of it for this week. (chuckle) Amusing isn't it that even with all this exercise in releasing perfectionism, I'd still be concerned with manipulating the 'appearance' of control?

After the week of mostly neglected wrecking workouts, and the coming and going of my Sweetie, I found myself (and I JUST realized today the state I'm in) hungrily desiring INTIMACY. And I'm ravenous - like I'd come off a 2 week severely restricted diet starving for a piece of cheesecake, a loaded baked potato and a medium rare 12 oz. ribeye or a roasted turkey with all the trimmings. I've bounced around through the pages of my journal - starting and stopping on this page and then another, and another, and another - not finding satisfaction. Part of it is I know, having signed up and received a favorite page swap partner (waves hello below the table to Kirby3131) I'm going to be sending a page away...a favorite...and a part of me is feeling a strong kick of inadequacy (What if she thinks my 'favorite' is pretty lame? I really, REALLY like my current favorite but it's no work of 'art' by any means...and I probably could come up with something better if I try. But then, if I'm really trying and I DO do something fabulous I really LOVE and am proud of - could I give it to a stranger????)

Soooooo...I have a number of pages 'in progress' but my dialogue with myself the last couple days as I've bounced about and explored some options in expression has me convinced I can't turn back or stand still. I'm evidently either at a dead end (which I can't fathom or accept - I'm too restless and needy/wanting) - a T-intersection, a cross road, up the ladder to the high dive or even poised at the open cabin door of a plane with a chute on my back...

Soooooooo - this was my AHA! (smacks self on forehead "But, OF COURSE!") what my sign says page...

And here, just to prove I've been doing something ;), are a couple other pages for variety...
Coloring outside the lines:

And Doodling:

First Thing In the Morning

My morning coffee is 'just right' when, with creamer added, its color is almost the same as the paint on the family room wall someone with the job of naming color for its manufacturer dubbed 'warm cocoa'.

I used to be a primitive coffee drinker - black and hot was sufficient. Somewhere along my career in morning caffeine consumption I added milk and then graduated to cream, half and half. I still don't get the added sugar so many I know gotta have - in fact, I often forget when serving coffee to others to even put it out.

Further along the line of my development, I got sucked in by the fancy, schmancy flavored coffee creamer names, probably after having been seduced by just one too many coffee beverages at one of those upper price point coffee bars. I've tried numerous - and by now probably wouldn't be quite so adverse to a spoon or two of sugar in a 'regular' coffee seeing as how those flavored creamers do have some glucose/fructose of some variety in most of them. I love toffee-this and caramel-thats and, of course, anything mocha or chocolate-y is highly regarded, but my staple coffee additive is vanilla nut. (I won't mention the brand name - not my intention to promo their label, but if someone reading is looking for a paid product endorsement I could use some supplemental income - wink*, wink*) I don't know what kind of nut the flavor is supposed to impart to the taste buds (the label illustration looks like a walnut) and there isn't one mentioned in the ingredients, leading me to believe it's an artificial combo/blend of chemicals resembling some nutty flavor. Thank God for chemistry!

Before I even take the first sip of my morning brew it delights me as the brewed coffee stirs up the creamer I've poured first into the bottom of the mug with a scent that makes me think of cake - white cake frosted with thick buttercream frosting. MMMmmmmm! DEEEEE-LISH!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Precious Moments

Sunday morning sanctuary between the sheets
Sun rises higher, day becomes brighter
Not very welcome - want to snuggle longer,
Hold on tighter, savor contact, cuddle closer.
If I could, I'd push the day back in a box...
To open after while, make this moment last.

-Sheila M. Anderson

Aren't there moments you just want to clutch and hang on to with all the strength within your grasp? My Dearest Darlin' works about 300 miles south and rents a room there. Everytime Dearest Darlin' comes 'home' it's for such a short time and seems to be gone in barely a blink. The morning I know he has to leave again is soooooo hard to wake up to, knowing the next morning I'll wake up alone, again. I'm so greedy and growing less and less able to accept the repeated separation and feeling abandoned. You'd think I'd have the posture and passion to write like one of the maddest of mad authoresses on these days. And I'd think I'd have grown mature enough to accept that this is our life - not the daily kiss goodbye off to work to be reunited at day's end to eat and drink together and rest and recharge again. I want to sit outside together tonight in the full moonlight, holding hands under the stars and listen to the crickets and frogs, sipping iced teas. But he'll be asleep when the moon rises, having to be up not long after 3 am for another day at work and I'll wish upon the moon alone.

I'm feeling pretty melancholy about the priceless moments we miss sharing...the little daily things so many couples take for granted - breakfasts, dinners, shared popcorn while watching a video, grabbing each other to dance in the kitchen to a favorite song, holding hands in the car running errands, a back scratch, a random kiss, a hug from behind while doing dishes...

Yesterday was particularly hard to watch him go as I'd taken a dive, passed out dizzy, bp soared and heart raced and he'd had to pick me up off the floor. I know he was scared, I was too and embarrassed/angry to so evidently be so needy. I'd rather just be greedy for his time instead. I ached watching him watch me for signs it was okay to go as scheduled.

He left me resting in my most comfortable chair after making sure I could get out without assistance, with instructions -
"New rule!" said he.

"I hate rules" I responded looking up into his face.

"I KNOW" he laughed, handing me the phone. "Actually, two. Keep this or the other portable phone attached to your side at all times and stay off the internet/phone line." (so he could get through for periodic checks on my well-being. I could see anxiety all over his face while he tried to be firm and assertive and I hated to be the cause)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Where's the 'cleaning fairy' hiding? Or, wish I had a white tornado...

It's time I ought to be in bed, watching the end of a fave TV show before drifting off to sleep and I wish I was. I'm overwhelmed with all the neglected housekeeping of the past month since my girls were here and left again to go 'home' to IL. My Dearest Darlin' will be here in the morning and I know he'll be appalled at the state of the kitchen, bedroom and bath and those are what I ought to have spent time on today, in anticipation. I miss when I had the capacity to kick it up to tornado-mode (what was that cleaning product that used to have a white tornado ad campaign?) to get things in order before his arrival.

