I decided to make my cooking the focus of my blog, since that is one of my favorite things to do.
I had a great summer, clearing clutter and selling/giving so much stuff away. Then the end of July a new job fell out of the sky. It is a fabulous job and I'm so grateful and happy to have it! The commute is easy, the people are wonderful and my work is rewarding.
I don't have as much time for blogging now, but I do want to get back into it on a more regular basis.
I haven't posted since June 22nd - a kind of "out to lunch" for awhile - longer than I thought type of thing.
My last post got me to thinking about my creative priorities and I have spent the last month literally shaking them all up. I cleaned out three different sets of 10 craft drawers on wheels that carry part of the art supplies and crafty tools that my husband and I have collected over the years to use. Whew! 30 drawers...I'm glad it's done. The supplies hardly or never been used are in bins to be sold or given away. The rest are categorized and laying neatly in Ziploc bags in large covered bins in the closet.
This has really helped me narrow my focus on what I really enjoy doing and letting go of things that are holding me down or holding me back from being totally present with what I like to do most. Now I can reorganize the drawers with only what's pertinent. I sold one set of the drawers so I have less space to hold items and will only let back in the drawers what I need and use, so maybe even a 2nd culling is coming...
As an aside, I have done this with my clothes closet - selling and giving away a ton of unused clothes AND my business and personal files that contained so much irrelevant paper that was keeping me stuck and has been shredded and sent to recycling.
This Feng Shui type of shaking the dust out of stuck items in our home has been so healing that I literally, physically feel lighter.
I'm not done yet, but am almost there. Goal: everything current, let go of the past.
With all the new free found energy I can concentrate more in my spare time on what I love most, making photos and writing about recipes, doing more collage and writing short stories.
My creative life can be somewhat of a revolving door...
I love what I see through the camera lens. At a very early age I loved to have my picture taken or be in my dad's home movies of our family. From my youthful perspective, there was something magical about seeing myself captured on a photograph much as I would see myself when looking in the mirror. Even more mystical was to see us all in action on a home movie! I would beg my dad to let me use his camera so my own photography hobby started in my teens. I go in and out of obsession with picture taking, however now that I am blogging I'm more likely to keep my camera to hand at all times.
I love to write stories. I am learning about writing, having only really started my writing career one year ago. When I started my Fear of Writing online course in late May 2010 I was initially ambivalent about being able to sustain. But one story in to the class and I was hooked! I can connect the dots of all my other creative interests by writing in or about them.
I love my kitchen! It's the heart center of our home. I feel more creative when I make up my own recipes or launch off of others. Staying healthy is important to us so I keep this in mind by being as creative as possible with whole, fresh foods. We eat on dishes handcrafted by artists.
I love to play with art. Simple art like cutting pictures out of magazines and making collage greeting cards. Or using rubber stamps to convey a message to someone special. Or painting color splashes on white tissue paper for any number of creative projects.
Surrounded by art I am at my happiest.
The Grand Creator has my never ending gratitude that I can exercise my modest talents in writing, photography, playful art and cooking. I have to remind myself of this at those times when I am paralyzed that I can't figure out which one to pick having to crowd out the others.
I'd be interested what others have to say about this...
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
- spoken by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
I recently got the opportunity to try that on for size. On April 17 my friend contacted me and asked if I could look after her business for a couple weeks. She works from home and her 18 year old business is in employee benefits. She hadn't taken a real vacation in about 12 years and her doctor basically told her it was wise to take a break before her lack of it broke her. (I think that's putting it lightly.)
The thing is she wanted to drop off everything the next day (Monday) and then be on her way by the end of the day.
I've always been an organizational bizzy bee and also am very adept at troubleshooting, but at first I was reluctant. I did want to help her and I hesitated only because I was involved in some projects on which I didn't really want to lose momentum. AND the short notice was a little grating on my nerves. But it wasn't impossible, so I agreed to interrupt my own life and step into hers.
After she came over that Monday laden with her files, computer system, both business and personal cell phones, plus a pile of everything in process we buzzed through what needed to be done. Gulp, she really did want me to climb into her skin. She literally wanted me to take over her business and a lot of personal stuff because she was taking a complete break from it. She wasn't totally unavailable and would check in most days with me, but she was pretty clear that I was on my own and that she knew I could do it otherwise she wouldn't have asked.
