Saturday, December 25, 2010

Playtime!

I usually don't have any trouble keeping myself more than creatively busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  There a million and one things I want to create. A million and one things I want to do.  It surprised Broadside when one Saturday morning, a couple of weeks ago, I announced I was going to take a painting class that afternoon.  He carefully asked. "Aren't you already creating a ton of stuff?  Why do you need a class?"  The class was painting a pop art pet portrait.  Mickeygirl and Gus on canvas, done by my own hand.  How much fun could that be?  I think Broadside was afraid I was going to start down another creative road and it would soon become an obsession for me.  He's right.  The class was one of the best and most fun I have taken in a long time!  I didn't know painting a portrait would be so fun.   I reluctantly do water color renderings for theater costume projects.  I'm not fast at it or confident and the the drawings always look strange to me.  Stiff.  I don't think of doing renderings as fun.  They are a task.  Allbeit, a creative one.

The Pop Art Portrait
 This process of taking a photo and using a grid method to transfer the photo on to a canvas was amazing!  It was joyful to me seeing Mickeygirl and Gus "come to life" for me.  Applying the paint was relaxing and fun.  I think the best part was using observational tools and being so in the moment as I worked.   Taking things one inch by one inch.  The zooming in and out.
As adults, I think we always feel like our play needs to produce a result.  At least I feel that way most times.
Play is just the result in itself.  Play is play.  If we have something to show the world fine and great.  If not, oh well.  Ask any kid playing. "What is your result of all your playing ?"   I'll bet you they will look at you cockeyed and puzzled.  Yes, I got a painting out of my playing.  Is it art gallery quality?  No.  But I like it.  And I had fun.  I went to the class to learn something new and to play.  I did just that.  I think kids playing are also, on some level, learning about themselves, their world...life. At very least they are connected to the moment and I hope, having fun!
I will be painting more.  I already purchased the canvas boards and I'm hoping Santa slips a small set of acrylic paints and some good brushes in my stocking.  I want to perfect the techinque and have much more fun.  I'm even thinking that doing costume renderings might start to be more fun and less of a task.  All from a bit of play.

When was the last time you had playtime?  Is it time for play?
Until next week...create to feel great.
10 projects complete.  42 to go!

The Original Photo
 P.S. Best wishes for a joyous, play filled, fun filled, love filled Holiday!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

There Must Have Been Some Magic

"To make all life more poetical, more sane,more living, loving, to experience the true of all things...
This moment...This moment...This moment." ~ William Segal 
Many people in my life know I love hats.  I love wearing them. I especially love teaching others how to make hats and I love making them to give to others.  My dear friend, whose daughter is getting married this week, asked me if I had a top hat they could borrow to add some fun to the wedding photos.  As much as I love hats, I don't keep the costume hats I make. I just couldn't say no to the prospect of making a lovely top hat.  I had the perfect fabric, lining, hat band.  As I was making this hat I had no idea of the joy and delight it would bring to the bride's face when I presented it to her.   She gasped with excitement as she exclaimed. "This is perfect! He's going to soooooo love this hat!  He's going to look sooooo handsome wearing it!  It's better than what he wanted!"  Then she hugged and thanked me a million times for this hat. 
Making hats are easy. (I am serious here.  Making a hat is easy. No, not just for me.)  I think they are like the ultimate zen process.  Much of a good hat is hand stitched.  A lot of tiny, delicate stitches and big stabbing stitches.  What makes creating a hat difficult is the when I don't focus.  Again, when my mind wanders into worry or other things I should be doing.  Stepping out of the moment.  With this hat I wanted it to be full of love.  The only way that happens for me is when I'm in the moment as I create.  I had my doubts that the groom would even want this hat.  I questioned why I was doing all this work?  Afterall, I have a ton of Holiday gifts and crafts to make as well.  This hat was taking me away from it.  All these thoughts stepped me out of the moment.  Out of creating what was to become "the perfect hat!"  The hat the groom would love so much.
I did my best to keep those useless thoughts at bay as I worked.  I'm glad I did.  The bride's joy confirmed for me I made the correct choices.
As I was saying goodbye and I'll see you at the wedding to the bride and her mother, the bride hugged me again and told me how much she loved me.  How important I am to her and not just for top hats and shawls, but because I give so freely of myself and my talents.  I hugged her tighter.
Her mom, hugged me and looked me straight in the eyes and said. "Thank you for bringing the magic.  You always bring magic." I know I do that, but lately I had forgotten that.  My friend reminded me that I do bring the magic.  For me, there is not a better more positive feeling in the world.
Here's what I mean by magic...it's not being afraid to show up with our tool bag of all our talents and who we really are at our core being.  Putting those talents, whatever they are, to use for the greater show of love. Not holding back on our talents or parts of ourselves.  Putting everything out there, without reservations or doubts, whatever those might be. (There are million of those nasty doubt-y  things)  In my mind when I act out of love, I'm more connected to the magic that there is in everyday moments.  I love bringing the magic. For me, it seems like a simple thing to do, as it really is.  I love my friend for reminding me of that fact and actually encouraging me.
As I look at this top hat I'm thinking of Frosty The Snowman.  The line- "There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found. For when they placed it on his head he began to dance around." Some one brought the magic there and it brought life to old Frosty The Snowman.

How do you bring the magic into your life? (Remember, it really is an easy thing to do and we all have that power in us to bring the magic. Magicians make magic look easy-'cause it really is.)
Is there someone in your life that you could encourage to bring the magic?
Until next week create to feel great!
9 projects complete!  43 to go!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Me And My Big Creative Mouth

Sometimes being the most creative person the people in my life know can cause a problem.  I don't think so much for them, but for me.  I'm also a girl who can't say no, when it comes to almost any creative project. Add to the fact that it's the holiday season and my creativity wants to amp itself up even higher. Imagine a race horse wanting to get out of the gate and run.  That's me and my creativity during the holidays.  It doesn't exhaust me, but it does some times leaves me feeling or asking. "Hey, what about me?"  When do I create for me? Please don't take me wrong here, I love love love creating and using my creativity for the benefit of others.  There are just times when I go way way overboard.  My creativity is always ready to run.  It's up to me to harness it for my good.  As I'm progressing along with this Campaign and I'm observing myself in this process, I'm learning.
I'm learning about it's okay to set boundaries.  It's okay if I pass on a creative project.  There will be more and more coming down the pike at any given moment.  My creativity will not dry up and go away.  I will, however find myself not being healthy or happy if I'm worn down to a thread in pursuit of every project.
Which brings me to this week's project.  A good friend of mine has a daughter who is getting married this month. (Crazy kid! What the what is she thinking?!)   Since I am one of the most creative people my friend knows, she has asked me to help add some creative touches to the wedding. It's important to note that my friend is wildly creative herself and very very good at asking for help and delegating- I'm watching and learning from this teacher.
Instead of agreeing to everyone of my friend's ideas and projects, I carefully weight what is possible for me to handle.  I still agreed to several things, because I wanted to and I thought it would just to the special day.
One of the things I agreed to was a shawl.  At first I had visions of knitting this wonderful white lace shawl. Light airy and warm.  Trouble here is I knit, yes.  I knit socks, not lace work.  I made a stab at knitting lace work and quickly grew frustrated.  Not only did I not have time to knit a lace shawl, I didn't want to spend my November/December in frustration. This was not the time to learn how to knit lace work.   So to plan B.  Beaded lace appliques on a light wool pashmina shawl.  Tadah!  Project of the week!  I think it's perfect.  If the bride doesn't like the bead work, they can be easily removed.  I don't mind.  I also had time to create shawls for the 3 brides maids.     
Another example of where my creativity got me into to something I was over my head in and came to my rescue with another creative idea. Again, I feel it's all about being open to the creative flow  As for knitted lace work, I'll attempt it another time.
Are there times when you get in over your head, even just a bit, and you've used your creativity to assist you to not feel so buried?
Until next week...create to feel great!
8 projects complete 44 to go!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Coming Together-Holiday Style

