Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Door Opens.... I Don't Know Where It Goes

What I Wore Today... what day was it again? I lost track... oh yeah, the 27th.

I got this vintage green wool sweater that has been half felted in it's life time. It's very warm, and I like the little cables about the edges. And the color is somewhere between forest and kelly. Being a winter, green can be a questionable color for me to wear, but seeing as this is a jewel tone without too much yellow, I can get away with it. Plus wearing it with a black turtleneck and a purple tunic/dress helps. Heck, with the black and purple, I could probably get away with beige... which is my deadliest color. Truly, I've tried, and every time I wear beige, I look like a corpse. And not the fun zombie kind.

What am I babbling about?

I've been having a hard time not getting lost in day to day. Blog posting is irregular lately because I don't have as much access to the internet as I used to. I can't jump on while the kids are eating lunch or while I wait for the chicken to roast. Hence... well... a post infrequently. It is what it is.

On the plus side, I have been filling my days with making stuff. I finished the second draft of my novel. At 23 chapters, about 90,000 words and 235 double spaced pages... there it is. Now to send it out to my critical readers and take a break from the writing of it.

I find I don't know what to do with my mornings anymore. I used to write for two hours, but now I just wander around wondering what to do with myself. Come to think of it, it's not just mornings. I'm not watching as much tv, and I don't have my library of books around, so I'm not reading as much, either.

In the absence of writing projects or internet browsing, I have continued with my soft sculpture flying girls, done some of these What I Wore Today drawings, sketched some stuff on my vintage Alice in Wonderland book pages, cooked meals (btw I have to finish up here and start my teriyaki fried rice pretty soon), tried out a new fabric project just this very morning that I won't talk about until I've experimented enough to make me feel quite satisfied, watched some movies with my kids, and done the random other mom things that always fill my day.And I don't get enough internet time to post it all.

Busy, huh?

Even though I feel like I'm standing about, hands in the air, saying "what do I do next?" all day long.

Well that's the thing about messing with your routine.

It forces you to come up with new answers, new outlets, creative solutions.

I still am not so sure why I need to be "productive" to feel good about myself, and if maybe I shouldn't be able to just BE without making something or moving forward with something, but until I get that figured out, I think I'll take stock of all the projects and productivity and creativity I am engaged in.

Oh, what's that quote?

When one door closes, another one opens? Who said that?

There's always the Tom Stoppard quote, "Every exit is an entrance somewhere."

What exits have turned out to be entrances for you? What new doors have you been discovering lately?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Got Dressed Up for a Five Year Old's Birthday Party. Sorta

What I Wore Today (er... Friday)

Over at Creative Everyday, the theme of January has been "Body." Goodness knows, women in the US today have major issues surrounding Body. Maybe it's everywhere, I don't know.

It's not my favorite issue... I just don't feel like I want to obsess about my body. I've done that and I'm over it. It is what it is. Could I be eating healthier and getting more exercise? sure, but I don't want to make art about it. I have been trying to be more conscious of what I wear, instead of just layering to keep warm, thinking about the style of the layers. And drawing these What I Wore Todays makes me more aware of how I adorn my body and the way it makes me feel about myself.

Although... if you take the theme larger, and think about Body in larger terms, it actually does fit with what I have been doing. First of all, I've given my two dimensional Flying Girls a physical body with these soft sculptures. And then also, I have also been doing a lot of organizational work, trying to EMBODY all these ideas I want to live.

Do lists and schedules and outlines represent "The Body?" In a way, they do. I say this because I have a tendency to avoid physical necessities, whether it is eating the right food at the right time (too much sugar and coffee) or getting the laundry folded and put away.

In a way, we live in our body, right now. And our body has needs. The physicality of life, our basis, our well being.

Actually the theme for next month is "Home" and that leads in so nicely. From making sure our physical needs are taken care of to making sure our home, our house, our security is taken care of.

Well, I live pretty much in my head, so maybe it's good to attack these two, very basic, physical questions with the first two months of Creative Everyday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flying Girl Wishes You Love and Light

Flying Girl Wishes You Love and Light
white and cream felt, thread, silver and blue embroidery floss, beads, fiberfill

I am enjoying making these things.

Especially late at night after the kids have gone to bed and I'm too tired to do much thinking. Sewing can be meditative.

I also enjoy the way the sculpture arises out of the medium.

