Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in My Rearview Mirror

In the past year, we (I)....

finished our homeschool journey

watched my youngest play his last varsity baseball game

graduated our youngest

planned a wedding for our oldest

gained a daughter in law

watched my oldest son become a husband and a father

gained a granddaughter

traveled to Phoenix, Seattle, and Vancouver.

Drove to Tennessee twice for weddings.

learned how to create stained glass

swam, hiked, and walked regularly

laughed with family


became a second time NaNoWriMo winner

survived an ugly split at our church. Survived being the operative word. Healed? Not hardly.

reconnected with a long lost uncle

pondered new business ventures

spent way too much time on Facebook (and loved it!)

struggled and grew as a Creative Soul

How about you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Life!

We interrupt the Christmas season to announce the arrival of Little Miss Precious to the world.





It is a marvelous thing for your baby to have a baby of his own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Easy or Last Minute Gifts ~ Pam

The Sunflower Fairy

If you've seen photos of me, you know I wear my hair so short I have little need for hair clips, no matter how cute they are. That's why I was thrilled to see my friend Pam offers napkin rings and other goodies as well as the clever and classy hair clips she sells. I can easily imagine the pretty beads and crystals of these napkin rings sparkling in the candlelight of a Christmas table.

The hair clips are easy to use and oh so pretty. Check out Pam's Hair Clips to see a video on how to use them. Tuck a couple of these into someone's stocking this Christmas or use them to make cute and useful gift tags. You'll find braclets, badge holders, key rings and more on the website.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Last Minute or Easy Gifts ~ Darla

Need a gift for a person who has everything? Finding the unique, creative, or easy is often not easy. Over the next few days, I'll introduce you to a few good ideas in the gift department. Each of the ladies presenting is a friend of mine. I hope you'll let them help you find a creative gift for someone special.

Darla from UpperCase Living

You probably know by now I love words. What's better than decorating with them?

I ordered the word 'Create' in deep purple from Darla after last year's NaNoWriMo success. I smoothed it on a piece of granite mount board and framed it rather than putting it directly on a wall. Portable, you know. It is a lasting, creative, and fun way to remember my achievement. To celebrate this year's NaNo success I will order the word 'Write." I'm also thinking about getting my soon to be granddaughter's name done for over her crib....and there's a Bible verse I'd like for my breakfast nook wall, too.

Yep, these are fun. Unique...and terrific quality. Mosey through the catalog from the above link so Darla gets credit. She will happily answer any questions you have. Great ideas, she has, too. You can do more than words...images of all kinds, symbols, photos, etc. so let your creativity soar.

Order before Noon on December 7th for Christmas delivery.


Stayed tuned tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Christmas Letter


Do you write an annual Christmas letter to friends and distant family? We do. Actually, we alternate years. Some years we send a card. Some years a card and photo. Other years, I'll do a newsy letter and photos.

I love receiving letters from friends during Christmas. It is fun to catch up with all the big and little happenings of their lives. Christmas is the only time we touch base with some old friends. When I get a card, I know they are still alive!

If you haven't written your Christmas letter, get started now. Here's some tips to get you started...

1. Change POV. To make it more fun for all you creative types out there...write the letter from an unusual point of view. I did one a few years ago from our dog's POV. It was cute, even if I do say so myself. What would your kitchen table have to say about your families comings and goings this year? The birds who lived in the nest on the front porch--what would they write about you? What would your cat or car have to say? Hey, you could even write one from the youngest kiddoe's point of view.

2. Write a Christmas poem, rhyming or free verse.

3. Include photos. Digital photography and desktop publishing make this pretty easy to do. Don't worry about printing in and white photos are very trendy.

4. Keep the length short.

5. Use lots of active verbs.

6. Write about each member of your family.

7. Treat your vacations, job promotions, and new car purchases with a light touch. Not everyone had a great year financially. Focus on the joy you have in your family and friends, instead of material things.