For the last two weeks, I've created projects that I had in mind to be a part of a larger one for this week.
I have to confess, that is about as much project planning I have ever done for this blog.  That is not to say that I don't plan.  I actually plan a lot in my life, almost to the point of driving Broadside a little crazy. (He's from the Cool Hand Luke School of "I've never made a plan in my life" mind set).  The planning for this project made me happy.  It wasn't the fact that I was making things and gathering up creative stuff.  Some of it was the fact that it is a holiday project.  The largest part was the fact that I had arranged to take all my gathered up crafting items over to my good friend Marilee's house and craft with her.  As I packed my large carry bag with goodies, it felt like I was preparing for a crafting adventure.  I really was.
Marilee has been my friend for over 17 years.  We use to work together.  We've taken great vacations together.  We've experienced life's ups and downs together.  It's great to have a friend like her, close by.  In past years, we've created some fun projects together.  As I drove over to her house, I kept thinking that it has been way too long since I've crafted with her or anyone for that matter.
Crafting with others, is a truly rewarding experience for me.  It amps up my already high creative energy.  It always feels like a celebration of life to me.  Certainly, this time it felt like a celebration of friends.  The afternoon was long and relaxed.  The creativity was flowing off the charts.  We laughed, talked and shared stories. We painted, glued and glittered.  I'd have to say, that for me, it was a perfect day. 
Together we created these decorated boxes.  We got inspired by a box she gave me for my birthday.  It celebrated Fall.  Ours celebrate the Christmas season.   I'm not so sure what I'm going to do with all these boxes.  I know I'll find homes for them. (Warning to all my other friends).  All the stars and paper I made I only used one of each, that's okay, they will get used for another project another time.
The round box lower right...uses the paper and
paper stars I made for the last two projects.
If I had one wish for everyone this holiday season, it would be for everyone to spend some time crafting, baking or getting together with a people they love  to create something.  It makes for a joyous celebration anytime of year.

Until next week...create to feel great!
7 projects complete.  45 to go!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Classic Fail! Epic Save!

I'm creating some Christmas crafts (final part to be project next week).  Last week it was paper.  This week it was polymer clay stars. Both are parts of a bigger project.  Well, I thought I was going to use polymer clay stars.  That was until I started working with it.  Over the years, I've played with polymer clay.  I've made flat objects for theater projects.  They turned out okay.  For this project I wanted stars with some dimension.
Molds were called into action.  Polymer clay didn't want to go in to a mold, as least not the ones I had.  Well, it went in.  It didn't want to come out.   Darn!  My vision for these stars were not going to happen.  Enter the bag of paper mache stuff, called Sculptamold.   I bought this stuff years ago, used it with not much success.  It's a paper mache product that mixes with water, loves molds.  It can be painted, glittered and it will be wonderful on the project.
I like the side of me that is willing to fail in order to succeed.  I know I'm only talking about little Christmas stars on a craft project.  Yet there is something inside me that is never so "married" to an idea that it has go the way I have planned or I don't want to play.  I've relied on this flexibility in me to create some amazing things, including this blog and Campaign.  This mind set has aided me in creating what I think is an amazing life.  I'm never ready to just give up, until I know in my heart that I have looked at all the angles, I've explored every possible idea, I've tried everything to make something work.  I believe the open mind set and not being "married" to an idea and how it needs to go, is a corner stone to creativity.  It certainly makes my life flow with ease.
Being open to that there is a possibility of failure, this only allows us to succeed on a greater level than we could ever imagine.  I'm not saying to focus on failure and let it control you.  I'm saying give yourself permission to fail and not let the idea of failure stop you from creating what you want in you life.

Until next week...create to feel great!
6 projects complete...46 to go!

Next week...I put the last two projects together into one project!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pyjama Day Play

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ~ Lao-Tzu"

Okay Lao-Tzu, great zen master, you didn't have the week I had this week. Yet you are talking sense to me right now.   I'm going to confess, right here,on the Internet before God, and anyone else reading this...that the level of stress in my past week was way way off the chain.  It was a perfect storm of crap that swirled around me, as I have no idea why it was coming at me.  It culminated in me having a huge crying breakdown.   Had I seen Lao-Tzu's quote earlier, the breakdown might have been adverted. Some how I doubt it. Oh, well.  It really was what it was.  The details of this week aren't important, and I'm okay, now.   I learned an amazing amount of stuff about me this week. Strong and good useful stuff.  The sort of stuff that if I leverage it properly and put it into action, will benefit my life forever.  Being on the other side of  this stress storm, great things happen. From all this emotionally charged stress, how did I manage to get so much clarity?  I allowed myself to take a Pyjama Day.  I stepped out of the stress, donned my favorite P.J.s and spend the day doing whatever I wanted to at home.  I allowed myself to feel whatever. Which I have to confess, for most of the day, was great. I didn't focus on anything but the day.  I hung out with Gus and Mickeygirl (for whom every day is a pyjama Day), I cooked myself a nice healthy lunch, watched bad TV, read, napped and I made paper.  All in my pyjamas.  Along the way, I gained a sense of peace and those amazing insights.  Over the years, I've come to realize that pyjama days are vital to my health and well being.  Everyone could benefit from a Pyjama Day from time to time.  I have usually made it a habit to put  pyjama days in my life on a regular basis. Usually one or two a month.  It helps me weather stress storms that do come up in life. Most times I schedule them into my life.  Then there are the "emergency Pyjama Days" like the one this week.  I don't know what happened with this week, but I do know the PJ day helped me move on and stop the stress from coming back at me.
Making the paper in my PJs was the most fun.  Making paper is easy and quick and doesn't take a lot of thought.  I found a person on the Internet who suggested placing the wet paper on leftover flooring tiles to dry. (Not the ones installed on your floor, but the ones leftover from a home improvement project.)  That was a genius idea. I've always used towels and newspapers that get all sloppy wet.  I really got into the play of it all.   I had a vision of making paper on the Martha Stewart show, with both of us in our PJs. Oh, why not?  I was playing.  For me any project that involves glitter and color can't be all bad.
I went to sleep that night relaxed and peaceful.  Now I'm ready to embrace Lao-Tzu quote and go with the flow in my everyday life.  I can address stressful situations proactively and not reactively.  More going with the flow, as ideas come to me just how to do this with ease and no struggle.
Do you do pyjama days on a regular basis?  What do you do on those days?
If you don't do pyjama days.  My suggestion is to try it...you might like it.
Until next week...create to feel great.
5 projects complete. 47 to go.

For cool paper making instructions check out this site. http://www.funsci.com/fun3_en/paper/paper.htm
I will be using my paper on another project very soon...Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One Silly Project

What is it about women of a certain age that makes them want to use their bra as a storage unit or at the very least a purse?  The women in my family have been known to use their bras in this manner.  I remember Granny giving me money for the store, by pulling it out of her bra. When my mother traveled, she didn't believe in traveler's checks, so she carried her money in her bra, along with other items.   I don't get it.  My bra is full enough with the materials that are suspose to be in a bra.  I don't have room for money or extra items.
Whereas I don't get it.  It didn't surprise me when my co-worker was telling me that her 70 plus year old mother and her group of friends carry their cell phones in their bras.  I guess their pants don't have pockets, they can't be bothered with purses and fanny packs.  Her mother was visiting our office and she was complaining that the phone gets sweaty stored where it's stored.  One of her clever friends puts the phone in a baby sock before putting it in the bra.   These women store their cell phones on the side of their bras.  (I come a long line of front loaders).  Hearing the challenge of how to keep the cell phone sweat free, my mind started creating.  A simple pocket made out of a mirco fiber cloth from the Dollar Tree.  I added a velcro strap for security to the bra strap.  According to Kay, the problem was solved. The cell phone is stored, and not sweaty.  To answer her phone, she simply slides it out of the pocket.  The pocket stays in her bra. She is one happy lady.  All her friends want one or two.  Bra pockets are born.
I never laughed so hard making and designing these pockets.  I had visons of little old women stuffing their bras with these pockets.  I'm telling the girls two pockets per person. I can really see these girls getting carried away.  My Granny would be proud of me.
What I like about this project is that it is so silly.  Silly yet, the ladies find them so useful.  I really love it when my creative mind solves a challenge and it's for a funny or odd reason. Kay told me that the pocket makes her life so easier.  I told Kay, she made me laugh and smile.
Had I not let myself embrace the silliness of this situation, the silly annoyance would be still annoying.

