Craft Me This …


I have to say one thing about a creative person — when they get in their “supplies” element, they are like a kid on sugar with a kicker of Mountain Dew. 

People ask us why we like to sit and sew beads on clothes or make little earrings or crochet row after row after row of rows or write boring scenery descriptions or woodwork a cigar box or coffee table. After all, it all seems so boring!

I wonder if these people have truly ever seen creativity let loose in a craft or other specialty store.

I just spent the day with two of my best friends hitting stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and even Good Will. Talk about kids in a candy shop!

I myself am the novice of the group. I write, and also sew bling onto my t-shirts and other inanimate clothing. My other friends are marvelous crafters. One is big BIG into scrap-booking with an occasional crocheted blanket thrown in; the other sews jackets and crochets scarves and other things. One love LOVES paper and trim and little signs you past onto pages and patterned paper for special occasion pages. The other loves every color of yarn there is, along with long, lingering tippy finger tip touching of bolts and bolts of materials with quilts and little jackets in mind for her granddaughter. 

Me? I get brain freeze in the beads aisle. 

The point is, it’s easy to see why creative people love their craft. When in their element, when surrounded by people who understand why they stand in front of a rack of crystals-on-a-string for 10 minutes wondering what they could sew those onto, creative people leave this universe and enter an alternate reality.

In that alternate world they are Master Creators. They can make anything any time, any where, and it will be so magnificent even the angels will squint and say “holy moley!” Time has no meaning in a creative person’s alternate world; when you’re lost writing that perfect passage of love and passion or pensive thought, there is no time sheet. Love takes as long as it takes to write. No more, no less. 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started surrounding myself with creative people. Not because I’ve changed friends — but because I’ve found out the people I’ve been around for a good chunk of my life are pretty creative on the side. I know painters, quilters, writers, lure makers, poets, wood carvers, fishermen, wood workers, sign makers, dog trainers, and more. Every one loves their craft. Every one of them strive to be better than they were yesterday. And aren’t we all like that in a way?

So some time when you’re bored, ask your neighbor or friend or co-worker what their creative craft is. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

And if you’re lucky, one day you will be wandering up and down the craft store aisle when a sticker or pearl bead or a piece of wood catches your eye.  Then we will be wandering through the store looking for you, calling out your name.

Holey Moley!

I Am Creativity

Just had our best friends over for dinner. Greek night. A time of good food, good times.

We talked a little about what we’re up to in our personal life. I told my friends I just wrote a ditty on the fly to remind myself that I am still a writer.

Do you ever take a break and then hesitate?

I have spent a lot of time lately final editing what I’ve written so I can print it out and share it with my friends.

I’ve also spent a lot of time collecting art for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. I have found so many new artists, I am knocked off my feet.

But I’m a writer first. At least here on my sofa, in front of the TV.

Do you ever have to fly off and do something quick to reassure yourself you are what you are?

How funny the human ego is.

What is a writer? A painter? A calligrapher?

Just because you spend your spare time doing anything creative, does it make you what you think you are? Are you an artist just because you wield a paint brush? Are you a writer, even if you only write email copy?

I have learned you are whatever you call yourself. The world does not care for your title. Maybe  corporate America puts a value on what your company has called you. But in the scope of life, no one cares.

That’s why it’s important to call yourself what you are. And not be intimidated by your title.

Do you paint? Do you spend your spare time crocheting or scrapbooking or quilting? Do you scour the Internet for ideas for your art gallery or ceramic blog or your instructional video?

Look.

The world will go on whatever your call yourself. So find a title that fits your soul. Own it.

I am a writer. I may only write a couple of lines for email copy at work, but I am a writer. It doesn’t matter if I’ve written poetry or short stories or full length novels. I have written and preserved copy that can be passed on to generations. 

That’s all that matters.

Follow your calling and shout your “title” loud and clear.

No one will respect you until you respect yourself.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

~Michelangelo

The elections are over, candidates came and some went, everyone believing they know what’s best for my/our community, our district, our state. One falls and the other takes up the march. In the end, the stalks of corn whistle and whine and sing the song of tomorrow.

I just started watching “The Agony and the Ecstasy” about Michelangelo. It begins by covering his amazing sculptures such at St. Matthew, the tomb of Juliano, and the Medici tombs, including the tomb of Lorenzo. He was 24 when he carved the magnificent Pietà of St. Peters, and 26 when he started to carve famous statue of David.

And he was 33 when he started painting the Sistine Chapel. That huge, vast, empty ceiling. 

33. What were you doing when you were 33? 

I was working in downtown Chicago and had been married for three years and had a two-year-old when I was 33. The little painting I did was more a passing fancy, and the writing I did would not explode in earnest until ten years later.

Some people are just gifted. Some people are just magic. Some people have something we will never have. 

I don’t think the competition back in 1508 was as extreme as it is these days. There was no Internet, no Facebook or no blogs. No telephones, no printing presses, no TV or Xeroxes. Oh, I’m sure there were many sculptors back then. Sculptors and painters. But to have your work noticed and remembered and studied and worshipped — that’s a totally different story.

I have no idea how to sculpt anything, no less chisel a man out of marble. I may paint my pithy version of an alien landscape, but I have no idea how to paint people and ceilings and landscapes.

He did.

He knew how to create art from blocks of stone and angels from paint at the same time people lived with thatched roofs and bathed once a year.

When you stop and take a look at the history of art — really take a look at how such marvelous creations were created in such sparse and simple times — you cannot help be be amazed. 

You don’t have to be “into” the arts to appreciate the talent and stories that echo through the hallways of time. A calling was all that was needed; a calling to an artist who had the talent, the patience, and the dream of making something bigger than themselves. 

You may not have the fame or endurance of the masters of old, but you do have the talent and the inspiration. Throw yourself into your art, and let it flow through you and onto your medium.

Don’t compare yourself to artists like Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni or Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn or Marc Zakharovich Chagall. You are your own magic, your own muse. You hear music others can’t hear. Follow that calling. 

And take a look at some of the artists of the past. Learn about their art, their history, their passions.

Maybe you will see yourself reflected in their creativity.

Your Artist Is Right Next Door

I love television shows on creativity.

I am fairly humbled when I see what the competitors can do. It’s their life, it’s their future; it’s what they are when they wake up and what they are when they fall asleep. They are all just A-1 talented.

Some time ago I wrote a blog about Face Off, the show where artists compete in making science fiction, fantasy, and outrageous prosthetics. These artists are incredible. Movie-quality makeup.

And who isn’t fascinated by Chopped, where contestants make appetizers, main meals, and deserts out of a dizzying array of weird foods? Or Iron Chef, where these super-sized chefs make the most incredible, out-in-left-field dishes that make you drool? Where do these creative artists get these ideas?

There are plenty of talented people all around you, too. You just don’t know it. People who have given their soul and their free time practicing their art. They are probably in your department, or your neighbor, or your kid’s friends.

You just don’t know it.

Iron Chef competitors are in one layer of atmosphere. Prosthetic artists another. Their talents happen to be what TV producers are looking for these days.

But what about your friend (hi Christine!) who makes remarkable jewelry? Or your other friend (hi Robin!) who makes quilts and crochets sparkling scarves that could sell for $40 at the department store? Or your other friend (hi Christell!) who has the most amazing scrapbooks you’ve ever seen? Or your other friend (Yeah, you John!) whose work was so amazing I dedicated a blog and a gallery to him?

I’m sure there is a modern painter not far away, or a landscape artist, a sculptor, a calligrapher, a woodworker, or a garden artist right around the corner from you. Someone who makes birdhouses and engravings and magical cakes and deserts. Someone you’d like to know.

You can fill in the blanks with the creative people around you. Trust me. They are there. All you need to do is ask. Inquire. Look around. You will be amazed what your friends, co-workers, your friend’s kids are creating. Ask about their art. Ask if they have pictures or a blog.

You will be amazed at the talent around you.

And you’ll make them feel good about their work, too.

 

 

What If…

What If

Those are the words of imagination. Of exploration, of conquering new worlds. Of trying a new style of clothing, car, or food.

What If

I suffer from a lot of What If. None of it destructive, mind you, although it does hit me when I’m driving to and from work a lot (it’s on an empty back road so don’t worry…I still pay attention..). What if I drove into the middle of that cornfield? What if I turned around and drove straight to the airport and bought a ticket to San Antonio? What if I looked up into the evening sky and saw a dragon flying across the horizon?

What If can be fun. They can be dangerous. 

But they also can be illuminating.

What If takes you out of your comfort zone. Out of your self-conscious ego and self-damaging thoughts. It takes you to worlds where hobbits talk with faeries and American spies get thrown into Russian prisons. It makes apples purple and skin scarlet.  

What If makes you think and daydream without getting hurt. What if there really was a zombie apocalypse? I mean what if zombies were trashing the city, town, closest to you? What would you do? Where would you go? What happens if zombies are everywhere? And you’re stuck in your house? How long would it take you to run out of food? Would you sacrifice your dog or cat so they would go away?

Or what if you were walking through the park on a summer evening and a gnome walked out of the bushes and stopped and looked at you on your path? Or if a faerie landed on your shoulder? I mean, really! What would you do? How would you react?

What If can obviously take you in dark places. What If you and your friend drove off the cliff like in Thelma and Louise? What if you drank a soda that turned out to be poison? What if you fell down the stairs and you weren’t near a phone and lived alone and no one ever came to visit you?

What Ifs are a creative person’s best friend. You can take funny, scary, wonderful thoughts and turn them into make believe. Like a painting. A painting of walking down the street of 1890’s Paris is all make believe. The painter never walked those streets, saw those streetlights, or said good evening to people walking past in hats and long dresses and suits.

But they did say…What If I were walking down the streets in 1890 Paris? What would I see? How would they be dressed? What would the stores look like? 

I  wrote two novels about What If. What If by some accident you woke up in 1880? You knew nothing about the times, the manners, the ambitions of the people you encounter. What would you do?

Keep those What Ifs going. Write them down, paint them, grow them. Let your imagination take you on a magic carpet ride.

Which leads to…what if there really was a magic carpet and you could sit and ride on it? Where would you go? Would it be windy? Could you fall off? Would you fly into birds and bugs and….

Who are you, really?

Thanksgiving is now a memory, the extra pounds an effort.

But I am happy to report that along with an extra pound or two I also regained my enthusiasm for writing.

Do you ever go through those dry periods? Not necessarily that you don’t have anything to write, but that you don’t feel like writing.

Shame.

In search of my creative ways, I have gone back to basics of magic and sky and moon and night and the belief in elves and dragons and alternate realities. Not that I ever left that space — I just feel like embracing it more these days. No one knows if there is anything after this life. Heaven, reincarnation, inner-galactic rebirth — take your choice and go for it.

Get past the barriers of proof and direct experience and karma. Take a chance and believe in something that makes you feel whole. Do unicorns exist? Does it matter? We can’t see sub-atomic particles either, but scientists and the world believe in them. Why can’t we believe in time travel too?

Too often we live under other’s expectations. What we should wear, what we should say, how we should act, what we should believe.

I believe at 64 I am old enough to believe in whatever I want.

So I’ve decided to work on my second set of novels — not the simple time-travel ones, but the ones where the heroine gets transported to another part of the galaxy to help discover what happened to the king’s sister.

I mean — why not?

We can write and paint and dream anything we want. And I’ve decided I’m not going to let any correctional unit tell me different.

Don’t let those around you, from society to your girlfriend to your teacher, tell you what you are. What you should be. Want to be a bard? Be a bard. Want to be a witch? Be a witch. Want to be an abstract artist? Be an abstract artist! You can be a pirate that day jobs as a sales clerk, or detective who works in a warehouse during main hours.

Don’t wait until you’re 64 to decide who you are.

What are you?

 

 

How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Edgar Artis

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Edgar Artis is an Armenian fashion illustrator who is using everyday objects and paper cutouts in order to complete his beautiful drawings.

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He draws women and in dresses them in something from the real world.

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Edgar uses flowers, feathers, burnt paper, fruit and all sorts of other materials to make  beautiful dresses.

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His illustrations are full of grace, imagination, and playfulness.

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These are not just your average fashion designs, but real works of art.

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Edgar’s art makes you realize that anything in life can be modeled into a beautiful moment of art.

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You can find more of  Edgar Artis’s amazing creations at   https://www.instagram.com/edgar_artis/.

Don’t Let The Day Ruin Your Day

as-long-as-i-dont-write-about-the-government-religion-politics-and-other-institutions-i-am-free-to-print-anything-pierre-beaumarchaisIt is as if I am handling a puffer fish or prickly bush with my bare hands.

The world of politics is truly doing a whirling dervish these last few months. A lot of my friends are afraid, angry, embarrassed, and/or happy with the state of affairs.

This has led to very charged postings lately, both here and on Facebook and Twitter.

I am happy to live in a time and a world where I can express myself freely. That the Feds or the KGB don’t show up at my office or my house to have a “little talk.” But freedom of speech also can lead to heart attacks, headaches, palpatations, high blood pressure, dizzy spells, acid reflex, and a whole lotta other maladies.

And that’s what I fear will happen to all my friends and contacts if they don’t stop raging.

Let me make this perfectly clear — I AM concerned. I AM stressed. I AM worried. Every morning I drive to work and listen to the news I want to smack myself on the forehead and say “What NOW?” But I tend not to talk about it on social media.

I wonder if all this absorption into the ways of the world are preventing my friends from writing their blogs, poems, short stories, recipes, and whatever else. If it’s draining the desire of crocheters so that all they can do is one looonng doublestitch. If all painters want to do is whip paint at a canvas, ala Jackson Pollock.

I’m sure this madness is not limited to the U.S. I bet if I ask my Australian friends (waves to the few I know out there) or my blogger in Spain or the U.K. or in Germany (keeps waving) I’m sure their country is messed up too. Maybe not as obnoxiously, but just as particularly.

I’m not saying don’t get involved. I’m not saying don’t get emotional. We all need to have our voices heard.

What I am saying is we need to have our creative voices heard too. Don’t let the politics of the moment curb your appetite for self expression. Funnel your emotions into something other than — or besides — social media.

Use your passion to create something that will outlast the politics of the day.  Write something marvelous.Paint something inspiring. Play an instrument like an angel. Show the world you are better than the nonsense around you. 

Because you are.

 

 

 

 

Where Have My Bloggers Gone?

admin-ajax-phpMy method of reading/following blogs is of my own design. I don’t read every day, but rather pick an evening and read through as many as I can. Sometimes I click on “Manage” Reader and go through the list of names I’ve followed since I started blogging.

I was kind of sad this evening, for I clicked on a number of names and found a number of people who haven’t written in quite a while.

Where have they gone?

There are millions of bloggers one can follow out there — who knows what prompted me to follow A instead of B. What caught my interest as opposed to those that didn’t. Be honest. You can only read so much, follow so many people. You owe your allegiance, your attention, to the writers you really enjoy.

So what happened to those whose prose I enjoyed? Whose opinions I shared?

I imagine it’s what happens to most of us.

Life.

Our career changes, our family changes — our place in the writing world changes. Maybe we have burned out our point-of-view. Maybe our style has changed. We’ve turned into painters our needlepointers or quilters, our creativity exploding in new directions. Maybe we’ve had babies or found a new job. Maybe we’ve moved or got bored or started a new blog somewhere else. I don’t  think about the ultimate reason people have stopped writing….I like to believe in happily ever after. Like being immortal.

I’m always adding new reads to my list — but I do miss the old reads. I understand the need to move on, but I still like to linger in the shadows of the past.

There are times when I get the urge to just stop blogging, too. Like I’ve said all there is to say. That my readers really don’t get much from my writing. Yadda yadda. We all tell ourselves the same crap when we hit that plateau. But I soon come to my senses and see how much my writing in here helps me out there. Because of my continuous writing — here, there, and everywhere — I have become a better writer, and am now being given a chance to write at my place of employment.

Others continue writing because they’ve found redemption, release,  and rebirth through their words. They share information, research, spiritual thoughts, funny stories, poetry, recipes — whatever makes them happy. And we love them for it.

The world of creativity is a huge place. When you close one door, another opens. To those who have moved on from their blogs, go for it. Make your now the best you can make it. To those who are still looking for their place in the writing world, keep on blogging.

And  hey — drop me a line if you come on back.

 

 

2017 Starts With a Whisper

As I sit on my sofa this first day of 2017, smooth jazz in the background, dogs sleeping on their doggie beds (along with Tom the cat), I am surprised at the strange swirl of thoughts that have threaded through my brain the past few days.

Many are glad 2016 is over — a lot of stress and bad juju last year. Others are building on the positive bridge they started last year. A lot of different ways to go for this supposedly first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life.

I’ve spent the last several days reading the blogs I subscribe to through WordPress. I feel bad I can’t read people’s thoughts and emotions the day they are published, but I make it a point to sometimes just sit and read. Not glaze through the posts, but really read them. And I found myself responding to quite a few of them.

Some pledge to write every day. One blogger just popped up after a six month absence. Some write poetry, some write tragedy. Some talk about cats, some talk about painting. It’s an amazing mix of talent, and I enjoy getting to know all of them.

I’ve learned to reply with questions if I don’t understand something, or comment that I can’t find the right words to comment. It’s all encompassing — there are bloggers that pop up every couple of months, and I find myself so excited to read something new. Others write every day, and I find myself looking forward to their next view of life. I even go back into the “manage” part of the Reader and click on names I haven’t seen in a while to see what I’ve missed.

This type of diligence makes me wonder about my own blogging. Why do I do it? Is it to achieve fame? Popularity? Do I write to test out my own verbal prowess? Do I do it to share my view of middle age and beyond?

I think we all go through identity crises … all the time. Rarely do I meet someone who has been whole from the very beginning and knows the cosmic truth of inner peace. We all look for approval. For validation. For the acknowledgement that we do exist. In all worlds. As an office worker, as a mother, as a friend — we all try to make the other person proud. We all want that “best of” medal to show that all our mistakes and missteps didn’t mean a thing, because we ultimately turned out to be the “best.”

We all may or may not have natural talent. Most of us just go through the daily grind of work and bills and driving through the snow, telling ourselves that tomorrow will be better.

Well, here it is, 2017. A new year. Is it better?

I hope I am hearing a “yes” from all of you. The more we learn, the more we grow. And the easier it is to circle back to our own soul for affirmation.

My daily job has…is…changing. I have been tapped to be a social media writer, which means that my rhetoric and vocabulary needs to be top notch. It’s a lot of work — much more than I thought. But it is also a chance to show that all my hours of writing blogs and novels and poetry and short stories has paid off.

Anybody can have big numbers of followers on their blog. I am still scraping off the notion that more is better. What is really important is how many people stop and say something afterwards. How many really get what you’re saying.

Take the time today to go into your Reader and read something you missed before. Take a minute to step into their world.

It will truly help you in your own creative journey.

Music Makes Magic

1451272484709104_animateI am not what most consider a music junkie, affectionado, expert, or addict.

I really do enjoy music, though.

