Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrate Life! It’s a New Year!

Here I sit on New Year’s Eve looking out the window wondering what to write. Should I talk about this year’s accomplishments or next year’s goals? Should I reminisce or resolve? Should I select a self-help guru to guide me through the process of living or trust myself to live my own life.

There’s so much out there telling you and me how to live our life. How to lose weight. How to be healthy. How to get married. How to make money. How to raise our kids. How to organize, prioritize, socialize and commercialize ourselves and our work. Even how to die.

But after the events of the last month, shootings that killed little children, teachers and fathers and mothers, I realized there’s no guru, goal, resolution, or how-to-book that can bring them back. Ever.

So, this year, I am going to do one thing: Live.

Breathe and look up at the sky. Watch the little white flakes of snow float down slowly one at a time. Sip my tea. Savor the homemade chocolates I make only once a year.

Listen to the soft snore of my dog, Jilly. Pet my kitty till she purrs. Kiss my husband. Hug my daughter and my son and my son-in-law.

Watch the eagle fly across the lake. See the Heron fish. Notice all the green growth right alongside the bare tree branches and frosty fallen leaves. And along the way, notice that my own growth happens right alongside my own bare roots.

At the store clerk, bank teller, bread baker, truck driver, jogger and walkers who pass by and around me every day. Because, today, we are all alive.

Celebrate. Life!

Happy Today. Happy Now. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Cheers!

It’s that season again. And I have a confession to make: I love it.
Scented candles...
and fresh greens.
Getting out the Christmas china.
Twinkling lights inside and out.
Trains circling the trees and tables.
Rows of Santa’s marching in and among the Christmas book collection. Oh, look it’s art and writing right there together in one room!
Even 'adults' become kids when it's time to unwrap presents
There’s many reasons to love the season. It brings together family and friends, food and fun, cheer and happy memories. Maybe there’s two more reasons I love the season so much. It also brings together two of my creative loves: art and writing.
Here’s to everyone! Cheers and love and light and creativity for now and forever!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Today, the world did not end.

It was predicted. But the world does what the world does, it went through a transition. Naturally.

Today is the solstice. It marks the shortest day and longest night in our earth’s rotation. But it also marks the shift from long nights to longer days. From now on, each day will bring us all a little more light and less dark. I think we need it now more than ever.

It’s been a difficult week for many, many people across the country. Today, their lives are changed forever. Their hearts, along with many, many others are heavy.

It’s especially important today, then, of all days to remember to bring as much light into the world as we can.

Day and night. Now. You and me. Us and them.

Light a candle. Hug someone you love. Say thank you to the universe. Give your neighbor some cookies. Open a door for a stranger. Let someone else have the parking space. Smile at the very weary store clerk. Let someone ahead of you in line.

Look at all the tiny lights in your life. The ones that seem insignificant and meaningless…like the green light in your favor, the parking space when you need it, the just enough that allows you to be generous …and thank them.

Thank them all. For breath. For hearts beating. For love. For coffee and tea and chocolate and shortbread and stew and hot rolls.

But most of all, thank them all for life. For light. For you. And for me… Right here. Right now.

Celebrate life, light and joy.
Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Birthdays and Tragedies.

Last week was my birthday. I got pretty presents. I got taken to lunch and dinner. I was cared for by people who love me.

But I have to admit, at one point I was having a private little pity party. I was feeling somewhat sad for my birthday and the fact that I was one year older. I have grey hair and wrinkles and an empty nest. Pitiful.

Then, life woke me up.

I got a text from my son in law. He and everyone in his store, including customers were locked in the staff break room. The mall was in lock down. There were shots being fired. People were killed. And the police were surrounding the mall searching for the shooter. My husband was on his way to the scene to do his job, reporting on news events and my son in law was trapped inside the mall. My family was in harm’s way. And there was not a thing I could do about it.

I was scared.

Then, I got another text. My son in law was safe. My husband’s voice was on the radio, live. The mall was evacuated. The shooter was found, dead. But, that afternoon, while I celebrated living another year, two people were killed and one wounded in a bizarre shooting at a mall 20 minutes from my home.

I was shocked.

What we didn’t know then, was that one of the two people killed was a man that my husband worked with for many years. He was a kind and well-loved man who will be greatly missed.