Is there a silly annonyance in your life that could use some creativity to make it less annoying?
Until next week...create to feel great. 
4 projects complete! 48 to go!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Up On The Roof

"This is the real secret of life: to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.  Instead of calling it work, realize it is play."           ~ Alan Watts

My husband and I live and own an old Portland style house.  It's way too big for just two people and two cats.  Yet it suits us.  100 year old houses need constant care.  100 year old houses, like the one we have, where the former owners did things to the house that can only be best described as major "what were they thinking!!!" moments...need lots and lots of constant care.  We do our best to keep up.  Thank God for most of the house being structurally sound.  One area of the house that has been a problem for us over the years, is my studio roof.  It leaks.  With all the rain we have in Portland, it's a problem.  Broadside has made several attempts to fix this issue with little to no success.  Considering he hates any sort of home improvement project, he's done well with this roof.  I've let him handle it.  Even though, I grew up with my mother the Shack Flipper, and helping her turn trash into money, for some reason,  I didn't think I could handle fixing this roof.  Last week, when rain was dripping into the room and I was draping everything in plastic, I decided to get over my fear of not being able to fix this roof and do something about it.  It was time to get creative.
The first thing I did was do to some research on the Internet.  I knew that there must be products or inventions for this situation.  I know that I'm not the only person in the world to buy a house that when the former owners decided to do some renovations took heavy doses of LSD and then went to the junk yard or dumpster dived to find building materials.  Sure enough, my old buddy the World Wide Web had some answers for me.  I found what looked like a super great product that would do the trick.  The Universe was planning to provide me with at least two sunny 70 degree days. Time to jump on this thing.
I told Broadside, I'd like to see what I could do with this.  It was going to be my project of the week.  He said he did care and not to fall off the roof.  (It's a flat roof)  He also said. "That's a lot of work for one person and not very creative."
Those were almost like fighting words to me.  At very least, a call to action.  As I drove out to the only hardware store in town, that carries this product, I was thinking. "Yeah, it is going to be a lot of work.  But so is living with water rushing in my studio and not to mention dry rot. And how dare he say this isn't a creative project.  I'm going to have to be very creative to make this work."  Once I got to the hardware store, the clerk there was surprised that I knew about this stuff.  There were two contractor looking guys hanging out by the product and they were surprised I knew about this stuff.  All mentioned to me that they thought it was a lot of work for one person.  As I was leaving the store I heard. "Don't fall off the roof."  Comedians are everywhere these days.
I got home and put on my work clothes.  It was warm sunny and bright.  Before I started I thought. "How can I make this fun?"  The idea of  working with a new product.  The possibility of fixing this problem once and for all without falling off the roof, made it a fun challenge.  I wasn't even going to listen to the voices that told me it was going to be a lot of work for one person.   I gathered up my supplies and a radio (I'm not a huge fan of classic rock, but when doing a repair project, classic rock blasting is in order), I stepped out on to the roof.
For most of the project I was on my butt scooting along the edge singing.  The first thing was to lay down a sealing tape.  That was followed by this rubber acrylic stuff.  Which was amazing.  I think I discovered some reasons  why the roof might be leaking as I was doing this.  As I scooted along, I also took time for me to enjoy being outside sitting on a roof in Fall. The birds in my trees.  The views from the roof, I could almost see to downtown.  I watched a lady who lives in the apartments behind my house, hang out her laundry.  My next door neighbor taking his dogs out for walks.  He noticed me and just had to shout out. "Girl! Don't you dare fall off that roof!" I asked him if he would like to help me and he said. "Uh, no.  That's way too much work."
I didn't fall off the roof.   I fell into the moment on that roof.  And you know what?
Not only did I not fall off the roof.  I got the thing coated, hopefully sealed, and because I was singing and enjoying the moment...it didn't seem like a lot of work for one person.
The roof!  All sealed and clean looking!
Broadside kept saying to me. "It's not really a creative project. How does it fit your blog? Do you think people are going to want to read about you scooting on your butt on your flat roof?"
I'm going to answer all that.  1) I write this blog for me.  After all, the insights I get are mine.  If some else gets benefit, I'm thrilled.  If not, oh, well. 2) I had to really engage my creativity to hopefully make this repair work (it hasn't rained yet.  Fingers crossed, everyone). At one point I was applying this stuff with my gloved hand.  I was frosting my roof.  I also think I engaged skills I've learned from other creative projects into this one.  3)Most importantly, I learned that the attitude I take into to something effects the results I create.  The two days I spent on my roof were fun and really zen for me.  The time passed, yet I had lots of time to get everything done. The work on the roof seemed like play, because I created that with my mind set.  I didn't approach the work with the attitude of, I spending two wonderfully warm Fall days fixing my roof, and I'm going to bitch about what a waste of time this is.  Instead, I simply asked myself how can I make this fun.  It's not work it's fun.
I thought about this as I worked and I realized that I do this a lot.  I look at how to make a task fun.  Just asking that question, always brings answers with ease. 'Cause if the answer is forced...then it ain't gonna be fun.
Today, as I write this, I have a sealed roof.  We have a couple more days before rain appears.  I'm hopeful I got that sucker sealed up.  I'm a little sore.  Nothing I don't think a good scheduled massage won't help.
Whatever the outcome I feel good about what I did and how I created play.
So, play comes in so many forms.  It's always there for us to make our life lighter and brighter.
How will you make your next task, that might be a lot of work, fun?


Until next week...create to feel great!  Make some fun!
3 projects complete.  49 to go

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How Seeds Get Planted

As a Creativity Life Coach, I often have the opportunity to assist my clients to "plant seeds".  These "seeds" are bits of ideas that when focused on and tended to, grow into something pretty wonderful for them.  I like this idea of "planting seeds".  I think we do this all the time with or without knowledge that that is what we are doing.
This week, as I was working on the project of the week, I was thinking about perhaps the first time I experienced how creating something can shift a person's mood to the positive.
I grew up in what I can only call an overly creative and dramatic household.  Both of my parents, may they rest in peace, were creative and sometimes that creativity was used to create drama and lots of it.  My mother longed to be a "normal" housewife and mother of the post WWII era.  This really wasn't in her wiring, and it was something that cause a lot of conflict in her for I think most of her life.  She did the best she could to come to terms with this conflict. Most of the time she wasn't too successful in her struggle, but when she was, she was a superstar.  I say all this as a preface to my story. At one point in her life, my mother decided to be a Bluebird leader. Bluebirds were the not ready to be a real Campfire Girl sub-group for 6 and 7 year olds.  At the time, I thought it was cool for my mother to be the leader, mainly because for a couple of hours once a week there were at least 15 girls my age at my house. Over the years I use to think. "Why did she do that?"  Now I know, it was my mother's way of creating something for herself.  We would do some pretty amazing craft projects each week.  I really don't remember my mother being more in her element than at the Bluebird meetings each week.  For her, it was a rare Superstar moment in her life.
This was never more apparent than the day President John F. Kennedy was shot.  For kids of my generation, that was a critical shocking day.  It was also the afternoon of a Bluebird meeting.  My mother loved JFK.  I could see the look of shock and sadness on her face as I walked into the house with some of my fellow Bluebirds.  At seven years old we didn't really fully understand what had happened.  Some of us didn't even know what had happened.  My mother bravely turned off the TV and wiped her eyes.  She announced to the group that we would be celebrating Fall today, by collecting leaves and putting them into a project.  It was November and there were tons of leaves to be found.  We then put them on wax paper with colored crayons and melted them with an iron.  The effects were like a stain glass window with nature.  My mother was the strongest and the most focused I ever remember. She even was laughing and smiling at the end of the meeting.  I didn't have many of these days or moments with my mother as I was growing up, yet I think that day a seed was planted and it's growing strong in the present in my life.  I witnessed my mother use her creativity to shift her mood, and all of our moods to one of a celebration of Fall..more importantly life. I realize,  I've been doing this all my life. Now I'm encouraging others to do the same.

These were difficult to get a photo on as they are best seen with light behind them.

In creating this week's project...I'm celebrating Fall and appreciation for all the wonderful people I have in my life.  I celebrated a great birthday a couple of weeks ago with the help of so many wonderful friends.
I collected leaves and used old crayons and melted them in wax paper.  Taking it one step further, I created a thank you card.  Inserted a note. Put them in the mail, without postage, but that's another story for another time. As they come back to me...I'm resending them.  I guess that's a what is called a senior moment. Sigh.