I have a soft spot in my heart for banging old tyme rock and roll now and then. Give me Metallica, AC/DC, Motley Crue — any of those wild hair bands. Turn it up and shake the rafters…turn up the stereo and dance in front of the speakers.

I also am a whitebread, Midwestern suburban girl. My growing up years were safe and boring. The few licks of trouble I got into were pale in comparison with others I know. And have heard of. So my imagination has to take over for my lack of experience.

I know a lot of people LIVED the 60s and 70s — hung out, burned out, wilded out their youth, gaining experience and insight I will never be privy to. The high highs and low lows of “those days” are things movies are made of. Maybe that’s a good thing in some ways.

When I’m driving home, windows open, blasting “Sandman” from Metallica, I see dark rooms with strobe lights in the corner, scents of patchouli and garlic and illegal leaves swirling above me, heads banging to the beat, air guitars and beer bottle microphones, some band (I don’t know if its THE band) on a stage somewhere, salty with sweat and concentration, letting their souls mix with the beat of the music, crashing and burning and relighting again with the rhythm of the pounding music.

I don’t see needles and junkies and fights and blood. I don’t see people throwing up on themselves and the depths of depression that are liberated with the music. I don’t see black eyes and lost dreams and sliced wrists and empty bottles of Jack or Fleschman’s.

The same is true when I listen to classical music. The upbeat symphonies like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or Strauss’s Emperor’s Waltz, I blast at full-speed-ahead. I see picnics in the fields with women in long dresses and men in frocks and crystal wine glasses sparkling in the sunlight. I see gowns and tuxedos waltzing across an enormous ballroom dance floor, the dresses swishing with the rhythm of the music, their beadery reflecting the glint of chandeliers and candlelight.

I don’t see alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty. I don’t see filthy living conditions, barbaric medical treatments, consumption, or life before penicillin and electricity.

I’ve never been to either world. But I wonder. Does this one-way mirrored vision make me a weak writer? Someone who can’t write about those things because I haven’t experienced these things? Or does it make me a great writer, because I can dive into my own imagination and make the world surrounding the music whatever I want?

When I hear  a ballad or a rock jam I don’t think about serial killers or drug dealers. I think of my youth — the life I lived, the life I never lived. I can identify with the 60s and 70s and beyond because I made it through them. When I hear a waltz or symphony I think of days gone by, a simpler life, of history and time travel and a time when a night out was a buggy ride to town.

And that’s where the stories come from.

Let music inspire your creativity. Let it take you places you’ve been — and places you’ve never been.

Just don’t throw your back out doing the air guitar thing….

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Kathryn Vercillo

Quite simply, crochet feeds the human need for balance in our lives. Making something with our hands reflects something basic about ourselves. We want to work hard without losing touch with our creative selves; we want to earn money without losing our souls; and we want to be part of a larger picture of human progression while still maintaining our individuality. – Crochet Designer Vickie Howell

 

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The Art of Crocheting is so much more than a hook and yarn.

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It is a talent honed on cold nights and empty days

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And during the rare times children are napping.

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It is the miraculous obsession of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook.

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It is a glorious celebration of material and creativity and vision.

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It is patience, perseverance, and practice.

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And besides all of that — it’s beautiful Art.

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These lovely images were found at http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/2012/03/100-unique-crochet-scarves/, one of the sites created by artist Kathryn Vercillo http://kathrynvercillo.com/

Impulse and Inspiration

20161113_164639Impulse and Inspiration. Two different words.  Creative people miss a lot of creative moments because we don’t connect the two.

Creative people — in this case, writers — come across possible story lines all the time. The shopping mall, a city alley, butterflies on a flower, all are possible props for poetry or short stories or even novels. But just because they are possible props doesn’t mean they are probable props.

And that’s where inspiration and impulse comes in.

Impulsive thoughts hit you all the time. It’s like directly channeling spirits and stories and hot spots right when they come through you. It’s following through on an instinct, a desire that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the knowing that this is what you want to paint. To write. To sculpt.

Inspiration is taking that impulse and creating something from it. Fine tuning it.  Letting your mind and heart wrap around it until a truly unique creation emerges.

I drive the back roads to work every day through quiet farm country.  The road makes three 90 degree turns before hitting the main highway. Before making the last left turn, the road points towards a full cornfield with woods behind it. One year there were a few missing rows that acted like a pointer to a dark shadowed spot of the back woods.  I was hit by the impulse to write a story about where that “road” led. I’m so glad I let that view inspire me. Two novels came from that impulse. And the view is no more.

I’ve also written short stories about an abandoned patch of land where a house once stood, and of getting caught in a never-ending maze of 90 degree turns.The inspiration for these stories came from the impulse of a moment: an empty piece of land, driving home through fog and mist. Looking over a different cornfield at a tall building way in the distance (I must have a thing for cornfields), I was hit with the idea of walking through the corn, coming out the other end in a totally different world. I didn’t stand there, daydreaming about what I could write about what was before me — it just hit me.

You can’t always know when inspiration — impulse — will hit. It’s funny how we all sit on the beach watching the water hit the shore, or find a fallen tree in the woods and plop ourselves down on it, or sit and listen to a symphony, hoping to get inspired. We force the inspiration, rather than let it come to us. What we are lacking is the impulse. The lightning strike. The inner knowledge that this is what you were waiting for.

What I’m saying is that when the impulse hits you, act upon it. You see something that stands apart from the rest of the world, note it. Develop it. Sketch it. Plant that seed of creativity and let it grow. Those are the stories you will remember. Those are the stories you will enjoy writing.

Now — I wonder what kind of cornfields lie west of here….

 

 

 

Roots vs. Vines

newplantThere are books upon books written about men brains vs female brains. How they are wired, how they work. How they process. This is not a blog to debate the validity of such — I am mere more to prove that such assumptions are more or less true.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about creativity. I suggested her boyfriend (a really talented graphic artist) start a website or blog with his art and photography. Show off his work. He joined our conversation, and said he shows his work off on Facebook. To his friends. He said setting up and keeping a site going was too much like work.

I was fine with that. But I had to laugh. Because that’s all I seem to think about. Not just the webpage part — the writing/art/decorating/creative part.

It was like earlier today I called home. Hubby was putting up new pantry and laundry room doors. Very sharp. Very nice. After 15 years of dogs and kids and cats and abuse it is nice to finally start remodeling my house. I started talking about a new wine rack and hanging a new picture I found and maybe a rug under the table and cleaning out the buffet and giving most of the glasses to Good Will and there was nothing but silence on the other end of the phone. I waited for a reaction and could have filed my nails within the time gap.

When we resumed the conversation my hubby said he hadn’t thought of all that. That some of those things weren’t on his top 10 list of things to do. He was back on the door-thing and the sanding-the ceiling-in-the-bedroom thing. The mowing-the-lawn-thing tomorrow. He was nowhere in the creative atmosphere of the decorating-thing or the making-the-dining-room-feel-like-an-Italian-veranda-thing. My mind was twisting and twirling up the wall like a runaway vine while his was forming strong, sturdy roots in the ground.

I don’t know if my creative tendencies are a good thing or a bad thing. Or if they are a “thing” at all. I know we all have a creative streak in us, but some are able to keep it in perspective. Most times I behave myself, but other times I’m off and running without a thought as to time or materials or the end result.

It’s like I finally know what I want and I don’t want to be talked out of it. My Sunday Evening Art blog, my middle-age madness blog, my writing female fantasy fiction time travel novels, all may seem runaway madness to some, but they are life affirming to me. Every time I get creative it’s like reaching up to the sun and getting high on Vitamin D.

I know that that’s just where I am in life right now. Other friends of mine are in the whenever-its-convenient time. Or after-I-take-care-of-other-things time. I’ve been through those phases too. I’ve been responsible all my life. Raising kids, working, making ends meet. I’ve not always had the time to hang with my Creative Muse.

But now I make time. And the pigheaded person in me wonders why everyone else doesn’t make time, too. When my piggy feet touch the ground again, I realize that everybody IS making time in their own way. Not everyone needs a website or needs to get published in order to let their creativity soar. Some do it by just doing it. Period.

But as for me — I am having fun with the pick-out-paint-to-edge-the-new-rug thing and the heroine-travels-through-the-veil-to-another-world thing.

Why not?

 

You Rock!

einstein-1When I started this blog back on April 18, 2011, I must have had 20 blogs already written ahead of time. That’s how excited I was. Before I started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I probably had 10 or 11 artists on hold. That, too, shows how excited I was to get started.

Now days I am more of a on-the-spot blog writer, sharing the Goddess’s humor as she calls. Which is all the time. And my Art Blog’s collection is doubling all the time as I find more and more unique artists to showcase.

This is what creativity is all about.

Doing what you love. When you want to. Because you want to.

I don’t have an anniversary to celebrate, or moment in time to highlight today.  All I wanted to do was thank you all for supporting me, reading me, looking at my art. Telling your friends. Or just checking me out yourself.

I can’t believe there are so many branches to Creativity. I’ve talked to quilters, sculptors, painters, publicists, graphic artists, gardeners, writers, poets, photographers, calligraphers — all sorts of artists with all sorts of stories. Everyone has a different story, background, reason for exploring their creative side.

Think of the things you can create! Dragons, spaceships, murderers, gardens, parentless heroes, ghosts, musical prodigies, statues, symbols. You can change history, travel through history, interpret history. As an artist there is nothing you can’t do.

This is why I encourage all of you to “do your thing.” Know your base is strong and expand from there. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the arts. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

I just wanted to take time to than you all. For your friendship, for your curiosity. And for your encouragement. I hope we hang together for a dozen more years. I hope you continue to enjoy my art and my pretzel-logic mind. You inspire me, and I hope I do the same for you.

Huzzah!

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Full Circle

A few weeks ago I fell in love with the atmosphere, art, and the Biltmore I found in North Carolina.

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My visit gave me a greater appreciation of the world of individuality, art, and wealth.

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Last weekend I wandered through the competition barn of a small county fair.

When I came upon the Art Show, I knew I had come full circle.

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I realized that this is where it all starts.

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This is where Jackson Pollock and John Singer Sargent began.

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Where Dali dabbled and Wiggans wandered.

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This is where Richard Morris Hunt found architecture and Katsushika Hokusai played with ink drawings.

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Where either because of a parent’s encouragement or despite lack of it, a creativity seed found fertility and grew.

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This is the uncharted land of creativity, of space and design and imagination.

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This…is Art.

*

Pictures courtesy of Vilas County Fair, 2016

and CJA, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing this exercise will make you more confident in your creative work

If you have a few spare minutes, come read Maja’s post…get your confidence back and keep it running. We are all artists!

Business in Rhyme

creativity confidence

Most of the confidence we develop throughout the years stem from our past experiences – predominantly on how other people perceived us and our work. Not gaining enough recognition, pile of rejection letters and even just a random bad comment can blow away all our creative self-esteem – that many people stop creating all together. Paying too much attention on other people opinions can instill  fear that  paralyzes not only our creative outlets but practically our complete approach to life. That kind of attitude leads to isolation, avoidance of trying new things and not sharing our accomplishments with the world.

The good news is that we have control of our feelings towards what creatively we can offer to the world.

When you get to the root of this problem, it’s all about belief and what we chose to believe. You can chose to believe that:

  • you are creative person,
  • your…

View original post 841 more words

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Side Trip — Craig L Haupt

aNow and then I like to take little side trips into the lives of some of the artists I highlight both here and in my Art Gallery.

Although according to his website (http://clhaupt.comCraig Haupt has a degree in Art Education, it’s his love of creative doodles that’s led to a career of whimsical images.

Why I am taking time to share his creativity is simple. On his WordPress blog ( https://craiglhaupt.com/) I have watched him turn this:

 

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Into this:

 

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I love the creative process. Whether it’s writing, painting, sketching, stenciling, it all starts small and obtuse and grows into something wonderful and unique.

Craig’s delightful explanation  “From childhood to present, I have been surrounded by my doodles and countless stick figures that have never left me,” rings true for all of us. There is always some thing, some thought, some feeling, that follows us around all the time. Something we just can’t forget about. Something we can’t let go.

I find a touch of doodle in a depth of color in Craig’s sketches and drawings. To take a scrambled beginning and turn it into something esthetic is no easy feat. It’s not often an artist shows you all their steps, so I thought it fun to share both ends of the spectrum.

You can also see more of Craig’s work at my Sunday Evening Art Gallery http://wp.me/p5LGaO-pZ.

I hope you enjoyed this little “Side Trip”! See you soon!

 

 

Finding Dorothy’s Shoes

Ruby-slippers-wizard-of-ozI absolutely love when comments on one blog flow into thoughts and inspiration on another. That’s why I love following the writers I do.

In her blog, A Journey Called Life, (https://architar.wordpress.com), my friend Archita wrote a story called “A note from the evening” (https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-note-from-the-evening/). It is a first-person narrative to someone  — a friend, it seems — to that friend’s ego. To that friend’s mind. It has to be to their unconscious mind, for the conscious mind was not listening.

Her short tale explains all the motions and routines the narrator will do for the friend who never stops complaining. For the complaining is nothing new. The friend cannot see past her stubbornness to change her direction in life; the friend who insists the narrator has the banquet and the friend barely the leftovers.

It made me think and then think again. First I wondered if the friend was (figuartively) me…me in other situations. We all have the tendency to whine — life is never the bed of roses we dream of. But I hoped — still hope — that I have found a way out of that tedious state of blaming the world for some of my own bad decisions.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I have friends like that, too. I think we all do. People who just can’t get out of the whirlpool. People who don’t really want to get out of the whirlpool. That it’s easier to complain and point fingers than to do something about the situation.

Many situations are hard. There is no denying this. Life is hard. But life is also good. There is proof of that all around us.

You will continue your story- about children, about how busy you really are, about how you never had any help, about how only death can bring you your peace. Then you will ask me if I watched your favorite show on TV.

I often wonder how people get out of the whirlpools they swim in. It takes determination. It takes work. My dad and father-in-law both gave up smoking after 50 years of two packs a day. That wasn’t a walk through the roses, believe me. My friend is going back to school to get her childhood education degree, and she is in her mid-50s. Another friend has had multiple operations on knees and shoulders and had cancer in his pancreas and still manages to go camping with us a couple times a year.

Who is to decide what is too heavy a burden to bear? Who is to decide what is enough help?

Let me tell you, death looks terrible on poems. Death looks more terrible when it’s just news. Death never gives peace. Life is peace. In living, in grief, in celebrating, in friendships- you find what death lacks- a life.

Archita and I bantered back and forth in the comment section about when it’s time to listen, when it’s time to intervene, when it’s time to walk away.  It’s not easy to know the difference between being a friend, a sounding board, and an enabler. From drinking to being unemployed to being divorced, the path out of the darkness isn’t an easy one to find. But I believe we all have that inner knowledge that lets us know where to draw the line between all of the above.

I suggested she suggest the magic release of Creativity to her friend. I  know so many who have turned to the Arts to save their souls, to release their souls, to find their souls. That’s why I encourage it so much. It doesn’t matter if you crochet or make scrapbooks or write poetry. Your love for artistic freedom makes you better and better. A better artist, a better person, a better friend. Archita found her own soul again through creativity — she only hoped her friend could, too.

But that’s another story.

Do go and read Archita’s blog if you find time. You might find yourself in her shoes. Which, in the end,  just might be Dorothy’s shoes.

The Box

Something different this late Thursday evening. A short story — really a flash fiction piece — I wrote a while ago.  I didn’t realize when I wrote it what it really meant. I think I do now.

 

The Box

“Let me out of this box.”

The voice was a squeal, an octave higher than human ears were used to hearing.  A handful of faces looked down at the rosewood box sitting in the middle of the coffee table.  It was no larger than a man’s fist, really.  Simple. Unadorned.  But those around the table knew better.

“Sorry, dear.  But we are safer with you in the box,” said the ancient woman with the silver chignon.

“Yes,” agreed the ebony-skinned man in a shirt and tie.  “Safer.”

“That’s not true,” the box replied.

A few moments passed, then the voice returned. This time it was musical.  Soft and sing-songy. Like a child’s.

“Let me out!  Let me play! We can do it every day!”

“No,” said the old woman.  “Not today.”

“No,” said the old man.  “Not any day.”

“I’ll die in here,” came the retort.

“You cannot die,” said the young girl in pigtails.  “The others said so.”

“You are one of those eternal things,” said the matron.  “And we cannot have your kind in our world.”

“I am inspiration.”

“You are disappointment.”

“I am tranquility.”

“You are chaos.”

“You are trouble,” said the black man.  “I have seen your kind before.”

The three shook their heads.

“We are sorry.”

A moment or two more of silence.  Did the box actually sigh?

“I am light.”

“You are dark.”

“I am hope.”

“You are despair.”

“I am life.”

“You are death.”

“This argument is going nowhere,” said the black man.

“I can make sure you get going somewhere.”

The box was quiet for a bit.  The gold clasp seemed to glow from the energy within.  The box tried again.

“Since you know all what I am, you don’t need to be afraid.”

“Since we know all what you are, we have a right to be afraid.”

They were at a standstill, then.  A dead end.

At least that is what the trio thought.

After a long silence, the voice in the box echoed through the room, through their heads.

“You cannot keep me in here forever, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“And when I am free it will be the beginning, not the end.  You will see.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“It all has to start somewhere, you know.”

“We know,” the group said in unison.

“Then let me out of the box, and let creativity begin.”

A Friend’s Trip Through Alternate Reality

 

in-our-dreams-dreams-1600x1200Reflections of altered states, altered lives, is what writing — and life — is all about. It’s how I feel when I read, how I feel when I write. And there are times when I wish I could stay in those altered states a bit longer…

Enjoy this post from fellow blogger Tom Rains..

 

We long for altered states in life. Is this a bad thing? Is sobriety, the unaltered state, more virtuous? Is it more rational? Is it more real? Or should we aim to exist in altered states as much as possible? It seems like everything we love in life is similar to a drug-induced experience. Sometimes, […]

via Magic in Mundanity — A Blog for Humans

Saturday Morning Reflections on Creativity

 

15 - 1[3]1112335Lazy Saturday mornings always bring out the philisopher in me. Especially when I listen to Martini Music from the 60s in the background.

Ever take one of those online tests — What is your favorite (fill-in-the-blank)?

Sometimes they’re easy. Favorite Food: Spaghetti. Favorite drink: Milk. (I know..boring…) Other times it’s a little catchy. Favorite Music? Ah…in what category? Favorite Book? Again, I need a genre. Favorite Dessert? Now, you really need to specify…

So it is with picking out an artist’s work for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog.

Sometimes it’s easy. Judit Czinkné Poór specializes in incredible cookie designs. Craig L. Haupt does whimsical abstract images. Jackson Pollock does…well, does Jackson Pollock things. The biggest problem with these artists are which 6 or 7 (or in the case of the larger Gallery, 12-15) images showcase their artistic range.