8. Print on pretty Christmas paper or colored paper. Take care not to choose to dark a color or it will be hard to read.

9. Fold 'em, address 'em, and get them mailed.

10. Imagine the smile your letter will bring to someone you care about.

It's your letter, have some creative FUN with it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


The snow in the forecast is now the snow on the ground. We woke to a a vision in white this morning. It's official. Summer's over.
Snow on Old Blush roses

Red Canna against Duchess de Brabant Rose foliage with snow


Two days ago...

This morning....

One thing about puts me in a Christmas mood. It's time to pull out the decorations and make the house look and feel like Christmas. My creative juices are warming about yours?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Creative Christmas Season


Wow, it's December already. In my yard live three roses are still blooming reds, pinks, golds, and whites to represent summer. The crepe myrtles and oak trees are blazing orange, reds, and golds in honor of fall. A possibility of snow is in the forecast for tonight. A few Christmas decor items have found their way out of storage to represent winter. My Christmas decor clashes with the late fall splendor which annoys my sense of color.

I love the beauty and meaning of the Christmas holidays. It is one of the most precious times of the year and one of the most draining, exhausting times as well. I'm challenging myself to post every day between now and New Year's Day. A quick snippet to keep you and I focused on living creatively and staying sane during these hectic days. Some times it'll be a how-to, sometimes a random free verse, some days, a photo. If you can jump in and share a few things, too, it'll make the conversation much more fun.

Today is all about dreaming....

Fix yourself a cup of something warm and delightful. In your favorite chair, take up pen and page and list your favorite elements of the holiday season. Put a star beside your top ten favorites. Those go on your 'it-won't-be-Christmas-without-these' list. Feel free to ignore the rest.

My list includes:

Using the pretty Christmas dishes every day.
Making food treats for neighbors and close friends.
Going Christmas shopping with the Pilot Guy.
Decorating the tree and fireplace mantel.
Sitting each evening with all the lights off but the tree and enjoying the colorful lights.
Decorating outside.
Watching 'White Christmas' and 'It's a Wonderful Life' as a family.
Driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights.
Planning and cooking (with help) a feast for us.
Attending a Christmas Eve service.

Okay, you get the idea. What elements make a Christmas special to you? This is a great activity to do with your significant other and munchkins, too. What a wonderful feeling to know what makes each person feel all Christmasy inside. See how freeing this is? You don't have to do everything, only those important items.

I feel less rushed now. How about you?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ Thanksgiving


With Thanksgiving weekend fading into the past, now's a good time to capture a few memories. Write (or paint, or draw, or sew) about your family's traditions at Thanksgiving.

Was your family a good china and fancy dress type meal? Do you have photos of the table decor?

Or were you guys paper plates and football games?

What foods scream Thanksgiving to you?

Any heirloom recipes that you still make?

Where (Who) did they come from?

Any funny stories, train wrecks, or terrible incidents you recall?

Did you gather at Grandma's or some other house?

Which relative did you long to see most?

Which relative did you not want to see?

How has your current family traditions evolved from your growing up family traditions?

Have a wonderful time capturing some memories this week. If you post them on your blog, let us know. (Thanks, Beth!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fiction Fast Finished


During NaNoWriMo I don't read other people's fiction. By the end of the project, I'm hungry to relax into someone else's creative adventure. Coupled with a Thanksgiving trip, I've been over 30 days without reading a story.

As a reward for writing like a freight train AND for putting up with a six hour one way drive to the relatives, I picked up Nora Roberts new romance, Bed of Roses, about a florist in the wedding biz. At first, I wallowed in the delight of story. By chapter four, with my own turn of phrase and plot line fresh in my head, I was feeling intimidated. Sheesh, Nora Roberts has a way with words.

Then, in chapter five, a minor character, an author, had a few words for me. Maybe they'll encourage you, too.

"How's the book going?" she asked him.
She laughed. "So you always say."
"Because it's always true at this stage." He wrapped an arm around her waist as they walked. 'But family dinners and digging in the dirt help me put the crap aside awhile. Then it's never quite as bad as I thought when I get back to it."

Let the revisions begin. lol

Friday, November 27, 2009



50,124 words!