I did get my desk clean today - cleared the clutter and evidence of my perching tendency here. Strangely, instead of accomplishment encouraging me to move on to other priorities, the clean space is soooooooooooo inviting I just want to hang here and not look at the mess elsewhere. On the one hand I excuse my lingering with the need to 'test' the comfort and workability of new placement of keyboard and mouse and such...amazing what a difference a slight change of angle makes. Grateful as I am for my upgraded computer, I can't help thinking if I'd been shopping for myself I likely would have gone for a laptop instead. I've thought alot about the feng shui - or rather lack of it - and wish my desk is turned into the room instead of facing a wall, but the cords and ugly backsides of my equipment necessitates for appearance sake it do so.

Will be busy through the weekend - annual 4th of July poolside party and BBQ at Darlin's brother and sis-in-law's and the stock up shopping routine for groceries and sundries tomorrow - so will likely not be putzing on the puter again until Sunday afternoon. Hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day weekend...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wreck This Journal Week 4 - Beauty

"The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time have given me courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty...The ordinary objects of human endeavour -property, outward success, luxury - have always seemed to me contemptible."
- Albert Einstein

I'm waaaaaaaaaaaaaay late posting this week for WRECK THIS JOURNAL but I've been 'working it' anyway. This page had me flooded with ideas and choices and temptations of expression. I had a few words I considered (kind of like at the beginning of the year) but after considering 'free' and 'mercy', 'create' and 'creativity' and 'perfectionist' with the big red universal slashed circle/NO symbol over it - ultimately I chose to go with the word 'Beauty' which was the word I chose for my 'word for the year 2009'.

And rather than follow the directions and 'write' it over and over I wanted to attempt something different, for I chose to collage the page and thus began tearing into magazines I was willing to scar and tear and 'destroy' for the purpose. I don't know about anyone else, but the magazines I keep in piles, baskets, on shelves I've kept for a reason and of course, I got distracted as I opened each one finding 'the reason' for keeping it and then finding other distractions within their pages as well. And - OF COURSE - once I got started cutting the word 'beauty', there were OTHER words that also 'spoke' to me, never mind the images. LOL Soooooooooooooo - here you have my first collage attempt since grade school. I wasn't sure how commited I was when I started so it's taped - not glued, but I kind of like it, ALOT. And when I get somewhere that I can add some miscellaneous desk/art supplies to my storehouse a package of glue sticks, some watercolor crayons and some new markers is on my shopping list.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Should I Make Coffee, Now?

It's just past midnight and I was asleep but the phone rang - a dear friend from Chicago, and I couldn't just roll over and close my eyes again after we hung up. Gosh, I hope he can -it's past 2 am there. I ought to take advantage of the awake state and pick up the infernal book club book I doubt I have any hope of finishing by our meeting Sunday but history has shown so far that would truly have me back asleep in no time (can't seem to get more than 5-6 pages read without zzzzzzzzzzzzing out). Wish there were Cliff's notes for this book - at least maybe I could figure out from them if it's even worth trying to finish. Maybe I ought to put on a pot of coffee and force myself to pull an all nighter reading...

I caught a reference in someone else's blog comment to someone the other day to a character in the book so SOMEONE has actually read the durn thing. This is the 2nd recent book selection by this member of my book club that I would NEVER, EVER have picked up on my own as I don't care at all for sci-fi or fantasy genre reading or movies. And to top my own dislikes/preferences I should have known by an author they chose to endorse the book on its cover that if he liked it I wouldn't because despite the fact he doesn't write that genre, I don't like his books either.

My ex used to read absolutely every/anything. Cereal boxes, packaging materials, old envelopes....if it had print on it he'd read it. Except when I'd intentionally leave an article or book about improving your relationship or communication in marriage or something of the like, of course. Thought of it as bait on occassion but if he 'bit' he got away without taking the hook...
Come to think of it, he's probably read this book intrigued by the title "Wicked" and expecting to find something lewd and laviscious in its pages.

I don't know why I'm resorting to including him in my blog writing except that perhaps, he must have been on my mind when I fell asleep reading while watching Larry King Live. Larry had on his discussion panel re: the SC Governor just back from Argentina a couple of 'experts' who addressed somewhat glossily the issue of sex addiction and I was amazed to hear them both claim that 80% of couples can and do recover their marriages out of such. Guess that makes me a minority, and surprises the heck out of me too. I'd love to talk to a handful of those 8 out of 10 women and figure out the difference between them and me.

And no, I'm not making coffee now - gonna pick the book back up and I'm sure I'll be asleep again in next to no time and probably regretting my late night spillage here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WTJ Week 3 - With SOME Pics

I keep looking at the dribbles I wipe off of my white ceramic tiled counter top in front of the coffee pot and thinking 'THOSE are the coffee spill images my journal ought to have!' and am entertaining the idea of using the journal as blotter/mat like someone else has written they've begun using their journal in place of a coaster. Do I dare? I think I might beginning with tomorrow morning's pot.

That's the wonder of sharing all these baby steps, giant leaps and abandonment we're all putting into Wreck This Journal - isn't it? No matter WHAT we do/try that we've never done/tried before, it's progress!

My 'progress' this week extends beyond the journal and I feel an impulse to brag and I won't do it elsewhere but I will do it in my journal post because I wanted sooooooooooo bad to show I'd done some of what other wreckers had done. I credit the WTJ experience with inspiring the stubborn determination it took to persevere and teach myself to download pics to my new computer from the digital camera my daughter in IL passed off to me, find and learn how to use a program that would resize the enormous files her camera produces, and another one that would assemble some of those pics into a collage-type presentation. These pics show little new that I hadn't already written of, except for the cover on which I claim collaboration credit with Keri Smith - after all, ultimately the content is becoming more and more mine, prompted by Keri's direction.

While much of my time has been spent educating myself re: my new puter, camera and photo editting - I've made my paper chain from that page in the journal coloring half of the chain links only because I rapidly grew bored with coloring those little strips (serendipitously that makes it easier as well to locate the fruit stickers page for adding to), did some additional burning (the additional burn area resembles the profile of a bear's head), wrote 2 of my fave quotes on the outside edges ('You don't know what you don't know' & 'Life is what happens when you're making other plans') and I've been having to plan out how to accomplish some of the other WTJ prompts.