I admire that she can do that. I'm too much of a control freak to let anyone touch my things! I also have a side that's very private and I wouldn't want anyone else manning my phone and email. But trusting me was what she had to do in order to get what she wanted.
An old friend of mine and I used to say to each other for years, "If you see a job, it's yours." Because of that, over the years, I have not been afraid to volunteer rather than having to be asked. I trained myself to always be ready to accept the surprises in life and not be afraid to take on something unusual and want to do it.
Climbing into someone else's skin and walking around in it is altogether another thing, but that's not impossible either! I went from hesitation and lack of confidence to stepping up proudly in a very short time. I had no choice, this employee benefits is serious business to folks. I wanted to service my friend's clients as well as she does, so I always tried to think how I imagined she would think. I wrote her emails, I fielded her calls and put into action whatever needed processing.
My take away from this is a treasure. Letting go of resistance, stepping up to this job out of the blue was an enriching experience. I met a lot of nice folks on the phone and helped a few through some dicey hurdles that I can proudly say I navigated on my own. I know things about my friend I never knew before and feel a bond that did not previously exist.
How would you feel about dropping your own projects completely and stepping into someone's shoes for an extended period of time?
A mysterious caller moves silently through the hours when the sun is going down, relinquishing it's power and putting the world to rest. I may not have noticed the gift on our porch left by the mysterious caller had I not opened the porch light to admire the work we had been doing there during the day cleaning up the winter winds and rain to prepare the porch for the changeover to spring.
As I breathed in the night air I enjoyed the pungent scent of flowers that only come alive at night. I said goodbye to the day and turned to go inside when I noticed the gift laid carefully on top of my husband's large, black flip flops. A basket of strawberries and a package of orange and yellow tulips wrapped in brown paper with a cheery Whole Foods sticker holding them closed!
My first thought was why didn't the caller knock on the door? But then I knew that the way of this mysterious caller is to move through the night depositing moonbeams on people's porches. And, oh we did delight in the moment of pure pleasure at the time of the connection with the unexpected and generous present!
Thank you mysterious caller for your gift of the cheerful and delicious bounty of nature.
Tulips & Strawberries
by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
My husband found this on the new books shelf at our local library a couple days ago. I began to read this small, but profound book and captured this part to share, "At age thirty-four on a brief trip to Europe, I was felled by a mysterious viral or bacterial pathogen, resulting in severe neurological symptoms. I had thought I was indestructible. But I wasn't. If anything did go wrong, I figured modern medicine would fix me. But it didn't."
Ms. Bailey is bedridden, then moved from her New England farm to a studio apartment where she is cared for. In early Spring a friend visits and takes a walk in the woods where she gathers some field violets and digs them up to plant in a terra-cotta pot then places a snail she found beneath the leaves. She brings the pot into the studio and puts it by Ms. Bailey's bedside.
I am very moved by her dialogue on the snail which she starts watching after her initial resistance at it being "not of much interest and if it was alive, the responsibility - especially for a snail, something so uncalled for - was overwhelming."
Lying there all day and night she observes the ways of the snail. It moves out from the soil beneath the leaves and explores the flowerpot, the dish beneath it and eventually, up to where I have read, the crate the pot is sitting on.
This got me to thinking about paths we take in life. Some of our paths are like the ancient paths that became dirt roads, that became highways, that became freeways. And even if these paths cause us pain, sometimes we are unable to go any other way but the deep gouge we have created. Other paths diverge from the ancient paths and create positive change in our lives due to our curiosity or desire. Still other paths may cause us pain and we must turn back and get on a more pleasant path or they are in danger of becoming unpleasant ancient paths. Even positive change paths could grow unpleasant and we would have to face another change. What do we choose?
What if we become afraid to take a new path? What are we missing? What if Ms. Bailey had told her friend to take the snail back out to the field? What up close observations of a tiny life form would she be missing?
I look forward to her unfolding story and it's one I want to take my time with and savor. I have already been provoked to think about how I can make more of the life I am living, to create even more richness and flexibility, so that I don't become afraid to go down new paths, ever.
Kitchen lights on during the day weather!
