Friday, June 27, 2008

To Write

I spend much of my day writing.  I have spent much of my life writing.  I write to know what I think. 
I write to get out the words in my head.
I write to make sense of the world. I write to pass the time and stave off boredom.
I write to document my life and the world around me.
I write to help people. I write to feel some connection.
I write to entertain myself. I write to twiddle the twists and turns of my often melodramatic mind.
I write to tell stories.
I write to ask questions. I write to analyze the complex. I write to understand the intricacies of the simple.
I write to organize my life. I write to remember why it is joyful. I write to hold onto what I have lost.
I write so that I will have those perfect words when I speak.
I write to make friends. I write to change the world.
I write to argue that I am right, right, right. I write to express my love and admiration.

I write because I have something to say and I have found my voice with which to speak it.
I write to catch on to my dreams.
I write to bring them into fruition.
I write so I don’t forget the olive oil. I write to keep my brain going.
I write because I love and I love because I write.
I am a writer. There is no cure for it.

Lately, I have found one of my recent mediums to be silent.
There was an incident involving a purple ball and a cup of coffee and the laptop keyboard.

It was not pretty. The computer groaned to a halt. The next day, the computer came back, but not the keyboard.
I could get on line, but I could not write anything . If you’ve been wondering where I was, I was sitting there, clicking through my
links wanting to join in on the conversation but being unable to, feeling voiceless… something I haven’t felt for a very long time.
The first night I was too upset to write. The next day,
I decided to take advantage of the extra time that I would have used to tend
my blog and sat down with my novel. I wrote.

I wrote hard and fast and in the past two days of naptime netlessness, I wrote about 4500 words and 14 pages in my novel.

Yes, she lives. I think I have found her heart and her center.

I don’t know what it is that has kept me from giving my novel the attention it deserves. I know that I have been reluctant.

I know that I have been uninspired, even afraid to take it up.
I have not been excited, but I kept at it, in fits and starts until I could write my way back in.

Is it only this period of being offline that has gotten me back in?
Have I been using the internet as a way to avoid the good and hard work of writing a novel?

Or has the internet, the discussion, the inspiration, the reflection, the creativity,
has it been pushing me to find my voice and take my place in the writing?

Maybe it was both, and I just needed the push of the coffee disaster to allow me to turn my attention back to my book.
Whatever it was, it feels good to have The Story back.

(BTW, if you are reading this post, either my tech problems have been solved,
or I have found a way to transfer this from my offline PC to the limping internet Mac.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time Out

Gabriel is about to turn three.

As a three year old, his time outs have been upgraded to three minutes, rather than the two minute time out of a two year old. When he gets frustrated and starts pushing the baby or throwing things, he gets his time out. Sure, he has a couple weeks until his actual birthday, but I think it's close enough.

They say kids are supposed to get as many minutes in time out as they have years. That's how much they can handle, developmentally, and G certainly seems to be able manage sitting there for longer now. Then I thought about how long these Time Outs would last. I giggled about a 15 year old, sitting in a corner for 15 minutes.

But then, later, as I was reading some old writing that I did, about how I gave myself a time out when the stresses of caring for little guys got to be too much for my frayed temper. When I gave myself my time out, I used that time to do some creative work, some poetry, some deep thought. And when I went back to take care of the kids, I was calm again.

So I just made the connection-- why shouldn't a teenager or an adult take as many minutes of time out as years in their age? It actually makes a lot of sense. It's not about punishing a kid, really, it's about having some time to yourself and centering and regaining your equilibrium.

I am 37 years old. A 37 minutes time out from my temper to get my head back on straight sounds PERFECT. I don't have to sit in a corner, unless... well, my computer is kind of in the corner, so maybe I do. And Sean, he's 40-mumble, so I bet you he would enjoy a nice round 45 minute time out to do whatever he wants, watch a game, have a beer, read a book.

Who says time outs are just for kids? I think we all need them, parents, non parents, grown-ups, teens. Every single one of us can get to the point where life is just too much. Maybe we don't have a wise and loving parent sitting over us looking to set boundaries, telling us when we need our time outs, but we can serve that purpose for ourselves.

Do some mothering for yourself. When it all gets to be too much and you are snapping at petty things-- TIME OUT, BABY!

