Hope you are having a smashing week. By the time you read this I will have taken a road trip to Charleston, SC to see my daughter and celebrate her 24th birthday. It is hard to believe 24 years have passed so fast.
Yesterday (I am a week ahead of myself so there is a slight time warp here) I had one of those lovely visits that reminds me that I need to see my people more often and we hermit like creative folk need to go out in the world more occasionally.
In my continuing cleaning out of stuff I decided to part with a box full of scrap paper that I have been trying to do something with for years. Evidently I have not had any luck with that since it was all still there. My friend Juanita has a kids craft time at her church so I have started donating my unused supplies to her. I decided to drop off the box yesterday and caught her at home.
We have very similar work and personalities. Both work from home in creative jobs and run our own creative businesses. We are both serious introverts who happily work away in our own little worlds. BUT get us together and we can talk for hours about just about anything. By the time I left her house my brain was bouncing with ideas for a problem I had been trying to sort out about my Etsy shop and hopefully I left her with some ideas as well.
It is hard to find those people who make up your tribe when you work solo, but we need to. They add so much to our lives when we make the time to catch up, sort out, problem solve and laugh together.
If you get a chance, check out Juanita’s Etsy shop and tell her hello. Now, go find your people and make a visit.
Hello everyone! Yes, last week was a doozy and I did not get to write a post amid the scrambling to get everything done before the family chicken stew. Which, by the way, did not happen…the getting everything done, that is. As often happens, at least with me, the list is unreasonably long.
Most of the family made it including some that live a good distance away and hadn’t seen the others in several years. I had planned to share a few pictures, but got so caught up with visiting, fixing food and chasing grand babies that I forgot to take any. I did get this one. No, this is not our mess. We had everything cleaned up when we went to bed but forgot to take the trash out of the can. Our ever rowdy raccoons evidently had their own party.
Switching subjects now. How do you like that subtle segway?? Here are a few wins and failures that have happened recently. Knowing that I can’t possibly be the only creative person that has as many, if not more, bombs than winners, I like to reassure my readers that they aren’t alone. If I AM the only one that bombs projects- please don’t tell me. I like my little fantasy world.
So, for the bombs first (I like to end on a high note). I so very, very much want to be able to paint luscious, loose, moody oil paintings (only with acrylics because I don’t like the oil solvents). I try so very, very hard, but this is what I get. Not what I am going for at all. The brown bottles below are more what I want to achieve, but I did that one first so it sort of feels like a fluke. ☹️
After I did my deer skull drawing it began to dawn on me that maybe I’m better off sticking to what I do best. It’s like having lovely straight hair, but always wanting curls. You want what you don’t have. I am in my element with pencils and charcoal in my hand, but want to paint.
These drawings are virtually effortless for me. I occasionally have a bombed drawing, but with painting I have many more failures than successes. The problem is that I don’t always want so much detail in my work. I am not trying for photo realism. That’s what photography is for. BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO STOP MYSELF once I get started on a drawing. It’s truly frustrating.
Any suggestions would be appreciated or jump in and let me know if you deal with a similar problem.
Yesterday I realized we are only a week and a half from our annual family chicken stew. Until recently I thought everyone, at least everyone in the South, had chicken stews. After a recent news article, I discovered that chicken stews are very regional events. Without involving recipes (a point of contention at times), a chicken stew is held in the Fall. Chicken is usually cooked in a large cast iron pot (another point of contention at times) into a stew, obviously. It requires a large gathering of people bringing large quantities of food to accompany the chicken stew. Weather permitting, it is best held outside and involves a bonfire or fire in a fire pit. Alcohol is often involved, though we tend to skip that part here.
So, I am now in panic mode to get all the cleaning, organizing and yard work done before next weekend. I am a firm believer that a party should be held at your home at least once a year. Not that I am big entertaining sort of person, but for the top to bottom cleaning that gets done. After this coming week my Fall cleaning will be done and I can go into Winter content until Spring. I will be exhausted, but content.
This week I sat down and took on a drawing project that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years now. I have also been procrastinating for a couple of years because I didn’t think I could pull it off.
I found a deer skull in the woods. Not an unusual event here. We find all kinds of animal skeletons laying around. Maybe the skull is kind of creepy, but it had so many interesting nooks and cracks and shadows begging to be drawn. Finally I forced myself to focus and see if I could still draw the way I could way back in high school. Here is the finished piece.