Arthritis prohibits me from being able to climb up someplace high (even my stepladder is now a useless piece of junk to me) so I have finally hit upon the idea that probably the only way for my journal to take a significant fall is for me to toss it UP in the air, maybe from the edge of one of the drop offs of the multi-level topography of our 'yard'. Only draw back is that means a likely soft landing and I'm not quite sure I'm satisfied there's ENOUGH wreckage probability in that.

As for asking someone to do something destructive to that page - seems to me my daughter, Rachel, who initially gifted me the journal ought to have that 'honor' and so with a bit of additional wreckage still to be added by yours truly I plan to mail the journal to her and have her send it back. That ought to qualify for also mailing it to myself as well with a pit stop along the way.

I very much like what Jamie had to say in her Vlog this week about attachment and trust. When I thought about it, I came up with 'trust X action = confidence', which I'm lettering as a sign to go in my desk space. If I trust I can do/be/write/sew/draw/paint more (even better?) additional material and act on that trust to do so I'll produce/become more confident approaching the doing, being, writing, sewing, drawing, painting I envision. Kind of like strength building exercises at the gym. Multiplication! Everytime I (we) DO an exercise in wrecking, I'm (we're) producing added confidence.

Limited or lacking confidence is probably my greatest inhibition in most everything I desire to do. One of the blogs I visited the past few days wrote about participating for the first time, after long desiring to do so, in a drum circle. Her confidence was minimal and she feared being seen as a phony but you could tell in the passion with which she wrote about having done it she found it exhilarating. Don't we all crave/hunger for exhilaration? Maybe my equation should be expanded...(trust X action)+ confidence + action = EXHILARATION! (SIGH - wish for once I'd paid more attention in algebra)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Learned Something New, I Think, Test Post w/pic

Welllllllllllll - I FINALLY got some pics to download from my camera to this computer! Slow and steady they say, right? Now let's see if it will load to the blog. In case it does and anyone needs explanation, this is the cover of my Wreck This Journal - hole punched and shoe laced and with additional author's credit -

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steps Away/Anticipation

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...THAT feels much betta! I could hardly stand the old appearance of my own blog. It felt like an old rustic/primitive camp cabin everytime I looked at it and while I love the old, rustic and primitive the walls were caving in on me. So, this evening I adapted a template to my liking and even changed my profile photo - just steps away, I hope, from being able to upload and share blog pics.
FYI - my companion in this new profile pic is one of the frog statues scattered all over Calaveras County, CA (home of what I think is billed as the world's biggest frog jumping contest) outside the entrance of Twisted Oak Winery last Fall. A couple friends and I were enroute to see Bonnie Raitt in concert at the Ironstone Winery Amphitheater just outside of Murphy's, CA.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's Only Words, or is it? - WTJ Week 2 follow up

It's only words, I keep telling myself. I'm having fun pushing myself to be a bit silly and exercise creative brain cells and muscles through prompts in Wreck This Journal I didn't know I even have because my sense of propriety has so buried them. But aren't creative souls hyper-sensitive to the influences of all things in both visual and verbal imagery? What doesn't inspire us doesn't mean it doesn't influence us.

There are aspects of the verbiage used re: Wreck This Journal from the very outset that are troubling and disturbing to me beginning with the subtitle 'to create is to destroy'. I keep questioning whether it's timing and had I not been reeling with sadness over news of recent and current events: the Air France wreckage, the murder of a provider of abortions in his church and a military recruiter at work, followed this week by another shooting/murder on what to many is the hallowed ground of the Holocaust museum in DC by an elderly white supremacist and further afield, the suicide bombing of a hotel in Pakistan - would these words like destroy and wrecking not make me cringe as they do now? I don't think I'm alone in my sensitivity as some have gone so far to have written about feeling something akin to abusive as they imagine their journal's looking back at them with sad, wet eyes as if to say "What'd I DO (to be so mistreated)?"

And then there's the waste - no fewer than 10 pages and I think possibly about another half dozen tell us to wad them up and throw them out or run them through the laundry or burn them or similarly irretrievable acts. Someone yesterday wrote about the money they felt they'd wasted on a gimmick similar to a pet rock back in the day. I kind of have to agree with the sentiment in that 10% off the book price ought to be available as a rebate for what you end up throwing away. I want something to show for the effort I put in - the thought of giving away my favorite page is gut wrenching. (I'm thinking of those beautifully rendered fruits on a fruit sticker page - sigh)

The food stuff is especially ridiculous in summer anywhere I imagine, but particularly in the southwest. I can just imagine with the 'carry it everywhere' practice, having to explain ants in desk drawers/lockers at work or having to use the book to swat away flies at the park or even in one's own backyard and god forbid mice come foraging in the dark while you're sleeping with the journal or how to explain the smell to your partner if you don't sleep alone. And speaking of partners, why all of a sudden your creative space is the smelliest spot in the house?

Already the applause and praise heaped upon one another for spectacularly aggressive wreckage reminds me of school kids cheering while one child kicks another's butt on the playground. Or college kids chanting "Drink! Drink! DRINK! DRINK!" at a beer party. I'm having doubts as to whether I ought to be at this party.

PS- I put this on the page for negative comments in my journal and did my page of 4 letter words this morning (250+ words)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wreck This Journal - Week 2

It has been SOOOOOO much FUN browsing the links of others participating in this Next Chapter on Keri Smith's WRECK THIS JOURNAL! As usual, Jamie Ridler's band of followers have ideas I could never have thought of in a million years and they make me stretch because should I come across an idea I'd had or considered I then have to come up with something else cuz it's already been done.