Yes, I have the same pattern for all of the flying girls in the same medium, but the color of the felt or the thoughts in my head, or the time of the year, or whatever happened that day it all combines to make an individual piece that is unlike any other.

I know I am not the best seamstress in the world, but I also enjoy something about the hand made quality, the visibility of the stitches and the knots.

I guess I think that light and love (and life itself) is made of knots and threads and bobbles and mistakes... and sometimes we can turn the accidents of life into something that fairly glows with the livingness of it all.
(rev) Love in blue embroidery

I particularly like the little white bird hanging below, "LIGHT" written in silver thread.

I hadn't planned to go that way, but all while I was embroidering the geometric silver light/shapes I was thinking about what it all meant.

Instead of a banner, I went with a bird.

Sometimes you can just let things flow, you know what I mean?

Trust that it will come out and make sense and become something that you can value, even if it isn't exactly what you thought it would be when you started out.

Oh, hey. Speaking of trusting.... I just posted this in my etsy shop, despite needing to make dinner and being afraid (the real issue) of starting in with a new medium. You can check it out here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Birfday Card

Birfday Card for Alexander
hand painted and personalized print of original acrylic painting

Yesterday, we had cousin Alexander's birthday party. A great deal of fun was had by all.

I made Alex this birthday card... well, that is not quite correct. The kids directed me.
They picked this painting from my archive, and I printed it out and then painted over it with acrylic paint to personalize it. I was instructed as to colors to use and what needed to go where, and sometimes, when it needed more excitement. Hence the pennant banners.

There were other choices, a couple of Aliens were in close running, and a robot who woulda looked cool with a balloon and birthday hat. But in the end, they picked this one. I actually think I painted it with the knowledge that it could be a "blank" for later prints. I don't know if I'd planned on painting over the print, but hey, it worked pretty well.

We mounted it on construction paper. I did that so that they could draw something inside, but they refused. I think they liked the way it came out too much.

This was on the back. Two prints of their personal ACEOs that I painted for them quite a while ago. One bunny. One monkey. These served as their signatures, I suppose.

They played keep the balloons in the air and duck duck goose and a dog bone game and gramma says and they pulled a pinata apart with hands and teeth (well not the teeth) and then they ate pizza and cake and fell, exhausted, into bed.

Any way, I pulled something while cleaning up the birthday party and now I'm cranky and achey and drinking far too much coffee. Dinner will be chicken nuggets tonight, and then an early bedtime, but I am still pleased with the way the card came out. Maybe I'll do more of these in the future.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Flying Boy Blessings, or Brave Boy
felt, thread, embroidery floss, fiberfill

One for the girl, one for the boy. They made their requests. I filled their requests.

The requests might change tomorrow.

It's all about moving and changing and adapting and fitting things together so they work.

Maybe that's how I'm going about making these flying blessings. I'm just playing. Poking my fingers with needles and shouting at stuffing that won't go in or knots that happen in innocent thread, but still, just playing.

Sometimes, here's a confession, I get bored of these suckers. Just like I get bored of the paintings, or the cooking, or the potty training, or the list making. Sometimes I wonder what's the point, because, you know what? My kid is still wearing diapers. Or whatever. I mean, things all seem to still be the same as before, so why keep trying to change things or do things over again, perfect them, make something work?
(reverse) please note the felt pennants on the string. I like them.

Oh. Fudge.

Change happens in increments, right?

You have to take the small steps before you take the big leaps. You have to get there before you are there, right?

Do you have to be brave, also? To keep putting all that energy into something that doesn't seem to be getting you where you want to go? Do you have to have faith that what you are doing will take you there, no matter what other people think?

Brave boy tells me sometimes it is brave just to live your life and not apologize for who you are.

Let me tell you, this post started out with a lot of whining, and I had to erase it all...well, most of it. I wondered what the heck it was doing in a post about Brave blessings.

But I just realized. Brave is not being unafraid. It is continuing on in your path, even though you ARE afraid.

So me and my (now deleted) whining was all about fear. Am I wasting my time? Should I choose another path? Is any of this going to work out? Am I ever going to get where I want to go?

Fear. Fear that I'm doing the wrong thing, made the wrong choices, am somehow just wrong all around.

Fear is normal. Fear can be valuable. Fear can point us in the direction we really need to go. Fear can make us take care of things that must be taken care of. Fear can keep us from being hurt.

But it's bravery that helps us to use fear as a tool for reaching our dreams. It's bravery that makes us fight until we are strong enough to stand up to all those fears and succeed.