Take it as a punishment, if you want... if it makes others around you realize they need to leave you alone. "Can't talk, guys, I'm in time out." Take it as needed "me-time" and get some Yoga in or journaling or paint a picture. Take it as a luxury and have a bubble bath or a walk or SoapOpera session, whatever it is that will get you back to your beautiful, lovely, centered self.

As the newly rechristened WarriorMama, I say you are to go into Time Out when you get all bitchy and stressed and angry. Really, you're not fun to be around, not even for yourself. I'm WarriorMama, so you have to listen to me.

Have fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fighting the Perfect

I will never find the perfect writing practice... never missing a day, always meeting my goals, always getting exactly as far as I wanted, always hitting that flow of inspiration. There will always be times I stay too long at my email. There will always be times when I forget to eat and so need to take care of myself first. There will always be children who wake up early for a nap, or who refuse to go down. There will always be jobs to take care of, errands to run, family barbecues to interfere. There will always be cheerios to be swept and dinner to be made.

Even when these things change, even when my life circumstance morphs into something else, there will always be things to get in the way of my writing.

I am a writer, but I am not only a writer, and who I am is not separate from what I do. I am a writer and a mom and a partner. I am a painter and a cook and a dismal housekeeper. I am a daughter and a sister and a niece and a cousin. I am a friend. I am a reader. I am a pop culture junky. A poet. An eight hour a day sleeper. A singer in the rain. A lounger in the shade. A walker on these city streets. I am a New Yorker exiled for now. I am a searcher for home. I am a super list maker and a daily photographer. I am a cloud watcher and a movie watcher. A sci fi geek with literary leanings. I am a journaler and a collager. I am a teacher and always will be. I am a recovering perfectionist. I am a daughter of hippies and wear flowers behind my ears. I am on a journey to wisdom and peace and art. And I am always evolving.

I am so many things. And none of them are perfect. And they all feed directly into who I am as a writer.

The only way I can see to achieve my goals as a writer is to step fully into my life and achieve my goals as a human being.

It is a huge task... and perhaps very simple.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scribbles and Hubble and Goldfish, Oh My!

This is a series of paintings I did with Ivy over the course of the last few days. I painted the circles, and she did the rest. Somehow, my starting the painting out with circles allowed her to dig in, too. I used to do the same for G, but I would paint a stick figure or a face that he would then elaborate. We used Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaints. A wonderful greasy, squooshy clean fun time activity which G won't touch because it's a yucky greasy squooshy mess. He likes water colors the best, which Ivy tends to eat.

She likes to sit on my lap while I am on the computer, and paint. She has even learned a new word and will yell it loudly and repeatedly if I do not listen quickly enough. "Paint. Paint! PAINT! PAINTPAINTPAINT!"

As she painted picture after picture, I started to see something interesting.

This is what I thought of.

I love those Hubble photographs. They fire my imagination, and they are so goshdern beautiful.
It doesn't hurt my imaginitive process that I am writing a Science Fiction novel about a colony who lands on the only other Earth-like planet that has ever been discovered by man... and they do it on the sly, to keep other dangblasted Earthlings from getting in on the booty.

It gratifies my soul that my little artbabies enjoy painting and looking at art. Sometimes G will sit on my lap and watch me page through etsy (we search for key words like monsters) and he has definite likes and dilikes.. I've taken them to museums and art festivals. Once before Ivy was born, I took G to a gallery and he turned up his nose at everything there. He just didn't like it. I tried to make the artist (who was there) feel better saying he was picky, but I think he ignored the whole thing, thinking what does a kid know about art. I don't think he realized that G actually does have a distinct aesthetic sense, and it wasn't ALL art he didn't like, it was just this guy's. D'oh!

Maybe that guy should spend some more time looking at kids' art, because they come up with some amazing things, without the art education or even an elementary education. Maybe humans are innately artistic, or creative, or visually oriented. Maybe we all have the potential to be artists, and it only depends upon our parents and lives to nurture that potential.

By coincidence, the good people at Inspire Me Thursday picked this weeks inspiration to be "Bringing Child's Art to Life." It's like the inspiration was hand picked for me.