Addy and Mac have sailed into the sunset...

Thursday, November 26, 2009



This was my preferred writing view for a few days in November. Yeah, its a rough life....I know.

I got to join the Pilot Guy in Phoenix for a litte extra fall sun. Part of the time I was there, he was flying so I had the hotel all to myself. Wow, what a way to write. I see why writers love retreats. For three full days I had the advantage of a hotel buffet breakfast and a manager's social hour every evening. No cooking or kitchen clean up. The only food I had to rustle up was a salad each day for lunch. Not hard.

I'd write a couple of thousand words in a morning session in my room -- with the windows open to fresh air. Then an afternoon session out beside the pool for another couple thousand words. After a workout or a walk, I'd have supper downstairs and come back to relax with a movie and or get in a few hundred more words on my manuscript. In the six days I was in Phoenix, I doubled my word count, writing four and five thousand words a day. What a huge difference not to have the distractions of daily life interfering with the creative process. No phone calls, no laundry, no pets or offspring to deal with. No grocery shopping, no cooking, no clean up.

The only thing I had to think about was my story.

What an indulgent, wonderful way to write! Just the small taste of this life has me hooked. I so want to create enough income from the writing to have this kind of creative flexibility on a regular basis.

Big goal. Big.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Living the Fantasy

I got a taste of the dream the other day. I hopped on board a commercial jet to join the Pilot Guy in Phoenix. Needing to keep my NaNo word count rolling, I pulled out my laptop at 40,000 feet and started typing.


This is part of the fantasy of being a best selling author, right? An author so busy flying to book signings, so in demand as a speaker, and so wealthy she can hop a jet any time to research a gorgeous island retreat that she has to write in any bits and pieces of time.

Yes, for a few minutes I was Jodi Thomas and Nora Roberts happily typing away on my next bestseller.

To get to the fantasy part of any career, you got to do the work. I've spent some time with Jodi Thomas. She treats writing like a job...she gets her work done even if it means writing late into the night in a hotel room after speaking at a writer's conference. Rumor has it that Nora Roberts can be seen typing away at poolside during conferences.

Deadlines and doing the work. There is no substitute.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Perfect Fall Day

Japanese Gardens in the Fall







Thursday, November 12, 2009

Words, Words, and More Words


NaNoWriMo has not completely taken over my life, but, boy, howdy, it certainly directs big hunks of my day.

I'm loving it!

Here's a couple of observations....

1. Writing is best done in as big a time chunks as I can manage. I find it easier to hold on to the thread and tone of the story if I concentrate on it for a couple of thousand words at a time. One afternoon, I managed 3,300 words while nursing a mocha at Starbucks. Fun. On the other hand, I'm also content to drop a quick 500 words into the mix if I don't have time to do more.

2. Writing can be accomplished any where and any time of day. So far this month, I'm writing here at home in my two favorite writing spaces, out on the porch swing, in the lounge chair in the back yard, at Starbucks, in a parking lot, and in the car. I've written early in the morning, all afternoon, and just before bed. I still believe setting up a regular schedule is most productive, but I'm fitting writing into my life in amazing ways. No excuses.

3. Some of the choices I've made about this story cause me to scratch my head. After all, I've been to 16 different countries...what ever made me choose to set the majority of this romance in a country I've never visited? Or when I'm married to a pilot and have spent a lot of time in the air, did I house one of my main characters in a sailboat. It's not only write what you know, but write what you want to know.

4. Doing NaNo and Weight Watchers in the same month is counterproductive.

5. Long walks are productive.

6. Peach Pleasure Jamba Juice smoothies are good rewards for slaving over a hot laptop.

7. Happy support and a wee bit of competition from all my NaNoing friends is a very, very good thing.

8. Writing every day is important. Writing is a muscle that gets stronger as it is worked and used.

If all goes well, I'll be sitting on top of 20,000 words by tonight...and a stack of luggage for a trip tomorrow. Writing on the road is fun, too.

Happy Creating!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ready, Set.....WRITE!