So, to my Brave Boy, and to all my Brave Readers out there, I wish you good fears, fears that spur you on to find your own inner bravery, your own strength and determination, so that you may go for your dreams.

As scary as that may be.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flying Girl Blessing, or Joy and Sparkles

Flying Girl Blessing, or Joy and Sparkles
Felt, Thread, Silver Thread, Glitter Glue, Fiberfill

This is the Flying Girl that my girl requested. Pink, she said. So that's what I did, with glitter and silver french knots. She was hung on a string of little pearls within view of my little girl's bed.

What is there profound to say about this Flying Girl?

Perhaps she is just about the happiness of living in this world. Warm hugs from little arms. "My wuv you, mommy," she says when she is half asleep.

Perhaps this Joy girl is about how bright the stars are in this cold and northern sky. Or the way the train passes through, the whistle blowing like something out of an old story.

Perhaps Joy is about recognizing that in the moment, taco night is a good night, and cuddling up in a recliner with an involving tv show while the kids sleep and the tea is warm is what it's all about.

Perhaps Joy is about saying yes to what life is right now. And building what you want life to be, also, having hope that things will become what you hope for, and that you are strong enough and good enough to make it all real.

Perhaps joy is about standing where you are, and feeling that your goals are within your reach.
(reverse) "JOY"

Something else about this Joy girl. My little girl doesn't want it any more. She wants me to make her a purple girl.

Isn't that interesting?

Maybe Joy is also about letting go of old desires, and thinking about what comes next, sometimes. It's always good to be able to let go of things. What we thought we wanted. Our expectations of what things SHOULD be like.

I told Ivy that I would make her a new flying girl, sooner or later, but she'd have to relinquish this one, so that I could add more embellishments to it, make it less a plaything and more a soft sculpture.

Oh I don't know. I don't know where this Joy girl is going.

But I like her just the way she is, for now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Flying Girl Blessings, or Imperfection (in progress)

Flying Girl Blessings, or Imperfection (in progress)
cotton, fiberfill, thread.

I couldn't get online all day today and only have fifteen minutes to post before I have to do the bedtime routine, and I thought this would be the perfect time to post my meditation on imperfection. And this would be the perfect piece to illustrate it.

So, I had the brilliant idea to do soft sculpture Flying Girls, and the top girl here was my first attempt. I crashed and burned. The fabric burst and I couldn't get the little pieces stuffed and didn't know how to handle the leg that I left unsewn for turning and filling.

I moved on to the felt and had more success and enjoyed putting together new flying girls in 3d (more to come in the near future). Then I came back and tried again, since I'd cut two girls out of the fabric, before I'd tried to sew it and discovered it wouldn't work.

It didn't work again.

Or did it?

I'm thinking there's something here in the Flying Girls abject failure. I'm thinking I like the broken feel to them, the wonkiness, the mess. I'm thinking something profound may come from Imperfection. Or not. They may remain failures.

The truth is, I need to stop waiting for things to be perfect before I go forward. I need to stop waiting for the perfect timing and total mastery and not a stitch out of place.

All the time I am waiting to be perfect, I am not living, I am not getting out there, I am not creating, I am not making dreams happen. I know this, because I've spent much of the last 18 years trying to perfect all sorts of things about me, rather than just diving in.

Dreams don't happen because we are perfect. They happen because we put ourselves out there, we are willing to show our work, willing to stumble, willing to be hurt.

Willing to fail.

Failure is the most important thing I am learning about.

Failure is how we succeed.

The mess of life is actually living.

It's not about living in a perfect home and pristine surroundings, it is about getting things dirty and saying, hell yes.

There is not perfect time to finally be happy, to finally have the life that you've been longing for. There is only now.

Now in it's imperfection, is perfect and true.

You in your imperfection, did you know you were perfect, too?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Flying Girl Blessings, or I am as open as the night sky

Flying Girl Blessings, or I am as open as the night sky
felt, polyfill, thread, silver embroidery floss, recycled bead, paper and golden fluid acrylic
about 6" from top of head to bottom of banner? I forgot to measure. Hanging thread adds another six inches.

Yesterday while browsing about the web, I got the burning urge to make a 3-D flying girl. Something that could exist in our very own world, not just the world on the page.

Sometimes I get tired of just painting. I've never really been a one medium kind of gal, but I've spent the last couple of years mainly diving into paint. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but sometimes I start to feel a little bit confined doing just one thing.