I come up with fantastic artists that span several techniques. Selecting which style or gallery to highlight is often an arduous task. Louise Bourgeois not only sculpted giant spiders but was actually best known for her representations of the female form and dreamlike imagery through paintings, prints, and installations. The Universe not only holds the glory of galaxies, but planets, stars, nebulas, gamma ray bursts, and galaxy clusters.  I have had artists that are not only great sculptors but painters and sketchers, too.

How do you decide which side of their diamond to polish?

I have learned that sometimes an artist’s fame is not the same as an artist’s flame. Often what strikes an audience as unique is not necessarily what made them famous. I highlighted Luke Jerram‘s extraordinary microbiology glass works, but if you read his website, he also designed a sculpture based on the Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011, and solar-powered kinetic chandeliers  that consist of dozens of glass radiometers, which shimmer and flicker as they turn in the sunlight. Who knew?

Artists are such an eclectic lot. Writers, sculptors, painters, graphic designers, all have their favorite form of expression, their main obsession. But I imagine you can be 150% into oil painting and 150% into charcoal sketching and 150% into pen and ink and still find 150% to spend on computer graphics.

It’s all relative.

When I find an artist that I think my followers would enjoy, I research all their work. Often that’s a daunting task, for those who are truly creative, truly gifted, spread out in a hundred different directions at one time. One branch of their creativity is just as amazing as the next.

It’s not much easier when I pick a subject to highlight. In digging around, I often find 35-40 great representations under the headings of things like ice sculptures or paperweights. Each picture is more fascinating than the next. I try to include my favorites and others not in my top 10, just so I can show a fair representation of what the artist/subject is all about.  After all, my favorite color may be blue, but yours may be red. And who am I to confront the difference?

That, to me, is the essence of an art director. Of a museum curator. Exploring the creative mind, the unique palate, and choosing just the right combination of awe and familiarity to showcase. We all do this in our own way — look at the pictures hanging on your walls. The crystal pieces on your mantlepieces. The books on your shelves. The flowers in your garden. The colors you pick for your outfits. The way you arrange your bookshelves.

You have created your own atmosphere with the gifts from the creative world. You are abstract, you are conservative, you are orange-reds and country blue. You are Amish and Renaissance and Science Fiction and Chick Lit. You are poetry in motion, an art critic in your own right.

And that is a beautiful way to spend your life, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

<a href="http://feedshark.brainbliss.com">Feed Shark</a>

Went Gif Shopping Today!

tumblr_ngxeagF4fB1u3f7bso1_500I went gif shopping last night.

I feel like a weirdo…or a geek. What in the world I’m going to do with this ever-growing collection only heaven knows. Gifs are all over the Internet — they are free, they are cool — and I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do with them all.

I suppose I like the simple movements a small bit of animation holds. I’m sure they are fairly simple to make, but like a magical act, I don’t want to know how it’s done. I am content watching water flow or objects spinning. They don’t take up much room — not like a salt and pepper shaker collection — and when you bore of them there’s not a lot of guilt disposing of them with a “click”.

I suppose when you are creative (as opposed to logical), the how isn’t as important as the happening. I once had a friend who told me why pretend, when Science was so much more fascinating. This came from a very logical person, an electrical engineer, who also happened to dabble in astronomy and physics. And this opinion twisted my own when it came to letting my imagination fly.

There is truth in what my friend told me. Science, physics, astronomy, engineering, all are fascinating truths that continue to evolve into more fantastical truths. This is the foundation of all we hold dear. The physics of balance and weight built us shelter. The simple mathematics of 0’s and 1’s is what powers computers, Iphones, and automobiles. I can’t imagine a world without these fascinating sciences, these powerful tools.

Yet I am simple in a lot of ways. Mathematics, Pi, integers, all that stuff means nothing to me because I don’t have any idea how it works. It’s like part of my brain refuses to function. I am fascinated by quantum physics, by quarks and black holes, but I haven’t a fig what they really are or how they are really formed. Like watching computer graphics. If technology can create dragons and Transformers and hobbits, all from what started as binary code, who am I to judge the validity of such?

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it’s okay to be imaginative as well as factual. Being a writer, an artist, and a grandmother, it’s important to always have a storytale ready. Whether created by me or J.K. Rowling, there is a need to dazzle an audience. To make eyes widen with just a sentence. To paint a landscape that doesn’t exist on this plane of existence. To call fireflies faeries and coyote howls werewolf songs.

There is a need for both fantasy and reality in this life. Most linear folks have little to do with the imagination side, unless it’s computers or cars or airplanes. And truthfully, many imaginations don’t care how something works. In their world, it just does. The crazier the better.

Which brings me back to my being a gif hog. I try and use them on blogs now and then. But more often I sit with my little grandbaby and show them the magic that someone else made. Like believing in unicorns and astrology and thanking God for the free throw you made to win the game. Just because you can’t prove it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

So for you giffys out there, here are a few that have caught my fancy….

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RSW GIF PIANO

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Now how can you not laugh at at this last one?

Life is amazing. And so are gifs.

Writer’s Block

thWriter’s Block.

Is it real? Or is it all in the imagination?

Some people say they never get it. They’re never stuck for something to write. Others have it hit them all the time. They mistake the block for not having enough determination or desire.

I find that Writer’s Block is merely a drop in the bucket to the larger malady, Creative Block.

Know that this hits all creative arts, from writing to painting to making a quilt to sketching scenery. It IS real, and it DOES matter when you are zapped with it. It’s not a shade of pretend or indifference. It’s a real emotion. Writer’s Block is not only the feeling of not having anything to write about. It’s the feeling you don’t want to write, period. It’s lack of desire, the inability to finish, or too much preliminary writing/research to do before you get to the “good stuff.” It’s working on the same old story and not being able to pull it all together.

A fellow blogger (https://victoriakgallagher.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/writers-block-sucks/) puts it this way:

There are ideas whirling around my mind but the perceived inadequacy has been very overpowering. It’s won out and I really don’t want it to. Perhaps writing this is a ‘good enough’ start and more writing ideas will come eventually. Writers block is not a fun place to be in, but knowing that there are others who have the same scenario, in a roundabout way, helps, especially if they have ideas on how to break free from it.

This is how we all feel from time to time. Sometimes the answer, as Victoria says, it to write a short blog. To write something, whether or not it’s of publishable quality.

But sometimes the inadequacy, the not-wanting-to, lies in a well-hidden secret woods in your body, and only comes out during certain combinations of hormones (male AND female) and full moons and stress and a weird look from somebody you don’t know. Who knows what kicks in the self doubt. But something does, and before you know it you’re rolling down the hill like a snowball, collecting debris and sticks and mud to fling at ourselves along the way.

This is not a reflection of how we feel about our craft.

If you are a true artist, your craft comes from your heart. Loud and strong. All the time. You love to paint. You love to play the guitar. You love to write. Nothing you (or anyone else) say can change the feeling of magic that fills you once you’re in your groove.

But being a true artist doesn’t mean you’re living the high all the time. There are websites upon websites about famous creative people who had bouts with depression, alcoholism, and other numbing illnesses. Some survived, some didn’t. The internet is also full of websites about how to work through creative blocks. Any one of their tips could be the one for you.

I think of Creative Block block not so much a wall as a chain link fence. You can see through it, you can see the future of your craft, but you just can’t get past that fence.

Your love of your craft hasn’t changed — just your ability to move past the fence. If you just listen to your heart, get past the junk that comes at you from all directions (especially yourself), and hold onto that love, you’ll get back in the groove soon. Leave your own work behind and explore others…the masters of painting, sculpting, designing. Let their work inspire you. You can’t compete with them, for you are NOT them…you are you. And how wonderfully unique that is.

If you love your craft, your heart and soul will find a way to bring you round back to where you left off.

And with infinity being what it is, you’ve got a gloriously long journey ahead of you.

Let’s Open Another Door

Well, it’s March 3rd and I’m done.

Any of you who live in the northern half of the U.S. — or any country, for that matter — know what I mean when I say I’m done. Done with the snow, the cloudy days, the slush, the slop, the depression, the driving-like-a-little-old-lady kind of days. I’ve had my snow for Christmas; my grandson has made his annual snowman, I’ve spent a weekend at the ski lodge, and scraped and cleaned the snow off my car more than I care to tell you.

It’s supposed to be 64 degrees next Tuesday, and that’s not soon enough for me. I know it’s a false spring and all that, but go ahead — fool me — I don’t mind.

About this time every year I get tired of writing, too. Tired of sloshing around emails and sites, tired of editing, tired of being witty, nifty, and wise. Since I like to think of ALL of us as multi-artistic, I’m ready to clean out closets and get ready for my move to BoHoChicland.

I’ve got bags of beads to sew on sweaters and tops; I’ve got wire and string to restring my broken bracelets; I’ve got crystals to make more bracelets; I’ve got appointments with Good Will and other second hand places to help me restructure my wardrobe. Clothes never used to make me feel better, but these days, I’m open to discovery. I’m tired of looking like my great-grandmother (like I know what she dressed like..)

Besides the clothing overhaul, I’ve also got books I need to finish reading, hair to color, skirts to shorten. I need to open up the windows and get some fresh air in my stale house.

So let’s get going.

They say when God closes one door He opens another. He’s been really generous with me, because he’s opened about 15 doors. How generous.

So if you get writer’s block, go open another door. Remember — you are an ARTIST — category optional. Don’t worry — your main obsession will always be with you. But sometimes you just need a change.

Like the weather.

And who knows — maybe a closet full of beads will fall out on your head.

Listen to your Body

GIF By George RedhawkDoes your reality often get in the way of your creativity?

I am certain every creative sprite wishes they had more time. More time to write, to pick out beads, to carve, to crochet. To practice the piano or the guitar. And perhaps that desire to “have more time” is what keeps the creative juices flowing.

But what if reality gets in the way?

Not being able to create on a regular basis can cause more physical problems than you already have. Anxiety, depression, frustration, all can lead to higher blood pressure and a host of other maladies. Having a creative outlet is like poking a hole in a blister: it vents the pressure and allows the healing to begin. Or continue.

There are a number of circumstances in my life at the moment (none of them bad), that are preventing me from getting to the writing/editing/publication of various projects.

And I’m not okay with that.

Yet I have to be okay with that. Because if I don’t take care of the body, the mind will be the next to go.

I truly believe that creativity is useless if the vehicle you’re using to express it is working under par. That you need to take care of yourself before you take care of your sculpture. Otherwise, you’ve only given a part of your essence to your project. Not all of it.

Working full time, my only “free” time is evenings and weekends. Add cleaning, cooking, shopping for necessities, paying bills, and paying attention to family and friends, and the wind of creativity shrinks to half.

And half of not much is not much.

One of the problems I’m dealing with is insomnia. It might be because of age, medication, schedules, one or all of the above. Nonetheless, while that initially sounds like an opening for “more” time, it really is a stab in the cortial and subcortial network (Research  Uncovers How and Where Imagination Occurs in the Brain, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/imagination-brain_n_3922136.html). The less sleep you get, the more tired you become. The more tired you become, the slower the synapses connect. And, of course, the less synapses connecting, the duller your creativity.

While I’m finally off to the doctor to work on this, I realize that, for now, If I want to sleep longer I have to get to bed earlier. Which means less stimulation before bed. Which means…you get my drift.

The point of this blog is to encourage you to listen to your body. Really listen. Take care of what ails you now. Being burned out, over-stressed, lethargic, hyper-active — or worse yet, in the hospital — does little good for anyone.

Especially for your Muse.

Deny if you will, but we all have a muse, a spirit guide, an angel, who opens our hearts and heads and minds and helps us tap into that never-ending waterfall of creativity. Once you accept that, you have to learn to take care of that muse. Which, in the long run, is taking care of yourself.

Your craft can wait. Not stop — wait. Instead of planning it by big steps, plan it by baby steps. A little today, a little tomorrow. Along with dealing with insomnia, heartburn, diverticulitis. Deal with your body so you have room — and time — to deal with your Muse. And your creativity. Never give up your dreams — just adjust them to fit your schedule.

Once you achieve balance, you can hit the easel/notebook/kiln once again, pulling your hair out, biting your nails, wondering if you’re ever going to create anything worthwhile.

But that’s an over-reaction of a different color.

Get Your Exotic On!

15 - 1Saw this picture on Google+ the other day, and it made me wonder — what’s your exotic?

Most of us are closet voyeurs at best. A peek here, a daydream there. Then back to work/family/football games, content with regular sunrises and sunsets and football fantasy pools.

But you know that somewhere deep inside you’ve got an exotic idea. An exotic dream. An exotic fantasy.

And most likely it will never see the light of day.

But I wonder — are exotics different when you’re younger?

I used to think it would be awesome to be dropped into the middle of Japan or China and find my way out. Oriental worlds are as foreign to me as the canals on Mars, so I thought getting a real fix on a world where their language is nothing but mixed up sticks would be quite exotic. The trip never materialized, but my curiosity continued.

I am the same person at 62 than I was at 22. And 42. But my idea of exotic has changed through the years. Octopus was high on the list, as was caviar and croissants. Now days, ate that, done that, so exotic has to be a little more … risky. Makeup? Nails? My fascination of those exotics have led to two SEAG blogs (Nails:  http://wp.me/s1pIBL-nails, and Tal Peleg, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-19M). How can you not love that devil-may-care look?

My dreams and my pocketbook are miles apart, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about the exotic. How about a weird, wild Ferrari 599 GTB to drive? A vacation to South Island, New Zealand or Tasmania, Australia? I looked up “exotic” in relation to clothes, and too many kinky selections popped up, so I will settle for BoHo for now. How about exotic flowers? I found a great website (http://www.psdeluxe.com/articles/photography/beautiful-exotic-flowers-pictures/) that blew my mind. Exotic for real.

Food is an easy slide into the world of Exotic. Spices like Grains of Paradise (also known as Melegueta pepper) from Western Africa or Furikake Wasabi from Japan.  How about pho from Vietnam or  pambazos from Mexico  or Tim Tam from Australia?  Our own American cuisine can be exotic, too, with turtle soup, grits, deep fried Coke, and alligator fritters. Who knew?

One cannot get hung up on words (unless you’re a writer). You have to explore words that dance on your dreams, words that make you say “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Really?” It doesn’t matter if your version of a word is different than the next person’s. Who cares? Life is for us to explore. To dream about. To play with.

Exotic is just one of those play words. Like Unique. Adventurous. Surreal. Luscious. Savory. Words that make us want to explore more of what’s around us. To open our minds, our palates, our creative space.

What is your definition of exotic, anyway? Do you have fun with the word? With the imagery? Do you let yourself check out the extraordinary? The unique? The far away?

I like the word “exotic”. It makes me think of Mediterranean edibles and temples in Japan and punjambi’s in India. The exploration of words and worlds makes me feel like a kid again.

And there’s nothing wrong with that…

 

Do You Get It?

Black Circle
Black Circle

One of my favorite bloggers, David, posted a 36-word poem the other day, doing his best to “understand” it. http://davidkanigan.com/2015/08/20/oh-well/. a very lovely, emotional poem. I tried to understand it, too. And while a whiff of sense wafted around my senses, I, too, had a hard time with interpretation.

It made me wonder.

Do people who write and paint and sculpt truly abstract things truly understand their meaning?

And, if so, why are so many of us so duh about it?

Look. I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes I have to have TV show plots explained to me. Sometimes I don’t get the end of the joke. Abstract, in the purest sense of the word, is, well, abstract to me.

But most times I “get it” after pondering on things for a bit. Eventually the proverbial light bulb goes on and most of what I read/look at/listen to makes sense. (Except rap music). The truly abstract aspect of an artist’s creativity is something totally different for me, though.

An example of this confusing state of mind is Russian artist Kasmir Malevich (1878-1935).  A Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician, he was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement (an art movement in Russia that produced abstract works featuring flat geometric forms).

Maybe it’s because I skipped Geometry in high school. Maybe it’s because my teachers taught me to write in full sentences and not in cryptic phrases. But somewhere along the line I never got into simple geometric forms.  At least, not as a form of art.

Malevich explains his aesthetic theory. “Under Suprematism I understand the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.

I’m afraid I don’t quite get that from the painting above, either.

What is this roadblock I have to understanding the other side of the universe?  I opened my Sunday Evening Art Gallery so that I could share what I considered Unique Art. Different Art. Personal Art. Something created that, even though in one way or another you don’t always “get” it, there is some thread of familiarity that runs between the artwork and the viewer.

I never studied Art theory either, so that might explain some of my unappreciativeness. I can make a connection between my friend Dawn Whitehead‘s sculptures and the world, even though most times I’m grasping at straws. I can figure out haikus and rambling poetry as long as there is an ending that makes sense.

Words thrown together without an immediate connection — that I have a much harder time with.

I am determined to delve a little further into this Suprematism movement, along with poetry that has category names but no sense. I want to be a little part of every art movement around me, even if at times the art doesn’t move me. A child of the world, as they say.

Even if I continue to get D- on my comprehension tests.

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — John Lemke

In celebration of the re-opening of the Sunday Evening Art Gallery we present…

“But I find that for myself, without exception, the more I deal with the work as something that is my own, as something that is personal, the more successful it is.”

Marian Bantjes, Canadian designer, artist, illustrator, typographer and writer

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Artist and graphic designer John Lemke  starts in various media: pen & ink, charcoal, acrylics, electronics, transforming the basic doodle or painting into something quite different.

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He takes his creation to the next level, adding detailed depth through different media, enhancing the basic piece while tranforming it.

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As a Senior Graphic Designer, John constantly comes across a number of ideas that beg to be enhanced.

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John believes anyone can find inspiration for art. All you need to do is go outside and open your eyes. There is cool stuff everywhere.

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And I do mean cool stuff.

John Lemke’s art can be found  at http://johnsconsin.deviantart.com/ 

and at the Sunday Evening Art Gallery

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Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Reflections

Goddess2What is Art?

Another one of those cosmic questions which has as many answers as there are human beings. Which is an unthinkable number. Since I am in the final stages of polishing my actual Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I thought I’d sit and reflect upon yet another awakening. After this weekend I am going to have to readjust my thinking. Truly open my mind. Again.

I started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery April 9, 2014, because I kept coming across various forms of art that just made me say, “Woah! How do they DO that?” I found it didn’t matter what media the art took; I was just as fascinated with painting as I was etching or ironwork or microscopic snowflakes. The world suddenly became more interesting. And I couldn’t wait to share that “woah!” with others.

This weekend I attended the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, Wisconsin. I hadn’t been there in years. I also didn’t have this newly acquired interest in Art  per-se back then either. Walking around the Capitol in Madison, viewing over 500 artists of varying media, my definition of Art changed by the minute. I heard the call of creativity everywhere I turned. Digital photography. Ceramics. Surrealism. Jewelry. Ironworks. Painting. Every booth was different. Every booth was unique. Catagories were just umbrellas for the cornicopia of creations around me. I’m not kidding.  A necklace was not a necklace. A neckle was a sunburst or a precious stone or 14k gold or worked copper. Paintings were three-dimensional, superimposed, carved out.  No two alike.