At the stroke of midnight last, NaNoWriMo began. I had sort of planned to be up then and get a few hundred words in, but when I crashed early (as usual for me.) Since the Pilot Guy needed to be at church early for Praise Team practice I ran over to Starbucks for a quick shot of caffeine and words. The rest of my words for the day came after lunch. Even though I had an opening scene in mind, it was exciting to finally get to lay it down on the page. It was much more detailed than when I doodled some notes about it the other day. I love how my mind keeps on working on a book even when I'm doing something else.

2,088 words for today. It was fun to meet Addy and Mac, my heroine and hero. From the start they have, I predict true love will not run smoothly. And I sincerely hope not. I need conflict and issues to get through the required 50,000 words and into the 60,000 words I want to write.

NaNoing is fun!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update on Artist's Daybook Pages


Back in April I posted that I was free writing each morning as a creative exercise. You can pop over and read all about it here:

Like many endeavors I've been hit or miss on following through. That's unfortunate because when I consistently do artist's pages, my creativity soars. I now call it 'taking out the garbage' creatively. When I clear the gunk and junk from my head, I can create.

It really is that simple.

Have you tried it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 2


My preparations for National Novel Writing Month continue...

4. Chocolate, Snacks and Food. Many of you have reminded me that I didn't list chocolate on my last post. LOL! We always have chocolate around here. In fact, I have a fairly big stash of the good stuff--Belgian chocolate--courtesy of the Baseball Guy who lived in Belgium last summer. We was a good boy and brought his mama a lot of chocolate.

I'm also laying in a supply of healthy stuff, too. Apples, pears, granola, almonds, walnuts, carrots, peppers. Green tea. Ravenous is the only word to describe me after a lengthy writing session. Last year I gobbled too many Oreos.

5. Jamba Juice cash. Just like last year, for every 10,000 words I write I get my favorite Jamba--Peach Pleasure. Ahhhhhh....

6. Walking shoes ready. Do you realize how many authors use long walking sessions as a time to work out character and plot? Stephen King and Julia Cameron are two well known ones. No iPods allowed--just you and the breeze in your hair. Fresh oxygen to the brain, endorphins, and stronger muscles. Good stuff.

7. Crock Pot. The other people in my house expect some sort of hot meal at least once a day. Every day. Imagine that. I'm digging out my trusty supply of crock pot/one dish meals/easy fix recipes to use. I'm assembling a menu list to post on the fridge. With encouragement those other souls in my house can pick up some of the slack. They'll have to--mom's gonna be writing!

8. I've joined my NaNo buddies online. At the NaNoWriMo website, for sure. The pep talk emails from them are terrific pick me ups. There's a group of local real life NaNo buddies who'll communicate by email each day. My favorite homeschool group of writers has an online meeting place. Plus, I gathered a few email addresses from the NaNo kick off party. I'll be emailing those folks from time to time. Having a wealth of support is only one of the fabulous benefits of playing the NaNo game. I didn't blog about NaNo last year. I want to this year, so stay tuned!

9. Lastly, I've found a fossil. If you've read Stephen King's 'On Writing' you know he calls a story idea a fossil. When he finds a fossil laying on the ground, he knows there's a story to be excavated nearby. It's his job as the author to extract as much out of the ground as possible. As a gardener I think of story ideas more as a seed that needs to germinate and be nurtured until it is full grown. Either way, I've got an idea in my head....NaNo always calls for something completely new so I'm not so emotionally involved with it that I can't take creative risks. I'm beginning to take notes and form characters. From the characters shall come the plot. I can't wait to see where they will take me.

10. Okay, one more...the good folks who hosted the official kick off party for my region last Sunday gave out some fun goodie bags. Included in it: Chocolate, of course, Marbles (for when I've lost mine), a paper clip (because you never, never, never staple a completed manuscript going to a publisher), a yellow balloon (who doesn't like a yellow balloon?), a small plastic policeman to keep me from wandering, a pen, a word count calendar, colorful star stickers for decorating my calendar after a good writing session. Best of all, there was a trusty NaNoWriMo decal/sticker straight from the writing folks at the Office of Light and Letters.