All growing up, I made stuff out of everything. Doll dresses. A little stuffed shmoo that I made with my sister. Crocheted slippers. Little plasticene figurines. Balloon farms. Paper dolls. Bracelets out of purloined telephone wire. Radio shows on tape. Horror stories to read to my Junior High School friends. Macrame friendship bracelets. Beaded necklaces. Lipgloss out of vaseline. Cut paper animals. Twig houses. Sculpee christmas ornaments, beads, dragons and wizards, dice, brooches. And this was all before I ever took being an artist really seriously. It was just something I did because I enjoyed it and it kept my hands busy.

Over the past year or two, I've been watching other artists explore the breadth of creativity, while I was trying to focus down on one or two media. I suppose it makes sense. I needed to explore one medium, rather than bounce around like a jumping bean.

But yesterday, after seeing other people do stuff that I just thought was cool, it was like I bust out and HAD to do something.

I don't have as many odds and ends as I used to. They are either in storage or have been purged. No silver beads or glass mosaic tiles. No sculpee or fabric stashes. No folders of magazine clippings or that package of copper leaf I've been hoarding.

So I went with my leftover supplies from making Christmas softies for my kids.
Flying Girl Blessings, or I am as open as the night sky (back view)
(here you can see the hanging cord and bead)

This ornament is the result of my fevered multi-media jones.

She is actually the second version. The first version was in black cotton and I found her too delicate to turn and stuff. I nearly tore my hair out trying to manage. I still might be able to salvage something of her, but these are both prototypes.

I am not pleased with the materials. Polyester felt is not my medium of choice, but it was what I had on hand. And good for learning.

I do, however like something in the idea, here. I am planning to make more of her. I am thinking I might like to sell these in my etsy shop. I particularly feel like these pieces, more so than a 2-D work of art are about making something real in the world (HA! There's my focus word for the year-- "realize"). To me, this flying girl seems like a wish made real. An idea to focus down on.

That's why I called her a blessing. In my mind, I think this piece is a concrete manifestation of someone wanting to be open to love. You cannot find love if you do not open yourself to it... open yourself to the possibility of love, the possiblity of being hurt, of depending upon someone, or being there for someone else.

I suppose I was thinking about Valentines Day. You know, love and kisses and pink candy. I've never been very good at pink and candy. Well, candy yes, pink hearts and flowers not so much.

Ironically, I have already been commissioned to create another flying girl doll made of pink, for my almost three year old. She wanted this one, actually. I said I'd make her one of ther own. She chose pink.

I suppose I will need to come to peace with my own pink cottoncandy heart and give my daughter her own Flying Girl blessings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Back Alleys of Creativity

This is a picture I took this summer in Florida, out in the back alley, where it doesn't look manicured. Where the brick lined alleys are the original, from back before most streets in St Pete were even paved.

I always liked this view of Florida better than the pink flamingo and palm tree and sharp front lawn view.

I always like the undersides of places better than the stuff everyone wants you to see. I liked the roof tops of the old tenements in NYC better than Times Square. I like the layers pulled off of billboards in a collage, better than the shiny new ads. I like to watch the roadies, and imagine how musicians find their music and warm up their instruments better than watching the show. I'd rather be behind the camera than in front of the audience.

Perhaps that's why I spend so much time on my blog talking about the HOWS of creativity, the pitfalls, the alleys where the fears are taken away, the roof tops where we imagine what hasn't happened yet, the roadies working to get the creativity rolling again. What's underneath the pretty show, what made the beautiful happen.

Today, I've been traipsing around the blogosphere, and I have some new ideas bubbling up. I think creating these ideas might fill the hole left by my old routines because I am in a time of transition. I think if I follow these paths, I might have somewhere for my inspiration to go, instead of standing there and staring at the ceiling, wondering what to do next... which is what has been happening lately.

I wonder if I will have something to show tomorrow? Hmmm.

New ideas are fun. Watching them come alive???


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project Log and Map Making

My little project log sheet.... so I can keep track of how my projects are going, and if I am ignoring something... like myself.

I've been thinking lately about how I manage the ups and downs of life.

I don't know if I would manage so well if I didn't have my creativity to, not only sustain me, but also to figure it all out.

The benefit of the creative habit. You look for new solutions. You look for new ways to see old problems. You look for connections between things. You look for cause and effect. You look for harmonies and dissonances.