A confession: as I've already stated, my copy of the book was gifted to me last year by my dramatic, creative daughter - a devotee of all things SARK. I think she found it in her college town bookstore and since she holds me personally responsible for her own procrastination and perfectionist tendancies (as if they're genetic) I think the acknowledgements page where Keri says 'Dedicated to perfectionists all over the world.' hooked her and convinced her that Mom NEEDED it. When I'd received it I had NO idea this opportunity to 'do' the book with others would arise and I'd made some conservative stabs at some of its contents - cracked the book's spine, poked pencil holes in a page, drew varying weight/width pencil lines and burned a couple corners of a page. No big deal. And then I sat the book aside and began to think of it as I might the occassional quick scan of a chunky little Doonesbury or Dilbert to illicit a grin or even a chuckle. In other words - a waste of book shelf space or at best a 'basket by the toilet' book. I WAS NOT thrilled when Jamie announced it would be the next Next Chapter book after 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. In fact, I was pretty dang disappointed as it meant not only could I personally not see its worth as a catalyst for group enthusiasm but I already had the book and would not even get to shop and add to my 'collection'.


It has given me genuine belly laughs to see some of the aggressively destructive acts some have taken to wreck their journals! Okay, so the book still therefor continues to qualify for my comedy category of my book collection. But it also crosses over into art inspiration and spiritual inspiration by virtue of the fact that I never could have imagined coffee rings/stains/spills as a thing of beauty and now I do or that 'crazy wisdom' exists in anarchy and rebellious defiance of respectful gratitude displayed in good caretaking of one's gifts.

My Dearest Darlin' replaced my computer last month and I have yet to master getting pics downloaded to it so until I do, I just have to tell you what I've begun in my 'wrecking'. Since yesterday when I edged into Week 1 by the skin of my teeth, I've mostly been catching up with everyone else's wreckage not leaving much time for my own but I was driven to take another, more action oriented look at my copy of this book. I'd done the 'taking possession' part when it was given to me and like someone else admitted I'd already gotten off to a disorderly start by dropping each writing of my name to the line below where it ought to be. AAACK! Oh, well. Seeing some of the technicolored title pages of others, I examined following suit but flipped past my own title page feeling no spark for such embellishment. The next page between the title page and 'this book belongs to' however contains a WARNING and that is where I chose to begin. And so, I began by addressing the warning to myself by name in heavy black marker and colored the entire background yellow, more in keeping with a road sign of caution. I filled in the open lettering of the word 'warning' to give it more emphasis and then I proceeded to de-emphasize some of the words of warning by blacking them out entirely based in part on some of what I've seen displayed by the actions of others in this collective venture thus far and in part on the idea that if successful at it, this book is likely to change an awful lot about ME.
Mine now reads: "Sheila - WARNING: During this process you get dirty. You find yourself covered in paint & any other number of foreign substances. You get wet. You do things you question. You may grieve for the perfect state that you found this book in. You begin to see creative destruction everywhere. You begin to live recklessly."
I then dated and tore that half of the page out and moved it to the blank space beneath the big black 'Instructions' arrow on a following page and secured it with tape. And then still considering emphasis, I re-numbered the instructions themselves and highlighted my new #1 and #2 with color. Old #1 became #5, #2 became #4, #3 became #1, #4 - #3 and #5 became #2 with EXPERIMENT triple exclamation marked and the words 'against better judgement' underlined in red and question marks surrounding 'better'.
LOL - I think a career counselor would suggest I go into editting. Anyone know someone in HR in publishing?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

YIKES! Already????

My copy of Wreck This Journal was a gift from my college age daughter who thought I needed a kick in the backside to get out of my dominating perfectionism that we've all agreed is the primary reason I procrastinate so severely. She was just home for an all too brief visit and one of her areas of inspection included my desk space/ creativity capsule for writing. The hutch above which shelves mostly reference books also has my Wreck This Journal copy which she boldly pulled out and opened and then proceeded to express her profound disappointment in its lack of filled pages. In my defense I told her that Jamie Ridler's next Next Chapter was going be 'doing' that book and was 'waiting' to 'do' it in that rich, supportive context. Seemed so far off yet at that time and I 'was going to' register and excitedly and enthusiastically jump right in when it began. Well, I'm late, as usual...unprepared...but barefootin' and breathless...I'm here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where to from here? Summary response to last 6 of 12 Secrets

I've not been openly keeping up with The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women group therefore I suspect appearing to be a drop out, but in fact the opposite is true. Overall the book and tactics, strategies and revelations have been deeper and more intensely pertinent than I ever expected or anticipated. It's peculiar that something so benign as reading a book chosen by someone else and of completely unanticipated relevance can at the right time have such impact.

I skipped writing in response to the chapter prompts by Jamie in the middle, thinking with each skip that the next chapter would be something I could comment on with some degree of optimism but so far my optimism has instead of rising been chinked away by ever growing masses.

Chapter 7 on Consulting Guides had me recognizing how isolated I've become from places and things and people who inspire my creativity.

Then Chapter 8, Selecting Empowering Partnerships & Alliances reminded me of the huge loss and sent me into refreshed grief over the sudden death late this past October of my dearest friend, biggest encourager & former partner in art/craft shows.

Chapter 9, Transcending Rejections and Roadblocks, only reminded me I had nothing to transcend if I wasn't putting anything out for potential rejection and my biggest roadblock is physically feeling disabled by the progression this past year of RA and accompanying fatigue and escalating frustration and hopelessness as I found myself increasingly challenged with even the most mundane and simple tasks such as getting dressed, personal grooming and simple housekeeping.

Then came Chapter 10, Living in Abundance with Positive Priorities. PSHAW! Would you believe the week of that chapter I was notified I was being layed off from my job? CRAP! So, now I'm home full-time, even more isolated, fearful of spending an unnecessary $ and facing everyday the accumulated deterioration of my home environment as so much has gone untended the past year I've been doing little else beyond coping with chronic pain & accepting being able to do less and less of what I expect of myself on a daily basis.

Chapter 11, Subtracting Serenity Stealers - HA! Geeze! Where to start? Clutter and disorganization abound from a full year of mere glossing over the small stuff I felt capable of. The economic future is overwhelming - both personally and in community as well as beyond. (businesses in my community are shutting down at an alarming rate) What can I effectively accomplish? I keep thinking of the AA adopted Serenity Prayer - God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.

