Monday, April 28, 2008

Structure or No Structure?

Republic of Texas bloom
Republic of Texas rose

It's been said that having a boring day (or night) job is dandy for a writer. A boring job gives the writer time to think about their characters and plot. By the time she sits down to write, she is ready to pour out words like water out of a pitcher.

I've been a self-employed, work from home gal most of my adult life. A year long stint in as a bank teller while The Pilot Guy finished college, a disasterous attempt at being someone else's studio manager twenty years ago, and a few months working part time for a photography prop shop are the only 'real' jobs on my resume.

However, I've started from stratch two different photography studios in two different cities, ran them for years at a stretch, and had many satisfied clients. I consider myself a good employee, but really, I wonder, am I? I hate giving control of my life and schedule to someone else. On the other hand, I love not having the stresses of is-this-the-right-decision-for-the-company moments, too. I love working for myself. I love the joy of a completed sale and delighted customer. I enjoy the risks and challenges of being self-employed. I also enjoy getting a regular, if modest, paycheck without having to worry about if the business will exist next year.

For the last few years my focus has been on finishing the homeschool path with my remaining teenaged son. A year from now that path will end as he graduates. In fact, next fall as a senior, he will take a couple of courses at the local community college and fewer at home. I'm considering the age old question of what's next?

In fact right now I'm considering what my focus needs to be this summer. Do I get a quick and easy part time job (there by giving up major portions of control over my life) in order to knock out some lingering debt or do I focus hard and long on building a freelance writing career (with all its stresses and uncertainities.)?

Is it better for a creative person to just have a j. o. b. for a time to pay bills or should the creative only seek the path of creativity? Is there an in-between path that I'm missing?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Art in the Square


I spent a damp, breezy, gray Sunday afternoon wandering the booths at 'Art in the Square', a juried show/sale bringing in artists from all over the country. It was a great afternoon of feasting on visual eye candy, chatting with artists, and absorbing the terrific vibe.

So many artists, so many mediums, so many expressions. The traditional oils, pastels, and acrylics, of course, in hues and subject matter both bold and subdued. But also photography, glass, wood, leather, jewelry, iron, pottery, etc. Incredible, incredible vision and imagination on display. I saw art that made me laugh, art that intrigued, art that inspired, and art that lifted my spirit.

My favorites? A Tuscan landscape photo in lovely sunset and summer colors that would look dandy over my couch. The artist is a baseball fan, too. What could be better? A charming, bold, and colorful print of a European street that very nearly made me reach for my American Express card. A set of hand made dangly earrings that would be fun to wear. Pottery....exquisite organic inspired squarish canister and a pitcher (my weakness) in shades of tan, green, and gold. The canister had a modern day Egyptianesque look complete with ladybugs and fireflies. Then there were the intricate 'wind' sculptures and giant iron flower sculptures....

Next year, I'll have to go with money in hand. Better yet, I'll use this year to create more of my own satisfying art pieces.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be featuring a few of the artists I met today in Creative Soul. Stay tuned for their stories.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday ~ Crescendo

Spring Blossom Peak

View from my writing window. The glass and screen soften the colors in the photo.
Window View

Sombreuil Rose
Sombreuil rose
Carefree Beauty. West exposure, surrounded by concrete. She is a hard working gal.
Carefree Beauty
Arch in Amy's Garden
Ducher Rose

Monday, April 21, 2008

Move it Monday


I've always loved Mondays. (Okay, you KNEW I was different, right?) When you own a business doing something you love, Mondays are fun. All weekend I would think about new ideas for my business. On Monday, I got to put them into practice. I learned early on to never schedule client appointments for Mondays. (They forgot them most of the time anyway.) Mondays were for ideas and growth. New beginnings and fresh starts.

Thinking. Planning. Doing.