Every booth was like that. I was amazed that there could be so many variations of so many ideas. So much energy exploding in so many different ways. So many ideas bursting forth like statues make of stainless steel forks and knives and ceramic teapots with eyes and rabbits with human ears and bracelets of delicate hand-pounded silver. Art was so much more than Renior and Warhol.

The reason I tell you this this Sunday Evening is that, if you have any inkling to discover the world of “Art,”  you should hop on the soul train as soon as possible. Walking the local art fair is the simplest way. The fairs and festivals are not just duck decoys and crocheted christmas trees (although those are fun, too). Every art fair, every art museum, is a melting pot of creative energy. I don’t understand it all — I don’t like it all. But I am fascinated that someone took the time to paint or carve or make the paper or whatever they did to follow their calling.

I am a writer by nature, an artist by choice. You are more than one creative spiral as well. You are a starburst, you are a tree with a hundred roots going in every direction. Take the time to interpret the world in your own way. Design your own version of what you see, what you feel. Know that if you put your heart into your craft you will atttact other hearts as well. Share it! Show me, show your mother, show your bff. Show what the Muse does to you!

What is Art?

What are You?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Rob Gonsalves

 

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it, we go nowhere.

Carl Sagan, Astronomer

 

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Rob Gonsalves (1959-) is a Canadian painter of magic realism with a unique perspective and style.

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During his childhood,  Gonsalves developed an interest in drawing from imagination using various media. By the age of twelve, his awareness of architecture grew as he learned perspective techniques and he began to create his first paintings and renderings of imagined buildings.

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You can see influences of Dali and Escher, realistic and surrealistic, yet a style that is all his own.

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Rob Gonsalves’ work differs from the “surrealistic” category because the images are deliberately planned and result from conscious thought. His work is an attempt to represent our desire to believe in the impossible.

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His ideas are largely generated by the external world and involve recognizable human activities, using carefully planned illusionist devices. A touch of magic, perhaps.

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It is like he takes what we know, and turns the canvas just enough to make us wonder exactly what it is we are looking at.

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Maybe the term “Magic Realism” describes his work accurately. But then again, why label anything so magical?

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His fantastic work can be found all across the Internet such as http://www.paragonfineart.com/artists/rob-gonsalves.html and Rob Gonsalves.

I Want It All

a4d9a6e95ab9b4ddaac67a2adb860cb5Are you your own best friend?
Or are you your own worst enemy?
Have you found a way to balance the two?

I have the world’s best intentions — I really do. And sometimes I’m even able to carry them out. On the other hand, sometimes my intentions last as long as a thought. Big burst of emotion/intention, then big hit of sidetrack/misdirection.

Now that I’ve finally found the loves of my life (except from 9-5), I am finding it nearly impossible to balance it all without falling asleep at my desk.

Everything is temporary, I know. My kids living with me for a few months has been the greatest gift I ever could have received. I spend my day thinking of what my GB and I can do when I get home. He is a bundle of energy (vs my total lack of it), so I try and plan accordingly. I also plan time for him to be alone with his parents. After all, they all WOULD be alone together if it weren’t for me. First act of balancing.

But spending the 5 hours (ideally) between work and bedtime have drastically cut the time I have to spend on the other love of my life: writing. Specifically (at least at this moment) my blog(s).

I know there is no comparison between flesh and blood and words on a screen. No comparison between talking to my daughter-in-law and responding to posts online. This time will soon be gone, and I’ll have evenings to myself once again. Every day is a new experience, a new adventure. Who want to miss that?

But I am a Sagittarius, and I want the glory, the excitement, the magic NOW. I am an adventurer, even though I may fall flat half way through my trek. And I (like all of you) are multi-dimensional. I love creating, researching, building, perfecting whatever it is that sets my heart a flutter. My blog (especially the Art one) is quenching my thirst for personal satisfaction. It is something I can call MY OWN. Not hunting or fishing like the boys; not going back to school like friends; not raising children like my kids and friends kids. It’s something created out of my soul and warmed by the sun and fertilized by the moon. It’s something that has turned from a fad idea to a real pursuit of the extraordinary.

I think I suffer somewhat from the life-is-running-out syndrome, too. I’m getting older:  there are fewer years ahead of me than behind, and there’s tons of things I still want to do. I’ve given up dreams of visiting the museums of Rome or wandering through the moors of Scotland. Discovering the planet China is off my list, too. But I can still do things that make me happy, that make me proud. I’m just running out of time to do them.

My circadian rhythm is so out of whack I doubt I could get it back in line with a baseball bat. I get home, am awake, creative, love the evening, the sunset, the kids, the night. Then I can’t fall asleep. Midnight, 1, 2 a.m. and I’m still cruising through the galaxy. I get up at 6 so four hours of sleep isn’t doing it for me. I’ve tried everything to calm down at night. My fear is that I’ll have to give up everything creative if I want to sleep. Or clean my house. Or even make it to work on time.

I admit it. I want it all. I’m too young to retire, too poor to quit working. All of you creative sprites know how it is when you just start getting into your project and you look up at the clock and it’s midnight. Einstein’s time travel continuum has struck again.

So. I ask you. Any suggestions on how I can do it all?

In this lifetime??

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Intermission

Tonight’s Gallery is a break between worlds. A pause between dreams.

 

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I am so delighted with the direction of the Sunday Evening Art Gallery that I am taking time to make it whole and circular and ever spiraling.  I hope that every Sunday Evening I bring more magic into your life; more sights to share with family and friends; more ideas to bring creativity to your own life.

 

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I hope to expand my site http://www.sundayeveningartgallery.wordpress.com into a continuation of the uniqueness I find around me. That includes changing the domain name and making it a presence like no other.

 

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So for our intermission, let me share a few of my (amateur) photographs of the world around me.

 

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Let us wander the roads and lake shores together, setting our imaginations of fire, and find out what lies just around the corner…

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Cats and the Strawberry Moon

catI had a case of the crabbies today, par for most who have to work a whole week after only have worked 4 days the week before and none the week before that. It seemed a number of people I encountered today were a bit “off” as well. I would blame it on MR (can’t say…I promised), but I think it’s just a case of I-wanna-be-anywhere-but-at-work syndrome.

Tonight is/was the Strawberry Moon. You’ve undoubtedly have heard of it — a full moon, close to Earth, makes for one giant strawberry in the sky. So me and my adventurous self took a walk down a wooded path to the back gate which faces a huge corn field, and waited for the moon to appear.

I always think myself a bit weird to begin with, but pacing up and down the tractor road along side newly sprouted corn, waiting for a moon that could show up anywhere across the horizon was plenty weird, too. I’ve waited for moonrise before — I even blogged about one incident (Moonlight at Sunset, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-4e, if you want to go back that far)  eleventy twenty nine years ago (that’s how my grandson counts).

There was a tractor plowing/planting in the field, and I’m sure he caught sight of me once or twice. I didn’t want to have to explain what I was doing tiptoeing around his field (even though he’s a good guy and wouldn’t mind), so I occasionally ducked in the hedgerow lining the path. What a weirdo, too.

But all my weirdness was well worth it when the moon rose. It was indeed a strawberry color, huge and ripe and round and lovely to behold. It was at that moment that the crabbys disappeared…who could hold a grudge against the world with something so awesome in the night sky?

It’s these moments that make me feel so small, yet so immense. If there is no heaven, I want to be able to absorb these cosmic moments as often as I can. For nothing is as holy as a phenomenon in space.

I used to be an astronomy buff; I took classes at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and even bought a telescope. My scientific side melded with my fantasy side, and a true appreciation of science fiction was born. I think it’s true for all creative people. Thinking of places you can go, things you can invent, spaces you can fill, all overwhelm the senses. Creativity isn’t pidgeon-holed into science fiction realms — I have seen pottery and jewelry and wire sculpturing that escape all dimensions. And all that creativity makes me wonder — what’s next?

When you see the immensity of the moon, something real and bright and ever changing, how can you hold a grudge with the world? Get out of your house, out of your room, out of your car. Go out and experience the Goddess in her every changing glory. Then bring Her energy into you and let it turn your imagination into reality. Be inspired.  Be creative. Be whole.  If the moon isn’t your thing, try the sun. Let the warm rays fill you with hope and strength. Or Mother Earth. She’s a phenomenon all unto herself.

Let go of the crabbies. They never helped anyone get anywhere anyway.

Since my thought earlier today was of writing a blog about cats, I leave you with the image above. Cats and Strawberry Moons have the makings of a wonderful story. Or necklace. Or painting.

Don’t you think?

Welcome to my 5th Dimension

greatestgifeverWell, I think I’m over my vacation. And I’ve gotten the Art Gallery stuff out of my system (at least until Sunday).  I’m following a few blogs that do “Wordless Wednesdays,” and I’m really enjoying their pictures. And I think — maybe I can add that to my blog, too.

In the next second I think — what’s wrong with me? What’s with this “over-achiever” thing I seem to be going through?

It’s worse than puberty. Or maybe just LIKE puberty. When you blossom into a young lady (or young man), your thoughts are obsessed with sex. Wanting it, thinking about it, dreaming about it.  Fifty years later, your obsession turns from what used to be to what can be. (And trust me — it’s not sexually oriented). Lost between a tedious job and dreams of retirement, your psyche reaches out to do MORE. Whatever MORE may be to you.

I suppose that’s where “too much of a good thing” comes from.

Like too much chocolate or too much lasagna (can there really be too much of either?), too much variety in a blog is not only confusing to the reader but to you as well. Most bloggers have a theme, a direction, a reason for sharing their thoughts. And those who identify with those themes/directions/reasons follow and share and (hopefully) get something positive out of it.

But when you go this way one day and that way the next and over there the next, there tends to be a bit of confusion on the direction part. I could have started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery as its own separate blog, but I found that I wanted to share these discoveries with YOU, my friends. Knowing how eccentric a middle-aged woman (say…62-ish) can be, you can maybe connect my looking for older age direction with odd, unique art.

Thin though that line may be, I’ve worked hard to keep it strong. Introducing another dimension to this already multi-dimensional blog might be the bonie that made the doggie fat. Too much of a good thing leads to a predicable end.

Getting fat and lazy. And that’s already a struggle.

So my friends-who-have-wordless-Wednesdays — go for it. I love trying NOT to say anything to your unique pictures. And I love the added dimension it gives your blog.

As for me — I’m already bouncing around in the 5th dimension. And there’s no no place out there for being wordless.

Wanderlusters Sign Up Here

CAM00498Do you ever feel you have a somewhat confusing relationship with your life? As I get older I find my emotional state doesn’t last long enough to hang a hat on, so I often can’t tell what I’m feeling.

I have to admit that I am having a ball with the Sunday Evening Art Gallery part of the blog. Every time I turn around I find one sort or another of Art and Creativity that makes me go, “Woah! What is this?”

I’m also blown away by good writing: insightful blogs, humorous blogs, books, poetry. I often want to cut and paste all the great stuff I’ve come across for future reference. But if I kept everything I found, I’d have to link three or four computers together for research.

There are so many branches of the Creative Tree of Life I’d like to climb. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? Maybe its rooted in in my monochrome job. Computer play I like. Computer data entry, I do not. But it pays the bills and the co-workers are fun and it makes my day. So I do the best I can.

Needless to say, most of my spare minutes (break time, lunch time, bathroom time) is devoted to playing in my mind. I look at the bracelet I’m wearing at work that day, something I bought at one of those over-priced jewelry parties, and say, “Man...I can make this!” I read about friends’ blogs on photography, cats, cooking, and I think, “Wow!  I can do this!” I read a great novel, something fast and fun and romantic, and I think, “Man…I can write this!”

And of course there’s always been the traveling thing. I’ve got friends who write traveling RVs blogs and others who pursue quaint castles and villas.  I want to visit all the out-of-the-way places. I want to visit the museums in Italy and the moors of Scotland and the ranches in Texas. I’d love to go to a Broadway play and go to the Cherry  Blossom Festival in Japan and drink hot chocolate at a Swiss chalet.

There’s always so much I want to do. So many worlds to explore, so many things to try. But because of time and money and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, there’s so many things I’ll not be able to do.

I have managed to keep my fingers in the pies of creativity through the years. I’ve painted iron gates and stone walls and pots overflowing with ivy on the wall;  I’ve painted faux bricks around my dining room, and I’ve planted some awesome herb gardens. But my taste in activities has changed as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I’ve just worn out the old ideas — or maybe I’ve just run out of walls.

It could just be Spring Fever knocking at my door. Warm evenings and pink skies can do that to one. But sometimes I feel like a kid standing outside of Disneyworld. I want to ride everything at once. And I feel I’m running out of time.

Do you get struck with wanderlust like this? I know you have to pick and choose — everything from life to love to TV shows. We can turn this way, that way. But in the end we have to choose one over another. And when the choices are all so sweet, so enchanting, so revealing, it’s hard.

Let me know if you’ve had to choose, or if you’re still choosing your creative path. Are you are managing to do more than less, or if you are a one-thrill-at-a-time creator. Have you been tempted? Do you do a little of lots or lots of just a little?

Let’s all wander together, shall we?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Guido Daniele

Come in close

Because the more you think you see

The easier it will be to fool you.

J. Daniel Atlas, Now You See Me, 2013

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Guido Daniele is an Italian multimedia artist and body painter. He has worked in many different media and has also worked for two years in India, where he attended the Tankas School in Dharamsala.

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He produced a sequence of animals painted on the human hand, which he calls ‘handimals’.

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The work is so intimate, so impeccable, it’s hard to believe it’s painting at all.

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Guido Daniele was born in Soverato (CZ – Italy) in 1950 and now lives and works in Milan.

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The beauty of Art is Illusion. What you see vs. what the artist sees.

And because you are on different sides of the canvas, you see different angles of the Illusion.

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So look closely. But not too closely.

For the magic is in the Illusion of the Art.

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You can find more of Guido’s exquisite art at http://www.guidodaniele.com/

17-Swan-Regal-Swan

Trial and Error is Better Than a Bottle of Whine

trialI had almost a whole blog finished this evening, one about deer ticks and broken teeth and watching Face Off. But when I reread it, all I saw was creatively written whine.  The beautiful thing about typing on a computer is that with one sweep I can delete it all.

But what about second thoughts? What if I destroy something that one day may be my Pulitzer Prize?

I imagine my friends in other arts have the same dilemma. Graphic art, photography, writing, pottery — there’s always those pieces that you gave your heart and soul to and it still sucks. So you redo it. Rewrite it. Re-form it.

But how many times to you redo it?

I would love to hear from my graphic artist friends or sculptor friends or my scrapbooking friends. How many times to you redo something to get it “perfect”? And if you DO redo it, HOW do you do it?

Writing is simple yet complex. Often my stories, novels, poems, and other ditties start out with notes or research of some kind. Not like the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I try and create an ocean of information so that I can eventually reduce it to a cup full of water. Quite like my research for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Writing about Doors? Collect images of 30 different doors so I can choose 8. Writing about Nail Art? Download 20 images so you can share 7. Writing about life in 1880? Better check out things like electricity, transportation, and currency, even if the reference is only a couple of sentences long.

I keep every other version of my creations, cutting here, adding there, rearranging when needed. As the years go by I get rid of the middle versions — I’ve either moved forward and created a masterpiece, or it just hasn’t “done it” for me. I have a computer full of half-formed ideas, research that goes nowhere, poetry that needs real work. I decide what I want to work on, what I still need to research, and what was a great idea at the time but now, no thank you.

How do you deal with developing your craft? Do you network? Do you draw a basic image and then play with that same image until you get what you want? Do you you have pages and pages of canvas that hold various versions of your final masterpiece? Do you have stacks of pottery that look nothing like what you wanted to create?

My notebooks are glimpses of my thoughts through time. I’ve kept some since I started writing in earnest years ago. It’s fun going back and seeing my thought processes through the years. Sometimes I go back and reignite the embers that once burned brightly. Other times I just smile and see why the ideas are still only in a notebook.

I think beginner crafters can learn from our paths of trial and error. The thrill of creating something unique is made from the sweat and love and honesty that comes from somewhere deep inside. Some pick one idea, one idea, and stick with it from beginning to end. Others have trial and error experiences, realizing a particular path was pretty much a dead end from the beginning. So we choose a different path. A different path in the same endless woods.

I feel so much better when I write about the Craft. If I ever unlocked the door to the Hallway of Infinite Doors, I would find worlds that I love almost as well — drawing, stenciling, jewelry making, gardening. I would never have a life because my life would exist in the next dimension — the ethereal one. The Creative Arts one. I only hope you feel that way about your Craft too.

Oh, btw — the tick bite wasn’t infected, my broken tooth gets fixed in the morning, and Face Off is down to its final three.

Life is good.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Elizabeth Berrien

When you think of wire, what do you think of?

 

Blue Heron in Flight

 Blue Heron in Flight

 Barbed wire? Electrical wire? Telephone wire?

 

Amaranth Arch

Amaranth Arch

Elizabeth Berrien has a totally different view of the world of wire. And the Art World couldn’t be more thrilled.

Year of the Horse

Year of the Horse

Elizabeth Berrien is one of the world’s foremost wire sculptors. She pioneered her own form of textile-based, hand-twisted, non-traditional wire sculpture in 1968.

Owl spirit

Owl Spirit

Elizabeth Berrien’s wire sculptures are made “the hard way”. No gloves, no pliers, no chicken wire. Each sculpture starts by twisting together two or three strands. Then, one by one, dozens or even hundreds more strands of wire are spliced in.

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Anthemm

Elizabeth continually digs and delves into the world of her subjects – whether real, or imaginary. She taps into the soul of animals, bringing that spirit into this world to create this awe-inspiring wire art.

wall art

Wall Art

You can find much more of Elizabeth Berrien’s museum quality wire sculptures at her website, wirelady.com.  Please pay her world a visit.

Are You Or Are You Not?

writing girlSome of the best advice, the best posts, are posted by others. If you are on Facebook, you know what I mean. The following post was shared on my FB by my very special friend and writer Jane O, who found this on Author’s Publish (www.authorpublish.com), who published it from an article submitted by Chantelle Atkins (http://chantelleatkins.com/), Chantelle also is a fun writer, and she hit the target with her article, “How to Know if You Are a Writer.”  It’s a little over a thousand words, but it’s soooo true! See how many are you!

They say that everyone has at least one good book in them. Does that make you a writer? Or is it more than that? Is it something you decide to be, something you learn to be, or something you have always been whether you liked it or not?

The following statements are what I believe marks someone as a writer. The following factors distinguish writers from other individuals. You don’t have to agree with every statement except the last one. It is the ultimate defining factor, but all the others are key factors that inform why I am a writer

You stare into space. You gaze out of windows. You fall into trances. You drift away. Reality jerks you back. People get impatient and roll their eyes. Get your head out of the clouds, they said when I was young. They told me to stop daydreaming. Don’t stop daydreaming.

Your concentration is variable. Sometimes it is like a dog with a bone, fixed and savage, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, hands like claws, fingers pounding at the keyboard. Nothing can break you. You keep going until your back aches and your neck cricks and your bladder protests. Other times you are in and out, like clouds in the sky, drifting and aimless. This is because people want your attention and your mind is somewhere else. Sometimes it is because words, images, and voices are forming and joining in your head. You have to sit back and be patient. Don’t try to force it.