Last week and this has been a good time to batten down the hatches and tuck in to some piled up projects. The wind is roaring outside and the rain has barely stopped all week. Now I am hearing thunder. I'm not complaining - I love the spring rains making everything grow back. It's just well, gray
I have been cooking a lot more this week because I find comfort in a warm oven, the kitchen lights on during the day and the nourishing food chases away a gray day, making it bright.
Because of the gray I needed an artful project and last week I finally dug out something I have wanted to do for 10 years. See in my "intuitive cooking" section - My Mother's Cookbook
. It finally translates to the perfect spot right here on my blog. I had so much fun going down memory lane that I got a little carried away. :~)
Since it's one of the grayest days today I needed some color therapy. Luckily I got two bunches of daffodils and today they are at their height of perfection - joyful, smiling faces and a scent carrying across the room. I just had to take a photo to make a little piece of artful memory. From my house to yours here is a yellow filled delight
. Just pretend you can smell the flowers!My other piled up projects are next on the list.
"I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the deep springs that fed it." - HemingwayLast week I had a success after spending 4 weeks of a solid creative
high that sustained long hours every day, 7 days a week. After I had arrived at my destination and all the projects were to completion I went into a creative freeze.I know by experience that nothing I do will get those juices going, but it still doesn't help when I'm feeling like a rowboat in the middle of a lake with no oars or even a rower present.
But I let myself bob around and I've been making lists of writing and other creative projects I want to do, taking a few photos, reading blogs, researching on Wikipedia, and reading.I started A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition
last weekend and have been feasting myself on the results of Hemingway's deep well. I have not read him for a long, long time and it is through more mature eyes that I find an excitement in his literary style.All those actions that feel like non actions when I am not writing proved once again to be just the thing to do. I woke up this morning with this post on my mind and not one but four new projects that I am excited to start today.Thank you, Hemingway, 50 years after your passing, for helping in filling my well back up again through the legacy of your timeless work!
...comes only from taking some time out to read them. So many blogs! So many Tweets about them! How do we keep up? Reading them seemed like a time consuming proposition to me, until now.Even though I was super busy, last week I had some real value after taking the time to read different posts.
Ah-has! valuable enough to incorporate in my own writing habits. Now I am much keener to schedule it in more often as "creative absorption." My first insight came when the act of commenting made my brain kick in and expand.
On 3/1/11 Judy or "J" from Zebra Sounds
wrote in the Fear of Writing blog about her experience
committing to "write wild" for 15 minutes a day during the month of February. If you take the time in your own busy schedule to read her post, you will find that J admitted that she missed writing wild some of the days
, and you will find out how she came to terms with that. Lovely.
My comment was an admission that I did not commit to 15 minutes a day as I would only beat myself up. "...I’m more of a do all of the 15 minutes in one day type of person" was freeing for me to admit in public. Recently I decided "I am what I am." So when I alternate between having a voracious appetite for the creative, then totally abandon it for awhile, there is nothing to forgive myself for.My second insight came from Milli Thornton's guest post Write There: Style is Not a Mystery on The Artist's Road blog by Patrick Ross.
Among the many helpful tips from Milli she suggested we "...take a trip down memory lane. Read a selection of your writing, both recent and older." I went to my bookshelf and pulled out an old diary with the start of a little story in it. That story has been begging me to write it, while I've been ignoring it, for a very long time. I took the time to read the 18 pages written so far, then sat down to continue where I left off 13 years ago. Click here
to see screen-shots of my story Saving Gerald.
Winded! That's how I felt after spending three weeks doing this complete blog makeover, plus creating another blog simultaneously.But that's me...all or nothing.
I'm back though and raring to go.Having made peace with the side of me that buds creativity and follows it to exhaustion, I now just let loose and enjoy the ride.
(When it's over I have plenty of other things to do to fill in the cracks.)I do that with my collage and photography too. Even cooking! I made numerous apple pies last autumn and even bought extra pie dishes so I could hand them out to friends. But oops, I made the mistake of promising one to my neighbor and his wife when I was at the tail end of my pie obsession. Ohhh la la. It would just be easier to make the darn pie, but I've been blocked by my total lack of interest in pies.
It's hard to think of even making one until next autumn.Hmmmm, I wonder if they would want some of that new fudge recipe I got?