I had already been thinking about the outerspace image, but then I started wondering how else I might be able to bring the paintings to life. It's not an easy challenge, I don't think, especially since my kids are so little, and their art is non-representational. I love it, but they haven't moved into people and kitties and houses yet.

I started to think about what Ivy might be thinking/seeing while she paints, if it's not just the sensual pleasure of squishing in the paint and the existential pleasure of making a mark that stays behind. (Do one year olds experience existential pleasure?)

This is what I came up with. Something that echoes the chaotic feel, the circles, the colors, the sensual pleasure (this time with touch and taste, along with sight.)

So that's how I staged my Child's art. I did it on purpose, even if it just looks like my kid's snack. Actually, I thought about leaving all the cheerios and goldfish on the floor, where they actually were, but I wanted a white background, not a brown wood one.

What IS it with Cheerios and the floor? Maybe the kids really are trying to make art when they throw them on the floor. A kind of breakfast cereal Pollock thing?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

They Are Why

When I first got pregnant, my creativity disappeared completely. I mean, gone. I didn't paint, I didn't write poetry. I didn't write fiction. I didn't even watch movies that would make my brain work. The strangest of all, I barely even cracked my journal.

I mean, for ME to not write in my journal, my constant companion of the previous twenty years, was almost incomprehensible. In fact, I couldn't comprehend this new state of my being, and fell into a funk. I have since learned that much of my experience was related to brain chemistry and hormones, and actual BRAIN SHRINKAGE (with actual scientific proof and all). But even knowing that, I was at a loss of identity. I did not know who I was outside of being creative. Never mind that I was creating a human being, I didn't understand why I wouldn't be able to create a collage.

As time passed on and the baby was born, life moved on to being about, well, the baby. And figuring out all it meant to be a mother, to take care of a baby, of a house, of a relationship, of myself (yeah, right, I pretty much ignored that.) And then, even before I finished nursing the first one, I got pregnant again. In some ways it was better because I wasn't so shocked at my transformation, and in other ways, it was worse, because I had to take care of a toddler while being pregnant. I did manage to write a first draft of a novel in the few months of the second trimester (thank you nanowrimo and the fear that the impending second baby would make it impossible to ever write again.) Except for that novel, my creativity was pretty lame, actually. I would try, but whatever came out was so dry and uninspired.

I held on to the hope that the magic would come back. Mothers who had been there and done that gave me the advice that it would indeed return. The truth is, it's hard to be the mom of a baby and remain creative. It's even harder to do it with two kids only 20 months apart.

So this is the bad news, kids. Having children makes it much harder to be an artist. You don't have the uninterrupted time to ruminate and be creative, you don't have unbroken nights of sleep. You hormones go wacky and mess with your head and your moods. It's more pressing to make chicken nuggets than it is to make sculptures. Your world shrinks down to the needs of one drooling, pooping, gummy smiling little being. The world is no longer just about you and your journal and your pen and your paints. Sorry.

But before you despair, before you decide to hang up your ovaries and close shop on mommyhood, there is a creative upside.

Sure, being the mom of babies is hard. But once you get past the hormonal upheaval of pregnancy, post partum and nursing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it's a complicated, powerful light.

When you are a mom, you have a reason to do the things you do that extends beyond yourself. Your creativity is no longer simply about your own happiness, it is about your children, it is about the world, it is about the future. Because you are creating the world that your children will live in, and if creativity is important to you, then you will be motivated to make it a part of your world.

You learn how to utilize what little free time you have. No longer will you fritter away your long and uncommitted days, knowing that you can create later. Now, whenever you have a fifteen minute stretch of uninterrupted time, you will jump to your sketchbook, your computer, your art. And you will not dawdle. You will get to work.

You will be inspired by your children. By the things they do, the things the say. By the things you do to make them happy. By their responses to your own art work. By what they look at and how they look at the world. Having children opens up a whole new realm of humanity to you, one that you only saw from the outside before.

Children make you grow up. In a good way. So many of the little things that stopped you before will now seem silly. Like your own fears. Or what the neighbors think. Or the desire to be fabulous and party. You have a new understanding of the things that are important, and if art is important to you, then the unimportant things will no longer pose such a barrier.