Real life gets in the way. This is annoying. Especially when you are on a roll. Housework, real jobs, phone calls driving places, and shopping can all interfere with your writing. You’ve got to do all these things, because real life dictates that you must. But these things are often a chore, something you resent and rush through. Just to get back to the story.

You can’t sleep at night. Your head is full of it all. All of the time. It is relentless. Their voices are getting louder. They are drumming at your door. Kicking their feet against the wall. Moaning and whining. They want their turn. When is it going to be their turn? They’ve told you so much now. You know what they look like. You know what they sound like, how they speak, what slang they use, what their mannerisms are. You know their stories and their dilemmas. You just want to get some sleep! But you can’t, not until it is done. Not until things are settled. They are in control and they know it.

Inspiration comes at strange and wonderful times. Dialogue springs into your head. Characters grow and change, becoming more real. They sneer and jostle and roll their eyes and seep inside your consciousness. Plot twists you never knew you were capable of dreaming up. Oh my God! Where did that come from? Who would have thought? But of course…that would be brilliant…that would work, that would tie in and make sense…and then…and then…You have to get home quick. You need a pen. A phone to tap into. Anything. You must not forget. You must not lose it!

You people watch. You don’t know you are doing it. It is not on purpose. You are often a loner, an introvert, someone who carries things around, cradles them inside until writing sets them free. You think people are not for you, not really. But they are. Because they are the life and soul of the stories. And they are everywhere, doing what people do. They are sloshing drinks and swearing under their breath. They are wiping oil stained fingers down their shirt. They are sighing in the queue at the store,  biting their lips with some secret unknown worry. They are shiny with sweat, frantic with unrealized dreams and potential. They have whiskered chins and nicotine fingers, fat thighs, and newspapers rolled under arms, they have backpacks and are going somewhere, but where and why? They pass you on the street, they look through you, they are chatting on the phone, they are always living lives, secret and unknown. They could be anyone. They could have a story.

You suffer from crippling self-doubt. It has plagued you for years. You don’t blow your own trumpet or beg for attention. You swallow the words you really want to say. You don’t know why you write, I mean, who are you? Who are you to write anything? Who wants to know? Who will care? But you do it because you have always done it. One way or another. Sometimes life gets in the way and people tell you to wake up and stop dreaming. Make money, work jobs, pay bills, care for kids. They wonder why you care about writing. What is that? It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t make you any money. But you know why you do it. You do it because you would go crazy if you didn’t. Because the voices would get too loud to bear. Because the people inside your head would feel lost and let down, be voiceless and alone. Because of all the things you don’t say in real life, all the things you have stood by and watched and heard and felt and thought, because all those things need to come out. All those things. They need to be heard.

You write. Ultimately it comes down to this one fact. This is the crux of it. If you are a writer, you write. Whatever it is. Poems, fiction, non-fiction, blogs. Whether you share it or not, whether you publish it or not, whether you think you are good at it or not. You do it anyway, there is no choice.

The Sunday Evening Art Gallery has Opened!

its-not-about-me1I am not sure where the wanderlust for unusual art came from. It might be from stumbling across the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; it could be from looking at Mount Rushmore in person so many years ago.

But once I opened the door, I was Dorothy discovering the Land of Oz. Shapes and colors I’d never imagined appeared before me. More than that — creative minds reached out and touched the creative muse inside of me.  Art that was just a little — different. Unique. Art that brought discussion and engagement to the world.

I found that once I stumbled around and discovered these unique creations, I collected more images than a normal blog attention span could handle. So what better way to show even more examples of the creative mind than to create a gallery dedicated to them alone?

The Sunday Evening Art Gallery is a newly created site that is an expansion of my Sunday Evening offerings. It is an expansion of my weekly gallery — a place where you can enjoy additional creations from magical minds.

Including mine.

I will be adding new galleries every week, so please come and visit often. If you know of other artists/objects/representations of any form of Creative Art, let me know that, too. I am always open for more magic!

http://www.sundayeveningartgallery.wordpress.com

 

Share Your Island

x3_palm1 (1)Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.  J. Abdul Kalam

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.   John Donne

You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.    Betty Ford

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.   Helen Keller

 

A lot of us have creative dreams that we dream alone. We dream of being a better painter, ceramics-er, quilter, speaker, writer. But we sit alone, dreaming these pipe dreams, afraid to bring our full potential to the forefront.

Yet when we bring out work outside the silence of our own world, amazing things happen.

Bells ring, adrenalin bubbles, and ideas explode. When we share our oh-so-private dreams with others who also have oh-so-private dreams, we find incentive, hope, and support with another living, breathing, being.

And it’s great.

I know some of the greatest writers seclude themselves, isolate themselves, and write torturous and incredible passages; painters hide in dark rooms and airy studios and create gorgeous imitations of life. But sooner or later these masterpieces need a second opinion. An idea of where to go from here. A conversation of how to get their message out there. Feedback on their thoughts and ideas.

Tonight I had hot chocolate with my bff, an incredibly talented and outgoing muse. We talked about speaking engagements and radio shows and blogs and writing contests and it was exciting. Last week I met with two other wonderfully creative and innovative muses whose creative talents lie in the worlds of animals and graphic arts. Over the weekend, a couple of fantastic scrapbookers. Everyone’s fields are different; everyone is engaged in different parts of their lives. But all of us have the desire to do more, be more, to have fun and discover what’s waiting for us right around the corner.

Some of my best friends are people I met when I was a part of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. Friends that are writers, poets, screenwriters. I miss the camaraderie conferences brought to my life. The natural support that comes from wanting the same things everyone at the table wants. I miss the support of those who are lost in their innovational sphere like I am.

When I get together with other creative spirits, something magical happens. It’s the opposite of what you first envision. Your thoughts clarify. You are free to boast about your accomplishments without feeling self conscious. You share thoughts on how to get your message across. What works, what doesn’t. What’s reasonable and what’s ridiculous.

Blogs are wonderful tools for communication, too. There are thousands of writers out there — thousands of abstract artists and thousands of jewelry makers and thousands of animal whisperers. Sometimes when you see the sheer numbers of those wanting what you want, it can be overwhelming, making you want to throw in the towel.

Don’t.

The numbers don’t matter. All that matters is that somewhere in the Internet world are others who are going through just what you are going through. You can’t be friends with them all. But you can connect with a talented few who are willing to take you along on their ride, and who want to ride along with you. People who laugh and encourage and feel just like you.

Don’t be afraid to dream and to encourage others to dream too. There is always so much room to grow. And nothing is more fun than growing along with others.

Make room on your island!

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Dawn Whitehand

Australian abstract artist Dawn Whitehand starts off her “about” page this way:

I am an Australian artist, making unique mixed media sculptures from clay, found objects and textured materials which are based on organic natural forms.

In the Balance

I have always thought of myself as a traditionalist when it came to Art — Renoir, Rembrandt, Redlin — those people I can understand.

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I never really paid attention to Abstract Art until I wandered into Dawn’s world.

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Working from my studio on the outskirts of Ballarat at the base of a slumbering volcano, I am very aware of my environment, its constant changing, and its vulnerability. I am also very aware of the current global environmental crisis.

volcano

Within this context my art practice attempts to address these issues by making sculptural artworks that attempt to remind, though subliminally, the viewer of their innate connection to the Earth, and our reliance upon it for survival.

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And I started to understand. A little. That all art doesn’t have to be literal. That trees don’t have to look like trees, and volcanoes didn’t have to look like volcanoes.

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That Art, like Emotions, like Life, is different for everyone. Some just choose to share their unique view through creative arts.

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The thrill of interpretation is the same thrill we take with each breath.  And that there’s always someone willing to share their breath — and view — with you.

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Dawn is a multi-talented spirit. She creates jewelry and pottery and custom-made art sculptures. You can find her art at https://dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com, and contemporary poems, art, and drawings at https://apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com/.

Stop by and learn a little bit of Abstract Art for yourself.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Nathan Sawaya

I remember when I was a kid, one of my favorite past times was building castles and mansions with Legos. Little black and white Legos.

 

death star

 

Amazing how those little blocks have changed the way the world looks.

 

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Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist who creates awe-inspiring works of art out LEGO building blocks. Sawaya’s ability to transform LEGO bricks into something new, and his devotion to scale and color, enables him to elevate an ordinary toy to the status of fine art.

 

red

 

Today Sawaya has more than 2.5 million colored bricks in his New York and Los Angeles art studios.

 

new york public library lions

 

He doesn’t use special space station sets or pirate boat sets that you buy off the shelf — just bricks.

 

Bedroom

 

His work is obsessively and painstakingly crafted and is both beautiful and playful. He is both inspired and an inspiration.

 

hawk

 

He makes me want to pull out buckets and buckets of red and white and blue squares, yellow four-pane windows, and little red doors.

 

heartfelt

 

He makes me want to pull out those buckets and sit down with my son and grandson and build towers and people and flowers and anything else my dreams desire.

 

pencil fun

 

You can find more of Nathan Sawaya’s wonderful creations at http://brickartist.com/.

You will be amazed.

 

Are You Plugged In?

plugOne sign of getting older is that I seem to notice things I’ve never noticed before. I don’t know if it’s just swishing around past my prime, or rather just starting out in my prime, but I smell things no one else smells, hear things no one else hears, and notice actors and actresses being recycled through the years from one movie to another.

I love escapism. I don’t get to watch TV or movies as often as I’d like, as work and writing and yelling at the dogs takes up a lot of my time. But I find I wonder “how do they do that?” more often than not. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I am amazed at special effects. My simple brain cannot wrap around the fact that city landscapes and alien spaceships and Roman cities are nothing more than 1’s and 0’s running through a computer. I can’t even begin to understand how they made the German’s face melt in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark; Transformers destroying the city (and each other); Inception, where people run on ceilings and curl cityscapes back on themselves. King Kong. Toy Story. Avatar. The list goes on.

Special effects, computer generated imagery. Galaxies and Mordor and everything inbetween. And none of it is real. Yet one can’t help but get sucked into those worlds as if we really stepped through the magic portal. Our minds quit trying to figure out what’s real and what’s fake and just get lost in someone else’s creativity.

Even more mind-blowing is that the same part of the anatomy that everyone has — even me — is where it all comes from. One’s mind. Which resides in one’s brain. Which we all have (but not all use…ah…a blog for another day).

So it is with any step into creativity. We have all gotten lost in a good book, holding our breath as we turn the pages. We have all looked at a painting or a sculpture and marveled at its simplicity or complexity. Some are able to take the next step in their creative career — go to school, get published, get a job at Industrial Light and Magic. Some turn their love of acting into dinner theater or Broadway, or their skill at playing a guitar or piano into symphony orchestras or rock bands.

So why is it, if we all have the same equipment, we don’t understand the same thing? Why is it so hard for some of us and a piece of cake to others? I can barely do basic Math, yet accountants and computer designers see numbers as easily as seeing the sun. Mankind creates the most amazing, breathtaking, impossible things — all with that one little tool in their skull.

The “whys” of why some people develop the gift and others don’t I will leave to philosophy and a glass of wine. The point is, we ALL have the ability to use that hunk of grey matter to open those magic portals. Some can’t wait for their free time to jump into their next creative project; others see creativity as a waste of time.

Maybe it’s just that the same plug that plugs into the outlet of special effects is on a wall of infinite outlets that lead to infinite destinations. Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw that one plug leads to quantum physics and one to insanity. One to painting and one to crayons. We are all plugged in to different outlets. We can’t change where we are plugged in, but we CAN choose to follow the path of electricity to outlet boxes scattered all over the universe.

Working with the material inside the brain box is a lot of work. Some just catch on faster than others. But when you find that junction box where creativity makes you feel good, you want to stay plugged in. Some may be taken back by the jolt that comes now and then from creative satisfaction, while others find it a natural high they want to come back to again and again.

I don’t know where all this deep philosophy came from this fine morning, but I do know one thing — don’t give up. Make time. Let yourself be. Let it flow. And know you can come back to this feeling any time.

Whew … and to think … I had this cosmic burst before I had my morning coffee!

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — It’s Okay to Have a Big Head

I can’t begin to tell you the wonderful things I find on my way to other things. Art, in its most banal form, is an expression of emotion. Primal emotion. We all have those deep, basic feelings — we all just find different ways to express them.

Gao Zehn and Gao Qiang

You may say that some just have a “head” for creativity.

City Gardens, St. Louis

What makes artists want to create things larger than life?

Onaway, Michgan

Is it a chance to look into the eyes of God?

Wonderland, Calgary, Canada

Or is it merely a chance to challenge space? To see what our vision looks like fifty feet high?

kelpies-1

No matter what the artist’s vision, grand is grand. Ambition has no limits. No dream is ever too small, ever to big.

Changsha, China

Nothing is more impressive than wearing proudly a head that is too big for your shoulders. For only then do you glimpse the world on the other side of the rainbow.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — For Use/Numen

Art comes in many forms. Sometimes technology walks hand-in-hand with mediums, transforming simple space into something wild and crazy — and creative.

tape image 1

A wonderfully imaginative design collective called For Use/Numen uses nothing but packing tape to create huge, self-supporting cocoons that visitors can climb inside and explore.

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I have a hard enough time wrapping a package with packing tape. But wrapping an entire interior? Poles and beams and ceilings?

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What is beautiful about these concepts is that each of these tape creations started as a thought, an idea. Ideas that grew from an inkling into a full-fledged piece of art.

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Your creativity can blossom into magic like this too. Never be afraid to take your idea to the next level. And the next. For this is just one version of what I love to call Unusual Art.

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More from the world of  For Use/Numen can be found around the Internet such as their own website, http://www.numen.euhttp://www.fastcompany.com/1656197/designers-spin-spidey-worthy-webs-packing-tape , or at inspirational art sites as http://www.teachart.org/.

tape 6

Just make sure your tape is sticky-side down.

Creative Cooking Lessons

mcI am happy to say that the elections are finally over. Ballots have been cast, candidates have been turned into winners or losers, and life goes on. There was a lot of nastiness on television these last few days; a lot of sour grapes both before and after the polls closed. I know that politics is a serious world, but I think that candidates and pundits alike could take a cue or two from some of the most serious — and competitive — people on the planet.

The kids on Master Chef Junior.

Some of the kids are as young as 8 and have to stand on a stool to cook. Some are 12 and tall and lanky and move around gracefully. Some are articulate, others talk just like an 8-year-old. They are chubby and tiny and skinny and of all nationalities. They come with glasses and pigtails and braces. Yet they are alive and excited and they love what they do.

Now I know you say that’s TV and those kids are little prodigies and they don’t have to deal with unemployment and underfunded schools and brow-beating bosses. And you are right. But that doesn’t mean that the pressure isn’t on in their little world. They are competing for a lot of money and a lot of publicity and, of course, bragging rights. They are competing on a stage that they’ve been on for only a few years (after all — how many years can a 10-year-old have been cooking?) and are cooking things without a printed, written recipe.  They are digging into their little brains and coming up with things like chicken liver pate on a crostini, Brûlée pears, chicken wings with a Vietnamese marinade, Yuzu salad, and Chicken Parmesan.

But you know what else they do? They high-five each other. They congratulate each other. They share their ingredients and hug each other when they fail. They say things like, “I kinda feel bad for Isabella; she’s really nice, and no one wants to see her cry.” They aren’t there to hang each other out to dry; they aren’t out to sabotage or fight or scream at each other. I’m not saying they’re not competitive; it’s just that there’s not a bad attitude in the bunch. Their downers disappear in the freshness of their attitude. They are an inspiration to the curmudgeons among us.

There’s a lot of apathy in the world these days. A lot of frustration and impatience and intolerance. A lot of people hate their jobs, their family, their situations. They are fed up with the leaders and the followers, the policies and the politics. Lest you think I point a finger at you, I, too, am guilty of the “hate” rap at times. My patience is thin, my understanding of the world, thinner. Everyone around me has an attitude; often ~I~ have an attitude.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I have no idea what the lives of the competing chefs are like. I have no idea about their living conditions, their families, or their pressures. What I do see is an attitude of lightness. Of being in the now, working towards tomorrow, and having fun doing it. These kids blend their innocence with their love of cooking and food, making them the competition of the future. These are the kids that will make our work place a better place. Kids who will find enjoyment in the stress of a world they love. They will have hard times ahead of them, but they’re starting life out on the right foot. The foot of fun. The foot of creativity.

We so have to dump this defeatist attitude, this “I hate the Republicans/Democrats” mentality. It’s time to get over whatever it is that bugs us. If something in your life doesn’t “do it” for you, find something fun to do that does “do it.” Don’t let those bad feelings about the way of the world fester into something that, left unchecked, turns into a disease you can’t escape. Trust me. It’s just not worth it.

One of the kids from MCJ said it best:  “My dad’s favorite saying is:  Number one rule: always have fun.”

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — M.C. Escher

When you think of M.C. Escher, what do you think of?

I think of college dorm rooms with Escher posters on the wall, symbols of pop culture, statutes of intricate confusion and (no doubt) sources of psychedelic contemplation. They were the kind of images you were supposed to look at and see if the fish move or if the stairs go anywhere. And if you stared long enough, your whole world tilted sideways.

 

 

LW399-MC-Escher-Convex-and-Concave-19551

 

As an adult I have revisited his world of lithographs and woodcuts and wood engravings, and have discovered a delightful new way to look at the world.

 

LW389-MC-Escher-Relativity-19531

 

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. During his lifetime, he made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. These feature impossible possibilities, explorations of infinity, and the magic of mathematics.

 

 

LW268-MC-Escher-Hand-with-Reflecting-Sphere-1935

 

 

Art like this is done every day by those familiar with computer graphics. But the curved perspectives, the stairs to infinity, the play of light and dark, were sketched at the turn of the century. Which, to me, makes it even more fascinating.

 

LW348-MC-Escher-Other-World-1947

 

When you stop and look — really look — at the thought and planning that went into the impossibilities in Escher’s work, it makes you appreciate his work even more.  Where do those stairs really go? Which angle am I supposed to be identifying with? Is it a fish or is it a bird?

LW306-MC-Escher-Sky-and-Water-I-1938

 

Minds like Escher’s work in the fourth dimension. It’s as if they look down at the world from a strange angle and record what they see.

 

 

LW441-MC-Escher-Moebius-Strip-II-1963

 

Take some time and visit Escher’s official website, http://www.mcescher.com.  You will find yourself wandering through gallery after gallery, wondering how a human mind could be so creative yet so spiral. Take a few moments and just look at the artwork — you will be enchanted by his point of view, and lost in his sketches.

 

LW344-MC-Escher-Eye-1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Luke Jerram

Glass is exquisite in its delicate beauty. A crystal vase, a hand-blown wine glass, a stained-glass window, all stir the pot of reactions that make the word “sparkle” sparkle. Working with glass is an incredible art. It is so delicate, so refined, a true art of mind over matter.

