Saturday, June 26, 2010

On The "Make"

One of my favorite newsletters, that I get weekly, comes from Barbara Winter.  She's the "Joyfully Jobless", "Make A Living Without A Job" founder.  Her newsletters are always fun and full of ideas.  Her last one, she focused on the word "make."  She claims that it is one of the most used words in our language.  I think she's on to something.  She got me thinking.  I love the word "make."  Not just because I'm always making stuff or making something, but because it's got a feeling of forward movement to it.  It's got a feeling of endless possibilities.  Making trouble. Making fun.  Making friends.  Making sense.  Making it real.  Making a big deal. Or simoply make deal.  Making me mad.  Making me laugh. Making dinner. Make a party of it. Make love (not war).  Even Santa is "Making a list and checking it twice."  And for my kitties, when they need with their paws...I've heard it called "making muffins."  All this is forward movement in our lives.  And importantly, in the moment.  The classics... "making hay while the sunshines" and "making things right", I have to be in the moment to do these things.
For a positive take on things, how about, "making the best of things" or "making do" as opposed to "getting by".  The first two are positive and gives us permission to create and make things.  The second sounds like a dead end and at best boring.  Even make up.  Transforming...either to a relationship or your face.   Again, more in the moment forward movement.  Making and creating really go hand in hand for me.  I'm creating a project, essentially making something, every week, in order to create or make a more positive life experience for me.  Hopefully with that positive attitude carry it out into the world, thus making it a better place to live. Making a difference. Making a contribution.
In her newsletter, Barbara Winter challenged readers to join her in a year of "making".  She suggested readers keep a notebook and pen by their beds.  As they wake up each morning, ask, "what will I make today?"  Write down the first thing that comes to mind.  No censoring or this is too simple or this doesn't make sense, just write it down. It can be simple (make a shopping list, make time for me.) or complex (make something to cap the oil spilling into the Gulf).  I'm so on this!  I love the possibilities of this challenge as well.  Our sleeping minds hold so much for us, all we have to do is ask.

So, what did I make this week?  Well, tons and tons of things, but for this blog and Campaign.  It's a French Press Cozy.  These things are amazing and really do work they really do keep my coffee in the pot warmer for longer, and they are cute and colorful.  Some quilting, some sewing, some designing and added fun with buttons.
What will you make today?
Until next week...create to feel great.
37 projects complete. 15 to go!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Child's Play

On the street where I live, there is this young boy, I'd guess about age 12 or so.  He's tall and skinny and at first glance a little what some would call geeky.  On sunny days, in the afternoons, he rides up and down our street on his bike, singing at the top of his lungs.  I can't ever tell what he's singing.  His voice is yet to change and it's in a sweet angelic high range. He sings for hours.  Given that I don't really talk much to my neighbors and the current climate in my city with adults and kids, I have never spoke to this young man, I don't know his name.  If I encounter him when I'm getting out of my car or taking something to the garbage can, I smile at him and say something to the effect of, "I enjoy your singing."   The other day, this boy was walking up the street from the bus stop, I can only assume coming home from school.  He was wearing a Davey Crockett Coon Skin Cap.  Another day he was riding his bike, in what could only be described as his idea of what ballet dancers wear.  It was like not really a tutu and not really a leotard. Just last week he wore a combination of the Coon Skin cap and the ballet outfit; still singing as he rode.  Broadside and I were having dinner on the porch at the time.  Broadside thanked me for providing a good dinner that night along with a show.  Every time I see this kid, I'm stuck by just how much courage and creativity he is willing to display.  The creativity is apparent.  The courage might take some thought for someone to see.  Not only am I entertained by this kid, I admire him.  I think it takes guts to do what he does, display his creativity to the world.  Dance (or in his case sing) like no one is watching.  Also, I think it takes guts for a kid to wear a Coon Skin Cap to school and not come home looking like he got his ass kicked. In my day, a kid his age would have been the subject of some serious ass kickin' at school, either physically or verbally.  It seems to me that he isn't ashamed of who he is.  He confidently embraces those parts of him.  He just does it.  Not a big deal.  I pray the "ass kickin" you must conform" messengers in our society never get to him and take this spark away and make him want to hide who he is.

I wanted for this week's project to do something simple.  A craft for kids.  And it's a pre-packaged one at  as well.  Sun-Catchers.  I got these at Jo-Ann's, they were cheap and for some reason appealed to me.
Not a huge time investment, but I had fun filling in the frames and adding my own touches by mixing the colored beads and baking them. Easy, quick and fun.  As I was making these I thought, this is sort of a cop out.  My true voice of reason stepped in. "Get over yourself, will ya." (My true voice of reason sometimes has to hit me over the head before I'll listen) "When you set out on this Challenge and Campaign, nothing was stated that the projects each week had to be perfectly laid out, executed and/or back breaking difficult."
Thank you for that reminder, True Voice of Reason.  On top of it all, I'm hoping these Sun Catchers help the sun to stay for more than half an afternoon.  It's been extremely cold and rainy in Portland, Oregon and I want some sun, please.