I get the feeling that parenthood actually has unlimited benefits, along with its difficulties (maybe because of its difficulties). These are the the plusses I can grasp right now. Does anyone else see how having children has increased their creativity?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surprisingly, I Can't Stop Thinking About What it Means to Be Glamorous

I wrote this post about How To Be A Glamor Mom over on Domestic Glamor, and I meant it to be a light hearted piece about being sexy and chic, but instead of being a SAHM Sex and The City, I think it went deeper. Far from feeling like the expert on being a "Glamor Mom" I feel like I really need to take my own advice on most of these "hints." (Particularly 1 and 10, sigh.)

I think glamour is a surface thing, really, it's the appearance of something sexy and alluring... but the post I came up with, seems to be about being happy inside of whatever surface you have. The happiness radiates out into the glow that I choose to call glamor.

Glamor is magic, you see, but it doesn't have to be a phony magic trick. The magic of my glamor is about love. Love your self, love the life, and everyone will love with you.

Hmm. I still want to think about this more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh dear. Oh dear

I don’t know what to make of the mess I’ve gotten myself in.

Did I write everyday? No

Did I write a page for every day, ie. 30 pages? Yes.

I wrote almost 60 pages. I got farther than I would have if I hadn’t taken on the challenge of writing a page a day for a month. It is a success, but not as much of a success as I was hoping. I am not really trying to play a game of semantics, I know what I meant when I challenged myself.

I have to consider reality, though. Do I pay my consequences of no chocolate for every day I did not write? That would equal eleven days of no chocolate. A week and a half.

But I would just like to put forth the challenges of this month that were not part of my consideration when I set forth this goal.

Half way through this goal, S had to go back to NYC to work, leaving me alone, 24-7 with a one year old and a three year old. In addition to that, my hours at the Sunset settled in to three or four days and/or nights a week. Luckily, the grandparents have been available for babysitting, but that is mostly only when I am working.

These are the results of my changing situation.
There are fewer stolen moments during the day when I can get some writing done (whether on my book or on line) like after dinner when S would take the kids out side for a constitutional while I would sneak on the computer to check emails, comment on blogs, or post/cheer on 43Things. This means that I do these things during nap time more often, so less noveling time.

I am the only one now sweeping cheerios and collecting toys and changing diapers and washing dishes and making dinner and going grocery shopping etc. That means I spend more time on chores and less… you guessed it, on writing.

I am now on duty from the moment they wake up in the morning. I have lost my extra sleep in the morning. It was anything from a few moments to a couple hours of extra sleep. I am not a person who can get by on less sleep, and because of this, I don’t have the energy or mind power at night to get much done. Is it an excuse? Quite possibly, but I wasn’t aware of the issue until a couple days ago, and not being aware of it, I couldn’t do anything about it.

I am not cooking as much, since it’s harder to cook with the kids around and I am often working at dinner time. What this means is that the kids are eating quick and/or prepared meals that I often don’t take part in. And then I forget to eat or eat crap. Which leaves me with not so much energy which means, less writing.

Plus, remember, I am working. That’s about 18-30 hours less that I have to get done all the other stuff, whether that is chore stuff, relaxing stuff, creative stuff, or working on my novel. If I work during the day, I kind of crash at night. If I work during the night, I get home and totally crash, straight from work, pretty much.

And then, the situation that is less logistical and more emotional. I’ve been kind of blue. It’s getting better, but there was quite a while where I was just unmotivated.

So this was the sitch. What is the point of my goal, though? It wasn’t to reach the goal or else. It wasn’t to punish myself. It was to develop a writing practice.

I have learned a few things about my writing practice during the past month.

One, I am writing all the time… just not on my novel. I am also working on my art. I am putting time into my writing career, time that is not just writing itself, but understanding the industry and marketing and all that…so while I have not technically been working on my novel itself every day, I have been working on writing, and I have been writing far more than a page a day counting all my projects.

Two, I need to take into account the times that are/are not working for me. Yes, 2 pm seems to be the best hour… except when I have to do some basic maintenance like shower or eat something… and except for when the kids decide not to sleep past two… and except for the days when I am working during the day… and except for the days when I have activities with my mom or other family members. Whew! That’s a lot of excepts. Maybe it’s not the best time. Night time before bed could work, but I spend some time chatting with my uncle at night… the uncle who is letting us stay here for free. He deserves the attention. Plus, my energy has gone down at night, as I noted, so it’s gotten harder to be creative.