I'm set. Are you ready to write with abandon?

Friday, October 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 1


Okay, I'll admit it. I'm on the verge of giddy in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month this year. A little apprehensive as well. NaNoWriMo was such an exhilarating experience in 2008. I want to have the same fun, freeing, and fantastic experience this season.

To that end, I'm doing a few things to prepare. Take a look at my list and see if any of them strikes you as helpful.

1. Reading. I've done some market research by diving into a half dozen current books in my selected genre. Stephen King's 'On Writing' is being savored once more. In a few days, I'll pick up my copy of "No Plot, No Problem" to amp up to November 1st. If you are a writer and haven't read either of these books, remedy that by clicking on the link to the right and getting your own copy. Every writer should have a copy of "On Writing." It is simply the best. R-rated for language, but you knew that about Stephen King anyway, right?

2. Cleaning house. I hate cleaning house, but I love living and working in a tidy, clutter-free, and well decorated space. I'm doing some clutter busting, especially in the kitchen and my writing spaces. If I clean well now, I can ignore vacuuming, dusting, and mopping until December 1, don't you think?

A corollary to this is cleaning out my computer. My poor Traveller (my laptop's name) is packed to the gills with photos, writing, forms, brochures, good stuff and junk. The Pilot Guy and I think my hard drive in on it's last legs. If I get myself in gear, I can transfer my data and get the new drive installed. If not, I'll tidy up in here and defrag so I get the best performance possible.

Grabbing any supplies is a good idea, too. Paper, pens, pencils, white board markers, file folders and disks for backing up every day...lay in your supply now.

More to come in my next post.....

will you be NaNoing this year?

How are you prepping?

Monday, October 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Prelude

It's almost time!
November is National Novel Writing Month...
thirty insanely fun days of writing with
and not much skill.
NaNo is one of the creative highlights of my year.
If you've ever thought even for a minute you might like to write a book someday, head for the National Novel Writing Month Website to join in the fun.
Stay tuned to the next few posts here to see how I'm prepping for NaNo

Memoir Monday ~ Cars

I'm amused when I look through old photos of my parents, especially during their dating years, at how often the young couple was posed in front of their car.
My mom and dad

There are a number of reasons for that, I'm sure. Fifty years or more ago, film definitely liked the bright sunshine and flashbulbs were expensive. Photos were done outside. Secondly, those cars were a great big purchase...still are today, too. There is just something about those hunks of metal and combustion that make us happy. I'm even more amused to find a number of photos of me in front of my car. Cars are nice and all, but you'd think there would be more photos of me with a dog.

So, what did your first car look like? (Or what was the most interesting vehicle you've ever driven?) Was it given to you or did you slave at some job to purchase it? Standard or automatic? How old were you when you learn to drive?

My first car was a Ford Maverick I shared with my mom.
My mom and I

Mavis as I called my little vehicle, was an odd grass green color. No air conditioning and black interior. We are talking Texas here, folks. Can you say hot? We kept towels in the car to sit on, especially in the summer. I sorched my shorts clad legs several times before I figured out the towel thing. Mavis was also a standard shift car with the gear on the steering column. It was an adventure learning to drive in traffic while also learning how to shift gears. My mother said if I learned how to drive a standard I could drive anything. How right she was. I've driven all over Europe in standard shift models. I've driven tractors and an eighteen wheeler. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how.

Look, here is one of the Pilot Guy and I in front of Mavis.
We hit the jackpot here because we not only have a photo of Mavis, but we have a glimpse of the Pilot Guy's red LTD in the background.

One last note...every dress I'm wearing in these photos I made with my own little hands.

We had a great little car in Europe. I'll have to write about that car some day soon.

Alright, people, show me your first or favorite car. If you post photos on your blog, come leave a comment here so we can traipse over and enjoy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creative Chains


In India of old, young elephants began their training in a simple way. One foot was shackled and chained to a sturdy post. Pull, pull, pull though they might, the young beast couldn't break free. Eventually, the animal learned it was useless to struggle and quit trying. For the rest of it's long life, the elephant could be tethered not with a chain, but with piece of string, so strong was that early conditioning.