I have been doing a little happy dance. This may be my best drawing ever. It took constant self discipline to slow down and not rush the process. I have had to rush most of the work I have done in the past 25 years. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines breathe down my neck constantly. You expect that with graphic design, but even with commissioned artwork most of the time there is a deadline. The client has come up with the idea, usually, almost TOO close to the time they need it. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.
It was an absolute pleasure to know I could take as long as I needed to do this drawing. I did not want to put it away and come back to it though. That is how things find themselves in the permanent Unfinished Projects file. I have a draw full of those already. Estimated time for this was probably around ten hours over three days. While it made me very happy, that much focus has worn me out. There will be at least a week and a half break before I take on another big project. Ha, just in time to do that chicken stew cleaning!
Have a wonderful week. If by chance, you don’t see a post from me next week, you will know that I am scrubbing, dusting, washing or organizing something.
I started this post early last week then got caught up in several projects we have going on around here and totally and completely forgot to finish it. Ironic considering the title.
When I am NOT forgetting things, I have been TRYING to keep my brain young. This doesn’t mean taking Ginko supplements (though maybe I should!) or doing Suduko (even my best young brain couldn’t do that). It means I have been trying very hard to not catch myself saying things like, “when I was young we had more sense than that”, or “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (Just how old IS that saying? Who even knows what a hand basket is anymore).
I remember hating to hear old(er) people rant and rave about the younger generation as if the young uns just invented stupid. Stupid has been around a long time and is not limited to a post baby boomer age group.
So, I have been trying to look at the world through younger eyes and see what is going on out there. I listen to my kids and other young adults I run across to get a perspective that I do not generally glimpse in my everyday life.
In many ways I think the 20 somethings will be smarter in the long run than my generation. They recently watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and are more careful with their money. At least my kids have realized that McMansions are not the great investment the Baby Boomers thought they were. They are also much more aware of the environmental impact we are wreaking on earth. They live in a global world. My generation at best had a national world or regional world. Our perspective on life in another country may have come from a pen pal you wrote once a month or saw a little of on the nightly news. I now keep up with numerous people daily all over our amazing dot via Instagram. How freaking cool is that!
I listen to friends complain about how bad, lazy, uninformed, etc. young people are. First, I remember how utterly boring the news was until I reached the age of tax paying! Second, I have the amazing pleasure of spending one week each year with high school and college age young adults. In that week they repair around seven homes for people who do not have the financial and/or physical ability to make their homes safe, warm and dry. This is done in 90 degree heat and usually involves mud and bugs as well. And unlike many adults they do not complain! Five straight days of sleeping in a gym, enduring subpar showers, generally not eating as much as they like and NO COMPUTERS. All this is handled with good humor and patience.
From my perspective, if these amazing young people don’t catch the “we have alway done it this way” disease from us, we have hope for the future. They despise our political system and well they should. Our Constitution has been whittled away at by both parties. Hopefully these bright and compassionate up and comers will clean up the mess. I don’t believe they are as influenced by money and power. They have seen what it does to society.
Not only do I want to stay young at heart as the years continue to pile up, but I want to stay young at brain. I don’t want to shut down fresh ideas or not listen to and consider the views of our younger generations. They have such a different world than the one I came into. I think it is going to fall on their shoulders to save the human race if the current powers that be don’t destroy it first.
I forgot. No excuses. I just forgot to write a post last week. I remembered on Saturday evening. It was even on my To Do list and I still forgot. I will try not to let that happen again…at least not soon.
At my age you would think that I had learned to be patient in how long things take. Every time I think I have learned that lesson something else comes along to prove otherwise.
Right now I am aggravated in how long it is taking me to get my work space set up and workable. I make progress, then something needs to be fixed in the house and here comes all the furniture, appliances, boxes, etc. piled back into my office and it clutters my mind as well as the space.
Last week we finally resolved some car issues that took about a month longer than I would have liked. It all turned out fine, but my impatience stresses me out for no good reason.
I have been “helping” D. train our horse, Bob. My helping means I hold the rope and pet the horse when he (Bob) gets stressed. I am trying to learn from D’s patience. It is one TINY step at a time teaching a horse his ground manners and to accept a rider. Today consisted of just showing Bob the blanket and putting on and taking it off his back, then trying the same thing with the saddle. Bob was not thrilled with the saddle. D. would let him smell it, touch it to his side, then walk away with the saddle. I have no idea how long this process will last until Bob will calmly accept the saddle on his back. Three weeks ago Bob wasn’t happy about a bit in his mouth either, but now hardly notices it.
So, I’m trying to keep in mind that life is more of a slow, one step forward, two steps back process. Eventually you get where you want to go, but it is rarely in our perceived timeframe.