Chapter 12, Planning to Achieve Your Goals - Again, HA! Ever since I came to live in this community it has been a desire of mine to participate as an exhibitor in the Sierra Art Trail tour of artist's home studios. Nearly every year there are a minimum of 100 exhibiting artists and twice in the past few years a couple I know well have exhibited as photographers. Each time they have indicated that should I apply and be accepted I could share their location in their beautiful garden on their horse farm not far from my home. The deadline to apply is 15 days away and I have nothing adequate prepared but do have 15 days. Well, almost - this weekend Dearest Darlin' is coming home and the agenda for his visit is stock up shopping and yard work and such, so effectively I have 12 days but do I have the stamina and dare I take the risk physically and financially? The worst that can happen is I fail to get in or having gotten in fail to produce or having produced, fail to sell anything. Do I dare? Am I crazy to think I can take these next few months without having to clock in somewhere and pursue a personal dream?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Way It Is

I started this blog for the purpose of participating in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women book blogging group and though I have come to enjoy the fuller blogs of others from that group haven't posted much of my own outside of it and less than fully within that group of late. The following is today's post from my 'other' blogging place:

I want to be optimistic and hopeful and relish happiness but the last three weeks or so haven’t been as conducive as I would hope for. News continues to be discouraging on most fronts if not enraging so I’m mostly attempting to avoid it. A slip the other day had me wanting to physically assault and tongue lash Rush Limbaugh, and not for the first time. Gosh, if I WANTED to be exposed to THAT I’d listen to his show. How DARE general news sources run his sick, sick perspective? UGH! Newspapers all over the country are hanging by a thread so I hold my breath each time a ‘memo’ comes from higher up at work. The economic downslide has hit close to home with news that my older daughter’s company laid off nearly 50% of its work force – her job unfortunately being one cut last week. YIKES!

A week ago on my last mid-week day off, I attempted to reach both the state franchise tax board and DMV to get solid direction to resolve a couple vehicle ‘issues’ but automated phone systems had me going in circles - “If you don’t find what you need at this number, dial blah-blah-blah for other options.” At which number lack of an applicable answer instructed me to dial the number which I had originally dialed. Grrrrrrrrrr! I was seething with frustration and anger which of course left me in NO mood to even attempt contacting the IRS with issues that originate from when I was still with my ex and brought up feelings of resentment there. AARGH!

The week before last I had a literal pain in the rear from a toxic infection in a cyst that had me unable to sit and blocked intestines from allowing me to empty my bladder or bowel for days and therefore afraid to eat or drink and subsequently cranky from hunger and dehydrated. Talk about miserable! Dearest Darlin’ showed up intending to celebrate a week delayed Valentine’s Day at the height of that misery & wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused to consider that option until home remedies had been exhausted and failed. Then poor darlin’ ended up ‘patching’ the ugly wound when the cyst exploded like an over inflated balloon. Youngest daughter said that’s ‘true love’ when your sweetheart tends to wound drainage and bandaging your backside. SIGH – I don’t think it’s possible any lingerie made will ever overcome the memory of THAT vision in Darlin’s eyes! (BLESS HIS HEART!)

Been trying to keep up with my 12 Secrets of Creative Women group but falling behind the last two weeks in contributing. (Last week’s chapter was following guides and this is selecting empowering partnerships)

After finishing my book club’s last selection, ‘The Glass Castle’ a memoir by Jeannette Walls, I did read a book that had me captivated in a rather morbid way, Pullitzer Prize winning ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy – a moment by moment account of a father and son’s survival journey on the ravaged road through America post apocalypse. I found myself questioning throughout the entire book despite preparation for it with shelter and other necessities if/why anyone would even want to survive nuclear devastation. And of course, I ended up thinking about who possesses nuclear weapons and how fragile the world is with their existence and re-visited my thoughts and feelings when I was actively against the proliferation of nuclear power and felt guilty abandoning that activism, consumed by day to day work and child-rearing and all that accompanies it. About the only effective thing I still consistently DO is stay conservative as to energy consumption. Darlin’ and I figured out last year my total household energy use is something less than $2,000/yr excluding gasoline for the car and even with that and the vastly fluctuating prices the past year or so for gas I probably only spent about an additional $1,000. And I could probably tighten up some on electricity, propane and gas with a little more concentrated effort. Are you conscious of your fuel/energy consumption? Conservative or not? Do you put on a sweater or sweatshirt or turn up the thermostat when you feel a chill in the air? I LOVE my cozy, bulky, ugly sweaters!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Secret #6 - Conquering Saboteurs

This week finds us at the halfway point in Gail McMeekin's, The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women in our book blogging group led by Jamie Ridler, Secret #6 - Conquering Saboteurs.

After reading the chapter and listening to this week's highly creative blogger interview I've found myself humming an old song I have always adored and was really, really surprised to realize how long that song has lived in and flitted through my brain when I went to find the lyrics to share here in blogland. I found it attributed to the album *Mamas Big Ones* released in 1973. WOW! 36 years! Longer than many in our group have been alive. Been recorded as well by The Carpenters and Barbra Streisand but originally came from Mama Cass Elliott:

Make Your Own Kind Of Music Mama Cass Elliot(Mann/Weil)

Nobody can tell ya

There's only one song worth singing

They may try and sell ya

Cause it hangs them up

To see someone like you

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind music

Even if nobody else sings along

It can't be nowhere

The loneliest kind of lonely

It may be

Just to do your thing is the hardest things to do

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind music

Even if nobody else sings along

And if you will not take my hand

Then I must be going, I'll understand

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind music

Even if nobody else sings along

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind music

Even if nobody else sings along

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind music

Even if nobody else sings along

No no no no

Even if nobody else sings along

If nobody else sings along

I always think of that song as a personal encouragement to individuality - guess my inner rebel has been around a LONG time. What's MORE individual than our creativity? Who says
with ANY authority it must be exercised, expressed and exhibited a certain way to be meaningful or have value? It's ours - mine is mine and yours is yours. We own it - lock, stock and barrel.

I guess that's why as a quilter I have always hesitated to take color theory classes, for instance. I'm fear that by submitting to or subscribing to some 'expert' formula or recipe I'll lose or bury MY instincts. And I guess that kind of brings me to the portion of this week's chapter that spoke most deeply to me...Valuing Your Natural Abilities.

McMeekin say: "Women have long had the self-destructive habit of discounting themselves and their natural abilities."