What 'chains' hold you back?

Are they real or are they imagined?

For me...I've noticed lately I quit on a project before I really get into it. In the back of my mind are those nasty voices. 'The publishing industry is hurting in this economy.' 'Maybe I'm too over the hill to write for a younger audience.' 'This is too much a who you know industry and I don't know enough of the right people.' 'What a waste to spend weeks and weeks and weeks writing on something I can't guarantee will ever sell.'

Chains of 'quit before it hurts too much.' Just like those elephants.

Do chains hold me back or a simple piece of string? How will I ever know unless I flex my creative muscle?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ A Favorite Teacher

As you can see I've been blogging a lot in my head lately. I'm making a real push to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. Follow through, right?

For today's memoir prompt...who was your favorite teacher? This does not have to be a childhood or school age teacher, but someone who taught you a skill or concept that you value today. Perhaps what they taught wasn't as important as how they taught it.

So...favorite teachers....

Two of my favorites were Sharon K., my English teacher and Mama Marge W., my journalism teacher. Mama Marge ( and yes we often called her that) had already encouraged my love of photography by putting me on the photography staff of the school newspaper and yearbook. She is a tall, thin woman with a quick, sharp mind. She treated her staff students not as students only, but as adults capable of doing amazing work. My sophomore and junior year of high school, she taught me to write according to strict journalism standards. Just the facts and economical with words. Deadlines became my friends.

Sharon K. (whom we called Mrs. K---) loved being an English teacher. I ate her class up. We studied classic books with enthusiasm. It was in her class that I discovered Ray Bradbury. What a discovery! During my junior year, she taught me to write in a traditional English manner. Vivid description, powerful presentation, and the joy of organizing a big project.

Having both of these teachers in the same year was excellent for me. Because of their demands, I learned to write according to the audience. I can't tell you how valuable that skill has been in my creative life. Whether I'm writing a marketing piece for my studio or a letter to the editor or a piece of fiction, I know to pay attention to the unseen person who will be reading my words and craft accordingly.

As I said, I had a very adult type relationship with Mama Marge. She attended my wedding and my dad's funeral. A few years ago, her children arranged a party to celebrate her 80th birthday. It was delightful to see her again. She was, as ever, a sharp, insightful, and intelligent woman.

In my thirties, when I was showing German Shepherds in obedience, I ran into Mrs. K-- at several shows. She, too, had taken up dog showing. Her Bernese Mountain Dogs were like huge teddy bears...all plush fur and happy expressions. She introduced me to her husband by his first name. When she noticed I was still calling her by Mrs. K--, she said, you know, you've graduated. You can call me Sharon. With a smile, I shook my head. "Nope, I don't think I can."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ Back to School

For today's memior prompt, how about school memories?

Do you remember your first days of school?

Did your family have a ritual for first days?

Who was your favorite teacher?

What were your favorite subjects?

Happy remembering!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Creative Quote

I'm always thinking
about creating.
My future starts
when I wake up every morning...
Every day I find something
creative to do with my life.
Miles Davis

Monday, September 14, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ A Book Review

Instead of an assignment today, I'm doing a review of "My Life In France" by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme.

Why a book review? Because this is one of the best memoirs I've read recently. It was built and written from collections of letters, journal entries, and photographs saved by members of the family. Exactly the type of writing I'm urging you to do each Monday.

From what I understand, Julia Child's grand-nephew, Alex Prud'Homme would read aloud from the saved letters or he and Julia would sort through photos and Julia would tell stories sparked from those memories.

The writing is warm, witty, and engaging. For the writers among us, there are some terrific turns of phrase and lovely language. It is a look into the passionate pursuit of creativity. It's the story of someone who loved life abroad and truly came alive when she found her calling. You'll want to pack up and move to France, roast a duck, or at the very least, you'll be inspired to try something new and challenging. What ever the call, I hope you hear it clearly.