This week’s other life challenge is dealing with disappointment. Disappointment mainly in people. I have had two incidents where people I have a high regard for have let me down. I know things happen and I know business decisions are rarely easy, but the customer service has been highly disappointing. In my business things go wrong also, but I do my best to make amends and resolve the issue that makes the customer, if not ecstatic, at least satisfied that I did my best to help them. One of these situations will result in me not using the business again, the other I am waiting to see how it plays out. I hate feeling this way. I am a peace, love, give a hug person who despises conflict. Unfortunately, in our flawed humanity conflict is often more the norm.
On a brighter note, I have found a tiny bit of space to work on drawing and painting again. I even managed to dig out the sewing machine and make a cushion cover for a chair that the dogs were beginning to cause damage to with their nails.
Oh, and salsa! We are making salsa and canning it this week. That just makes me happy. Fresh tomatoes turned into salsa that I can eat in February and have a taste of summer all over again. As Martha says, “it’s a good thing.”
I hope you all have had a lovely week. It has been a typical July week here. Hot as Hades all day with a late afternoon thunderstorm that hopefully cools the air a little. Often it doesn’t. Sometimes the air is so humid and thick after a storm that it feels difficult to breathe. You would think you could squeeze the juice out of it. My poor bees are spending more time on the outside of the hive than inside. I’m thinking I should get a tiny air conditioner for them. No, I do not spoil the creatures that live with me (much).
The past couple of weeks have been spent getting settled, finding my way around and meeting people. If I counted correctly, this is my tenth move in my lifetime. Most of my moves have been within miles of each other, but this is the third move to a completely new area. My first major move was as a newlywed to a different state. My then husband was working third shift, the company had put us up in a hotel until we could find a home and I knew no one. I couldn’t stay in the hotel room during the day while my husband was trying to sleep, but I had no where to go.
This was before cell phones and we had two not-so-great cars. So, I did what any bored, fearless (you have that in your 20’s) young woman would do. I got my car keys, filled the car up with gas and proceeded to drive in and out of town until I was hopelessly lost, then figure out how to get myself back to the hotel. Honestly, it was a huge adrenaline rush. Sometimes I barely made it back before my husband got up to go to work. By the time we moved out of the hotel three weeks later, I rarely got lost. I found all the important places (Town Hall, library, the MALL) and lots of scenic areas of the countryside.
I have been using this same technique with slightly more common sense this time. Lately our vehicles have been just as bad (except for THE BEAST, our F-350 pickup that I LOVE to drive), but I do have my cell phone and AAA card with me now. I found the library. People seem to think that libraries are not important anymore. I beg to differ. The bulletin board alone was a wealth of information. Local events and services that I had not been able to find online were on the bulletin board. So, I have the library, found the arts council, town hall, pharmacy, car mechanic and our local state park for hiking. Hey, not a bad start for two weeks of being lost!
The harder adjustment I am having to make is the pace of life here. I’m pretty sure it was the same way when I was growing up out in the country but I wasn’t aware of it. EVERYTHING is slower. I have been in Surburbia for twenty years. I have worked two jobs for about twelve years. I shuttled two kids to thousands of practices and events for eighteen years. All that has come to a screeching halt. I often find myself standing somewhere in disbelief that there is nothing on my To Do list that HAS to be done immediately. Trust me, I’m not complaining, but after decades of rushing around and working under endless deadlines, it is disorienting.
Now that I have said that life has slowed down, just this week events have fallen into place for D. to start a business he has been planning for about two years. Originally he was going to start it next year after he retires, but an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up. This means that for about four months I will be back to working two jobs again as we start this while he is still working full time. I will fill I the details as this moves along.
I need to mosey on now to finish tiling these floors (they WILL be done by the end of the month!). I’m going to leave you with some hard earned wisdom. If life is a little boring or drab, or the creative juices have quit flowing (they do sometimes), literally get in your car, on your bike, take the bus, use your feet and go get lost. The change in scenery and the adventure will do you good. Don’t use the GPS. Use your God given instincts!
Hello everyone! I was determined to get a post in this week. Better late than never. Last week we did not have any cell service at the school where we stayed so I could not post anything.
Wedding over. Move over. Mission trip over. Now it is down to finding all my stuff, creating a realistic schedule and settling into a new normal. This week none of that happened. My car has been undergoing repairs the whole month of June. Changing my name has taken a ridiculous amount of time. The garden has required work to get it back in shape after being gone for a week and unexpected farm chores and family/friend visits have slowed down planned projects. Maybe this IS the new normal!