Hey. Here’s what I decided. I am NOT going to punish myself for not writing this month. I AM, though, going to put myself back on the block and take up the challenge AGAIN. This time with the lessons from my not-so-successes.

The real punishment is and always has been that I am not writing and my own disappointment in myself. Taking chocolate away from a woman who really doesn’t have all that many luxuries, that just seems…cruel.

Back to the grindstone. No rest for the weary. I’m going to keep writing my book and I am going to build up my writing practice and finish my novel.

What do you think about that?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Journal: an everyday sort of thing

I was looking at the site Inspiration Thursday and they had a prompt about finding the art in everyday. Well that just was so much like what I have been trying to live, that I had to take part for the first time. And rather than think and think about what I might do, and waiting for nap time to do it, or even searching through my past work to try to find something to fit into the topic (it wouldn't have been hard to find something,) I decided to hop to it and right that very second look around for my inspiration.

Found it. The boy, who was still for a moment watching cartoons. I could draw him, or at least make the attempt. (The girl was in no way, no how, any sort of still, so she is absent from my attempt today.)

So this is my every day, as it stands. Children and cheerios all over the place. Cartoons on the TV. My attempts at creativity. My journal and pens. My computer. My subpar technology (I wish I had my scanner here, but it's in storage.) And fifteen minutes, give or take, to get something done. Actually, if you look, there is some jagged writing caused by a girl trying to get into my lap as I wrote.

I hide nothing. This is it, every day, imperfect and... dare I say it? Beautiful.

*the writing on the page says this:
[opposite page, sideways]
My Journal: an everyday sort of thing

[next to the monster]
when not watching cartoons
[main page]
5 minutes he sat. I waited too long, took too much time, the he jumped up and continued his constant motion. TV is good for a few moments of stillness. All hail the cartoon.
[left arrow]
did not finish the face. I am out of practice.
[right arrow]
Imagine a cartoon about robots off in the distance.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Choose My Choice, too

I was reading this fascinating article I Choose My Choice, by Sandra Tsing Loh in the Atlantic Monthly. What's it about? Feminism, Motherhood and Work.

Work in a cubicle, work in the home, work in the grocery store, work on the phone.

Heh heh. I'd like to see the late Dr Seuss write a book about the battle between WOHMs and SAHM (for those not in the know, that's Work Out of Home Moms and Stay At Home Moms.) There would probably be some striped clothes involved, and maybe a few anthropomorphic critters. Martinis with crazy olives, anyone? Aprons with crazy lace?

What are my thoughts on this? Aside from rhyming, I think it is not feminist to tell women that their choices in life are not feminist. Now, we all have moments where we are not as equality minded as we might be. That's because we are imperfect human beings and we have to LIVE our lives, not just theorize them. And maybe not all of our choices are made with the direct thought of being feminists. Maybe furthering the feminist agenda of some folks isn't actually what would make us happy human beings, sometimes. Some people feel more empowered WOH, some people feel more empowered SAH. And some people are just living the ways that fit their lives, it's not really our place to judge.

I do however think that a lot of the backlash towards women who do stay home to raise their kids is often based in pure snobbery, capitalism and materialism. Money is good. Rich is better. Being paid for your labor is better than giving it away out of love. Having stuff is better. Having fancy stuff is better still. Showing your fancy stuff off so people know how rich you are is the bestest of the best.

I made the choice, and make it over and over again, to not focus on the material side of life. I am tempted (always) to want the neato gadgets and have every last opportunity in life, but the direction my life would have to take in order to have those things is not the direction I want to go.

I am a feminist, and I stay at home with my kids. As a feminist, I choose to live small, to reject the materialism, to reject the social pressures that say money is what makes people worth something. As a feminist, I maintain my personal ambitions, which have to do with creativity and spirituality and caring, rather than house hold income and Jimmy Choos. As a feminist, I sometimes feel like an underground guerilla, in both the world of feminism and the wider world of popular materialism, keeping my battle small and based in my small stay at home, write in my blog kind of life.