I am still sad.

I have avoided writing about this for a week now. I still can’t believe that there are people so crazy and evil that they would gun down innocent men, women and children. Senseless, evil things happen around me all the time. And this time, it happened in my own town. I don’t want to believe it.

I want to stop it. But I can’t. Any more than I can turn back the clock, change the past or the future. I can’t change birthdays or tragedies.

I can only be here. Now. In the present.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cheating on one love with another.

I feel guilty about it. I have two big loves in my life: art and writing. But lately, I’m spending way more time with art than I am with writing. I know, feeling guilty about not writing when I’m busy making pots and sculptures. It does seem ridiculous because they’re both ways to create. Right?

But. Oh don’t you just love that word?

It feels a little like I’m cheating on someone I love with someone else I love.


Introducing one love: Art.
My artist self loves throwing clay around on the wheel. Making bowls, mugs, vases and plates. She also loves that I’m back to hand building but she’s a little impatient because sculpture just doesn’t move fast enough at least not in comparison to the wheel. On the wheel, I can make 4 pieces in about 2 hours but hand building and especially sculpture can take days, weeks or months. On the wheel, the bowl either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I smoosh it up, throw on another mound of mud and move on. On the sculpture stand, a piece may be working or not. I don’t always know, even after years of practice. I might hate the piece and think it a total failure in process and love it later or love it now and hate it later. I’ve been known to throw a piece in the trash after months of work because, well, it just doesn’t work.

Introducing another love: Writing.

My writing self loves the flow of words from fingers to pen to paper. Writing my thoughts and feelings in a journal comes naturally to me. Words flow onto my blog just as easily. Sometimes she’s a little impatient that my fingers just don’t type fast enough. Sometimes she’s shy and really doesn’t want to write about what’s really going on. Sometimes, she sees something that she just has to get down on paper. My essays move on their own it seems, effortlessly they just appear. My novel just started one day, I don’t know where it came from just that I was supposed to type. Life circumstances got in the way for a few years, then, just when I thought it was time to end the relationship, it started up again. But, my writing self feels completely left behind lately. Oh, I write in my journal and on my blog, but the other writing has slowed to a stop. The collection of essays hasn’t been touched in months. The novel is waiting for me to create the bad character that the story needs to move on. I know what and who I need to write into the story, but I haven’t done it. The truth is that I don’t like antagonists and I don’t want to create one in my book. I want life to be good not evil. But all the great books I love to read have good and bad characters. In order to make my book work now and later, I have to be willing to make a mess in the lives of my dear characters. Or maybe it’s time to throw it in the trash. Either way, my writer is feeling stuck. To keep my writer happy, I take her to writing meetings, author talks and buy books. I read good books and even joined a book club but it’s not working. Now or later.

So, here I sit and sip my tea with my yellow lab, Jilly at my feet and type away at the keyboard. I’m writing. But my writer self sighs at me, wondering when I’m going to get serious.

Ah, well, maybe that’s a clue.

Because when my artist self gets serious and tries very hard to make a bowl or vase or sculpture work, it doesn’t. The clay wobbles off center or flops or cracks or gets smooshed up and thrown out. But my writer self holds onto every word and seriously worries whether it works or not. The essay and novel pages keep piling up in rows of neat computer file folders that sit waiting to be read, edited and, yes, maybe thrown out.

I see three things going on here.

One: Working very hard and being serious creates work that doesn’t work.
Two: Throwing out bad work leads to better work.
Three: I don’t like bad guys, so I don’t want to create one.

Ok. Before I go and smash all the pieces I don’t love and delete all my writing files in need of editing, I need to gather my artist and writer together and give them both a hug. I can love my creative self and all the creative ways in which it creates. What I really need to throw out here is my serious, trying too hard, pushy energy because that’s what’s really throwing me off center.

And my writer self knows it. She’s smiling right now, because she knows that I’m not writing because I’m having fun with clay. And it’s not that she’s jealous, she just wants to remind me to have the same kind of fun with writing. (And that, maybe, just maybe, writing a bad guy into my story might just be fun.) Now there’s a novel idea.

Ok. Now that line can be thrown out!