If you loved Meryl Streep's Julia Child in the movie, you'll enjoy 'hearing' Julia's true voice through her words and rememberances. This is a good read!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


the Pilot Guy and I a
re celebrating
years of marriage.

Chains do not hold a marriage together.
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.
Simone Signoret
Marriage is not just spiritual communion; it is also remembering to take out the trash.
Joyce Brothers

Real giving is when we give to our spouses what's important to them,
whether we understand it, like it, agree with it, or not.
Michele Weiner-Davis

They do not love who do not show their love.
William Shakespeare
The Beauty of Love:
The question is asked, "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?"
And the answer is given. "Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another.
Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love.
Old love."
Two persons who love each other are in a place more holy than the interior of a church.
William Lyon Phelps
There is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown through the years, from the small acorn of passion, into a great rooted tree.
Vita Sackville-West
Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.
Robert Browning

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Get Smart


Want to get smarter? Here's some tips I gleaned from a passionate discussion between homeschool moms over the summer. See if you agree or disagree.

1. Read. Pick up books and dive into subjects which fascinate you. Read, study, and ponder things you love...quilting, business marketing, gardening, calculus, photography, dog training, biographies, education, creativity(!) human development, Biblical truth, writing, foreign languages, quantum physics...whatever your passion...follow it. Read deeply in a subject and read widely across a number of subjects. Read authors you agree with and authors you don't agree with.

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. - Mark Twain

2. Process your thoughts. Write...journal, blog, or write papers only for yourself. Educated people in the days of Thomas Jefferson kept a book in which they wrote thoughts, notes from their daily reading, questions, observations, and ideas. They called it a commonplace book. Writing is a good way to think through a maze of thoughts. Remember, your writing doesn't have to be for anyone else but you. Talk to others. Listen. Think. Muse. Or as my horse-trainer mentor said, 'observe, remember, compare.'

Writing is thinking on paper.-William Zinsser

3. Experience. Get up and do something. Actually learning to rock climb, salsa dance, or how to hold a paint brush activates more brain cells than reading about it. Travel often. Experiencing new cultures (even within our great country) expands your knowledge base and gives insight.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. ~Mark Twain

4. Ask questions. This is two actually, because you must really listen for answers. Too much of the time, we only half listen to each other's conversation because we are busy thinking about we are going to say. Today, listen carefully and completely to other people.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Albert Einstein

There is no such thing as a stupid question; only stupid mistakes made because you didn't ask the stupid question. Charles J. Lewis

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway

5. Quit doing stupid. The laugh out loud moment for me in the discussion came when someone suggested the best way to get smart was to quit doing stupid things. Like, for example, watching too much TV, playing video games, or spending too much time twittering. Obvious and oh, so true.

Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them. ~Confucius, Analects

What do you think about these? What would you add to the list? How does getting smart affect your creativity?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Creative Fears

Lavendar blooms

In this month's 'MORE' magazine is a terrific article about Kathy Davis of Kathy Davis Designs. Her greeting cards, scrapbooking supplies, and line of home accessories are a thriving business. What you might not know is Kathy left teaching to pursue an artistic life during her thirties.

On being an artist...
"'I was not confident about my ability. I sat next to a boy who painted so beautifully." She (Kathy) taught English and science for six years and got married. She earned her master's degree and certification to teach art, but it wasn't enough. "I remember being in class one day thinking, I want to be sitting with them, not standing up here. I want to be creating.""

Her first venture into the National Stationery Show...
"All the old feelings of not being good enough came back: feeling like no one needs me, that there was too much competition..."

On finding focus...
"I had to ask myself, do I want to be a retailer or a designer?"

And finally....
'I'm a late bloomer, but I finally figured out that there is always going to be someone better than you, and, at that point, you just have to say, that's OK, I still have something to offer."

These quotes resonated with me. Let me know in the comments if any of them spoke to you.

I hope you'll grab a copy of "MORE" this month and read the article for yourself.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Creative Passion

Which one are you?

I just saw the 'Julia/Julie' movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Quite good, much better in my humble opinion than the book. (And I know everyone else saw this a while ago...we had a wedding at our house, remember?)