Sometimes, I look at the rest of the world, and I see the choices that other women have made. They are lovely choices. There is Jen Lemen who made the audacious and loving choice to travel to Africa with her zines and goodwishes. There is Soule Mama who has chosen to fill her world with color and craft and share it with the world. There is Karen Maezen Miller who chose the path of a Zen priest (a Zen priest!) These are only some of my current round of heroes. I celebrate their choices, as I celebrate the choices of many wonderful women (and men) out there in the world. People who take action in their worlds and change them for the better. These are the kind of feminists that I want to fight with, play with and learn from.

I would like to be as bold and sure in my actions. I won't go so far as to say that I wish I was them, because I am me, and I am satisfied with myself and with the challenges I must face. I am on my own feminist, spiritual, artistic, cultural, loving journey, and I am a mom, so I'm bringing my kids with me.

And like Sandra Tsing Loh, I don't clean the floors, either.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Don't Know How I Feel

I often don't know what I think about an issue until I write about it. This may be why I write so much, I am just used to going on and on as I uncover my own thoughts. I have over sixty full journals where I have self reflected and worked out issues and outlined my true desires. Writing is a great tool, and a vital one for me, to help the thought processes.

But something just occurred to me yesterday... I may write to learn about what I think, but I often do not know how I FEEL until I paint.

This is an interesting discovery. I have been both writing and drawing as long as I can remember. They feel like normal outlets of my brain. Over the last few years, years that not coincidentally coincided with pregnancies and raising infants, those parts of myself have silenced quite a bit.

No wonder I have had a hard time moving, not just through the day, but through my life. Because it's like I have had blinders on. How do I feel about all of this???

I don't know! I haven't been painting!!!

I suppose poetry could also serve the same purpose, since it is kind of like painting with words, but I haven't been writing poetry, either.

I tell you, it's about time for a Renaissance, even if it seems as if I only have time for fifteen minutes of creativity at a time. Even if the kids are pulling at my ankles and there is, in fact, a little baby trying to get up on my lap as I type. Is making dinner and doing laundry and sweeping the floor (again!) really an excuse for half living?

I don't know how I will achieve this rebirth, because all of my old techniques to pull myself up by my bootstraps entail vast amounts of time to myself, a journal, art supplies, lots of coffee, a bit of wine and a seat at some cafe with a moody view out the window of a bustling city street.

How will I manage it now? My tools at hand consist of a toddler and a preschooler, mounds of scattered cheerios, cartoons, my uncle's computer, a neglected journal, and art supplies that have sadly, and rather symbolically, all dried out.

Well. In the mean time, let me show you a painting that I started in my journal. It is how I feel. The word is "aglow" but I am not sure if those are tentacles or vines growing into the picture. They feel ominous, but maybe they will blossom with the light and with time... I don't know.

Maybe by the time I finish the painting, I will know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Power of Wishing or If Wishes Were Horses, I Would Hitch My Cart Right On Up

I've been trying to get myself to DO DO DO, lately. Activity is the key... in part because I have a strong tendency towards laziness and inaction. I want to WRITE. I want to PAINT. I want to COOK good dinners. I want to ORGANIZE. I want to SHOP. I want to WORK (well not really, but it is action, and I have been trying to pump myself up about working.)

I would, however, like to put a good word in for wishing. And dreaming. And hoping. And thinking. And imagining. And wondering. It is in these things that we come to understand what it is we really, really want. What's the point of doing all that work if it is not in service of your dreams?

I am not talking fantasy dreams where some guy on a white horse swoops in and saves you from yourself. I'm not talking about Disney dreams. I am not even talking about your night time dreams which may or may not just be the random firings of a recuperating brain. I am talking about the dreams in which the deepest parts of your soul speak to you.

If we pay attention to what we really want, pay attention to the things that fire us up, the things that we imagine for ourselves, then we can find out where we need to go to live a fulfilling life. Absently daydreaming is cool, but not the final step in making dreams come true. Let's explore.

Write it out. Write your dreams. Say out loud what you want and make a record of it. Be specific. The more specific the better. Not a house, but a sun filled, two or three bedroom cottage with porch, fenced in yard, fireplace, architectural character, and a space for an art and writing studio in a walkable, creative community. Yeah. And never having to get a day job again.