This project was good for provoking thoughts of the moment.  Like how when I started this Campaign/Challenge/Blog, I had really no idea the power it would bring to my life.  The fact that I proclaim to the world every week that I'm creative.  I create.  I struggle with my creativity.  I struggle with it's healthy place in my life. I struggle with how my creativity connects and integrates and lives peacefully with the aspects of my personality.  How my creativity helps me through my life everyday.  Assisting me, if only to keep my outlook on life positive when the rest of the world says it's really okay to live in fear, despair and negativity.   This is my equivalent of wearing a Coon Skin Cap and my version of what a ballet outfit looks like, going out on my bike to sing at the top of my lungs whiling riding up and down the block.  Here am I world! How do you like me now? 
Is there a part of you that is dying to come out and play?  To be expressed?  What's stopping you?
I fing it's best not to over think this one.  As it really is as simple as Chlid's Play.
Until next create to feel great!   36 projects complete... 16 to go!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Over The Top (Hats)

In Britian, June 16th is National Hat Day.  Yay!  Those Brits.  Well, being a hat maker, this is a cause for celebration or at very least the making of hats.  It's also, one of "my kids" birthday, this coming week.  We use to work in the costume shop together. Occassionally, the design called for hats.  Even back then, and as a young teenager, Miss D. was a talented designer.  She just recently completed university training.  Needless to say, I'm proud of her. The conjunction of National Hat Day, Miss D's birthday and graduating, ment hats were to be made this week.  My tendancy, is to go over board, make a dozen or so huge hats.
Lately,  I've been taking a pretty hard look at this tendancy in me.  I'm a very expansive thinker.  I love huge and over the top.  I love thinking about endless, limitless ideas and possiblities.  I love bringing some of those ideas to life.  I love generously spirited people, who give freely of their gifts.  I feel like these folks are the hope for our world. Yet in all this, I know I always want to go over board.  Way over board. There seems to be something in inside me that feeds me the message that the more I go overboard with something, especially if it's a gift, the more self-worth I'll have. It doesn't feel like a healthy mind set.  This could have been an opportunity to make a dozen huge hats for one of my kids celebrating a big deal in their life.  I started down that path, and stopped myself.  I know Miss D., she's not going to wear huge hats. She's a hip, petite, fashion forward young woman.   The current trend in hats is for Fasinator hats.  Very small, almost a non hat, more like a hair fob.  I kept thinking, I'll make several of those. Again, I stopped myself.  I settled on two.  Two Fasinators, that I'm really proud of.  When I pulled out all my materials and findings, these are the two that spoke to me to be created.  I'm please with the results.  More importantly, I'm at peace with these creations. 
At peace?  How odd you might be saying.  Here's what I mean by at peace.  Years ago, when Miss D and I would be working for the theater where we had the costume shop, I created big huge over the top shows.  It was not unusual for these shows to have over 100 costumes.  It was not unusual for me to spend 12 -14 days power sewing these costumes.  True over the top creating, and some amazing over the top costumes were made, if I do say so myself.  I actually looked forward to these endless days of creating.  It was more than a passion. It turned into  an addiction.  I say addiction, because, when I stopped doing this about four years ago, I realized that all this over the top creating had taken a toll on my health, my friendships, my house...and everything else in my life.  I was totally disconnected from anything that didn't come out of my sewing machine or glue gun.  People would be astounded by my creations.  In my mind,  I was most proud of  the volume, how quickly all the detail was created, the hours I spend in my studio creating.  Not the costumes and the details. If I wasn't a costume producing machine, I wasn't anything. If I wasn't killing myself for "my art", I felt I had no value.  Really.  I wasn't really a fun person to be around in those days. But really when a person is in an addiction, how fun are they, really?  It was a sad thing to realize.  How could the thing I loved so much be hurting me so much? I stepped back from all that intensity. It was so difficult for months.  It took a major shift in my behavior and my entire life. (you all know that I'm still creating and that part is strong and alive in me), I'm working at coming to peace with whatever I create is enough. As the old self help stuff from the 90's would say.  "I'm a enough. No matter what."  Being at peace with this keeps me in the moment and strongly connected to what I'm creating and the endless source from where all ideas flow.  I call it God and the Universe.  Feel free to call it whatever you want.  All this feels like it's coming from a healthier place and I'm loving what is being created, and more 90's self talk- I'm loving me.  Will I go overboard in the future?  More than likely, yes.  It is a part of me I like, but I want to keep that part of me healthy and vital, not drained and disconnected from the world.  It's a challenge I'm up to taking on.
I do have to tell you that two hats created from a source of love and connection to my creativity, is more fulfilling, than hundreds and hundreds of costumes made at the expense of all in my life.
Oh, P.S. Miss D loved her hats! Happy Birthday, Miss D.   For the rest of you,  Happy National Hat Day.   Wear a hat that day, please.  Yes, everyone looks good in some sort of hat.  (you know you do)  More importantly, take some time that day to acknowledge your unique gifts, maybe create something that honors those gifts.  Something just for you.   It can be simple or simply over the top.
Until next week create to feel great!  35 projects completed 17 to go!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