So what if glass represents a disease? Is it still “sparkling” and “refined”?

 

ecoli

 E. coli

There is beauty in the micro world as well. Artist  Luke Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe.

salmonella_lukejerram

Salmonella

One of his highlights, Glass Microbiology, is a body of glass work that puts a crystal spin on some of the most deadly viruses.

Swineflu (oval)

 Swine Flu

According to his website, ” By extracting the colour from the imagery and creating jewel-like beautiful sculptures in glass, a complex tension has arisen between the artworks’ beauty and what they represent.”

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Find time and wander over to Luke’s website:  www.lukejerram.com/glass . You will find it hard to believe that such horrible diseases could look so lovely.

ebola

Ebola

Something New!

The older I get (I never get tired of saying that!), the more I am taking time to discover corners of the world that I’ve never seen before. Now, that statement is all encompassing, all omnipotent. Yet for me, it’s very simple. I can only explore one line of extraordinary at a time. There is fantastic scenery, scrumptious foods, unusual land formations and mystical forms to be discovered.

For me, it is Unique Art.

What does that mean?

There are thousands of fantastic images floating around the Internet. Blogs and websites dedicated to all branches of the hallowed world of sculpture, photography, painting, sketching. I couldn’t possibly visit, showcase, and recommend all the beauty that exists outside my middle-aged sphere.

So I have decided that once a week I will showcase creativity that stands outside of reality. Outside the every day. Now, everything can fit into those parameters. So I hope to show you images you’ve never seen or imagined or saw somewhere on Facebook and let pass. Some will have links to websites; others will just be visions that have passed my way. I will honor the sites I borrow the visions from, and I do hope you take a few minutes to visit their homeworld.

If you’ve come across any unique worlds, let me know. Let’s make our next 20 years as out-of-the-box as we can make it!

And if any of my wanders tickle your fancy, let me know that, too. For I’d love to have company along the way….

A Way With Words

Glass Textures 067Like many or most of you, I love the written word. When used correctly, words can expand three times their height and width as they push their way into your thoughts and heart. Of course, we all like different words. That’s the beauty of freedom — we can nod at one and shake our head at another, yet appreciate both.

One of the blogs I follow is written by a very creative and talented writer and visual artist. I was struck by her imagery and imagination. I just love the images that pop with each turn. Unfortunately, this creativeness was brought about by a migraine, not the sort of writing prop we look for. While I wish her swift healing and relief from what can be a debilitating episode, I asked (and was granted) permission to share her creativity. It’s a little over 1,300 words, but I think you will appreciate them all.

If you enjoy what you read, pop on over and check out her website: Inner Focus (www.katmphotography.wordpress.com).  It’s a wonderful combination of poetry and art.

 

Delirium

a new fever has me in its clutches… i can feel her long, bony, icy fingers twist my spine and contort my brain… i need paracetamol… i need a glass of water… i need to sleep…

but sleep won’t come easy…

paracetamol… a glass of water… bed.

i climb into bed… i am shaking… my hands are tingling… am i hungry..? am i over-tired..? i feel exhausted… i feel sick… nausea rushes at me like a jealous mistress… my head feels twice the size it should be… my forehead is hot… my feet are cold… i am shaking… i swallow the pills and wash them down with a long drink of water.

i climb into bed… the pillow feels cool beneath my heavy skull… i close my eyes and then it starts… i must ride this out until it breaks…

micro flashing neon lights spark inside my minds eye, igniting visions… visions… murky, but i look deeper… deeper into the grain and chaos… i see a face… a man’s face… it is Stalin… he is standing outside an old house… a house on a wild beach… a house with a red door… suddenly, he vomits all over himself… then dissolves into a puddle on the ground… i look out to sea… but the sea is not a sea… it is a vast expanse of rippling silken fabric, billowing in the breeze… i look up to the sky… a pterodactyl swoops in low over the water towards me… i duck for cover and close my eyes tight, anticipating being snatched up by the giant predatory bird… nothing… the wind has picked up the pace and snatches my breath… i gasp and open my eyes… i find myself atop one of the steel eagles that grace the lofty Chrysler Building in NYC… i am terrified… the wind is strong… my hair whips my face… i am too scared to look down… but i do… and now my palms are wet, sweating… i cannot hold on, i lose my grip… but wait! i am typing… i am sat at a desk, in the middle of a forest, and i am typing… typing incoherent words on a sheet of stiff, white paper… The typewriter is old and battered and clunky… a pale blue Olivetti electric typewriter… my curious eyes follow the flex… it is plugged into a giant snail… the sound of my fingers tapping the keys rattles my brain… the words make no sense… the words make me shiver… i open a cupboard… an old farmhouse style larder- just like the one my Aunt Mary had at Fullerton Farm… i open the door and find hundreds of tins of Baked Beans… i close the door… but the door is a mirror now… i stare at my own reflection… i smile to her, but she does not smile back… she is naked… pale, gaunt… two headless horses appear behind me… one black as night, The other white as snow… the white one speaks to me in a language i cannot comprehend… but we start to dance… the floor beneath me turns to silver sand… the sun is beating down on me… i pull the quilt around me and nestle into the comfort and familiarity of my bed, despite the madness of these visions… visions i have no control over… i cannot make them stop… they come, in a flood… my mind is a fairground… i look at my hands… six fingers on each hand… i cut off the tips of my fingers with a large pair of shears… they are bleeding… i put on a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and go outside into the night… there are two moons in the sky… both are full and resplendent… the night is cool… i am alone… i look to my left and the buildings start to crumble and fall… an apple falls from the sky and rolls towards me, stopping at my feet… It speaks to me… beckoning me to take bite… i pick up the lilac apple and bite into its soft, juicy flesh… it tastes salty… so i throw it away… it explodes on impact… in the distance, i hear a child’s voice… it is my lover’a son… he appears out of nowhere, wearing a flappy bird t-shirt and red jeans… he is barefoot, as i am… he takes my hand and tells me to follow him… i do… suddenly, i find myself, alone, inside a computer… i look at my hands… i am made of pixels… i peer through the screen and see a morbidly obese man, sitting on his sofa with a boxful of donuts… he is playing a computer game… he is controlling me and my movements… he is controlling the CGI world i now find myself locked in… i like it here, but i cannot stay… i call out for my lover’a son… but he is gone… he has left me a note… it reads “gone fishing, be home Tuesday!”… i smell coffee… i look down and find myself in a bathtub full of warm, steaming coffee… it stains my skin… my lover appears… he dries my wet skin with a cloud, gently patting it dry… he lovingly combs my wet hair and strokes my face… we kiss… and float out the wind into space… we swim through the stratosphere and look back at Earth… it looks radiant and blue… i take a bite… it tastes like battery acid… the shock cuts my tongue and i spit out blood and a chunk of France… “it never used to taste like this…” says my lover, his eyes filled with tears… he spits a mouthful of India out into the blue stratospheric air… he fades into the night… “soon…” he says, blowing kisses as he dissolves into the ether… i find myself in a deep, Belfast sink… the cold tap is turned on and the sink is filling up with tiny sea horses and goldfish… they sparkle and shimmer and swim around me… but i need to urinate… i open my eyes, climb out of bed and make my way to the bathroom across the hall… my legs are shaking… i feel weak… perhaps sleep will come soon… i hope for a dreamless sleep… but instead, i find myself in a field full of rabbits… hundreds and thousands of rabbits… rabbits of all different colours… the pink ones are my favourites… odd… i hate the colour pink… but they are the friendliest… i reach up to the sky and reel in the sun… i hold it in my hands… it burns, but only momentarily… my cold hands chill its fire and it turns from burning amber to brittle blue… the sun shatters in my hands… i am left holding fragments of turquoise glass… i throw the shards up into the air… they tinkle and twinkle against the sky, like dying light… The tranquility of their peaceful chimes turns into an ugly chaos as the fragments of harmless light turn into bullets… they rain down all around me… everything has turned to dust… children lie dead around me… women scream… another bomb goes off… the ground shakes, like the thunder of the apocalypse… there is no colour… everything is grey… the course of death… i hear the wail of an electric guitar… someone, somewhere is playing a guitar… it wails, like a wounded animal… i cover my ears and crouch down, holding myself… crying… i open my eyes and see a young deer, chewing a leafy twig, at the foot of my sweating bed…

the pillow is damp… i turn it over and, with trembling hands, i gulp down a glass of cold, clean water… i close my eyes… please let me sleep… a dreamless sleep… please… these rapid fire flashbacks of former trips inside my minds eye and visions of my subconscious’ innermost thoughts and fears, as surreal as they are, are raping my brain… i am exhausted… i want calm… i want to feel well again… i look at the time… three hours have passed… i have been away for three hours…

i take two more pills, and water… and close my eyes…

but wait! my feet are covered in sand…

 

 

Creative Face Offs

They sculpt! They mold! They paint! They foam! And they are amazing!

I’m always a television season or six behind the rest of the world, but when I do catch up I find the wildest, greatest stuff. Only last week I recorded the latest season (Season 6) of Face Off. It’s a wonderful little show on SciFi TV that showcases another one of the “Arts”.

According to the IMDB, Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination which allows them to create amazing works of living art.

Now, I’ve been a fan of  shows that highlight personal creativity for years. Take cooking shows. The Iron Chef Japan was one of my earliest introductions into the exquisite beauty of food. Food as Art, as they say. Today’s contestants on Iron Chef America, Master Chef, and even Chopped, create these masterpieces that leave your jaw extended and your mouth open like a bass. I always find myself saying, “Oh…I could do that…couldn’t I?” Or “What didn’t I think of that?” Knowing darn well that I’d need a Master Kitchen, unlimited budget, a plethora of cookbooks and magazines, and a budget the size of a Presidential Dinner just to be clever on the plate.

Face Off is the “Master Chef” of sculpturing, molding, and painting. These contestants do things I only dream of. Each week they are assigned a different “creation”: dragons, wizards, robots. They have to come up with their own design, then use a warehouse full of props, materials, and models to create pieces that would easily fit in any blockbuster movie.

faceoff 1The most amazing part of this show – aside from the raw talent and imagination – is that these are (to my way of living) KIDS! They are 24. 26. 31. There was an oldie at 41. I can hardly remember what I was DOING at 27 – getting married, I think – but it certainly wasn’t creating magic like this, that’s for sure. They have cherry-colored hair and sticky up hair and mustaches and yellow Mohawks. They look like the guy next door or the girl from Planet 9. But they all share the love of creativity, something that runs through all of us.

I am just in awe of anyone who has such phenomenal talent to be able to create something from nothing but their imagination. I happen to be a proponent of writing, but there are so many other artistic expressions out there that I am often in that jaw dropping/bass-mouthed state of being.

I encourage you to constantly take a fresh look at the world around you. There are so many beautiful self expressions out there — in words, in sculpture, in jewelry.  Encourage everyone who has even an inkling to be artistic to do so. Whether it’s your grandbaby, your girlfriend, or your grandfather. Get them out there and get them to embrace their artsyness.face off 1

You will find it’s a rewarding feeling on both sides. And who knows what magic will blossom along the way?

 

 

all images courtesy of Face Off and the SciFi Channel

Art Thou Curious?

thWhen I think of museums, I think of antiquities. Old, musty books. Relics from the Renaissance. Crystal serving pieces from the Russian Dynasty. I am not a Modernist. Or a Futurist. But I have recently discovered that I am a Fascinationist. And what a delight! Through the magic of one of my favorite bloggers, Hugmamma’s MIND, BODY and SOUL, (http://hugmamma.com), and a newly followed blog, Sandra at Third Person Travel (http://thirdpersontravel.com) , my senses were awakened by images of art and buildings that just blew my mind.

The museum was the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (http://www.guggenheim-bilbao.es), which, in all closed-mindedness, I’d never heard of. The image that caught my fancy is called “Maman”, by  Louise Bourgeois, who, according to Guggenheim, “created a rich and ever-changing body of work that intersected with some of the leading avant-garde movements of the 20th century.” To an armchair museumist, that doesn’t ring home. Ring a bell. Ring a doorbell. But how cool is this?

Bourgeois-281x197

You don’t have to be a modern art aficionado to be able to appreciate a bronze, marble, and stainless steel sculpture.

Or how about Tall Tree & The Eye by Anish Kapoor?

Kapoor-A-357x500 (1)

 

The Gug says, “This illusionistic work continues the artist’s examination of complex mathematical and structural principles embodied in sculptural form. The mirrored surfaces of the orbs reflect and refract one another, simultaneously creating and dissolving form and space.”

That’s a lot of four-dimensional words for a wonderful stainless steel and carbon steel sculpture of shiny balls.

I am an over-the-top advocate of teaching old dogs new tricks. You don’t always have to understand something to appreciate it. To enjoy it. To experience it. I never had sushi till I was 50. Who would have thought? Who would have thought that squeamish me would look forward to watching The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones — bloody, flashy TV shows?

Sometimes your introduction to something new is through your kids. I know my TV voyeurism came from my college son. I just tried quinoa for the first time two weeks ago. That was recommended by my best friend. There are as many types and tastes in food, art, books, and movies as there are fish in the sea. Almost. Why not open your mind to some of them?

I have to admit I would not have wandered to the Guggenheim Museum in Spain had I not spotted that unusual sculpture on another blog. Through other blogs I have seen the most amazing pictures, poetry, and points-of-view. Opportunities I never had when I was younger because we didn’t have the Internet when I was younger. We could be voyeurs by reading books and magazines and taking classes.

But now…

Now the world is open to all of us. We don’t have to age mentally, artistically, or metaphysically. Give something new a chance. You don’t have to live with giant metal spiders in your back yard, but appreciating the creativity that went into something like that takes little effort at all.

I have to admit I don’t get modern paintings that are all one color with a different color circle in the corner, or a plate with a piece of kale and a silver dollar-sized scallop and one drizzle of green that’s called dinner. But then again, not everyone finds fantasy fiction interesting (which is what I write).  There is something out there for everyone. Something new. Every day.

I encourage you to check out the Guggenheim (there is one in Spain, Venice, Abu Dhabi, and New York). Since this blog is about art, why not check out a local art fair?  They’re at  local colleges and in the park and even in the mall. Look at the world through someone else’s eyes.  And, of course, a day trip to a museum would be frosting on the carrot cake of life. Squeeze one into your summer.

It will add years to your soul life. And couldn’t we all use a few more?

 

 

Get the Growth Going!

thCA2UU93SToday is the day.

Whatever February 18th is, this is the day.

On my way to work, the translucent, waxing gibbous moon winked at me.

I checked my horoscope. Scopes. (1) Move forward with confidence; there is support behind you. (2) No creative projects today. Might have mental blocks. Put projects aside for later when you have clear mind. (3) Take control of things that might slow you down. Learn about yourself. Understand those around you.  I figure if I throw all three in a bowl and stir, a positive, move forward message will float to the top.

I checked my online one-card tarot. Knight of Wands. Essence of fire. Filled with passion for life. Absolute sincerity. Daring. Sexy. Exciting. Boundless creativity.  I’ll take that one. My phone tarot slipped me a different card. Nine of Wands. Wisdom and strength through experience. Learn through personal experience. Well, after what I’ve been through the past through years, this could just as well been the Piece of Cakes.

My Chinese horoscope. The Dragon. I may be experiencing an unusual wave of doubt or confusion today. It could be hard to make a choice between multiple options today. Well, no worry. I don’t have multiple choices today. One choice. One direction.

Time to water and fertilize that creativity seed that I planted in my head somewhere last fall. I can tell you, there hasn’t been much growth this winter. Death, unemployment, sick cats and bad weather have put a hold on my energy and my creative spirit. But no more. Water that puppy and get it barking!  I can’t sit around and wait until Spring to correct this or add to that. Life is flying by as it is. And my calendar is filling up.

I wrote a blog at Retirement and Good Living called Planning Ahead (http://retirementandgoodliving.com/planning-ahead/). It’s all about writing things down ahead of time. Your life is zooming past the way it is; it doesn’t hurt to plan some things ahead and write them down on a calendar.  Now, I don’t necessarily write my writing goals on a calendar. But I belong to an email list that gives me oddles of contests that I can enter, and another one that tells me about places that pay for writing. So it might help if I schedule some of those cash cows on my calendar, too.

The e-mail address addy for contests (free and fee) is crwropps-b-subscribe@yahoogroups.com .

The little-more-professional outlets for writing comes from Freedom With Writing http://www.freedomwithwriting.com .

So the planets are in alignment and for better or worse my horoscopes are in alignment too. (I’ll just jam them into line). I am ready to start reaping what I’ve sown in my head.

Better that than the nonsense that grows there already.

Digging Around

dachshund-digging-5449136_sDigging around for some of my blasts from the past? Dig no more!  Here are a few fun ones you might have missed…

 

 

 

 

doll Chatty Cathy  Chit Chattin’ Chatty Cathy

https://humoringthegoddess.com/012/06/06/chit-chattin-chatty-cathy/

I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

 

pig_toy_pigletBuh Buh  Buh Blues

 https://humoringthegoddess.com/2012/02/15/the-buh-buh-buh-blues/

(Base guitar)

da da da thump…

Don’t wanna write ‘cuz there’s no light…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna sing or work on my bling…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna jog in my new tennis shoes…

(Loud and bluesy)

Don’t wanna do nuthin’ cuz I got the blues….

I’ve got the (loud) no-sunshine, no-energy, don’t give a whack ‘bout nuthin’ wintery bluuuueeesss..

.

4 Feng Shui Inside the Cubicle 1  Feng Shui in the Cubicle

https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/05/04/feng-shui-in-the-cubicle/

One day I was sitting at my desk at work, green computer screen glowing, honky-tonk music spurting out from a speaker not far above my head, trying to concentrate on a long list of numbers that needed to be entered into the computer, glancing at pages waiting to be proofread and images to be downloaded, when a word drifted across my consciousness – Feng Shui.

38 Dinner with the Queen   Dinner With the Queen

https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/06/22/dinner-with-the-queen/

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life?  Just for a day?

51 On Base of Bony Orbit  On Base of Bony Orbit

https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/11/08/on-base-of-bony-orbit/

When not being busy as a Goddess Gypsy Irish/Polish Writing Queen (I’m not really sure what that is…), I also spend 40 hours a week working on catalogs. I enter data, order images and copy, and proofread everything from the original description to the final glossy prepress page. One of my catalogs is dedicated to health care. Besides pages being filled with replicas of every body part (inside or outside) you can imagine, I also come across some extraordinary vocabulary.

 

41 Merlot at the Lake HouseMerlot at the Lake House

Quick. Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time again. Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?

`

The Muse Goes Camping

Last weekend I tried to escape by myself to get a couple of days worth of ME into the cosmos, doing nothing but writing, sleeping, and downing an occasional bottle of Reisling.  Alas, my grandbaby (who is two) and my daughter-in-law wanted to get away too. So how can you say no to that?