This is the first step in making fantasies realities. Create a dream board. Look through magazines for images that seem to represent your dreams. Take photos of the things/experiences you want. Paste them on the board. Draw pictures of that which you want to see for real. Write words and phrases. Are you looking for a certain feeling? Use colors to represent things. Do you want to live by the ocean? Add a seascape. With a garden. And a picnic lunch. Do you want to write? Put in some beautiful journals, or an antique typewriter or a laptop on a cafe table for that matter... whatever you envision.

I think this is where the dreams can get caught up. It's hard to go from the ideal possibility of having dreams to the concrete reality of figuring out what you need to achieve those dreams. If I have my dream of having my little house and my little writing and art career, then I need to figure out what steps I need to get there. Backwards planning has always served me well. Imagine where you want to be in 25 years, 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, 1 year... and then figure out where you need to take action in order to be at your first goal. So for my ultimate dream of being a successful writer, artist and teacher in a cozy home, I need to work consistently on my novel so I can send it out and I need to open up a shop on etsy and I need to put myself out there and join communities of like minded folk.

If I were really focused on making my dreams happen, I would have my goals for this week, and for tomorrow. They might look something like;

read over chapter 3 and look for themes.
rewrite 3 pages.
paint one monster painting.
open up a pay pal account.
start a dream/inspiration board
read and respond to 3 of my favorite blogs.
write a blog entry.
oh yeah, and feed the kids regularly
change them multiple times
keep them entertained and happy
and maybe clean up a little. maybe.

Tomorrow? Geez. Maybe those should be goals for the week.

Now that I think about it, keeping a daily To Do list might help me in my big, bigger, biggest dreams. I should start that up again.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Few Lovely Projects

My head is abuzz with all that I would like to do.

I have been focusing a lot on writing my novel... even when I am not writing my novel. Unfortunately, I am focusing a lot on NOT writing. (Really, we never learn.)

I thought it would be nice to spend some energy on some of the other projects that have been floating in and out of my mind the last few days. Maybe the writing down of the projects will make it come real. Maybe someone out there will be inspired and give it a whirl.

I would like to:

Collect smooth stones and paint them. Perhaps I will just paint them pretty colors. Maybe I will also paint pictures on them, or words. I'd then like to leave them around the garden, for certain garden gnomes to discover.

Build some fairy houses in the garden. I don't know how I would go about doing this, but I think part of the fun of this is to forage around out there and see what can be made to serve for the little fairies. Fairies are very creative that way.

Paint ten pages of my journal with watercolor. The start collecting pictures. Then collage the pictures onto the paper. Then layer over that with paint and crayons and ink and words and poetry and all sorts of wonderful bits and pieces and ideas and feelings. This is inspired by the way that Teesha Moore works. I'm a little stuck in the habit of art, and think that maybe taking her format and going with it will possible break something open for me.

Take some big paper out into the garden with the kids, give them some brushes and some paint and some crayons and just have fun with them.

Make some play-clay with the kids and let them, well... play.

Use the evenings when I am decompressing to organize, edit, upload and post my photos.

Get into doodling again. Always have a piece of paper and a pen in hand. I used to do this so often and really enjoyed it. My life has become non-paper related.

Write a poem every day that I am at work. There is often down time while one is waiting tables. I want to take advantage of that down time. And I want to get back into poetry, but I don't often have the reflection time to do so. Perhaps I could combine these two desires.

You know. I could keep going and think about all the many projects that I would like to take on, but I am not going to. I am going to keep it limited to what I can think about in one gulp.

There's something to be said for limits. They help us to choose which way to go. Having too many choices, sometimes, is as hard to deal with as having not enough.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fighting Gachnar

Again and again today, I am being reminded to pay attention to the little things. This is what life is made up of-- little thing upon little thing, and laid together, that is what makes the material of our lives. Moments. Kisses. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. Butterflies. The drip, drip of the garden after the sprinkler goes off.

Sometimes I have trouble balancing those little things with the big goals.