We all "plant seeds" everyday of our lives.  Can you think back to a time when you think someone "planted a seed" and it is growing for your good?  When was the last time you feel you "planted a seed" for your good or the good of others?
Until next week...create to feel great!  Plant a seed and watch it grow into something wonderful!
2 projects complete! 50 to go!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Ugly It Is Cute

My much beloved, Mickeygirl cat, turned 15 years old this past week.  She's amazingly healthy (after her one long illness), round and sassy and ever so loving.  It's a joy to have her sleep and snore next to me on the futon sofa, as I craft or write or hang out.
Now, 15 is a milestone in a cat's life, she's roughly the same age as Betty White.  I wanted to make her something that would bring her comfort as well as some fun.  So, I decided on making her a cat nip Ugly Doll. Ugly Dolls are a current pop culture thing.  I don't get it.  When I was a kid, anything ugly was, well, in a word, ugly.  No one I knew wanted an ugly doll or anything with ugly as part of it's name. I have say, however I had a huge troll doll collection, but I didn't think of them as ugly.  They just had a different body shape than Barbie and her friends.  Trolls could bring you good luck. An ugly doll filled with cat nip as a gift for a cat seemed sort cool to me.  Perhaps it would bring Mickeygirl some good luck in the coming year. At the very least, it would make her feel good.
I started by looking for a pattern for an Ugly Doll.  They really don't exist, because they are sort of free form. Upon realizing this "free form" idea, I created my own pattern.  I found something liberating in making something that was not perfect. Not pretty.  That was ugly.  That didn't mean that it had to be crappy looking either.
I discovered a big difference between crappy looking and ugly looking.  Crappy looking, looks like you really don't care.  It's throw together with no thought, no concept, and importantly...no love.  Making something that was ugly looking, I had to give it thought, I had to have a concept of what I thought was ugly and I made this with a lot of love.  That last word "love" is key.  Things made with love usually look better (even when the idea is to make ugly), or taste better (yum! home cooking), or sound better (people singing from their heart).
For me, love is key in all things I do.  Coming from a place of love, makes creative expression so much easier.  Coming from a place of love of others makes life easier.  I find when there is that ease in life and love in life, life is wonderful and there isn't much place of negativity and all it's trappings.
So, I look at this Ugly Doll filled with catnip as it lies on my floor waiting for the next cat attack (Mickeygirl loved it so much, she had trouble attacking it for the first couple of days.  Gus took care of that.) I think it's sort of cute, because I can see the love I put into to give to my girl.  That girl cat has taught me more lessons about love over the years and what it means and looks like, it is only fitting that she gets a gift of love for her birthday and everyday.
When was the last time you created something out of love?
Until next week...create to feel great!
1 project complete! 51 to go! Whee Year 2!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

53- A Campaign Recap

Today marks week 53 of The Campaign For Creativity To Banish Negativity.  It's my week off from "project of the week."  It's also, my last day at age 53 (I was born at 11:35 pm on October 16th).  Since my last post, I've been receiving a lot of acknowledgement from the people in my life.  Thank you all!  Folks in general are amazed and inspired that I was able to complete 52 projects and that I'm willing to write about it.
A great friend asked me what are some of the things you learned doing this challenge over the past year?  I've been reflecting on this question, let me see if I can recap.
This past year, I've sewn, knitted, painted, quilted,crafted.  I've discovered a wide wide world of crafters who love to share their ideas on the Internet.  It's vast and huge.  So, many creative people out there.  Thank you for all your ideas and tutorials.
I've pushed myself to learn and try to create new things.  I learn to needle felt.  I created a cook book.  I'm now crocheting again. I'm talking about creativity and encouraging others to be more creatively expressive.  I'm taking more creativity coach training, in order to get more cred and certification.  I'm writing again after giving it up years ago.
I've pushed myself to talk about my creative process, my thoughts on life and how I think it works.  I've fearlessly talked about about myself, Broadside, my Grandma and Granny, some of my struggles, and of course my love of cats.  I've proved to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do.
Most importantly, I've banished a lot of negativity in my life.  I finding myself laughing more.  Expressing myself in a positive manner as I interact with people in my life.  Some people have commented that they've seen a difference in me. (Thank you!) I'm living more in the present, worrying less about what will happen in the future and creating a fulfilling life and enjoying it.  I can say I'm always looking on the bright side of life (apologies to Eric Idle- I just had to use the reference).
I feel, all this allows me to contribute to others more fully, and thus doing my part to banish negativity.

I'm on a roll here.  I don't think 52 (or 53) weeks is enough. So, starting next week I will be going for year two...Project of the week will return.  The Mickeygirl and Gus saga will continue (More cat stories. Hope you can handle it).  I thinking year two is going to be a butt kicker!  I hope you will join me here.

Until next week...create to feel great!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Year Of Creating Joyfully!

"There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something."~ Henry Ford

A year ago, I came up this idea for a Campaign to Banish, what I thought was, the overwhelming negativity I saw everywhere I looked.  I knew that it would have to engage creativity.  So, I in a moment of flash- The Campaign For Creativity To Banish Negativity was born.  At least in name.  I thought my self clever for coming up with such a name, but that was all it was, a name.  A long one.  A name folks had trouble remembering all of it at once.  "Oh, you know..that creativity thing you are doing." Or "That banishing thing."  When I talked about it, well, announced the name of the Campaign.  Folks would ask me what it was.  Until this week a year ago, I didn't know what it was either.  I just knew that there was some connection between using one's creativity (once again, we are all creative) to shift negative thoughts and feelings.  I just knew it, but I didn't know what it would look like.  As I was mulling this all around in my mind, I had the opportunity to see the movie Julie and Julia. I had read small portions of Julie Powell's book. It was okay, it didn't stir anything in me, I got bored reading it after a couple of chapters (a little too whiney for me). Yet there was something in seeing the process on the big screen that hit me.  The friend I'd seen the movie with asked me if I did a year long challenge, what would it be?  Before I could answer she did it for me.  "I think you would do something around creativity."  I had to quickly agree.  Driving home that night, I had another amazing flash.  I what if I were to do a project a month and blog about it. Wait a minute!  A project  a month!???? Who are you kidding here? What sort of challenge would that be? How about a project a week?  That scared me ( I had thought about a project a day, but I almost stopped breathing and drove the car into a ditch).  What scared me was 52 projects.  That would interest me.  And talking about the projects. I didn't even know how to blog or if I could write again.  How would this shift a negative mind set?  I set up lots and lots of blocks. Finally, I decided that the one thing that scared me the most is the one thing that most people who consider themselves creative dread and need the most...S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E!  If I publicly proclaim that I going to challenge myself with 52 projects and a blog post a week for a year, and do it cheerfully and with a positive mind set, I'm going to have to structure my time and my mind.  That was the thing I was unsure of.  That was the challenge.
Fast forward, to today.  I have completed 52 projects and more than 52 blog posts.  The year went by fast.
Has negativity been banished? Well, no.  I still see tons and tons of work to do. I will say this, it has changed me. It has affected my responses to life. I have created more and learned more than I ever thought possible.
Old Henry Ford is right.  There is happiness in realizing that we (I) have accomplished something.
This week's project is a reminder and celebration for me.  I created a framed image charm bracelet.  So simple.  I took a visit to one of my favorite stores, Collage on Woodstock.  I gathered up images that I felt were key to my year.  Frame one- NOW. That's because I really learned the importance of staying present and in the here and NOW. Frame two- bird.  For Bird by Bird.  Taking things as a small piece or step at a time. Frame three- Mickeygirl.  Because she is an important part of my life. It's amazing what I've learned listening to her purr. Frame four- a cartoon of what I think looks like me.  Because I'm an important part of my life, and I now know can do whatever I set my mind to. Frame five- Gus.  Need I say more.  It's Gus. The happiest boy cat in the planet.
Every time I look at this bracelet I smile.  I smile at the images as they remind me I did something pretty big here with my time.  I know I had supporters and cheerleaders with me this year, I want to thank all of you. I hope it has been an interesting year for you as well (hint- would love to hear about it!)
I've had some folks ask me if this is the end? Well... I'm going to take a week off. Not from being positive, but from the project of the week. Time to celebrate, reflect, regroup, and enjoy! Stay tuned.

"Life is about enjoying yourself and having a good time." ~Cher
Is there a challenge in your life you are backing away from, but deep in your heart, you know it's completion would bring you joy? What's stopping you from accepting the challenge?