I find that I've been doing a lot of doodling to figure out what I need to do next. How odd that I would end up doodling logs and calendars and lists. Is this a doodle? Is this something that my subconscious tells me I need?

I suppose so.

I did get a little lost there in the business of it all for a while. Lost the goals, lost the routines, lost the motivation.

Maybe all my calendaring and logging and marking down of what I want and where I want to go is a kind of map making, a way to find myself where I am.

What kind of map making do you do in your life?

When you get lost, how do you find your way back to yourself?

Funnily enough, as I've just made this connection that I am making maps of my life and my mind, I feel the need to go upstairs and sketch out some more maps. Name my place. Discover where/who/what I am.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Girl of Trees, or The Other Side of Sunset

Girl of Trees, or The Other Side of Sunset
Golden Fluid Acrylic, watercolor pencil, paper, 5x8" moleskine

I don't know where she came from.

I had the urge to draw a girl. I painted over her. You can still see some of the watercolor pencil lines. But everything I drew, I painted over. And everything I painted over once, was painted over again. And again.

Nothing came out like I expected it.

Everything was revised, not for whatever vague vision had been in my head initially, but for what was, what felt right. How the colors bounced off of each other, or how the dark needed the light.

Perhaps also a little bit of the winter trees outside my window, holding the reflected glow of the sun going down against the pale cold sky.

I challenge you to not know. To not be sure of what you are doing.

I challenge you to take life for it's own flavor, and not the spice you wished it had.

I challenge you to realize the moment you are in.

To savor it.

To recognize the joy in living, to say yes when the world around you wants to say be safe, be sure, don't risk being hurt.

I challenge you to believe in yourself.

Go with it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Letting It Rest: A Metaphor for A Creative Process

Photo from the porch, via poladroid.

I've been trying to take photos of all the pretty snow around me, but they never come out as nice as they are in real life. Even as nice as they are in my head. The things that I SEE are off hidden in the distance, behind trees or faded by time. They don't show up in the photo the way I want them too.

I've been looking at my wardrobe and feeling uninspired. Tired of sweaters and jeans and layers to keep me from shivering. Of dressing for staying at home and chasing after kids.

I've been dissatisfied with my book choices, as my library is back in storage and the books that I do have at my fingertips are often too stupid to keep me from throwing them across the room before I run over, pick them up and start reading them again.

Once upon a time, I was reading Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, and in it, someone tells a character that making art is just the act of creating a thing you really want to see in the world, because it doesn't exist yet. That's not an exact quote, but that's because I haven't read the book in ages and don't have the book now, but I do remember the idea.

This is art.

Think about what should be in the world, what you want to see, what you would love if it were to exist, then find a way to make it exist.

I've been looking around the web at artists and writers, novelists and designers, photographers and philosophers, cooks and decorators and teachers and dreamers all those lovely people who make things exist because they want to see something lovely, something meaningful that isn't quite there yet.

That's when I start feeling the urge to paint. Or to rip apart my old clothes and rearrange them into something newer and lovelier. Or to make soup from scratch. Or to make an altar in the corner of my room dedicated to creating beauty. Or to keep working on that novel of mine, because it DOESN'T make me want to throw it across the room, but makes me want to read the next chapter.

And yet... sometimes those urges have to sit a time. They have to sit in a big oiled bowl covered with a dishcloth, and grow like bread raising, breathing and multiplying until they are big enough and strong enough to exist in the real world. Growing in richness and depth and texture, filling with air, gaining connections.

And sometimes I have to take out the dough and punch it and knead it and roll it and get it into shape. Sometimes I need to preheat that oven and prepare those pans. Sketch out those ideas. Make my plans. Get my supplies ready.

Maybe that's the balance between just letting ourselves be with all our imperfections, and driving ourselves mad with our drive to be productive.

Maybe we have to prepare the way for our work to exist, for ourselves to be happy and our best selves. And then we have to sit back and trust the natural process. Allow ourselves to rest, allow our ideas to grow, allow life to happen around us, while we are preparing the ground for our dreams, and our art to exist.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flying Girl and the Moon, or She Holds The Light Within

Flying Girl and the Moon, or She Holds The Light Within
Golden Fluid Acrylic on Moleskine Paper, 8x5"

It's been a long time since Flying Girl has made an appearance, but here she is. It's also been a long time since I posted in my cool stuff blog, small & heartfelt, but there's a new one up there, too.