Mondays these days are busier than I'd like. I meet in the early hours with a creative think group where someone else's work is the focus. Very energising. Because I'm already in town, I usually run a few errands. Then I head home to put the finishing touches on the women's Bible study I lead on Monday nights. In between, N and I have conferences about his school work and my expectations for the week.

One of the things I'd love for N to learn is how to make a goals list for the week. The busier a person is the more they need to think and list what they want to accomplish each week. Someone who wants to reach for a dream needs a list to aid with focus and clarity.

A list like this would not only have the must do things on with a client, pay bills, deal with laundry. Those things are urgent and loud. The list would also include the things I want to do...creative projects or heart dreams...write three chapters on the novel, make time to fiddle with the pond plants, doodle an new idea for a quilt, spend time with a French vocabulary book. Too often what we crave to accomplish gets lost in the rush and shuffle of life.

I'm making a list and marking off things as I work on them this week. Hopefully, by the time I post a Ta-Da Friday, I'll have made progress toward the goals most important to me.

What's on your list?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ta-Da Friday

An abbreviated Ta-Da Friday....

Despite a packed schedule, I made it to my writer's group this week to feast on their words, images, and ideas. Their joy in the struggle to write wonderful, publishable works inspires me like very few other things.

More later....we are at the regional homeschool baseball tournament....two more wins and our team can go to Florida for the national World Series tournament...

Dandelion Days

Dandelione close

Can we all just agree that the humble dandelion is a wildflower, not a weed?

Driving on 'the ring' in Brussels one spring morning I could see the glow of yellow in a median ahead. As I came along side it, I was delighted to find it filled with the biggest, most golden dandelions I'd ever seen.

Wildflowers, like a piece of the sun had fallen to earth.

And yes, a week later the median bed was filled with light, fluffy, white seeds. More wildflowers to come.

Gardening would be easier on everyone if we took delight in dandelions instead of despair.

"Grandpa, are they ready? Now?
Grandfather pinched his chin. "Five hundred, a thousand, two thousand easy. Yes, yes, a good supply. Pick 'em easy, pick 'em all. A dime for every sack delivered to the press!"
The boys bent, smiling. They picked the golden flowers. The flowers that flooded the world, dripped off lawn onto brick streets, tapped softly at crystal cellar windows and agitated themselves so that on all sides lay the dazzle and glitter of molten sun.
"Every year," said Grandfather. "They run amuck; I let them. Pride of lions in the yard. Stare, and they burn a hole in your retina. A common flower, a weed that no one sees, yes. But for us, a noble thing, the dandelion."
So, plucked carefully, in sacks, the dandelions were carried below. The cellar dark glowed with their arrival. The wine press stood open, cold. A rush of flowers warmed it. The press, replaced, its screw rotated, twirled by Grandfather, squeezed gently on the crop.
"" The golden tide, the essence of this fine fair month ran, then gushed from the spout below, tho be crocked, skimmed of ferment, and bottled in clean ketchup shakers, then ranked in sparkling rows in the cellar gloom.
Dandelion wine.
The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.

From 'Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury.

If your creative work this month could be distilled into a fine food or beverage, what would it taste like? What elements would roll around the tongue? What flavors linger?

Would you find your main ingredient to be something others throw away?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We interrupt Creative Soul for a few thoughts on federal income taxes.

Since we are self-employed, we write a check to the IRS every year. Not fun. It is my opinion that if everyone had to write a quarterly or yearly check instead of having taxes automatically withdrawn we would have tax reform in a matter of months. It hurts to write that check.

That said, I was daydreaming about what we could do with amount we sent in yesterday.