I did get my work space somewhat workable, found my paints and managed to squeeze in time to do these tiny paintings this week. It’s a start!
Here are some pictures of our life events of the past three weeks.
The ASP mission trip involves a caravan of rented vans to get all of the humans and equipment to our destination.
This was my 7th and Danny’s 3rd year on the ASP trip. Each year there is a core group involved who believe in having a good time. Pranks and jokes are daily occurrences. One of the men stated that he laughs more in this one week than he does the rest of the year. This year… well see for yourself.
We got home Saturday and slept the whole afternoon and most of Sunday as well. There isn’t much rest on ASP. This week I managed to get my office/studio is some sort of working order and just had to get my hands on a paint brush.
If all goes well, I will be back on schedule next week. For my American readers, I wish you a fun, safe July 4th weekend.
It is finally here. Spring and the official start to the floor tiling extravaganza. I know, you have been hearing me talk about it for months now. There may have been a little avoidance/procrastination going on coupled with some unexpected family commitments to delay the process. If all goes well this weekend I will post a photo or two to prove I actually did stick tile to floor.
This past week has consisted of more Spring cleaning than creative endeavors. Yard work last weekend while we had some decent weather then digging things out of storage to be donated to a couple of fundraising yard sales in April as well as a big town recycling event. Time to get rid of the ancient VHS players and old cell phones.
Last Sunday we had a conversation in church that has amused me all week. Who knew that a coffee pot could cause so much division?
Have you ever thought about your personal little pet peeves and quirks? How did you acquire them? I think many of them are passed down through our families. You know, the “that’s the way it’s always been done” effect. Some are in reaction against the way it was done in our families. My sister and I will never wash dishes the way our Mom does because we had to do it her way growing up.
The same quirks you thought were charming in someone when you were dating will drive you to the brink of insanity after a couple of years of marriage. Wars may very well have started over quirks.
Our quirks are part of what makes us each unique beings. As hard as it is sometimes, we really should appreciate and celebrate the quirks in each other. Why does the way someone carries their money in their purse make someone else crazy? Or how towels get folded? That’s one of mine. I fold towels a certain way and that’s the way I want them done. Yep, much of it comes down to control issues. Does it really matter how the towels are folded if they are put up in a cabinet and very few people actually see them? It does to me!
How do you handle someone else’s quirks? How do other people handle yours? Can you find a way to appreciate them or at least compromise before World War Three breaks out?
I have claimed responsibility for my towel folding obsession and just do it myself rather than subjecting family members to “my way.” The same goes for the dishwasher. Have you noticed that the dishwasher is a HUGE issue? It is now understood at my house that my rearranging the dishes is not a statement of anyone else’s inadequacy, but just a hang up of mine. Well, that and the fact that my way is better!
So what was the subject of the church discussion? One of “my kind” sinned by taking a cup of coffee from the pot that had not yet finished the brewing process. This set off a protest by D’s “kind” that the “sinner” had now effectively ruined the pot of coffee for everyone else! It was soon determined that the class was almost evenly split between the two coffee obsessed factions. It was left to the non-coffee drinkers to mediate. We consider them “heathens”, but for continued peace, love and understanding with our Christian brothers and sisters we practiced forgiveness and grace.
May your week be filled with understanding and grace for others and yourself. Happy Spring and Happy Easter!
Do you hear that sizzle? Smell smoke? That’s my brain. It’s fried. Not much going on up there all week.
The emotional and social overload from last week mixed with several days of non-stop home remodel planning has left me in a small creative drought. Because of my work as a designer I don’t really get the option of turning everything off, but luckily I haven’t had any heavy duty design challenges this week. I can crank out business card designs in my sleep.
Thankfully this isn’t a creative desert. Those are bad. I just need a short break to focus on day-to-day routines and some mindless work to get back in the groove.
So what do I do when I find myself in a drought? Strangely enough I usually find myself cooking. Those near and dear to me find this amusing. Why? I don’t really like to cook. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad cook. No one goes running to Olive Garden when I pull out a skillet. They actually come home from distant lands and ask for my cooking and I have won a chili cook-off in my time. I just do not enjoy having to feed myself or others every single day.
I have no idea why I find myself in the kitchen when the other creative outlets are blocked. Maybe it is the visual enjoyment of fresh fruit and vegetables. Maybe it is the chance to experiment with new recipes or flavors. Beats me. Most of the time I resent the fact that I have stop what I am working on to feed myself!