Here's the thing about that light that we all seem to be reaching for, the moon that we aim for-- when we persist in thinking our dreams are OUT THERE, in the ether, we forget that we already hold our dreams within ourselves.

Our dreams, our goals, all that stuff we are promising we will do or promising we will stop doing, most of that is incidental.

We want to be our best us.
We want to be happy.
We want to be creative.
We want to be loved.
We want to be satisfied.
We want to be complete.

I can plan and organize and write ToDo lists and calendars and meal plans up the wazoo, but the truth is, sometimes I think it's just me trying to fix the things that I perceive are wrong with me. It's me trying to get somewhere other than right where I am.

Sometimes it seems like all that busy work of being busy and productive is the easy way out. I know other people who drink or self medicate to forget that they are not who they want to be, I focus on finding away to get to be who I want to be. But the similarity is still there. I am dissatisfied with who I am, where I am, what I am.

I use being productive to make myself feel better. It is as if when I DO things and MAKE things I have evidence that I am good, but when I don't, the bad feelings well up and take over.

Maybe my creativity addiction is less self destructive than a drug addiction, but it comes from the same place.

What would happen, though, if I didn't need to paint to be someone? What if I didn't need to hold onto those titles of artist/writer/teacher/mom in order to be someone? What if I didn't need to figure out how everything works, to understand everything, to be in control of my personal being in order to feel okay?

What if I accepted that I was okay. What if I accepted that I was great. Heck, what if I accepted I was miraculous, a being not unlike a god, perfect in my imperfections and holding as many possibilities as I can conceive? Just like every human being on the planet, and a few orbiting the planet. Miracles, all.

What if we didn't have to lose weight, eat better, finally get published, quit smoking, get a new home, keep in touch with family better, make new friends, grow our own herbs, take up photography, meet a new mate, or whatever yearly goal and resolution we are always promising? What if we could just be awesome the way we are?

Bumps and bruises and stutters.
Mistakes and coarseness and slobbery.
What if we could accept that we were lovable?
What if we could love ourselves?

Imagine a world where everyone simply was. And we accepted everyone for their beingness. And we accepted ourselves, too, just for what we were. And we loved.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Trust and the Process of Getting Things Done

Trust: Realize Journal
paper, pen, marker

Hello, Lovelies.

I took yesterday off. With a not that bad cold and a brain that refused to string two thoughts together in a coherent manner, I decided that it was okay to not work all day. I didn't have to revise another chapter of my novel or even make a from-scratch dinner for my family. In fact, I decided it was okay to laze around in bed all morning drinking tea and to read crappy books that I flung across the room after finishing in a fit over how badly written they were. I did enjoy some judicious quoting out loud of particularly ridiculous passages, though.

I think it's important to remember that we are people within our goals and tasks and to do lists. Sometimes we need a break. Sometimes I need to remember I don't have to multi task 24 hours a day.

Anyway, even within my day off, I did end up painting. I did a flying girl--- the first in what must be a month. I liked the way it was a different part of the brain working. Not logic or organizing. Just a 'let it be' kind of thing, where I flowed with the paint and the brush.

And today I woke up and did some thinking and some organizing and some dreaming and some sketching. I didn't get the revising done on my book... but there were other people to consider this morning, and I let it slide.

What IS all this getting done stuff? Goals and plans and calendars and lists and productivity and organizing. Every body is just so darned bustling.

Here we are at the beginning of the year, and we're all looking at this long stretch of days ahead of us, imagining what we'd like to see and how much weight we'd like to lose and what good things we want to create and what bad things we'd like to cut out.

Ah, resolution time.

But in my world, big things don't get done without allowing backslides. Huge goals fail if I don't allow myself to be imperfect. Resolutions collapse if I don't take into consideration the weaker parts of myself, my hunger, my love for chocolate, my illnesses, my perfectionism, my cluttered head and lack of funds and busy schedule.

In the first two weeks of the new year, even though I have big goals, I have to allow myself to do absolutely nothing at all. Taking days off. Reading bad books (seriously, if those people can get published, some on the BESTSELLER lists, then I can do it too). Doodling in my notebooks. Laying out some tarot cards. Perusing my favorite blogs. Sleeping late.

I also have to allow myself to futz around and SEEM to do nothing at all. A lot of the time when it looks like we are inactive, we are working below ground on the thing we want to bring to life.

Like when someone is pregnant with a child, that child is growing MONTHS before anyone else sees any sign of pregnancy.