"This is a common gremlin, assuming that what comes easily to us is not valuable or unique."

I was reminded at this point of the Max Lucado book "Cure for the Common Life - Living in Your Sweet Spot" that I read the year before last wherein his premise is we're pre-packed for our journey on Earth and what's in our bag is exactly what's designed to equip us for this trip. For satisfaction and success we don't have to seek and find so much as just unpack our natural talents and abilities. Those teachers and guides like Barbara Sher spoke of being the holiest of God's creatures in this week's chapter - the good ones - help us discover and recognize what's in our bag, I think. The others are like bad airlines that lose our luggage.

That gremlin who makes us doubt that our natural flow is worthwhile and tells us we don't deserve any victory or success because we're not working hard enough or struggling enough or sacrificing enough is one of mine.

My other saboteur right now is my body, honestly, and that leads me to it's counterpart, time. Because nearly everything I do the past year hurts due to onset of RA I fear I've run out of time to accomplish much. Because of that I found much treasure in Creative Blogger, Andrea's interview this week - just show up, take action anyway when the gremlins daunt you, don't wait for a "perfect" moment to do it all - use the small bits of time here and there and focus on your original purpose.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Secret #5 - Committing to Self-Focus

I skipped blogging on Secret 4, it seems. By the time I had time to, Secret 5 was posted with this week’s interview and many in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women group had already begun to shower responses upon the 12 Secrets page. So I guess I’ll just chalk up Secret #4 to ‘present – just observing’ in my attendance log, except to say that in my own creative cycle I think I must be pregnant with twin elephants and I’m ‘expecting’ something very BIG when it finally comes time for labor and delivery.

So, it’s onward through that Second Gateway – Mastering Your Challenges As A Creative Woman (according to the structure of McMeekin’s book) and Secret #5, Committing to Self-Focus. Whew! That’s a biggie, isn’t it?

Skipping around through what some have already posted in their blogs I see we have some varying views on this one. I was a trifle offended at the beginning of the chapter by the ‘famous novelist’ whose comment was included to say she didn’t believe in contributing to anything gender separatist. Lol Well, good for her if the utopia she sees exists in her realm but in my real world experience there are differences in how all women’s-vs-men’s work – both standard for paycheck and creative - is viewed and fostered and even among women between those who are single, married/attached and those with and without children.

“Hip, hip, hurray!” I say for those who don’t find focus a ‘challenge’, who get encouragement and respect from significant others in their lives and don’t feel compelled to squeeze their creative pursuits into itty bitty cracks and niches of time and energy to ‘indulge’ them, who don’t have to deal with guilt or apologize for inadequacies elsewhere when their creative work is given priority.

For years in my marriage I felt resentful preparing for ‘art and craft’ shows I’d juried into – struggling to produce quality product to be noticed amongst the competition for the consumer dollar. My husband and children refused to cooperate/recognize/acknowledge what I was doing was even ‘work’ since it stemmed from something they knew I enjoyed. My ‘studio’ was a 7X9 bedroom I used to call ‘The Cell’ because it was barely bigger than a jail cell, in fact I KNOW there are bigger cells in some jails! The fact I was EVER able to produce anything lovely out of there amazed me because since it was MY space every stray object no one else in the house knew what to do with at anytime or anything broken or needing my attention in anyone else’s opinion either got dumped on my floor so I had to crawl over it to get to my sewing machine/work table or on my work surface to be sure to be noticed by me. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I remember once having been invited to exhibit a quilt at a prestigious show (other quilters in that show then now have books/patterns and large $ prize winning quilts to their credit) and working feverishly up against a deadline to complete hand quilting it, doubting I’d be able to get ANY sleep at all the week preceding the deadline. I’d already arranged with the show curator to drop it off directly to her home, knowing I couldn’t possibly make the day/time for the general check in. Two days before my absolute down to the wire deadline, with about 4 days worth of work yet to go, two of my three school-age children come home with that dreaded school nurse note saying they have head lice and giving the full drill of what must be done before they can come back to school. Ummmmmm…let’s see – do you think their father, who couldn’t possibly finish quilting my quilt would step up and take care of the children’s hair/scalp? Or even run to the drug store for the needed shampoo treatment? I think that was a Tuesday, the quilt was due to the curator on Thursday evening. So I kept the kids home, quilted like a mad woman, went out to deliver it sleeved in a fresh pillow case – the very last one received for hanging and came home, kids sound asleep in their beds. The next day I get a home visit from the school nurse wondering why my kids weren’t de-liced yet and back in school. AAAAAAAARGH! You should have seen HER face when the children ‘round my knees at the door tell her I was quilting and their heads would have to wait until the weekend. You can, I’m sure, imagine the humiliating lecture that followed from the school nurse and I was totally without words to counter.

At the same time though, back in those days I used to jokingly say that creative pursuits were what kept me sane and prevented domestic violence and child abuse. The thrill of seeing the work of my hands produce something from nothing – a unique thing of beauty from rags/flat cloth and string – was/is like nothing else on a scale of pleasure and delight. Like any other pleasure addict nothing could persuade me to give up my drug of choice.

It’s the same when I’ve produced something well written also. I’ll often go back and reread with delight something as mundane as a reference letter written for one of my daughter’s friends in application for consideration for scholarship awards or the strong resume I beefed up for a friend of mine. Recently I unearthed a term paper for a long ago class at a Bible College and was tickled pink to reread those sentences/paragraphs marked with the instructor’s comments noting what a pleasure my paper had been for her to read. Never mind I never finished that curriculum or earned the certificate of graduation. I have proof, in writing, I’m capable of producing a number of pages of text someone else finds pleasurable to read!

And when I’m thrilled and delighted, it’s enough to keep at it. It feeds my soul for the work of my hands to produce beauty and pleasure. I don’t think I’ll ever truly have my fill and as long as I hunger and thirst for that ‘food’, somehow I’ll find a way to focus on attaining it. Thankfully, I don’t still have to fight to pursue it, but I would.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Secret #3 Following Your Fascinations

I JUST finished reading this week's chapter for the book blogging group, 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women hosted by Jamie Ridler and I SO wish I had read this chapter a couple weeks ago seeing as the reason I had little time to squeeze in reading the chapter was I was heavily engaged/immersed/overwhelmed in potential risk taking in my life. In a totally unexpected and ironic twist almost immediately after my previous post stating I had the distinct priviledge of having the entirety of my home living space available for 'sanctuary' if I so choose - my younger sister called from half-way across the country saying she needed a place to make a fresh start and could she please come live with me.