Another drought buster is working in the dirt. This doesn’t help much in the winter, but now that Spring is warming up and the plants need tending I am all in. My favorite? Weeding! Yes, I’m crazy, but for some reason there is an instant gratification in yanking those suckers out by the roots (I worry myself sometimes). If you find yourself in a drought brought on by some anger issues this is the best. Heck, it might keep you out of jail. I know, I know, weeding is in the same category as laundry and dishes. They just keep coming back. Tearing your clothes or breaking dishes in the throes of a meltdown is an expensive habit though. Weeding is all good. Your yard and garden look good, you have gotten a dose of vitamin D and exercise and you have extinguished some demons. Ok, you might need a manicure afterwards. Is that a bad thing?
There. I have given you a couple of options to combat creative blocks/droughts. Another is to go take a long hike. Nature cures many ailments.
But what if you find yourself in the Sahara Desert of creative blocks? I have only had a couple, but those couple actually lasted years. They are very, very bad. I feel your pain if that is where you are. You crave a creative outlet. You need to express something, but not a drop is coming out no matter how hard you squeeze. You try to move forward but produce only the blandest most pitiful work.
I have only found two solutions. Time and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. They work together. If you haven’t heard of The Artist’s Way go to Amazon and get it (no affiliate). If you do creative work and you haven’t reached a desert yet, be prepared. No, this is not a short cut out of the desert. It takes time. Most deserts are the result of serious life issues. Sometimes it is an illness, bad relationship or tragic event. Often they are a culmination of several such events at one time. You did not find yourself in the desert suddenly and you will not get out quickly.
Take the time to go through Julia’s program. It is a healing process and you need it. You will find out things about yourself you need to know. I do not recommend just waiting out the time in the desert. I’m pretty sure Julia Cameron was put on this earth to write her book for us. You don’t usually work through the issues just waiting. Often artists find themselves in a bottle of alcohol or pills when they try to wait this out.
So what am I going to do this weekend to end the drought? Tonight is some quality fire pit/grilling/nature time. Saturday we will be at my bonus daughter’s horse show most of the day with a little floor tiling prep and stall mucking time. Sunday is supposed to be raining and that calls for a Sunday afternoon nap! I should be in good shape by Monday.
Since our last visit we had a major snowstorm. Well, major for my part of the world anyway. Five to six inches. Everything came to a halt and it gave me enough time to read a book that I have had on hold for months with our digital library.
If you haven’t heard of Elizabeth Gilbert, she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and it was on the Best Seller list for ages. That was my introduction to her and I have read the book twice. The first time I read it I was smack dab in the middle of a divorce and single parenthood and still working with my ex in our business. Life was not particularly good and I found an escape with Eat, Pray, Love. I was not in a place where I could up and travel the world to recover from a bad life situation, but I darn sure wanted to! I read EPL again a few years later when the dust had settled and still loved the book. I think it is Elizabeth’s honesty that I relish and found the same honesty in Big Magic.
You can also see Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talks on YouTube as well as an interview on Marie Forleo’s, Marie TV, YouTube station. Oh, and as a side note…I do not have any affilates with Amazon or anyone else for that matter. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.
If you need/want some honest advice about what it takes to live a “creative life” read Big Magic. Ms. Gilbert has the street cred to give it. She doesn’t tell you to quit the day job and live your passion. Instead she tells you to wait tables or make coffee. Not what most people want to hear. She also has a charming name for the not so great stuff that comes with life and how to decide just how badly you want to follow your dream. It is a short read, but packed with practical, down-to-earth advice.
One side note from personal experience…don’t go into a creative day job thinking it will be helpful in your creative after hours pursuits or close enough to your dream job to be fulfilling. From someone who has done and is still doing it, eight hours of being creative for someone else doesn’t leave much left after dinner is cooked and the kids are in bed. Some folks are made of hardier stuff than I am and can pull it out after all that, but I am pretty much at the zombie stage by 7 pm. Wait tables or make coffee if painting, music, writing, etc. is coursing through your veins.
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures
that are hidden within you?”
After my major downsizing purge a few years ago and having hauled nine boxes full of books to donate to our library, I am very particular about what hard copy books come to live with me. I try them out first from the digital library. Big Magic was worth the wait and is now sitting on my wish list on Amazon. It will reside beside EPL in my office and I foresee frequent return visits when not-so-creative frustration sets in.
My plan was to give you an update on what I have been doing lately, but I got a little carried away here and suspect you are ready to move on to other things in your day. Remember hand dyeing, kitchen cabinets and invitations for next time.