I feel these plans bubbling. I feel these projects growing. I feel the dreams being born.

And from the outside?

All you see is futzing.

Where in your life are you silently building your dreams? Take stock. Acknowledge your plans. Acknowledge the need to start out slow. And notice that you are actually moving forward.

Only one warning... don't let the slow movement stall out. Stay focused on the big goal....keep heading there. Don't fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleep late, then wake up the next morning ready to rev the engines a little. Don't let your one day off of your project stretch into two, or three or weeks.

(uh oh. I need to find the time today to get back to revising.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I feel like crap today (and I'm mean to my kids)

I feel like crap today (and I'm mean to my kids)
What I Wore Today: January 7, 2010
paper pen and marker, 8x5 journal

Okay so today I woke up feeling like I had to stop being such a shlub. Feelin glike it was time to get back to business. Wake up and work and take care of things and start pulling it all back together.

Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of a cold. It's not the worst cold in the world (knock on wood) but I'm still cranky and achey and I cad't breade true by dose.

But I still showered and dressed in real clothes, not the long underwear that I put on two days ago as my regular daily outfit. I swear, I woke up and dressed up in underwear. I had a thought that I should maybe start doing photos and/or drawings of my outfits, just so work at home, stay at home mom me in the middle of a snow storm in Michigan would not go around in underwear in slippers every day.

Okay, well, I'm still in slippers. They're purple terry cloth with little pink roses embroidered on them, but you're just going to have to take my word on that.

See here's another aspect of the REALIZE theme for my year... I need to take care of the daily realities of life, whether that is cooking and shopping and feeding my kids or paperwork or making sure I'm healthy or staying in touch with friends and family or getting dressed in real clothes or doing laundry. See, 'cause all that stuff, that's real life. Just because I'd prefer to read or write or draw doesn't mean I can ignore the real details of life.

Real life is about living in the details, as well as shooting for the dreams. How to balance that?

Still working on that.

I was doing some plans for my calendar, which is kind of turning into a sort of twelve week curriculum for living my life as I want to. I have to remember to put daily realities in there as well as goal setting. I have to also remember to put relaxation and joy in my schedule.

Why is it we so often forget to schedule in time for pleasure in all those obligations we give ourselves?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Back to School and A Little Spacey

The set of Space Toys I created for G for Christmas: Rocket, Astronaut, two robot finger puppets, Alien and Spaceship (the alien comes out) and a Laser Shooter.
Made out of felt and cotton fabric.

Last night, I dreamed I was back in college again. Yes attending college, not as a 19 year old, but as a 39 year old. S and the kids were with me, even.

All morning, I was wondering why I have these recurring dreams of being back in college, attending way after I have my bachelors and even after my masters. I have these dreams often enough that when I'm sleepy or perhaps have a little head cold (like today) sometimes I get confused and think I've actually spent an extra year or two in college, as an adult and a student.

It's bizarre.

And then after some wondering and despite the head cold that clouds my brain, I realized (there's that word again) that perhaps I have these dreams when I am embarking on a new lesson to learn. When I am engaged in learning new skills, opening up new worlds, researching new steps... basically growing.

In order to realize my dreams, I am going to need to expand my education.

Just because it won't be on a traditional campus does not mean it won't be an education.

Ah, life, the ultimate teacher.

Does this mean life is going to hand me a syllabus to follow? I wouldn't mind, it would help me to know which way to go... oh wait... that is exactly what my little Realize Journal is attempting to do.

See, now, you can take the girl out of the Federation of Teachers, but you can't take the Teacher out of the girl.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Realize: The Journal

Plant It Now: My Calendar for Realizing

Okay, I'm working something out with these things.

I realized that after I made the commitment to do art every day, I didn't even take out my paints.

Maybe this word of my year, "Realize" has more to it than I thought. Perhaps I also need to Realize where I am right now and what I am doing-- or not doing, as the case may be-- to make my dreams come true.

So when I realized I wasn't painting, and I realized that I didn't really have time, with the kids, to take out all my paints and focus down. And when I realized that I've kind of lost my old habits and my old places to paint, and it makes it very hard to get in there and make messes. And when I realized that if I didn't make some positive actions to DO what I said I was going to DO, then I simply wasn't going to do them. And all those minutes/hours/days/weeks/months would pass by and I simply wouldn't reach my goals.