In closing...it is my hope that all folks reading this will continue to create to feel great and encourage others to do the same!
52 projects complete! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Habit Forming

In my quest to better understand my creative process (and others as well), and to get more coaching certification, I'm reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit.   I have loved Ms. Tharp's dancing and choreography for years.  I remember first experiencing her dancing in my mid-twenties.  A full evening's program.  I was moved to tears.  When her last tour, where she would dance, was announced I saw her dance in Portland, Seattle and San Fransico.  I would have followed her more, but I was out of money and had to get back to the job I had at the time. 
I was over the moon when I discovered her book on the creative process.  I've just started reading, but I'm already thrilled with what she is presenting.
The first idea is about rituals.  What gets us started on our creative path.  What do we have to do in order to get the juices flowing and growing?  She stresses that these are so important to creating. 
It got me thinking about my rituals.  I have many.  I have a different one of the type of creative endeavor I'm engaging in.  I didn't realize I had a ritual for The Campaign.  I do.  Every Sunday morning, the first question I ask myself is: What would I like to create this week?  I do this while listening to ABBA (okay, I just outted myself) and walking to coffee. Sometimes I find the answer right away.  Sometimes, it takes a couple of days, but I got the wheels moving on Sunday morning.  Friday afternoons are my time to write the blog. Before I start, I sit with Mickeygirl for ten minutes.  She's purring away and I'm in her energy.  Usually after ten minutes, Gus wants to horn in and I'm ready to write.
For costuming, whatever project I'm about to start, I have spend ten minutes looking for whatever on Ebay.  It doesn't have to be for the show.  I usually don't bid or buy.  I just "window shop" on Ebay. Oh, I have to be in my PJs. 
In my daily life, just to get started on my day, I walk.  I have coffee and I text a friend.  That starts my day.

Rituals.  Important to get things going.  I think they are an anchor for us.  A sense of security in a world that doesn't promise much security.
This week's project is a cork board trivit.  I was walking through the Goodwill and discovered a huge bag of corks and a tray with a wood frame.  All half price.         
I had a great time sorting through the corks and looking at all the "art", Amazing stuff.  Then figuring out how they all fit in.  And gluing them down.  So, easy to make.  I'm thinking a great gift idea.

One last thought about rituals.  This Campaign has become my creative habit, my weekly ritual, my sense of security.  I'm interested in discovering what else Ms. Tharp has to say about The Creative Habit.  It's so great to know that Twyla Tharp still has the ability to inspire me.

What are your rituals?  What is that one little thing that you have to do every time you start a project, you know will get the juices flowin' and growin'?
Until next week...create to feel great! 
51 projects complete! 1 more to go!  For real.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Wanted To Do Something

I've started this post 15 times.  I don't know what to say about this week's project, as I created it in response to wanting to do something to help a friend's mother who they found out this week, that she has final stage Cancer.   I've had the pleasure of knowing this woman over the years, we've never met in person, but we have spoken over the telephone for the past 13 years. They are working to keep her comfortable.  Hearing the news of her illness, I wanted to do something.  My creative juices got flowing...and I came up with bed slippers.   Toasty warm and colorful.  It is at times like these, I'm so happy I know how to create so many different things.  My creativity has gotten me through so many emotional times in my life and has created so much joy.  Not to mention all the cool things that are the product of all that creating.
I don't know what else to say here.  Perhaps it's a time to be a silent and reflective.

Until next week...create to feel great. 
50 projects complete 2 to go!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A World Shakin' K.I.S.S.(Keeping It Simple, Silly)

"We have long forgotten that activities can be simple and precise.  Every act of our lives can contain simplicity and precision and thus can have tremendous beauty and dignity." ~ Chogyam Trungpa

Every week, I go through a process of attempting to discover what would be a great, not just good, but a great project of the week for me to complete and then blog about.  I always feel like the project has to be great and world shaking.  My insights have to be life changing and deeply profound.  When I first started this challenge, almost a year ago, I was really attached to this idea.  I very quickly got off it, and now I only entertain this idea for about a half second each week and move on.  Honestly, it's not how it all works for me, and really seems a little arrogant of me to fashion a reader's response.  I'm pleased when reader's enjoy what I'm doing, if it changes some thinking or gives a person another way of looking at something...super!  I can set out seeking to create world shaking greatness, for me, because only I can gauge what is world shaking greatness and how it fits in my life.  I've also come to see that world shaking greatness occurs in pieces built on each other.  Days, weeks, months and years of simple steps built on each other.  We step back and realize that something pretty fabulous has been built, and maybe we shook the world or at very least our own world a bit or a lot.
So, this week is a simple focus, and another little cat story (oh, no!).   Mr. Gus loves to sleep on very corner edge of our bed.  He does this so he can see Mickeygirl coming up the stairs before she jumps into bed. I think he attempts to collect a toll from her for entry.  His spot on our bed is covered with mountains of cat fur everyday.  I have a super great lint brush, but it's time consuming and doesn't get all the hair that gets spread around the bed.
Back track to last week, I went on a cruise ship to Alaska.  (Yes! It was great)  In our room, instead of a bedspread, the Room Stewards, would drape this sort of table runner size bedspread on the end of our bed, each morning and remove it each night.  This idea inspired me.  How about making one of these for our bed at home?  I have to still lint brush it, but I can wash it when it gets really bad, and hair isn't all over the quilt.  Plus it's a nice addition to the bed.  Another great thing, is I got this fabric at the Goodwill, in it's former life it was a bed skirt. It was half price at $1.99, it's washable polyester, but doesn't look or feel like it. The only issue now, is Gus has made himself a cave behind the sofa in the TV room and is hanging out there, but I think that is only temporary, he'll be back.
Simple, yes.  Focused on solving a problem, yes.  I feel I created something beautiful.  I'm discovering the joy in simple.  Keeping in mind that building simple acts on simple acts each day, moves towards doing some world shakin'.
Are you making things too complicated?  Is it time to look at keeping things simple?
49 projects complete!  3 (Wow! Really?!!-3) to go!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Onward To The "Finish" Line!

This blog post will signal only four weeks left in my year long challenge to do a project a week for a year.  Wow!  I have to confess, I get way more excited about finishing a project than I do starting one.  I'm a Completion Junkie.  I think it's because of the thrill of seeing where I've come from (the starting gate) and seeing the finish in my sites.  It's a rush for me.  Some folks are the other way around.  They love to start projects.  That's their excitement. 
I've often wondered if these folks get stuck in the same places I tend to get stuck with a project?  I mean, I think we all get stuck.  Bored. Or the project isn't meeting our expectations or vision and we don't know how to fix it.
Yuck.  It wasn't what I wanted to do anyway.  No one really cares what I do or how I do it.  Yuck .Yuck. Yuck.   Being a "Completion Junkie", I think, helps me get through to the end.  I know that rush of a job done (well done or otherwise) is going to be there.
Being within 4 weeks of completing this challenge, is a challenge in itself.  I keep thinking about what will be my last project? I've been reflecting back on everything I've done, written and learned.  The people I've met.
Yet, the finish line might be in my sites, but it's not over yet.  I have four more weeks. Four more projects, and I certainly hope much more than four more lessons or insights.  If now is really all we have, then this is the time for me to live in the now, more than ever.  Treasure what is coming.  Be in the moment to catch the inspiration, the light, the lessons, and the insights. Heading towards the finish line, but not racing.  It could make for a fun four weeks.  I hope you will play along with me.  Be in the now with me.  Let's see what we can create.
Oh, my, I got all in the now and spaced out this week's project.  A knitted cap.  Using yarn I discovered at Happy Knits.  Yes, it's a winter cap, but I'm using it now.  Stay tuned for more on that next week.
How will you stay in the now?  What will you create for yourself in the now?