Oh, that's not true. I'm making stories up. It's not the little things and the big goals that are at cross purposes... it's the big fears. The worries and the anxieties and the "should haves" and the "not good enoughs." The little things and the big goals work together, like music, each note combining with the one in front of and behind it to make the melody. It's the fears that make the music come screeching to a halt and lead me to get all tangled up in my intentions and excuses.

Maybe they aren't even big fears. Maybe they are the little fears that only get bigger when you obsess over them. Like my fear of asking for favors from loved ones (where the heck does that come from?) Or my fear of sitting down at my desk to work on my writing (what is that about? I have faith in the writing, so what am I afraid of?)

Oh those little fears. They are monstrous. In my imagination. In reality, they are the size of the little lizards running around the garden. So small that little Ivy could scoop them up and squoosh them with one hug, and probably would if she got her hands on them. But they do keep me a running from the life I really want to live.

If you have ever watched the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you'll remember when Fear, Itself, the dread Gachnar demon was summoned, and it turned out to be no larger than the illustration in the book that warned of it's coming. Stomp. Fear, defeated with one, brave step.

You know, I've been spending a lot of energy lately taking note of all those little things that make me happy in any given day. I've been paying attention, and I have to say, it has helped me in finding the zen in my heart and the ability to deal with challenging situations and has just allowed me to enjoy my life more. But maybe it's time to start thinking about the big picture, the big plan of where I want my life to go. What is the life I want to live and what do I have to do to get there. I think I just need a refresher to keep myself focused on the long range goal, while I am enjoying the small steps I am taking to get there.

I wonder how many fear demons will be defeated with every step on that road?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Flying Girl Is Aloft Again

Oh mi goodness! A photo! I hope I have managed to get through my technical difficulties and begin to post photos again. Even if they are not the most wonderful photos in the world... slightly blurry.

But that is besides the point. The POINT, my friends, is that sometimes, this is how I feel. Adrift in an uncertain world, not knowing which way the wind will blow. Will I keep flying and get where I need to go? Will the balloon burst, dropping me to the big SPLAT?

And yet, I must carry on... or perhaps it is more like I must continue to allow myself to be carried on the winds of change. Riding the wave, to change metaphorical element.

The other point is that sometimes, I do not have the words to explain the feelings. Or maybe I have too many words, and they get all bottled up.

Instead, I decided to paint a little picture, and let that speak for me.

Try it yourself. When you run out of words, when you just can't speak to that person, when you have no one to speak to, when you are unsure of what those words should be... pick up a pen, pick up a brush, and maybe all that you're holding back will start to flow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Where has all the time gone? What have I been doing with my time?

Sometimes it seems as if I get caught up in all the things I have to do and don't get to the things I really want to do... even more than that, I don't get to just living in my life. That's how wrapped up in doing stuff I am. I forget to Be.

Megan Pincus Kajitani has a great post about this on her blog. She talks about a button she has had hanging over her desk for inspiration.

To do is to be. -Socrates

To be is to do. -Plato

DoBeDoBeDo. -Sinatra.

Now, I have heard this little saying before, and laughed at the wit, but today I'm wondering if Sinatra doesn't have it right?

Sometimes we need to focus our time and energy on Doing, and take care of all those things that pile up, all those little details that must get done for us to move forward, all the work that gets us homes and dinner and a few luxuries.

Sometimes, though, we need to just be in our skins. Lay out in the garden and watch the clouds float across the sky. Dance with the babies and laugh and feel the music. Enjoy the conversation with loved ones, maybe a glass of wine. Be at peace with who we are and where we are, right this minutes.

But maybe living is the dance between the Doing and the Being, and there's no reason to get hung up in one or the other. No reason to think you SHOULD be Doing something or you are a failure. No reason, even, to think that you should really be Being every single moment of the day. (It would be nice to live in mindfulness 24 hours a day, but realistically, I am not that enlightened, and I still have to sweep the floor.) And forget about all the Having and the not Having and how you feel you should have that car that Wii that pair of shoes.

The main point I want to remember for my own mental health and future and present creativity is that where I am is just fine. What I am doing is just fine. Who I am is great. It's all part of the story, the dance, the music of my life, even when I am stumbling.

So to Megan's quote, I add another.

You are the music while the music lasts. -T.S. Eliot

I guess we might as well enjoy it.
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