1. Buy a new car. A nice one.

2. Even better, we could buy two gently used cars.

3. Pay for a trip to Italy. For a month. For all four of us.

4. Ditto for France. Even with the euro trashing the dollar.

5. Build a barn/workshop/greenhouse out back.

6. Buy 1683 books at Barnes and Noble.

7. Buy 20,405 Dr Pepper's during Sonic Happy Hour.

Want to get the economy moving? Give me our money back. GRIN

Just writing out the check reminds me we are blessed. The Pilot Guy has a great flying opportunity. I get to homeschool, write, garden, and create. We have a lovely home and enough cash to have some fun after the bills are paid. We can help others less fortunate and support causes we believe in. Just as dirty dishes in the sink tell you that you've not gone hungry, April 15th tells me we have plenty.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ta-Da Friday


Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your week has been happy, productive, creative, and meaningful.

This week I used my creativity to:

design a couple of graphic art pieces for our church. Nate and I will be putting up a display area in the foyer as well. That's my thinking project for today.

work on my pond project, adding plants to the pond as well as plantings around it. A small snafu in that I brought a water lily home with me, but it seems water lilies are happier in quiet, still water. One of the features of my pond is the little splashy fountain. I love that sound and don't want to give it up. Will I need another pond just for the little lily? Hmmmmmm....

spent some time fussing at my camera because it won't focus where *I* want it to focus when doing close ups. I suppose that means some time with the manual is in order.

lots of gardening. I'll be doing some more creative staring at a few places where the beds need to be re-worked or created. Stare, plan, dig. Is that how it should work?

Yikes, there is no writing on that list. How did that happen? Ta-Da Fridays keeps me accountable to myself and my muse. How about you?

Happy Creating!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Interesting Quote

Mutablis, the butterfly rose

From Thomas Moore's 'A Life At Work'
"C. G. Jung once wrote that creativity is an instinct, not an optional gift granted to a lucky few. If you don't find a way to be creative in life, that instinct goes repressed and frustrated. You feel its loss as a deflation, the spirit leaking out of your sense of self. You feel empty, disengaged, and unfulfilled."

Wow, that really rang a bell with me. I know I get out of sorts when I'm not actively involved in something creative and fulfilling. Lately, I'm stretched thin with all sorts of responsibilities. People need my talent or, at least, my hands to fill a necessary task. I love it until the moment when I don't. Then it is time to hibernate and recharge.

I read somewhere that an extrovert recharges by being with other people. An introvert needs to pull away from others. I love people. Really I do. Most days. But only if I get enough quiet time, too.

Balance, elusive balance is the key.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not So Wordless Wednesday ~ April 9

First Rose bouquet of the season
First bouquet of the season.
Ducher, Old Blush, Cramois Superior, Black and Blue Salvia. Sombreuil is the one shattering.
Our giveaway winner is Rose from Quilted Hills.
Thank you to each one of you who visits Creative Soul.
I'm especially grateful to those of you who join in the conversation by leaving a comment.
I love hearing your thoughts.

Here are a few of the new blooms this week. Lots of rose blossoms! With a nasty line of thunderstorms looming on the horizon, we may lose these new blossoms to hail, wind, and heavy rain. Just another reason to love photography.

Ducher cluster

Carefree Beauty aka Katy Road Pink
Carefree Beauty


Late to the Party
Short late daff

Gotta love that daffodil. Just two inches tall, he is decidedly late to the spring party, but a cutie, never the less. The foliage you see around him are the daffodils which bloomed a month or so ago.

Happy Creating!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Raw Materials

I love the raw materials of creation.

Uncut lumber, flats of flowers, bolts of cloth, crafty supplies, pencils ~ sharp and ready for the sketchbook, fresh ingredients for a tasty meal, stacks and stacks of blank paper waiting for my stories and thoughts.

Raw material screams potential. Lumber isn't just wood. It becomes a new home where laughter and memories are made. Or a piece of furniture to be handed down to the next generation.
Raw wood ends

Flats of flowers are the paints used to add color and vitality to my gardens.
Purple pansies in plastic pots

I practically hyperventilate in a fabric store. I love the colors and textures. Of course, I can be the very same way in a garden nursery or craft shop. Just ask the brave souls who join me in a shopping expedition.