Until next week...create to feel great!
48 projects complete...4 to go! Wow!  4 to go!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

Ah, sleep!  I don't know a single person who doesn't like to sleep.  I think even those folks who say they don't need sleep or very little, still enjoy it when they hit the pillow.
Last year, we purchased a new bed.  We spent more money than we really felt comfortable with at the time, but over this last year of some amazing sleep, it was worth every penny.
I'm one of those folks who loves to sleep.  I'll take it in any form, but my favorite is a good nap.  I've been allowing myself to get over the guilt of a nap in the afternoon.  It's a pleasure I love and look forward to almost everyday.  Some cultures, other than our own, know the value of a good afternoon nap.  I'm with them.  You might be asking. "If you have this great bed and you are sleep well at night. Why do you need a nap in the afternoon?"  Simple.  To re-charge my energies.  My outlook on life and my creativity.  20-30 minutes is all I need (I'll come clean, sometimes it's an hour or a bit more).  I wake up feeling super, ready to finish or start projects, my outlook is fresh.  I also feel that it is civilzied way of living life and honouring myself.  People who know me, know I do a lot.  I love to do a lot.  A wonderful afternoon nap allows me to take good healthy care of myself.  I don't see anything to be guilty about here.
It also extends that old phrase, "Let me sleep on it."  If I have something to solve, mid-day, I'll attempt to take a nap.  Some days, it's not possible, so it will have to keep until I go to bed at night.
This is another good thing I do for challenges or looking for creative inspiration, I'll go to bed at night and ask for the answer to come to me in the morning.  Then, I allow it to work, while I sleep.  First thing in the morning, I usually know what to do or an idea will come to me that I never expected.  It is amazing.  I recommend that if you never tried this or it's been awhile since you have tried it...try it.
Sleep is the great healer. It's a way to vacation without leaving home, and everyday, if you like.  It allows us to really works on all levels of our mind, without it being work, and for course there is that restorative aspect to sleep, good sleep helps ward off illnesses, depression and the crankies.
With all this talk of sleep, I made myself a sleep mask for this week's project. (Black velvet with polka dots...oh, yes). I'm been using it for my quick naps, and it assists me get to a deep sleep quicker.  It's simple to make.  For a pattern, I googled "how to make a sleep mask?" I got lots of web sites with how tos.
I'm suggesting that you get some good deep sleep and see how it effects your outlook on life, and your creativity.  At very least, give yourself permission to take a small nap. I wish you pleasant and inspiring dreams.
Until next week...create to feel great!
45 projects complete. 5 to go!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Piecing It Together

Life hands us many things, every minute of every day.  It can be a short line for morning coffee. A smile and a greeting from people in our lives. Some one cutting us off in traffic. A job promotion. Having to work overtime. Car breaking down. A beautiful sunny day at the beach with friends.  The purring of your kitty as you drift off to sleep. It's a lot of little pieces that get sewn together to make up our lives.  Pieces we plan for and they have the perfect place.  Pieces that come out the blue to surprise us, and sometimes we don't know what to do with them.  They all have to be worked in some how. As our lives progress, we have a quilt of all the pieces.  Some are more colorful than others.  Some pieces are darker.  Some pieces may look a bit thread worn or faded.  They all make up are life.  I like the parts of my life's quilt that are sewn together with the surprises I've been handed and mixed with the pieces I've carefully planned out.
With all this talk of piecing together a quilt, comes this week's project.  A sweet little baby quilt for the daughter of a good friend of mine.  The baby's pending arrival in their lives, is just one of those wonderful surprises that life has to offer be worked into our quilt, and it sometimes changes the pattern we were working on in the most amazing ways.  Babies human or other wise are a blessing with the many lessons and challenges they bring with them.  It is by wish for my friend's daughter, that she will relish the coming days and years, as she grows along with her new son.
This quilt has a history in the fabric.  The backing was made from a flannel piece I had from the 1970's.  One of the cottons has kittens printed on it (of course), was given to my by my Country Granny and she got it in the 40's.  I've had a large piece of this fabric and have made other baby quilts with it.  The other two fabrics are modern and represent the stars and the uniquiness of movement in their prints.
It also needs to be noted, I don't quilt.  This is pieced fabrics, tying the elements together.
All this piecing together, set me thinking and thus the quilt metaphor for this post.
13 years ago this month, I was encouraged and supported by the friend who is soon to be a Granny herself, to really look at my life and how I was really wasting (or mis-placing) my talents.  She encouraged me to start working on a different pattern on my quilt, and feel I've been creating a really vibrant quilt these past 13 years.
The gift of a quilt for her new grandbaby, seemed right.
How would you describe your life's quilt?  Are you happy with the current pattern you are piece together or is it time for a change. Perhaps a Crazy Quilt is in order?

Until next week...create to feel great!
46 complete!  6 to go!  Man oh Man! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Well Behaved Women Never Make History or Inspire Me

As a kid, I had the opportunity to spend time with two amazing women, one I called Grandma and the other I called Granny.  These women never met each other. One lived in the Northwest and the other lived in rural Ohio.  Both were women who really lived their lives, and by the time I met them, they were slowing down a bit, but still were enjoying the last of their summer wine, as they say.  Grandma taught me my love of cooking, she was a chef, but never got recognized in her time, as being a chef was a man's job.  Granny taught me to love baseball, fishing and how to knit.  Both tried to teach me how to make bread and home brewed beer.
They were born at the turn of the last century, in a time when women got married, raised kids and took care of the home.  Both of them did this, but both being restless creative women, they did more. They were Flappers, Business Owners, Granny raced horses, Grandma lived in Hollywood and tried her hand at breaking into the movies, their stories were endless.
Granny was a tole painter, and a really fine artist.  She was my Dad's aunt, but raised him as a kid, along with her own daughter. I never met my Dad's mom.  I thought it was Granny, and really that was okay.   I was a restless creative kid, and most times, very unhappy at home.  I was always threatening to run away.   The best my Mom could offer me was a trip across country to Granny's farm in Ohio.  I actually loved that farm. It wasn't big, it was enough for Granny to raise food for her to eat, chickens for eggs and some other animals.  There was a pond that had Blue Gils swimming in it.  I remember getting up very early in the morning to go fishing, and bringing them back for a breakfast fry.  There were Cincinnati Reds baseball games on the TV and radio everyday.  Occasionally we would drive to Cincinnati to see the Reds play.  For baseball historians, it was the era of the "Big Red Machine."  I got to see Pete Rose as his best.  The days were long and seem to never end, yet my time there was usually three week or less.  Granny knew how to live like a Queen on a very limited budget, because as she would say. "Life is never about things money can buy. It's about using that what God gives us each day."
Being with her was like being with a great spiritual master.  One who drank home brew, smoked two packs a day and cussed when The Reds lost, but still there was a spiritual master quality about her.
Back in the Northwest, we often lived with my Grandma or next door to her. I had the opportunity to cook next to her.  Grandma was sort like a combination of Gordon Ramsey and Edward G. Robinson with a dash of Paula Deen tossed in on her good days. She was rough and ready. An amazing story teller. She dyed her bobbed hair jet black (she claimed it was natural) and wore Chinese style silk PJs, even for cooking and gardening.  She taught me not to take shit from anybody and to stand up for who I am.
Both women had uniquely loud joy filled laughs. Sometimes I see each one of these amazing courageous women, reflected in my personality. I see them more and more in me as I age. I'm grateful for having spent time in the company of these unconventional women.
This was impossible to photograph
This brings me to today and this week's project.  I'm lucky to coach/mentor some amazing young adults.  Two of them are young men, who are on their way to creating amazing lives.  I'm glad they are in my life.  Oddly, enough they had expressed an interest in eating healthy, learning to cook good food and save money.  Mr.D. was in town this summer and we spend some time focusing on cooking lessons.  Mr. B. and I had some sessions around saving money, how to shop, how to eat healthy.  An idea came to me to compile a small is book with helpful hints and simple to cook meals.  Thus, Mrs. Remington's Easy Peasy Meals For Young Men was born.  I wrote it in the vein of the old Edwardian cookbooks.  Lots for talk, tons of advice, and my own touch of straight forwardness. I wanted the book small and found a cool photo book to bound the pages in.  The guys can clean the pages if they need to.  There might be a volume two and one for young women, as once I started writing, I realized I have so much to say on this subject.  So, many ways I feel I can assist them.  For now, it's time to have them start with volume one.
I think this project pays homage to Grandma and Granny.  It's my hope that Mr. D and Mr. B will find value in the book and it will help them build confidence in an area of their lives.  Lastly, I feel it is a legacy of sorts.  Using my creativity,knowledge and love to create the book was such an easy and positive experience.
Are there some people in your past that have contributed to who you are, given you the gift of who they are, that you would like to pass along to others?  How will you do it?  What will your legacy look like?