Little Sis had entirely exhausted the patience and good will of our mother and both of our brothers as well as having driven her ex to file domestic abuse charges against her and obtain a 'no contact' court order. She is no ideal candidate for a room mate. She is disabled, bi-polar with a whole host of accompanying issues, doesn't know the meaning of the concept of privacy and definitely NOT one who could or would be encouraging to creative pursuits. But, she is my beloved baby sister and had never asked me for anything since I had married and left home over 30 years ago. How could I say no if my dearest, darlin' was willing to have her come here? So I've spent most of my time the past week (in retrospect relative to the terms of this week's chapter, calculating risk) researching bi-polar disorder, availability of resources for her needs, advice for living with potential new circumstances...and then there were daily long distance phone conversations with her and our mother, both of our brothers, her probation officer, etc. Among those conversations were a couple very painfully uncomfortable reality revelations on my part to Mom a therapist might call breakthrough moments. I was one busy gal and amidst all of that had 2-3 severely limiting high pain RA days.

I hardly had time to give a moment's thought to my creative self except for the likelihood that rather than being allowed to run free, she'd be canned and shelved until further notice. I wasn't thrilled at the prospect but I felt noble and even potentially heroic for the potential sacrifice. I even entertained thoughts/fantasies that the circumstances might even have an ideal aspect ultimately advantageous to me in that Little Sis might contribute to meal prep and housework that often so deeply taxes my body and stamina and prevents me from having much of either for creative pursuits.

At the last moment (my long distance interview with the probation officer resulted in her planning to recommend approval for Sis's planned move to the court), Sis decided to pursue application instead for admittance to a group home or other local housing option to avoid being too far for comfort from her two adult children. A part of me is hugely relieved - in fact I've given new thought to the Old Testament bible account of Abraham being called to sacrifice his son Isaac and how God didn't require the sacrifice, only the willingness to be obedient. My very personal lesson is a far greater appreciation of the value of that which I might have sacrificed.

On to the book - I so appreciate the stories/examples of those who have gone before US, so to speak. It's so encouraging to hear/read experiences of others both from the perspective of making things happen AND being in the right place at the right time as far as preparation meeting opportunity (they call that luck?). One of the challenges in the chapter was summarizing your own risk taking history - calculated or inpulsive and to write down a risk profile for yourself with guidelines for future risk taking based on experience and natural abilities.

Based on experience - some of the biggest risks I've benefitted from having taken would NEVER have been taken if I'd had an inkling the risk that was actually involved. I trusted intuition more than calculation and personally, I believe our calculated assessments are almost always falsely weighted by partiality, insecurity and false assumptions. Ignorance can be bliss. You don't know what you don't know. Realistically, we really have control over so little. I've never been able to understand how people can plan vacations for instance months and months ahead. Stuff happens. I remember stumbling upon the unbelievably profound lyric of John Lennon which says, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." *light bulb* Duh! The only thing 'prepared' I ever managed was 'prepared childbirth' with each of my 4 children and I KNOW how very blessed - some might say lucky - I was there were no major 'complications'.

I've long known my greatest limitation in approaching risk is being timid due to fear of failure. I'm afraid to try anything new I'm not confident of doing well - years of my real life patriarchal voice, dear old Dad, saying "If something's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well." All the years of easy success getting straight A's in school with minimal or no effort didn't serve me very well as training either how to make real effort or how to overcome mistakes/failures. I really wish I'd had more practice at an earlier age when it was easier for pride to heal.

I kind of envy all the collage makers in this creative circle - you have a huge head start, I think, on the last Chapter 3 Challenge to: Identify and celebrate your strengths as a creative woman and a positive risk taker, and post them in your sanctuary.
I think I may spend part of my mid-week day off Wednesday attempting to do just that.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Secret #2 Honoring Your Inspirations

Chapter 2/Secret 2 of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: Honoring Your Inspirations…
When I was reading this chapter I was trying to guess like the teacher’s pet student I was when I was young what Jamie and the rest of the group would choose as THE focus key this week. As I read through several of the first posted blogs I grew more and more rankled and itch-y, realizing I was/am slightly out of step. The enthusiasm and reverence I read for ritual actually kinda riled me. Just the word ritual makes my inner rebel rise up, though at the same time reading some so freely shared does sound peaceful and serene.

  • I think of ritual as:

Albert Einstein is attributed with the quote: ‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ When I think of creativity I think of spontaneity and it just seems illogical to me for ritual to have a place in it. It’s good for productivity, maybe, but not creativity. Guess I’ll hafta think about that some more. But then it also seems to me there’s an awful lot of list-ing going on in your creative worlds all you creative women are opening up to me and I despise lists. *Grins* (to me list is a dirty four-letter word I think of mostly in terms of Limit Imposed Scheduled Tasks)

Ironically though, the quote that spoke loudest and deepest to me in this week’s chapter comes at the very end of the section on ritual Cathleen Rountree says, "The creative process is like a lover and you must treat it as such. You must treat it with respect, with regard, with appreciation, with love, with joy, with gratitude, with fear, with all the complexities of a relationship. And if you are able to give of yourself in the way that it requires, it really becomes a relationship." And McMeekin goes on to say, ‘This bonding with your creative self entails acknowledgment and the honoring of its wisdom.’ Personally, I’m excited by the idea of that kind of ‘affair’.

My creative self is wooed (inspired) by cottage and rustic/primitive interiors of comfort and beauty in magazine photos and coffee table-style books, art museums, time spent communicating with other creatives in a variety of fields and genres, reading stories/profiles/blogs of women who do whatever it is they find joy and accomplishment in (Suzie’s and other interviews and your blogs for great example), babies’ hands & feet & smiles and eyes, children, weddings, couples who love and respect one another, achievers, strivers, overcomers, the ocean, the mountains, farm land, cities, villages, churches, color, texture, spice-y fragrances, lush and whimsical gardens - lol, I’m inspired RIGHT now to devote a whole notebook to my inspirations. I hadn’t realized I had so many!