So which one are you?

Julia--who found a passion and pursued it with vigor?


Julie (at the beginning of the story) dead end job, little drive, not able to finish what she started....

Why did you identify with that one?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ Weddings


Today would have been my parent's 53rd wedding anniversary. With our son's wedding just a bit over a week ago, the taking of vows has been on my mind a lot. So today's memior assignment is to write about your wedding day...or go ask your parents or grandparents about their day.

Actually, it was a few pages in a journal I found after my mother's death which inspired Memoir Monday. Three handwritten pages she had penned about her wedding day. The fun they'd had getting married in my dad's parent's house, the flowers, the cake, the people who made the small wedding a pleasure. There was a page and a half about how my parents glossed through their three day honeymoon to come back to their rental house early. Unfortunately they didn't have a key, but my enterprising dad managed to 'break' in so they could settle in. I could feel her happiness and delight come through those pages. Have I mentioned that my mom was a sweet sixteen bride and my dad a mature twenty year old? (I know, I know!)

When I found that journal and read the story, I wept. I cried, in part, because my grief was still fresh, but I wept because there was no more. Only those few pages. The rest of the journal was blank. How I wanted more! My mother probably wrote those lines after she was sick. Probably after she realized she wasn't getting out of breast cancer alive. I imagine she wanted to fill that book up with the story of her life...but she didn't have the strength emotionally to go back into it all...or perhaps it was a simple matter of little physical strength. I'll never know. All I know is this daughter was greedy for more.

That's what Memoir Mondays are bits and pieces you can capture the stories of your life. Every year you can print them out, bind them into a book or notebook, and shelve them. Your children, grandchildren, and great-grands will love having an eye witness account of your life and times. Include photos when ever you can.

Now--go write.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Creativity, Venting, and Change

Do you ever vent?

Blow off steam?

Griping to your spouse about your boss or your child's school situation. Complaining to your best friend about your mother in law or your wayward cousin. Moaning and groaning to anyone who will listen about your inability to create because of your time commitments outside your studio.

Me, too.

The thing is, venting is non-productive. Yes, it makes you feel better in the short term. You get to have your say and someone who loves you makes murmuring noises in support of you.

But nothing's changed.

Let's consider history for a moment. These terms, 'venting' and 'letting off steam', come from one of history's significant inventions--the steam engine. For the first time, a person didn't have to depend on the variables of the wind or tide. Nor did a person have to harness an animal's muscle or his own to move a load from one point to another. A hot fire under a vat of water turned the water into steam vapor.The resulting vapor built up pressure and was eventually forced into an engine where the pressure powered pistons and turned gears. A steam engine could move comparably huge loads of men and cargo with little effort. Across a bay or up and down a river using a steamboat or across a sprawling continent with the railroad. Steam was the most powerful fuel of it's day.

To be effective, steam has to be captured and directed. An uncovered pot of water boiling on the stove is not going to move anything. Heat applied to a closed container of water will build pressure. If that pressure is piped correctly, that pressure will move a piston which moves a gear which moves a wheel which moves boat, train engine, or steam shovel. As long as that pressure remains, things move.

When we 'vent' we are like the pot busily boiling on the stove...there's a lot of heat, a lot of bubbles, a lot of steam. But nothing moves. All that energy wasted.

Whatever is causing a hot spot under your pot...don't boil and bubble to your buddies. Use that energy to power a change in your life. In other words, don't complain without doing something to fix the situation.

Break the venting habit. No 'letting off steam' this week. Use that energy to find a way to modify the situation or your attitude about it. Even doing one small thing can make a difference.

If you dare, leave a comment about what you vent about most frequently. And what small or large thing you will do at the first available opportunity to make a change in the situation.

Me? I'm going to quit griping about not having as much time as I want or need to create and MAKE some time in my life.

I'm going to write a few letters and make a couple of phone calls to some folks about important issues.

It's a start.

“Steam is no stronger now than it was a hundred years ago but it is put to better use” -Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet)

"No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.” -Joan Rivers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009