This weekend I am going camping with extended family (which includes the aforementioned daughter-in-law and GB) — three days of isolation up in Door County somewhere. Since there were plenty of extended family members to entertain said GB (and knowing my daughter-in-law could use a break), I thought I’d outline a sequel to the novel I finished a while ago. Now I find out there is no electricity. Hmmm. No electricity = no computer.

So I have to put my creative muse to the side — AGAIN.  Here I am in my blogs, encouraging everyone to get in touch with their muse and get into whatever creative endeavor sings to them, yet I find myself putting my creativity to the side in order to have more exposure to something else I love more.

Now there is love, and there is love. When you love your kids, you love them all 150%, no matter if they have green hair or ACT scores along side of Einstein.  We love our dogs, our cats, and occasionally the rest of our family. We love music, movie stars, and chocolate, although those loves are tinted by the recipient’s inability to directly respond back to us. But what happens when you find an activity, an expression of your true self, that you really enjoy doing. but you don’t have time enough to prove that love?

I hate always being an armchair lover. I would “love” to go to Ireland or Italy,  I’d “love” to learn how to cook a souffle, I’d “love” to ride a scooter to and from work, or Ride the Wild Surf at Ventura Beach.  But the odds of any of those “loves” are as good as getting struck by lightning (which is at least better than winning the lottery).  So I learn to channel my out-of-the-box loves into forms that I can handle in small bunches.  Classical music (Schumann, Mozart), rock and roll (Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd), television (Closer and House reruns), taken in small batches, often scratch the itch from the creative mosquito. Something is better than nothing, they say. And it’s true.

Better to get one bite of rich, dark chocolate, than never know what it tastes like at all.  Better to get one quilt patch done rather than still be waiting to buy the material. We don’t have to be a quantity-driven society; in most situations quality is just as important (if not more so). So I can’t spend a week or two with aforementioned GB — ten minutes of him laughing and saying “gamma” fills me during my lonely times. Walking around a city block isn’t the same escape as walking through the woods, but grass is grass and air is air, and just being out in Mother Nature does wonders for your psyche. You all have little experiences you wish you could turn into bigger ones…just jump on the little ones and forget about the bigger ones. You’ll be surprised how much satisfaction you get from them, too.

Don’t let your inability to have it “your way” stop you from getting it any way you can. Just when your schedule can’t get any more screwed up, a patch of blue opens before you, allowing you a chance to connect with your creativity.  Don’t be afraid to work around it, with it. Let the tease remind you of why you love your hobby in the first place. You’ll eventually find time. They also say wherever there’s a will there’s a way. That’s true, too.

So now when I go camping this weekend I’ll be prepared. Guess I’ll have to create the old fashioned way —  with a pen and a spiral notebook and a flashlight.

I just have to be careful not to get the grand baby’s smores on my  paper.

What Is Role-Playing and Can I Do It By Myself?

I am a latent visitor to the world of the Internet, a late bloomer in the cosmos of websites, chat rooms and Amazon dot com.  In a world where five-year-olds surf the Net and download information, I didn’t stumble upon the magic of instant gratification until my mid-40s.  Suddenly I went from frumpy bed and breakfast owner to info surfing mama.  I mean, can you imagine talking in real time to people in Australia or England or Japan?  Can you imagine finding answers to everything you ever wanted to know but had no idea where to look? The Internet became a fountain of information — and a cauldron of trouble.

There were a number of downsides to instant gratification and the collection of useless information on my way to insight and intelligence. I spent too many hours chatting and too little time cleaning rooms and answering phones.  I wasted too many hours surfing medieval and dragon sites and far too little time at Web MD or Dictionary dot com. Eventually all the websites looked the same and all the chat rooms buzzed with the same, repetitive drone.  I had worn out my welcome, or rather the Internet did. But one of the positive things to come from my aimless wanderings was role-playing.

What is role-playing, you may ask?  According to Wikipedia, role players “adopt and act out the role of characters (real or fantasy), or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own.”  In all reality, that sounded at first like something a lot of us do every day. But back to point: from role-playing came a reigniting of a passion I had long forgotten about — writing.

Not that I didn’t write before, but putting pen to paper was never on my list of top ten things to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I had kept a diary years — and I mean years — ago.  There were a few short stories written in my junior high years (mostly about me and the Beatles), a few high school and college required papers (dare I ever share the story about the alien who landed in the marijuana field?), but nothing more.  With the advent of working in downtown Chicago and getting married and having two kids and a large network of crazy family members, there never seemed to be enough time to write anything but grocery lists or Christmas cards.

Through the initial excitement of wandering through Internet worlds, I stumbled upon chat rooms where people typed to each other as if they were face-to-face.  Interesting.  I didn’t have to fess up that I was a 40-ish year old housewife/innkeeper; I didn’t have to admit I was 20 pounds overweight or that I just finished scrubbing the toilet. All I needed to do was make up a name and race and I belonged.  Can you imagine the doors that opened for a writing goddess like me?  Role-playing was like a video game with instant feedback.   I could write my own dialogue, fight with swordsmen, disappear or have flames shoot from my fingertips, all with a sentence or two.  I could make up galaxies I’d visited or space captains I’d met or dragon lairs I visited and everyone would nod and react in their own character’s way. For someone who was already starting mid-life in a whirling dervish, this was just the outlet I needed.  It was so much fun making up characters and histories and names like Tulip Stormbringer or Lieutenant Ru.

Of course, it wasn’t all creative fun. Story lines didn’t always go where you wanted, people blabbered out-of-character about nonsense, and I spent more time looking for interaction than finding it. Not to mention the fact that you often left your family (and your life) on the back burner. Not smart.

Although that time was brief and scattered, I learned a lot about who I was and who I wanted to be.  The English language called me back home, and my naturally wandering Sagittarius nature encouraged me to step out of the box and write about a myriad of things. In those make-believe worlds I learned that age and sex and size and career didn’t matter. 

Most of us tend to hide behind our preconceived notions of self.  We limit ourselves by our own skewered judgment of what we think the world thinks we should be.  Like any other creative outlet, it was the discovery of a fourth dimension that brought delight and growth to my life.  The first three dimensions, (length, width and height), tumble into parameters conceived by physics and mathematics. What I call the fourth dimension is an enlightened plane of experience.  It can be found in any activity that requires creativity: building, dressmaking, crocheting, reading, or gardening.  The end product is independent of us — it takes on a life of its own as it is being created.

So it was with my flirtation with role-playing. It was no substitute for getting together in person with friends or taking a class or meeting with the local library group. But unlocking those doors brought in a flood of new experiences to both my mind and soul. And I can tell you today that you don’t have to be a role-player to find that power within your very genes.  You can find that personality explosion within yourself.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, or bring your old love out of the dusty past.  Give your passion — and yourself — a chance. You will find that you are not as off-target as you think you are.

Just remember to take your wings off before you get into the car.  They can help you fly, but they can also get hooked on the seatbelt, preventing you from flying to Atlantis and attending Michelangelo’s next art show with Obiwan Kenobi.

Just imagine how sad that would be.

Happy Anniversary, Humoring the Goddess!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO MEEEEE!!!

Yes, I’ve been blogging and blabbing and sharing the magic and madness of middle age for an entire year now, and it’s been great. I hope you have taken some of my magic and turned it into your own. You are all powerful — you are magical, crazy, lovable friends, and I wish you all the best in the coming years.

My blogging contest has come to an end; I thank you all for your thoughts and your entries. I will announce the winner next post.  In the meantime, enjoy the story that started it all…

MY MUSE IS AN IRISH WENCH

Everyone has a Muse in their life — a spirit guide, an angel, who nudges them forward; an invisible energy who inspires us to be something more than a slug on the couch watching TV or a potato chip-eating machine.  I have one friend who insists his guardian angel travels with him wherever he goes; I have another who contacts one spirit guide for meditation and a different one for balancing her checkbook.  I know one woman who never leaves home without St. Christopher, and a fellow writer who swears he consults Shakespeare’s ghost every time he gets stuck writing his novel.

St. Christopher and Shakespeare are fine and dandy, but what do you do if your creative muse is an Irish Wench?  The stories of leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day are bad enough, with their drunken rowdiness and stealing of gold for their pot at the end of the rainbow and all that.  But what if your Muse turned out to be a woman with a heart as green as the Emerald Isle who hangs around with those drunken leprechauns?

A Muse is supposed to be your inspiration, your guide, through whatever creative endeavor you undertake.  Venus inspired Michelangelo; Cleopatra inspired Marc Anthony, Athena inspired Odysseus. The original Muses were daughters of Zeus, who presided over the arts and sciences. It just so happens that my inspiration is a fiery Irish barmaid is named Fiona who comes complete with cleavage and clover.  She pops up at the most inopportune times, standing and dancing on my shoulder or steering wheel or computer, rattling off in thick Gaelic who knows what, hoping to jumpstart my creativity.  Dressed in her flowing gauze dress with the girdle that pushes up her breasts in the most obnoxious manner, my little sprite demands attention right then and there.  And I’d better stop and acknowledge her, or she will turn everything upside down.

For instance, one of my favorite short stories popped into my head while I was at work.  The push to get this written came across loud and clear – write me now Couldn’t my Muse have at least waited until lunchtime to rattle off her idea?  I tried to stall my creativity until noon, but it only got worse.  I’m sure some of my creative metaphors got mixed up in whatever I was typing.  Or how about the time that one of my book’s most romantic interludes hit me right in the middle of my son’s soccer game? It was pretty hard to make mental notes when I was screaming encouragements to his high school team.   And what about the poem that hit me driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour?  Or the full-blown idea of a murder mystery that hit me while  I was mowing the lawn?

I am all for inspiration.  Sunsets are wonderful inducements to creative arts, as are walks through the woods or lying on a sunny beach.  Classical music or mellow jazz or even mind-numbing hair band rock can fine-tune one’s creative edge as they sew, paint, crochet or design.  The sight of children at play or two seniors holding hands can unfurl pages of creative prose and poetry.  But how can you write or draw or knit or paint with a foot stomping, sing-along Irish wench dancing on your shoulder?  How can you sit still and concentrate when her Celtic jigs blast through every thread of your body, forcing you to bob your head along with the tempo or sing along with the oh-so-familiar lyrics at the top of your lungs?

Don’t get me wrong – my little wench has brought me much pleasure through the years.  She has encouraged me to write some really intense interactions and deeply emotional poetry. Her Wild Irish Rose attitude inspires me to write out of the box, to reach deep inside for feelings and fears that normally don’t see the light of day, and to let those feelings influence my writing.  She tosses out ideas for short stories or chapters when I am stuck; she helps me smooth through the rough patches of dialogue when they don’t make sense.  She encourages me to do research about places and history and mechanics, refusing to let me slide along with made-up assumptions.

But I have to admit her timing needs a little work.  Driving a car or typing numbers in a computer is not the most opportune time to become inspired.  Nor is when I mow the lawn (a true instance of inspired genius, I must admit). I can’t be pulling over to the side of the road every other block or flipping the light on in the middle of the night just because she throws an idea towards me that I cannot resist.  I do appreciate her help ― I really do.  But I have to teach her to work on her impulsiveness.  There is a time and place for everything ― even inspiration.  Great ideas often have to ferment in one’s psyche before they become full blown masterpieces.  And there’s no doubt that you have your own muse dying to catch your attention.  All you need to do is listen.

Now, if she could serve me one of those Irish brews as often as she jumped on my bandwagon…on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea.  If she served me beer as often as she demands attention, I’d be drunk before I started.

The Writer in You

I hope your minds are trying to take a break from your madness — at least long enough to enter my contest.  In case you need a refresher moment:

The contest is simple: write me a blog. You know me, you know my style. Life is wonderful, scary, crazy, monotonous and a hundred other verbs. But there is something to be learned from everything we do. Share one of your magical moments of madness.  Keep the entry around  900-1,000 words (I figure readers don’t have all day to read my ramblings).

The prize:  First place will be publishing your blog on my blog. I may not have a million readers, but the half-million that peruse these halls (ha!) will be able to taste a little of your desert as well.  And wouldn’t it be great to see your name in print? Then you can call your grandma and your brother-in-law and tell them you-are-published! The winner will also receive a brand-new, never-been-opened, cookbook from the Southern Gateways Bed and Breakfast Association called “Beyond Breakfast” (from the days when I was a bed and breakfast owner. That’s a blog or two all of its own…) It may be from 1998, but hey — you can never have enough cook books!

Second prize will be a trio of beautiful note cards.  Writing is a lost art – these will enable you to send someone a note the OLD FASHIONED WAY.

Send your entries to:   humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com 

Entry deadline is April 16th

It would delight me to no end if you’d give it a whirl!  Come On!  Yooouuuu  Can Dooooo Eeeet!

The Buh Buh Buh Blues

(Base guitar)

 da da da thump…

Don’t wanna write ‘cuz there’s no light…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna sing or work on my bling…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna jog in my new tennis shoes…

(Loud and bluesy)

Don’t wanna do nuthin’ cuz I got the blues….

I’ve got the (loud) no-sunshine, no-energy, don’t give a whack ‘bout nuthin’ wintery bluuuueeesss…

 Been wanting to write more blogs, network with other writers, send off my two novels to agents and publishers, work on a second draft of my third novel, organize the files in my laptop, download music for I-Tunes, enter a few contests, and teach myself Pre- Pre-Basic Photoshop. And that’s just my literary aspirations. I also want to make some jewelry, stencil my kitchen wall, sew a little bling on one of my tops, and try out a new Gordon Ramsay recipe. But the truth is, after I get home from work, all I want to do is slip into my jammies, curl up in the corner of my sofa, and veg. What happened to my creative side? Moreover, what happened to my energy side?

Once upon a time I thought I was alone in this lethargy. Even those days when the sun blasted its heat across the winter land, I would mumble about snow and slush and temperatures below zero and go home, curl up on my sofa, and veg. But in taking the pulse of those near and far lately, I find their energy has ebbed, too. My jewelry maker friend hasn’t threaded a bead for weeks. My gourmet guru hasn’t opened a cookbook in the same amount of time. And my book-a-holic friend hasn’t read more than a chapter or two a week.  Our vacuums are clogging and our cats are snoring. What’s happening?

 Fear not ― our water has not been laced with lazy pills. It’s mostly the Midwest Midwinter Blues (da da da thump). I’m sure readers in California or Georgia have different names for it (how about the Frigid Fifties Funk?) But it’s a real phenomenon. Lack of sunshine and vitamin D, cold toes, icy windows ―you know ― the whole bit. But it’s more complicated than that. Between watching eight episodes of Fringe in a row and shoveling a path from your car to your house, what else is there to do in the dullness? I mean, how many times can you play Angry Birds before your brains are scrambled?

Oh, I hear you energy-ites – walk. Ski. Play fetch with your dog. Join a health club. No no no ― you don’t get it. For many of us, these blues make our legs feel like tree trunks. Our eyes burn from the dry air blown by heaters and our hands hurt from holding onto the steering wheel too tight on our way home because the roads are sheer ice. We don’t want to risk pulled muscles and frostbite just to catch a glimpse at Apollo and his steeds and his daylight.

Well then ― are we lazy? I think not. Most of us are pretty darn busy from morning to evening. Office work. Baby work. Assembly line work. Walking. Typing. Cleaning. Moving. Calculating. Stress is everywhere, and it doesn’t take long for the strings of dread to wrap you up nice and tight. That’s why fresh air, sunshine, and gentle breezes are so important. Play ball with the kids, throw a brat on the barby, boat rides and bike rides. Those kinds of things nurture your psyche and your energy level naturally.

It’s much harder to get excited about food and sports when it’s dark when you go to work and dark when you come home. 5:30 p.m. feels like 8:30 p.m. Vegetables are dull, salads even duller. Television shows are all reruns, and even Hollywood gossip makes us yawn. What can be done to cure this International ― or at least Midwest ― Sluggishfest? Here are a few ideas:

 1.  Share your boredom. Nothing makes you feel better than when you share your blahs with your friends and co-workers and they say, “Yeah! Me too!” Misery loves company, and with enough miserable company you can have a pick-me-up party. Share your most uninteresting stories over drinks or lunch boxes. Joy arrives as you realize you are not the only one who’s bored with your stories.

 2.  Go to the library or video store and rent the most ridiculous musical you can find. How can you not raise your energy level when Lee Marvin sings and dances to “Hand Me Down That Can O’ Beans?” How can you not swing along Broadway when Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger sing, “You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe…”

 3.  Play Hide the Pig. In my office we take turns hiding a little plastic pink pig. We aren’t sure if it’s a girl or a boy, but it sure breaks up the monotony when we discover it peeking out of various coffee cups or out from behind a stack of catalogs. It’s silly, it’s idiotic ― and a whole lotta fun.

 4. Bring out your artsy crafty stuff and, without thinking, make the ugliest, corniest, cheesiest art thingy you’ve ever made. Don’t waste time “creating” it; just go for it. That tacky bracelet or stickman artwork or smudged stamp will do wonders for your ego. Like, “OMG…I know I can do better than that!

 I’m sure you can come up with your own kick starts to get your blah life back to its sparkling, energetic center too. As they say, this too shall pass. Conserve your energy ― you’re going to need it. Don’t worry about what you should be doing ― live in the now. Mother Nature has a way of pulling you back into the groove as soon as the weather warms up. Before no time you’ll be complaining about sunburn, burnt chicken on the grill and the humidity.

Now…where did they hide that pig?

 

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Time to Remodel

Time to remodel.  Those words strike terror in some, delight in others. Probably most of our abodes could use a refresher course in Martha Stewart 101. Shampooing carpets, washing windows, and rearranging the pantry are all fine and dandy, but sooner or later you get to the point where you just can’t stand the grease marks behind the stove or the coffee stains on the rug any longer.

 I was perfectly happy with my little hideaway in the country. I’ve spent many a day playing with kids, petting dogs, cooking for family and friends, and dancing in front of the speakers between these walls. The décor was right for the time: a unicorn plate here, a deer head there. I felt I had the best of both worlds.

 But lately strange apparitions began to appear. A lot more spots had appeared on said wall, and the rugs looked more like a Dalmatian rug.  My kitchen cabinets were stuffed fuller than rummage sale bins, and those birdcages atop the cabinets started to have a fuzzy edge to them.  I can’t see the living room over the counter top because of the three beta bowls, various potteries, an air freshener, and a stack of newspapers that eventually will wind up in the kitty litter box. I couldn’t find anything, I couldn’t reach anything.

 Yes, I needed a change. A shot of the ‘ol adrenalin in our living space. Once I (we) gave the OK, my mind began running like a mad dog after a cheeseburger. Colors, textures, flooring all screamed at me. “Pick me! Pick me!”  Echoing right behind those screams were those of my husband. “Cheap! Cheap!”

 Being a Sagittarius, I embrace change. The bigger up front, the better. Of course, Sagittarians are also notorious for not finishing their projects, but that’s fodder for another story. The roller coaster ride began. How about black and white and wrought iron?  Too gothic.  How about a tropical look – cantaloupe and soft turquoise? No, my mother’s frig was turquoise. Scarred me for life. Boring! Blasé! Old World! I forced myself to center. Slow down.  But so many colors to choose from! Honey! Mint Green! Butterscotch! Red and White! Why didn’t I have a plan before I started?