As to sanctuary – I’m growing into the appreciation of the fact that as an empty nester now living alone MOST of the time I have the freedom to allow MOST of my home to evolve into creative sanctuary if I so choose. It’s another irony that close on the heels of that becoming my reality first injury and then the sudden and rapid acceleration of rheumatoid arthritis limitations have frustrated progress. I’m slower than I want to be at this time but determined to make it so. Open, accessible desk space in the main living area with a new desk chair I can more easily get up from have been a recent giant step in that direction. I’m now contemplating accessibility and functionability accommodations for the sewing room and welcome any suggestions for limiting pain while using tools such as my rotary cutters.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


WORD! I used to work in a corporation in the LOOP in Chicago for a VP of sales who would greet everyone in his gentle English accent like and Austin Powers-wannabe with an emphatic ‘WORD!’ It really annoyed me then cuz I thought it was highly immature.

I’ve been visiting blog pages of many women who are also participating in the online book blogging class on The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women (started this past Friday! Yippee!). Being the first week or so of a New Year many of those pages are filled with resolutions, intentions, goals and such. Some of the ladies are in groups encouraging ‘everyday creative’ practices, some have adopted a ‘word for the year’ (a common-sounding one is ‘YES’) intended to focus on developing a new habit for responding to challenges of life, artistic pursuits and giving one’s self permission to proceed/indulge/ in trying new things.

My dutiful self would have chosen organize as my word for 2009 believing the act of getting/being organized would enable me to accomplish more and at the very least, please my significant other a great deal. Organized would mean neat and tidy cabinets, drawers and closets, on orderly pantry and fridge and more efficiently used space in my sewing room. The idea of all of that organization though leaves me feeling frigid, intimidated and paralyzed. So, I’m going back to the word I embraced as ‘my’ word while reading “Eat, Pray, Love” last year with my book club. There was a portion in the book where I got the idea from a character that every city has a single word that labels it and so probably does every individual. The writer of the book chose as ‘her’ word a single Italian word that means to cross over to the other side. I don’t remember precisely at this moment what that was – attravissimo or something like that. She was a woman on a journey to find herself after a disintegrated marriage left her questioning virtually everything about her life. She fed herself bodily in Italy for part of a year, spiritually in India for part of the year and another part of the year in Bali. An enviable journey!

The word I chose for myself then and choose now for pursuit in 2009 is Beauty. I want beauty in my relationships, beauty in my home, beauty in my garden, beauty in my writing and artful pursuits, beauty in body, soul & spirit. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it when my daughter, Rachel, says “Hello, Beautiful!” in greeting on the phone. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and there is beauty in every single person and thing around us. Beauty can be created, enhanced, magnified and reflected. I want to read books that tell beautiful stories, listen to beautiful music, read and write beautiful poetry, see and make beautiful quilts, de-clutter and beautify spaces in and throughout my home…

Page after page of the blogs of the other women in The 12 Secrets group are allowing me to see incredibly beautiful creations that greatly inspire me. Time spent visiting them qualifies I think for the prescribed ‘artist dates’ in the artist’s recovery process described by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” which I’m also presently reading. It’s almost like going to church to view the works of these ladies’ hands.

Today’s goal: make one spot in my home, the kitchen/dining table, truly beautiful – I CAN accomplish that much. Doesn’t hafta be the whole house in a day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Acknowledging My Creative Self

This is a first for me, participating in an online book blog group such as Next Chapter: The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and I'm very excited about it. So far since the first prompt was posted yesterday by Jamie I've visited about 50 blogs of other women - only 1 of whom I'd ever 'met' online before. Because I don't really know any of these ladies yet nor do they know me and many seem to already know one another, I haven't left any comments on individual posts but have found among them an encouraging display of variety of personalities, talents & skills. In some I see bits of myself past and present and I dare hope future as to confidence, achievement/accomplishment and aspirations/dreams. To me that's the beauty of sharing a book experience such as this with a large group.

The 1st Secret is to acknowledge your creative self. When I think of the word acknowledge my first association is the acknowledgements an author lists besides themself in bringing a book forth and those lists are filled with a variety of gratitudes to everyone from spouses, parents, siblings to editors, research assistants, character inspirations and technical advisors. In this context as to acknowledging the creative self I wonder why the word acknowledge is used instead of recognize or something else and dissecting the word a little bit - visually it appears to me to almost a contraction of accept & knowledge - accept knowledge. What that means in the context of this book blog group and where I hope it will take me is accepting knowledge of my creative self as a living being. Living things need nurturing to survive. They must be nourished and fed, studied and monitored so as to learn to recognize both spoken and unspoken needs and be prepared to fulfill them.

Hmmmmmmmmm...I guess I remember first knowing I was a creative individual around the age of 8 when for the first time something I'd handmade (an owl from two joined pine cones with felt wings and facial features) was imparted with enough of me to take it personally when the parent I'd gifted with it wasn't as thrilled with it as I'd hoped they'd be. I later rescued it from its location deposited among clutter on top of the fridge and took it to school to give to my 2d grade teacher, Miss Simpson, who adored owls. I learned then my creative self NEEDS to be appreciated and praised.

Since I was a teenager I've loved to write and I've tried a number of other creative pursuits and after knitting, cross stitch, crochet, etc. I discovered true obsession when I began quilting about 20 years ago. A few years ago though, I just kind of abandoned my sewing machine and fabrics after a much admired friend lost the battle for her life with breast cancer whilst I was finishing a banner to send to cheer her. And it's been okay until fairly recently to let the machine gather dust but it's begun to woo me back to it. That and the fact that I've been grappling with an inspiration for writing a book for almost 10 years now have been the draw to this book, this group and another book some of the women have also mentioned reading/using - The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.

So as to where I am on my creative journey - I'm movin' on. I kind of feel like I'm hitching a ride on a tour bus along with all of these other creative women. I'm along for the ride, the ultimate destination not nearly as important as the scenery and stops along the way.