That Summer Feeling

For most of the country, Memorial Day hails in summer.  I live in Oregon.  Memorial Day hails in rain until at least July 4th. Yet it never fails that about Memorial Day I start singing the Jonathan Richman classic, That Summer Feeling.  For most of us long time, before he appeared in There's Something About Mary and became the odd darling of frat boys everywhere for about 3 minutes, fans, JoJo, is one of the best song writers and stage performers we have had in America in the last 40 years.  He is sincere. He is not jaded after years in the music industry. He's a fantastic poet and guitar player.  He can make a statement, make me think and make me laugh and smile all in one note.   I owe my love of summer to Jonathan Richman.  I first heard him and the Modern Lovers on a very rainy June afternoon in 1977.  It changed my life. Years later, I first heard That Summer Feeling when I was dating my now husband.  Broadside pointed out to me the poetic flavor of this song and that it was up there with Keats and Byron.  It was that connection to rock and roll and the classic poets that sort of sealed the deal with me and Broadside.
Jo Jo's song helps me get in the mood for summer with all it's flavors, light, heat, long days, smells.  It helps me stay present, as I don't want to miss a day of summer.
One of the things I look forward to every May is the opening of the Hollywood Farmer's Market.  It becomes my Summer Saturday ritual.  I love the people, the kids who dress up for the market in their pinks and purples, the dogs who greet me and the other dogs.  The coffee van, where I can go right up pay for my coffee and pull a cup right off the tap that is attached to the side of the truck.  I love the live music every week.  The thought I just might try a free acupuncture session.  The guy that sells the fresh chicken eggs and lamb. The free samples of food and drink.  (I developed my love a strong ciders at this market.)  Oh, and the fresh vegetables.  I load up on basil.  In an effort to  hoard pesto all summer for the winter like some crazy pesto loving squirrel.  I go rain or shine. I'll go well into November, when all that is left at the market are craft dealers selling soap and earrings and the vegetable selection is down to a few pumpkins, even the egg and lamb guy is gone.  I never spend a great deal of time there, but just enough to gather the experience.  It helps me create summer. As Saturday is usally a feast of cooking and eating a lot of what we purchase at the market.  I have some great memories of that market.
To celebrate the Farmer's Market and that Summer Feeling, this week I made a cotton market bag.  I'm working very hard at limiting my use of plastic bags, and I have a ton of shopping bags, but I felt the need to make a bag for The Farmer's Market.  So this is my That Summer Feeling Farmer's Market Bag.  It's that time of year to make memories.
Summer memories are some of the most joyful and fulfilling for me.
To quote a bit of Jo Jo Richman...
"When there's things to do not because you gotta
 When you run for love not because you oughta
 When you trust your friends with no reason notta
 The joy I name shall not be tamed
And that summer feeling is gonna haunt you one day in your life.
When the cool of the pond makes you drop down on it.
When the smell of the lawn makes you flop down on it.
When the teenage car gets the cop down on it.
That time is here for one more year.
And that summer feeling is gonna haunt you one day in your life."

Man, bring on summer! What is your favorite memories of summer?  How will you create that summer feeling in your life this summer? 

Until next week...create to feel great!  34 projects complete! 18 to go!

Update...The Going Overboard on Myself challenge- week 4
 I didn't sew anything for me this week.  Did I wimp out on the challenge? Is my inner child going to start stealing car hub caps because it feels cheated by me?  NO.  I didn't sew for me this week because of my eating healthy cleanse of last week and for five more weeks, I started to get rid of some the extra extra weight I'm dragging around. I decided not to sew for me again for a few more weeks.  I did sew for 3 weeks.  I'm happy with what I have, and I'm over the moon with the results of this cleanse.  Balance and health.  Amazing stuff, folks.  Amazing stuff.  Another reason to go to the Farmers Market!