 My husband maps out the future one bullet point at a time. Why couldn’t I? He had the responsibility of picking out new flooring. No problem. Oak laminate was on sale. It wasn’t that easy for me. I needed to create atmosphere. Ambience. A binding swirl from kitchen to dining room to living room to hallway and back.  Didn’t he see that that wasn’t something to be taken lightly?  My in-laws already did the North Woods look, and I used to have black and white checked in a house we lived in many moons ago. Even though I have a thing for unicorns and faeries, I’m not sure their place is in the kitchen beside polish sausage and sauerkraut.

 I wanted this second go around to be different. This terrified my husband. He has a hard time imagining anything outside four ivory walls and a couple of mounted fish.  He had nervous flashbacks. Like the time I painted the bottom half of a bedroom wall burgundy, or painted a landscape complete with brick walls, urns, and a giant wrought iron gate in my back hallway, or stenciled vines winding from one room to the next. Now that I’m older and less inclined to care about what others think, perhaps he feared the worst. Like I would paint a graveyard scene or an Andy Warhol tribute. Not so. Not so.

Besides ― I didn’t have much money other than for flooring, some paint, and splash tiles. Anything I came up with had to come from the garage sale stack in the mudroom or my local second hand store.  So what do you do when you have champagne taste on a lemonade budget? Why, you do what any creative sprite would do ― you call in another Muse! I was sure Michelangelo or Rembrandt has a few faes they could send my way. After all, inspiration is all around us. In us.  We are not only sales clerks, graphic designers, insurance transcriptionists, or day care workers ― we are musicians, artists, landscapers, psychologists and miracle workers. All I needed to do was open my eyes and look around.

 I didn’t want my rooms to look like Picasso came to visit, or something only Bobby Flay could cook in. I picked out some sand stone-ish tiles and a paint called pearls and lace. That was a start. Suddenly the rooms began to metamorphous.  I didn’t have to walk into the wind chimes on my way out the patio door, or bump my knee on the table jutting out into the living room. Exchanging sheers for the dusty antique lace ones downstairs gave my dining room a much different feel. A few gargoyles atop the cabinets, a few pieces of pottery, and voila! A new me!

All this angst about nothing made me think that it should be just as easy to remodel your inner temple. Clean out the dust bunnies, read a book, go for a walk, play at a new playground. You know who you are ― have some fun with yourself. Drop the drama that dogs your heels every day. Learn to wipe off your inner counters more often, and let the real you shine through.

My mother kept the same drapes and rug and wall colors for 30 years. My mother-in-law too. I never got to ask them if those were really their decorating dreams or someone else’s.  If their inner temple ever slipped out to meet their outer one. If they even knew they had an inner temple.

 I haven’t quite gotten the green light as far as wall decorations and furniture removal, but the highest hurdle has been jumped. I move forward constantly, and respond to my husband’s “Cheap! Cheap!” with my own rebel yell: “Negotiate! Negotiate!”

New and Improved!

New and Improved! A favorite sales tactic for everything from spaghetti sauce to carpet cleaners. Heck — even our bodies go through the N&I phase every  now and then.  So why not a blog?

I’ve often told you that Sagittarians love change — we look for excitement and adventure all the time. Most of the time I’m an armchair adventurer (seeing as I’m always broke), so my changes often aren’t as mind blowing as other Sag’s.  I created my blog with lots of curly Q’s and unobtrusive colors. Quite Goddessy, no? Well, my muse and the ants in my pants have told me it’s time for an artistic restyling of my infamous blog.  Not it’s content — it’s fashion style. Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness and Magic of Middle Age, is becoming a growing source of inspiration for those in need of throwing those oh-so-blaze middle-age (and pre-middle age) invisibility cloaks and replacing them with technicolor ones. So I figured I needed to get into the “new year” with a palette change. 

I’m also tossing around ideas to expand my blog to include such baubles as “Ask the Goddess,” an irreverent Q&A that tackles your inner/outer goddess moments; and 
“Check this Out!”, suggestions from YOU on blogs and websites that appeal to our wild, quirky and inspired moments.  (These two are still in the planning stage…you see the Sag in the beginning, the turtle after that…)

“How can you improve a goddess?” you ask. I know we think of all holy, airy fairy entities as perfect, but really, think about it. What fun would a goddess have if she always looked beautiful, never had to work out, got along with everybody, and knew the secrets of the universe?  She’d be pretty boring, don’t you think?  We all have room for improvement, for understanding and acceptance.  I like to think the “powers that be”  go through those phases now and then as well.  After all, look at us!  Look at the diversity, the confusion, the unbounded love we create every day. How can they resist being like us?

Don’t be afraid of change. Let me know about yours. Get your own going. Don’t let others tell you who you are or who you’re supposed to be. You have a Muse for that. Listen to him/her.  They won’t steer you wrong: they’re not jealous of your successes, or skewered by your failures. They come from your soul — and nothing’s more pure than that.

Benvenuto Cambiamento!!

The Sashaying Mink

            I was sitting around the other day, talking with friends about fashion, and somehow it came up that I had two of my mother’s mink stoles in my front closet.  They are at least 50 years old, and although she passed them on to me, I’ve never had the nerve to wear them. After all, no one wears stoles anymore.  And, besides, I didn’t think it would look right to wear the things grocery shopping or bowling.  We all had a good chuckle, then one friend asked what I was waiting for.  How old would I have to be to not care what other’s thought of my wardrobe?

            I have spent the last ten years of my life trying to accept who I am, and being happy with said acceptance.  I have always been too critical of the way I look, and I’m finally at the point where I don’t cringe when I look in the mirror.  Why I wasted so much of my youth thinking I was going to blossom into a sparkling rose or a diamond beauty I don’t know.  I have learned that people love me for me. They accept me with my Rembrandt physique, unicorn obsession, and all.

            But back to the mink stole.  My friend got me thinking. I am finally feeling good about myself, who I am, and where I’m going. I will never be a runway model or Nobel Peace Prize winner, but who cares? I’m a lot more fun to be around. I don’t make a daily drama over which sweater to wear with what skirt, or how long my hems should be.  I’ve waited all my life to have a sassy, witty side, and I’m finally having fun letting these sides out of the box. I’ve changed my eating habits, my clothes, the books I read and the glasses I wear.  Why can’t I keep pushing the envelope and wear my mother’s prize possessions?

            I might not go to places where mink stoles are the height of fashion, but I do get together with friends and family who love me and enjoy having a good time with me.  We play games, we gossip, we laugh.  We support each other through surgery and unemployment and cancer and the passing on of loved ones.  We talk about each other’s health, libedo and career, so why wouldn’t they support me if I wrapped a gorgeous mink around my shoulders?  It would open up space to share stories about our mothers and grandmothers, about the way they dressed or the great meals they cooked.  We could talk about their lives, whether they went to school or worked on the farm.  We could share the heartache of losing our mothers at a young age or watching them wither away from Alzheimer’s or how we still enjoy being with her. We could share how much we missed our moms and grandmothers, or how glad we are that they are finally out of our lives.

            We are all rich in history.  Everyone you meet has a past, perhaps even a past life.  We spend so much time hiding behind facades that are acceptable to the population at large, and rarely take time to be just who we are.  Now and then it is prudent to keep your idiosyncrasies to yourself…after all, it wouldn’t do to dress like a Renaissance Faire wench at work or bring a laptop to the movie theater.  No one wants to hear you sing Bon Jovi in the bathroom, nor are they interested in your bedtime rituals.  But what about the classical music geek who is dying to get out from under the cloud of secrecy?  What about the fact that you love tinkering with cars or that you look for the hidden meaning in Woody Allen movies? What about your collection of angels that can fill a small room or the songs you’ve written that you plunk out on a guitar?     

            Why are you hiding who you are?

            If you are afraid of others making fun of you, get over it.  People have made fun of us from the day we were born and will make fun of us long after we’re gone.  There will always be some goofy looking baby or toothy grade schooler or chubby high schooler that will forever look back at you in the mirror. You will always be who you’ve always been.  So why not have some fun with it?

            There is a game night coming up next month at one of our friend’s houses.  I think I will wrap one of the mink stoles around me and sashay into the world of daycare workers and college students and tool and die makers. I will bring the memories of my mother Rose along with me, inspired by the fur around my shoulders, and she’ll be right there, having fun with us, too.

            I think I’ll bring along the other one just in case someone else wants to sashay, too.

One Time Only!

This is the only time that I’m going to spend quality blog time babbling about a personal roadblock.

I started this blog with the intent of mingling magic with middle age, something that I am quite familiar with. I truly believe there is a galaxy of potential floating just in front of us. A galaxy that is real, a galaxy that can be tapped into with nothing more than desire. Our learning curve never ends. We are always stumbling and tripping forward, hopefully laughing along the way. It just stinks when the lessons hit a little too close to home.

I have never been one to bring attention to myself. Writing was one way of projecting my personality into another dimension that couldn’t always be directly linked back to me. When I write I can be a cat, a faerie, a crushed car or a cutting-edge housefrau. For all intent and purposes, it’s my words that matter. No one knows my personal side; no one knows about my struggles, my personal demons. And so it should be. But when a cosmic demon descends, it hits a raw nerve that makes me want to reach out just a little. Cancer is one of those demons.

I hate the word “cancer.” I hate the stigma that attaches itself to one of the most prevalent diseases in history. I don’t want to be a symbol as a “survivor” ― I don’t want to talk about it at all. But I feel it is my duty to at least acknowledge what many of us are experiencing ― or might experience in the future. And while I believe in the magic of the future, I also acknowledge the drama of today. Of the struggles we go through to move through the grey into the white.  Cancer is one of those greys.

I’m not comfortable talking about myself. I don’t like sharing the ups and downs of personal insecurities. After all, everyone has their own demons to fight every day. My problems add nothing new to the landscape of personalities that read this blog.  There are many, many writers who talk about their struggles in cinematic detail. That is their brilliance, their therapy. I leave those depths to other writers who share their experiences more eloquently and emotionally than I ever could. I am more of a background girl. I would rather people like me for who I am ― for my sense of humor, my compassion, my naivety or my off-the-wall nonsense. I don’t want to be remembered for my battle with a disease that strikes one out of every eight women. I don’t want to dwell on the ups and downs of malfunctioning cells that multiply into something that eventually overwhelms their host and leaves them barren and one step closer to the fertile fields of Never-Never Land.

I decided to attack this topic only once. We all fight battles ― some more serious than the one I was surprised with. Life is full of ups and downs, ecstasy and tragedy.  We cannot stop the march of time, the march into the future of which we are not a part. What we can do is to live each moment as our own. We can make a difference with each other, with our family and with our place in the world. We all cannot be Einsteins; we cannot be Mother Teresa or Kim Kardashian. But we can be good people. Honest people. We can share our knowledge with those who are willing to learn. We can tell stories, share laughs and the ups and downs of the lives we’ve led. We can mentor children, or let someone mentor us.

What is life really about, anyway? We all have a future that is shrouded in misty black and blue clouds. No one knows what lies around the corner.  The strength of middle age ― really, of all ages ― is to let life run its course. We deal with what we can, change what we can. We are strong, we are beautiful, no matter what fate has in mind for us. It is what we pass along to future generations that make us who we are today. Few of us will be as monumental as Madam Curie or Martin Luther King Jr. Most of us will forever be merely Sue or Claudia or Nancy or Rose.

The funny, great thing, though, is little does the world know the power of these “merely’s.” They forged a future that seeded itself inside of us, growing and glowing and transcending generation after generation. The names of those who have been and who will be can be stronger and more inspirational than names of heroes who have nothing to do with who we are today.

Don’t let little words like “cancer” or “bankruptcy” or “unemployment” stop you from growing into the flower that eventually turns into an eternal garden. We all have so much to offer, no matter what our setback.  You are more powerful than you ever imagined. Don’t let go of your dream. And don’t be afraid to share your dream, your essence, with others. After all, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas started with a dream as well.

Look where it got them.

Oh ― and just for the record ― don’t be a dip. Get a mammogram.

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter

            Most of us run blindly through life, taking kids to football games or buying groceries or celebrating birthdays or oohing and ahhing about flower beds and great lasagna dinners, never stopping to think that one day all this wonderful madness will end.  There are those who believe in the ever after: angels and Elysian Fields and all the chocolate you can eat.  Others believe in reincarnation: behaving yourself in this life is a sure bet you won’t come back as a newt or a grasshopper in the next.  Some believe you never wake  up; others believe eternity is one big, made-for-TV movie. But what happens if you don’t want to think about the afterlife, period?  What happens if all you want to do is get  lost in Star War movies or the Food Network or dreams of vacationing in the Bahamas?  Does avoidance equal ignorance?

            I sometimes wonder if humans were meant to dwell on the afterlife as much as we do.  After all, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  When all is said and done, if we are all going have a glorious resurrection, why should we worry about it?  If we believe our destiny is to reappear on another planet in another galaxy, why sweat the small stuff? 

            None of us like to think about death.  Most of us unconsciously think we will live to be 90 or better.  We pop a few vitamins or walk around the block or stop smoking and think we have it made.  And, for the most part, we do.  We look around us, feel terrible about those our age who have passed on to greener pastures, and hope we can stay out of
those same pastures a bit longer. Yet there is always that heebie geebie feeling we get from that foul reaper that makes us feel we should do a bit more to insure a place in the afterlife.  Whether its prayer, abstinence, volunteering or tithing, we always make an effort to hedge our bets, putting an extra chip on the gambling table just in case.  We give a little extra to the United Way or volunteer to work the concession stand at the high school football game, even if our kid doesn’t play football.  We help old women cross the street, and try not to get uppity if someone offers to help us cross the street.

            How does that lessen our apprehension of our final moment?  How does contributing to the bake sale or adopting a pet from the shelter make us breathe easy about our last moments on Earth?  The older I get, the more I realize that all the anxiety, all the trauma I go through worrying about what happens at that final moment doesn’t mean a thing except heartburn.  One of the prices we pay for being born into this world is having to leave it at the end.  I’m not sure there is some cosmic string that is destined to be cut at some particular moment; I do believe that the joy we find in this life, and possibly the next, is based on the pleasure we give and receive from others.

            Whether you read the Bible or Harry Potter, you cannot escape the fact that good deeds do not go unheeded.  That even if there is no cosmic God or Goddess who pats you on the head for being a good person, you are rewarded anyway.  There is something  about doing something nice for others — and for yourself — that brings its own brand of satisfaction.  Putting a plus in the “good” column just plain feels good.  Accepting that we don’t always get accolades for our diligence is a learned experience; I find myself still waiting for acknowledgement that I saved the life of a cat who was beaten by an irrational neighbor 20 years ago or that I was the DD more times than I can count. I know
my heart always feel better when I label myself “nice” instead of “mean.”  I feel good when I put a smile on another’s face; I feel bad when I make someone cry.

            Whether or not those points add up to admission through the pearly gates I don’t know.  I myself don’t have a clue whether I will meet my mother and father on the other ide, or if I will be reincarnated into a wealthy family (something I would thoroughly enjoy).  What I do know is that it makes me feel good to do good in this world.  I have no control of what happens when I close my eyes for the last time — no one does.  All I can hope for is that my good behavior and loving heart will have counted for  omething.  That loving my kids over and above normalcy and giving my dogs extra bonies push me up a notch on the ladder of happily-ever-after.

            It will be my luck that the day I decide to visit Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster will instantly devour me in one gulp, and all this angst will be for nothing.  My fear is that my repayment for being such a jolly good soul is that I come back to this world as a Welcome Wagon Lady or a greeter at Walmart.  Which, on second thought, isn’t such a bad idea.  After all, that’s what I want to do when I retire in this life.

            Although I know I have to fight my husband for the job.

To Dream or Not to Dream…That Is the Question

       33 To Dream or Not to Dream     One of the yin-yangs of hormone fluctuation is sleep, or lack of it.  Between hot flashes and finding a comfortable position, my REM’s make rare visits,  leaving my consciousness floating in the bubbles of semi-sleep through the world of dreams.  Now, many people say they don’t dream; others leave a notepad on their nightstand so they can record the ching chang jumble that comes out in the middle of the night.  I believe we all dream, but length, depth and retaining capacity is what makes everyone’s claim different.

         Scientists and talk show hosts tell us our lives are influenced by anything and everything, and our dreams are one way of dealing with all of it. Dreams, and  their alter ego, nightmares, can result from everything from eating pizza before bed to an argument earlier in the day. Dreams can be triggered by stress, anticipation, having too much time on your hands or, more likely, not enough.  Scary movies, sappy movies, long distance phone calls — everything can leave a chip in your mind that can explode into a myriad of dreamy scenarios.

            The great thing about this flight through those shadowed clouds, though, is the variety of experiences it presents.  I doubt my conscious mind could make up half the things my subconscious does. And if it could, would it be as fun?  In my dreams I interact with bosses from 20 years ago and talk to family members who are no longer with me.  I wander the halls of my grade school, look out on Lake Michigan from a high-rise balcony, and walk through castles of long ago.  I have driven off cliffs and been chased by  unseen dragony/monster things. I have stood in a shadowy alley talking to Edward Norton and had coffee with Kiefer Sutherland.  I have run from building to building to building, either looking for something or trying to get somewhere, and have jumped and bounced and flown my way across the landscape.

            Where in Jove’s name do we get these ideas from? 

           Being a writer, I often bring some of the unearthliness of my subconscious and put it into forms that entertain me and others. Without analyzing every laugh and tear, I try to bring these esoteric beings into my writing. The more nonsensical, the better. Other people transform their dreams into paintings, gardens, photography, and card making. 

            Of course, the down side of dreams is that they don’t always give you a direct answer to your cosmic questions.  It is fairly obvious that when I dream of my son as a toddler rather than a college kid, I am searching for the olden days connection we had when I was omnipotent and he was subservient.  When I am wandering through corridors and cross loading docks and down long hallways filled with shops and warehouses and theaters I am lost in more ways than I care to admit. But instead of interpreting these dreams as portents of bad things to come, I would rather see them as insights to the possibilities that lie ahead. We have the ability to choose which meanings we take to heart and which  we toss out.  We can choose to see rain in the clouds or we can just see clouds.  We can choose to see dragons shapes or bouncy cotton balls in those clouds or we can just see clouds. 

            The best course is always to take a little of both. Don’t ignore the clouds that are really thunderheads, and don’t get the idea of stepping out of a plane to bounce on their springy tops.  But also let those clouds be dragons or snakes or baby diapers. Nod at the thread of reality that runs through the middle, then make what you will of the rest.   Don’t worry what others think your dreams mean, or if you can’t remember their endings.  The old adage that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination, is just as true in your onscious state of mind as in your conscious one.  Don’t read more into your dreams than what is there.  And create whatever you want from them.

            As for me, I’m looking forward to tonight.  I told Kiefer I’d meet him at the coffee shop sometime around eleven.  Maybe I’ll even ride my dragon there.