Until next week...create to feel great!
45 weeks complete!  7 to go!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Stuff That Stuff Is Made Of

I love boxes and bags. Really doesn't matter what sort of box or bag it is, of course the cuter or fancier or clever all the better.  I design handbags and have tons of bag patterns and ideas.  I also have patterns and ideas for making cute boxes. I'm not alone here.  I've met several women with the same interest.  Boxes and bags help me store stuff or carry stuff and if the box or bag is cute or clever, then I'm storing and stuffing in a cute and clever way.
Last week I was shopping at Grocery Outlet store.  In their cheese display, they had Cracker Barrel Brand Cheese for a great price.  I like the taste of this cheese, and the price was super good for two pounds.  The real deal was that the cheese came packaged in a wooden box with a slide lid.  My heart danced and jumped.  How cool is this I kept asking myself as I slid the lid back and forth.  I purchased two bricks of cheese, with their oh so cool boxes, and went home a happy girl.  I really didn't know what I'd do with these oh so cool boxes, I just knew they screamed "creative project!"
Later in the week, I was at Home Depot.  I passed a shelf with miss mixed paint. (I love that shelf.)  For a $1.00 there was a small can of this great color paint.  I thought of my boxes at home.  I knew this paint and those boxes were meant to be together.
As I was painting coat after coat of paint on these boxes, I kept thinking. "What in the world am I going to use these boxes for?"  I thought of all the bags and boxes I have in my life right now.  Many of them are stuffed to the brim with stuff.  (It's time for a major clearing at my house, but that's another time and challenge.)  Also, as I was painting I thought of my mother-in-law Betty and my brother-in-law Douglas. Betty was a crafter and decorator (she would have loved these boxes), I remember going to her house and she had lacquer boxes and jars around her house.  They were all empty.  Douglas was an avid collector, who loved antiques.  Before he past away, several years ago, he sent me a ceramic jar with an label on it that read. "Mysteries."  It was empty as well. I asked Douglas about this, he chuckled and said. "Don't you think it's as it should be?" Not wanting to appear stupid, I agreed with him, like I knew what was going on. The jar and a couple of boxes sit on my book case empty, and I've never felt the need to stuff them full of stuff.
I asked myself, why do I feel the need to stuff every open space in my life with stuff.  Either physical stuff, emotional stuff, activity stuff or just plain stuff?  At the time it seems right to stuff stuff with stuff.  And yet it eats up a lot of time, demands my attention, sometimes overwhelms me, and I get depressed or sad.  Learning to be content and happy with the empty space, be it an a box or bag, an un-cluttered room, a conversation, a day with no activities,or my mind, takes some focus and is a real trick for me.  I am starting to see the value in the empty space. When a space is empty, I get the opportunity for the space to fill its self naturally.  I'm allowing and attracting what is best for me and my life.  It's not forced. It is what is suppose to be there.  Makes life a lot more free, fun and easy.  That all said, it's also a challenge.  The stuffing of stuff into stuff gives me a sense I have control over stuff.  I've learned over the years that control is really an illusion. I can deal with stuff, but I can't control stuff.  Even the stuff I think I can control.  Vicious circle here. Real crazy making.  As I added the designs, I edited myself not to totally cover the boxes with designs.  It's an empty space, right?  So, fill it up.  I purposely stopped at the tops.  I'm still thinking. "I want to paint designs all over the sides and insides. More is so more!"  I'll stop for now.
I also know, my stuffing behavior is strongly ingrained.  It's a step at a time and realization at a time.  
Will my cheese boxes remain empty?  I can't say. Perhaps for the time being.  I will let them "speak" to me as to what they want to be used for.  Keeping in mind to not stuff them to the brim.  Maybe they will be someone's "mystery" box?
That's a whole lot of value for me from a cheese box that was on sale.
Are you a "stuffer"?  Do you feel the need to fill the empty spaces in your life?  How good are you at allowing the empty spaces to just be?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Until next week...create to feel great!
44 projects complete!  8 to go!  (Really? 8!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remembrance- Yes, Another Cat Story- But It's A Cosmic One

A year ago this week, I had to do one of the most difficult things I think I have ever done in my life.  I had to make the decision to help my dear kitty friend of 15 years, Jack D. Mackerel cross over the rainbow bridge.  Jack was an amazingly intelligent sassy, almost to the point of a smart ass, cat.  I raised him and bottle fed him as a baby of 4 weeks.  He was a big red boy of a cat, who loved to play games, tell people off, his sister Mickeygirl and Barrack Obama. He would go wild every time Mr. Obama was on T.V.  The evening of the election, he let out a huge loud yell as the winner was announced. (I told you he was smart).
Jack had been ill and in decline for years, prior to August 5, 2009.  I kept telling him, let me know when you need to go.  On the evening, before his last day, he did just that.  I refused to listen.  That night , I had a dream of my very first cat, Lewis, a "silver" really black and white tabby boy, who has past away 15 years prior to Jack.  It was a beautiful and colorful dream of Kitty Heaven.  It was Lewis, who made me listen.  It was Lewis who brought Jack to me in the first place, and now he was telling me it was time to listen up, and help Jack.
The summer Lewis was in his decline, and passing over, we talked about the next kitty I should get.  Lewis (another very smart cat) didn't want me to be alone.  I told him I wanted a big orange boy cat named Jack.
The day Lewis passed, I took him to the vet.  I was so upset, all I felt I could do is to turn him over and walked out of the office.  It was a mistake, a lack of courage, that I carried with me for years.  I later found out that Lewis' ashes were scattered in a tree farm in Canby, Oregon.  I went to work after Lewis was left at the vet, a co-worker told me her mama cat was going to have kittens.  I said. "Well, it has to be a big orange boy."
A couple of weeks later, my co-worker came to work and said her mama cat had had kittens, but that they thought she had had them out in one of tree farms across the street from their house. (my co-worker lived in Canby, Oregon).
A week later, she said the mama cat drug over one of the kittens to their garage, and that I could come over and see if I wanted the kitten.  My co-worker wasn't a fan of cats, the mama cat belonged to her kids.  I drove out to meet this kitten.  To my surprise, it was a large red orange kitten!  It was Jack.  He had the same markings as Lewis, only red/orange.  He was sassy and bright.  His mama, for whatever reason was unable to care for him, so it was up to me.  I was his mama. I provided care for him through it all.  The morning of August 5th, I woke up and knew I had to help him cross.  He was weak and skinny.  In a tearful emotional fit, I called around to see if I could have a vet come to the house.  I was determined to help him pass calmly and with me by his side.  I finally found a vet, who came to the house.  Jack had been sleeping behind a big chair all morning.  When the vet arrived, he walked out to greet her.  He then crawled in my lap, looked up at me, let out a little meow, and allowed the vet to  take care of him.  She said that he was close to being gone before she gave him the shots.  Mickeygirl watched from across the room in her sleep hammock.  Once Jack passed, we wrapped him in his Obama T-shirt and the vet took him over to Mickeygirl.  Mickeygirl put her paw on his head and said. "Burt." and then looked away.  After the vet left, I cried for what seemed like forever with Mickeygirl crawling up into my lap.  I was overcome with grief, and yet, it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever witnessed in my life.
A couple of days later, I had another dream of Kitty Heaven.  This time, Lewis and Jack were playing and running like five year olds.  A big gold and white cat joined them, it was Gus, a cat I knew, who live at the shelter, where I was a volunteer.  He was trying to keep up with Lewis and Jack.  They told him to go back and take care of Mama.  The dream ended.  I didn't know if I wanted another cat right away, but the day I went to the shelter, Gus jumped in my arms from a high cat tree and hugged me. I started to cry. Gus licked my face. I put in an application for him that day, and he's been with us for almost a year.  A healing force for all of us in the house.  He takes care of his mama.
Last week, while combing through the Goodwill, I found this cross stitch kit.  It was my two dearly beloved boy cats.  I added their birth dates and a remembrance of them was completed.  I feel it's a fitting tribute to them, as they were so cosmically connected. 
For me cross stitch is tedious and a little boring, but this time I viewed as healing and very zen.  As the picture took shape, I remembered my boys and what joy they both brought to my life.  Gus and Mickeygirl would come to me and sit with me. I celebrated the fact that I'm blessed with these great and loving cats in my life.  Upon completing the picture, I showed Mickeygirl.  She once again, put her paw on the picture and said. "Burt."  I kid you not here
It stories like these that are one of the reasons I love my cats so much.  All these "cosmic" connections and things that bring me wonder and awe, help me stay close to what I call The Source.  This closeness is what provides my ability to create the things I create in my life everyday.  It's there in good times to celebrate and in advise times to remind me that it will pass and will be replaced in my life with something to wonder at and celebrate.
As I remember my boys this week, all the joy they brought to my life, I'm also celebrating the girl and boy I have in my life and all the joy they continue to bring me everyday.   It's my version of Kitty Heaven on earth.