So, sitting in the computer/laundry/play room with my kids, I took out a piece of computer paper and the pens I had in my bag (which happened to be my makeup bag full of pens and pencils, there's a reason I keep this stuff portable) and I started drawing.

What I was drawing turned into a calendar, as I realized that I was feeling lost, confused, overwhelmed and disorganized. What I needed for myself was a plan.

What I needed for myself was to start. Even if what I started wasn't what I wanted it to look like at the end.

We make the road by walking (Antonio Machado?) Begin: My Calendar for Realizing

Sometimes when I am confused about my goals and how to get there, or if I am clear about my goals, but don't know what I need to do next in pursuit of them, I start my planning. I love lists. I love calendars. I love graphs and charts. I love seeing the steps to take. I love logs that mark the steps I have already taken.

I am a person who spends far too much time in my head. Dreaming up wishes and hopes and things I'd love to do, and someone who allows real life to get in the way of those dreams.

But I have learned over time that the way to transform that dreamer, that procrastinating, frightened dreamer into someone who can actually achieve those pie in the sky dreams, is to break those big dreams down into small steps. So here I am trying to do that in my calendar. Using my calendar to fulfill my draw everyday goal, and also to give me what I need in reaching my big goal

Hopefully, as I go on, I will see the next thing that needs to be marked down in my project, the next question that comes up, the next task that needs to be tackled, and I will find the inspiring quote to fit that need, and I will draw the pretty picture that gets my brain moving, and then I will have myself a goal tackling, dream actualizing, concrete task setting journal to keep me moving on my path.

Nurture (still no quote): My Realizing Calendar

Oh, I know there are many who write artists off as disorganized dreamers who don't have a handle on reality. Hippies who want everything to be about peace and love and magic. People without much ambition or drive, who just want to play about all day. Eternal children who aren't willing to sacrifice, or do what they must do.

All I know is that as an artist and writer, I work virtually all the time I am not sleeping. Or physically caring for my kids. I have big goals that seem almost impossible sometimes, but which I work on, and have been working on for two and a half decades.

I'm willing to pay the hard price. To sacrifice what I must to the things that are important. I may value different things than some more conventional folks, but I have the drive and the work ethic. I am very serious about my goals, often far too serious.

What I need to work on, and what I've made this year about is connecting the dreams with the reality. Researching and planning and taking the steps that I need to.

As my creative self, I need to see these plans, organize my head on paper. Write it out. Have documents. And, not coincidentally, make it pretty.

Perhaps I'll use what I need to do for realizing my goals as a kind of creative exercise, a kind of demystifying the process of goal setting and actualizing. Perhaps it will enlighten others. Perhaps someday I'll have a fine tuned version of my personal Realizing Journal and sell them in my shop. Who knows?

When you think creatively, anything can be an opportunity.

And perhaps, some day soon, I will start writing in my handy dandy goal realizing calendar, rather than just drawing nice charts for it.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sparkle and Realize


My word for the new year, the one to remember, is REALIZE

I want this word to remind me to realize where I am in the moment, to pay attention to the living.

I also want this word to remind me to REAL-IZE the goals I have been holding onto for so long.

Ugh, I don't want to announce it because I'm afraid someone will hold me to it. That ofcourse means I must announce it.

[trumpets trumpeting]

This is the year that I will tackle publishing.

It sounds pretty lame when I hear it. I mean, I don't say I am going to be on the best seller lists here, or be rich and famous, I just say I'm going to "tackle publishing."

Well, what can I say, I feel the need not to be attached to the outcome. I need to concern myself with the process of the goal. I need to do my research. I need to revise my book. I need to send work out. I need to look for an agent. I need to give myself small, manageable goals. Baby steps.

Have I said this before? I probably have, but I need to reiterate it all for myself so that I remember.

I don't consider this a New Years Resolution.

Goals aren't just for New Years. Goals are things you work on year round, and they evolve. Sometimes on a daily basis. Goals are the way I figure out what I'm doing. Goals are the way I carve out my actions from my chaotic life.

I like my lists and they are not bounded by the New Years.


It's time to start dinner. I should have made a to do list today so that I could hit all my goals in a timely-ish manner.

Oh well, no time to make this tighter.

Oh yeah, and one thing more. I think I'm going to try to do a small piece of art for every day in January. I have just found my hands empty far too many nights, and have been avoiding the paints.

I'm putting that one out there, too.

A painting/drawing a day. Yeah.

Stay tuned.
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