Still, my favorite 'raw' materials place is the bookstore. All those IDEAS just waiting for me to discover them. Delicious.

There are times when the material itself inspires creativity. It is said that Michelangelo looked at a block of marble and saw the statue within. Then he simply (ha!) worked to free the statue from the stone.

What are the raw materials of your artistic life? Do those raw materials 'speak' to you?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ta-Da Friday ~ April 4, 2008

This was a fun and productive week. I will admit I'm ready for ds's baseball season to slow down so I have a few more hours a day not at the ball park. I love baseball, but he plays both JV and Varsity, which means a game almost every day.

I wrote 800 plus words for a marriage article. Very rough, but the words are on the hard drive.

I wrote a 'flash' fiction. Also very rough, but it was my first attempt at telling a story in such a short form.

Indulged in a bit of fun photography.


I participated in the 'Spring Training Swap' hosted by Paula at Coffee Time Quilt Studio. While I had a blast gathering things to send to my swap partner, it was such fun to receive a box from my buddy. Cloe had packaged each item in red, white, or blue tissue ~ Texas Ranger's colors. Then she labeled each one with the name of a Texas Ranger from the opening day starting line up. Fun!
swap packages

But even more fun was opening the packages.....
Swap contents
Indulgent treats, new fabrics, and even a new quilt design to play with. Lots of fun!

In the spirit of that fun, I'm doing a small give-away. If you've read this far, post a comment to be entered in the drawing. I'll draw the winner Tuesday morning.

Thanks for reading Creative Soul.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


volunteer tulip
I saw it last night.

The spark.

The moment when inspiration flashed and ignited a dozen thoughts. At that moment, related ideas avalanched and connected. My friend could hardly speak. Excitement, enthusiasm, and sheer delight tangled her tongue. There were so many ideas she could not express them coherently. She got it. Her challenge was passing that moment of inspiration on to the others in the planning meeting.

I love that moment, don't you?

When a challenge has you walled in and you see or hear something that triggers an idea. And you KNOW you've found your answer to busting through the wall, going over, under, or around it. Demolishing it completely.

Waking up and knowing something entirely new about a character you are writing about. Something important which will drive the story in the direction it needs to go.

Finding a small item that becomes the 'inspiration' piece for an entire room's decor. Or an unusual shrub which will be the anchor for a new flower bed. (Harry's Walking Stick, I'll be back for you.)

Finding a color, a poem, or a great piece of art that feeds your creativity.

When seeking inspiration, I have a few reliable things I enjoy doing.

Movies inspire me. A story well told makes me crave to be able to bring the same pleasure and fun to someone through my writing. An occasional TV show will motivate me to write, but it has to be special. (Writing Stargate SG1 fanfiction is my favorite way to practice fiction techniques.) A bad movie, poorly told, sometimes motivates me to want to 'fix' it. I love books. Some motivate me, some discourage me.

Nature inspires me. Maybe it is the solitude of being alone with plants and the birds, but I find myself full of thoughts and ideas after a time in the garden. One of my earliest blog posts was on mowing meditations. Colors and scents fill my heart, as well. A filled heart overflows into creative endeavors.

Shopping inspires me. Yes, I consider shopping a right-brain, creative activity. Seeing new things always gives me ideas for all kinds of projects. Color, design, texture, whimsy, all feed my creative soul.

People inspire me. Certain people. Not everyone qualifies for the title inspiring person. Most of them are creative souls. Active in their own pursuits. Interested in new thoughts. Creatively adventurous. Encouraging. There is a depth and simple energy to them that makes me want to keep up.

Who or what inspires you? Where do you find ideas, clues, and purpose for your creative projects?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday ~ Spring blooms

These and more are blooming in my yard this week.

Bridal bush
Bright bridal bush blooms
Bridal bush
Tulips and dianthus. By next week, the tulips will be done.
tulips and dianthus

Happy Spring!