Until next week...create to feel great!
43 projects complete 9 to go!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not So Invisible Support

I view myself as the "go to girl."  The person who people come to when things need to get done and know it will get done.  I like it. I love that feeling of being supportive and helpful.  Yet, when it comes to myself, I'm not so great at asking for that support. I just hate to bother people. I don't want to impose. I'll tough it through.  I'm learning the value of support, and truely the importance of support.
A couple of weeks ago, I really needed to shovel out (and I do mean shovel out) my studio space.  I have some big theater projects coming in the next season and I just could not see myself crawling over a huge pile of patterns all year, while complaining. "I really need to clean this place up."  With the support and urging of some close friends, I set a date to spend the day shoveling.  My friend Suzi offered to send me cell text messages of encouragement.  I took her up on the offer.  In the back of my mind I kept thinking. "That's cool, but I don't think I need that."  The day I chose turned out to be the hottest day of our summer (hopefully the only one).  As I was eating  breakfast, the first of the day's texts arrived.  Upbeat, encouraging, and a real butt kicker.  It wasn't what Suzi said that kicked my butt, it was the reminder of the comittment, the feeling of completion, how easy it will be to work in a clean studio.  I was on the verge of "weaseling out", and that first text  and her support, got me in the studio working.  Throughout the day, I got texts just at the points when I wanted to quit.  Not only do I so hate cleaning and organizing stuff, the room was getting progressively hotter.  We celebrated the progress, Suzi encouraged me to continue on.  End of the day, it was hot as blazes, I wasn't finished, but I had a plan of attack and scheduled a day to complete.  Which I did, and I now have a clean space to enjoy and create in.  Just the ease of walking in there is wonderful.
So, a huge shout out and thank you to Suzi for her support on this project. It really made the difference.

This week, I was feeling like this Campaign is rounding the home stretch.  For whatever reason, I was feeling like I was complete.  Maybe a little bored? I think I keep saying the same thing over and over. The projects are sort lackluster.  I don't know.  I saw my friend Patty, and she presented me with this very cool coffee mug that had a very simple message printed on it.  "Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself."  Patty told me that it was an early celebration present for the completion of  The Campaign.  What she said next to me was as powerful as the mug's quote.  "When you're done.  I'm going to miss your blog."  In that moment, I realized I'm so not complete here, I had more I wanted to do.  In fact, I've had some ideas as to how to continue The Campaign and perhaps expand it.  (More to come on that statement...so, stay tuned.)  I didn't ask for Patty's support, but I know it's there, and if I ever needed anything, she and has been more than happy to help me in anyway she could.  Thank you, Patty!

These are just two examples of support that I experience in my life.  I have attracted so many wonderful people in my life.  I know that are they are people of such wonderful, compassionate and supportive character that they would never consider it a bother to respond to a request of support, as they willing offer and provide it to me all the time, I'd even say on a daily basis. 
Community and unity are things I place a high value on in my life.  I'm beginnng to see that asking for support, when I need it, is as important as providing support to others.  It's helps all parties involved an opportunity to grow and evolve as people.  Providing support to someone, allows us to take a step up.  Asking for support from someone, also allows us to take that step up.   I've found both steps, bring me closer to all those wonderful people in my life.
I'm proud of the support I've created in my life.  I couldn't do what I do without all of you.
I want to say thank you to all of you who are in my life.  I treasure your friendship, insights, love and support.
My project this week is a heart shaped lavender wreath.  It hangs outside my front door, and really smells  great.  Evertime I walk by the wreath, it will be my reminder of all the support I have in my life.  It's just a matter of reaching out and asking, because I know it's there.

Are you at asking for support?  Are you more of a giver or a taker or do you have a balance?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Until next week...create to feel great!
42 projects complete 10 to go!

Mickeygirl Update!
The Atomic Queen of Cats, is home from a four day hospital stay.  She is slowly transforming into the Mickeygirl we knew before all her illnesses kicked a year ago.  The down side, is we have to limit close contact to her for a month.  We get an hour a day and after than, we have to stay a foot away from each other.  We're figuring it out.  Welcome back, Mickeygirl.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag!

My Dad, I know he's resting in peace or kickin' butt in heaven, when he was home, use to sing around the house.  One of the favorites was a World War I era song, that the only words I can remember are "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile smile smile." Men going off to fight in the war sang it.  Men with troubles larger than I hope I'll never have to know. Yet,those words still sound great and bring me comfort.  For me,  it's all about putting worries aside, all the junk and crap and stuff of the world in one place and moving forward.  Sure the worries, junk and crap and stuff are still there, but smiling through is a positive force.  It is movement.  It's not letting that stuff get to you or bring you down. Being strong and positive through difficult times, whatever they are for you.
Singing itself is a very powerful vibration to the human mind and soul.  We'll listen to and retain the message communicated to us through music longer than one that is simply spoken.  When we are doing the ones singing, it is even more powerful.  I hear people all the time say. "I just don't sing.  I can't carry a tune in a bucket."  Oh, who cares how you sing, as long as you are.  I love singing and making up songs as I go through my day.  It lightens my mood, it helps me remember things and it's fun.  It really does help me put what worries me aside.
With all this said, stuffing troubles in a bag, is one way of dealing with worries and negativity.  Yet, it seems like taking all this stuff and putting it in my old kit bag, might be out of sight, out of mind, way of thinking.  I'm still dragging that stuff around.  Sure I'm smiling, but I'm dragging around a heavy load.
How about before stuffing them into a bag and allowing them to take up space and weigh you down, take that worry and turn it into something useful for you or someone in your life?  I know it can be challenging to set worries aside. Maybe looking at every worry is an opportunity to create.  To learn about yourself, create something amazingly positive, and move forward and away from the worry.  All it takes is one step away from the worry.  And then another step.  Soon you are down the road.

I've had a bit of a worry this last month or so.  My beloved Mickeygirl was diagnosed with hyperthyroid condition, they thought it might be masking a kidney condition.  I have gone down this road with her brother Jack the Cat, who passed last summer after battling the condition and me for five years. With Jack the Cat, it was a pill twice a day.  Mickeygirl's vet suggested the radiation treatment, if we can get her to respond to meds.  Radiation treatment has a high cure rate.  She has to spend four days in a hospital cage, away from home.  All this has been weighing on me.  And I confess, I'm a little worried.  Last week, her Vet told me that her thyroid is stable and no signs of kidney trouble, so radiation is going to be great next step.  I have mixed feelings.  I'm still a little worried about her and we aren't through the woods, but this coming Monday, Mickeygirl will become Atomic Cat!
In order to pack up my troubles in an old kit bag or in this case a Trader Joe's shopping bag, and prepare for Mickeygirl's hospital visit, I made her some things to take with her to be comfortable.
A foam pillow cushion, with her name on it.  2 high powered knitted catnip mice.  1 fleece blanket (in case she gets cold) and 4 cans of her favorite food.
I know my girl will be fine.  She's a brave, smart, survivor.  I did all this for me.  To ease my mind.  It was my way of having the illusion that I was in control of something that is so out of my control.  With that, I think that's why we worry.  In order to have that illusion that we are in control of something that is out or our control. Once I set my mind to creating a comfortable experience for Mickeygirl, I relaxed and a calm fell over me.  A reassurance that she's going to do great.  She's going to heal fine.  I stopped my need to be in control and worry cold in it's tracks.
I've come to see worry as the path that leads to the road to Crazy Town with a stop at the Negativity Mall, located just inside the gates of Crazy Town.  Those are tempting places to hang out, but I'm working on staying away.  I've said this before, the process of creating, anything, is forward movement.  The process of creating something positive is positive forward movement.  Once that cycle gets rolling, it feeds on itself in a good way.  Providing energy, clarity of thought, any number of good and joyful things.
So, like the song reminds us to "pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile smile smile."  A kit bag, traditionally carried all the things we needed in life to live.  So, by using that worry for creative material and creating something before packing it in the bag, makes it even more useful. I have a feeling it also makes the bag lighter to carry around as well.  That works it for me.

Is your old kit bag (or Trader Joe's shopping bag) full of stuff (like worry) that could be turned into something that would move you forward and add to your life, and make it easier to smile smile smile?  What will you create with all that stuff? ( I know you have it, cause all God's children got stuff.)
Until next week...create to feel great!
41 projects complete!  11 to go!