Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just For Laughs

I mentioned I was going to have a stressful week. This has turned out to be exceedingly true. So a friend of mine emailed me a bunch of videos that probably much of the rest of the free world has already seen. Nevertheless, I had not. Therefore, for your viewing pleasure, I have decided to share this short little clip that actually got me to laugh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Stuff

I joined Facebook. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I was curious. I wonder if either my blog or Facebook will end up driving traffic to each other. I don't want Facebook to turn into a time waster, but it is interesting to see what people have on their pages & find the things that are "you." We all like to personalize things, don't we?
I went to visit my parents this weekend. They have cable & I don't. So whenever I am out there, I like to watch the decorating shows on HGTV. I'm coming to the conclusion that watching these shows is part of my creative process. Just one more part of life that informs and inspires my writing. I just can't see paying for cable to watch one channel, though. Oh well. I'll have to get my fixes when I can.
I've got a stressful week coming up. I hope to keep the blog posts regular, but I don't think I should make any promises.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


When I was in grad school I was busy all the time. I had 18 hour days every single day. I felt guilty for sleeping at all.
When I graduated, the opposite thing happened. I needed so much R&R that I could barely do anything. I didn't have a lot of motivation and I mostly spent some time just doing a lot of nothing.
Now that I've recovered, I'm finding it hard to restore balance to my schedule. I have no desire to go back to the overwhelmed feeling of excessive deadlines and commitments. But now that my energy is coming back, I also struggle with wanting to accomplish more than I can comfortably get done in a day. My body has yet to realize that it's normal to be busy, and not get everything done in a day.
I need to work on some strategies for being satisfied with being comfortably busy and leaving some things undone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Existence of God

My proof of the existence of God isn't based on a philosophical point of view or theological arguments. It's not even so much proof, given that one can't prove things you need to take on faith. The whole point is to take those things on faith.
I believe in God because of Spring. Spring is when God gets to show off. Pansies, tulips, and pussy willows. Pussy willows! I can't believe pussy willows just "got here" by some cosmic accident. It's not just the complexity of nature that screams intelligent design. Many people think that the complicated relationships of plants, animals, and even science are an example of evidence that God exists. Perhaps they are right. The fact that one particular plant in Zimbabwe cures some obscure disease or one specific insect contributes to the agriculture of a whole region is indeed miraculous. But I think the opposite is also evidence for the existence of God. As far as we know, the only job of the pussy willow is to be pretty. No real purpose, just pure, extravagant, gratuitous pleasure. And lilacs. As far as I know, the only reason that lilacs exist is to make me exceedingly happy.
Only God could make up stuff like this.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Influence Pt. 2

I mentioned that people outside our particular area of interest can often influence our development in that area. I like that because comparing our work to that of the great masters is often challenging. I admire the work of CS Lewis, but I could never compare my writing to his. Monet is my favorite painter, but I haven't painted a work of art since the stuff that was on the fridge when I was in second grade. So does Monet influence my art?
I'd rather say that Monet influences my writing and Lewis influences my art. Not only does it get me out of that sticky comparison thing, it opens up new ways to look at what I do. I love the juxtaposition of one form of art studied in light of another form of art. Try using musical metaphors to describe a painting, or the language of 2-D art to describe a piece of writing. This approach leads to some serendipitous results. I especially like it because it treats the artist holistically, rather than stuff him or her into one category. As a writer, I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration. As I said before, influence is different than inspiration. But perhaps inspiration can come from contemplating influence.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Little Things

I've been thinking more about influence and I will probably have a follow up post on the subject in the near future. In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy. I've made an attempt at collaging some bookmarks. I'm not quite done with them, but when I am, I might post a picture. I'm also hoping to finish a couple of handmade books this weekend. It amazes me how little time I actually have for this sort of thing. It would probably take a couple of weeks of vacation for me to get done all the art things I want to get done.
More importantly, I actually submitted not one, but two articles to magazines this past week. I've been anxiously checking my mail ever since. Silly. I know.
Over at Little Nuances, Lee has had some interesting posts lately. I loved seeing his junk drawer. It reminded me of the junk drawer we had when I was growing up. Now my junk drawer is pretty much scattered throughout my house.
A few days ago, Lee also commented about phone numbers. This resonated with me because I hardly ever use my cell phone. Consequently, I have no digital phone book and I have to remember the numbers that are important to me. I guess I must know a dozen or so by heart. If I remember your phone number, you're in my inner circle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


You have to love zeitgeist. Last night I was reading Alphabetica, which has a great section on the creative process of the artists in the book. One of the categories is "influence." As in, who influences your art? I love that question. I think it carries more weight than asking who inspires your work. Influence puts action behind the inspiration. So I started chewing on the question.
Then Crystal had this post on mentoring. I love that we can be mentored by people we've never met. And I love how the book she refers to says that the mentee has responsibilities as well. We need to allow people to influence us. It's how our work is shaped, given depth and texture.
The artists in the book I was reading listed all kinds of people as influencers. Musicians are influenced by more than just other musicians, and writers are influenced by more than just other writers. Talk about layers of depth and texture! Just think about what can happen to the creative process if we open ourselves to the possibility of being mentored and influenced by people outside our own areas of interest and expertise.

Monday, April 14, 2008

If You Want To Write

It's no secret that I've struggled with writing for publication for some time now. I don't have any definitive solutions, but I have been musing on a few ingredients that contribute to that motivation to write.
If you want to write:
  • Be poor. Now, this is relatively speaking here. I'm not saying you need to be a starving artist. But if writing helps you make ends meet, then maybe needing to make ends meet can help you write.
  • Be busy. If you don't have a lot of time to write, your cup will surely overflowth with ideas. It's frustrating, but it works.
  • Be lonely. Frankly, when my social calendar is full, my energy is drained and my needs are met. If I've got just a little more solitude than is comfortable, I start writing just to simply communicate. And face it, if I'm bored enough, I'll eventually write something. (On second thought, maybe I don't want to claim boredom as a reason for writing. I've not really been bored in a while and I've got plenty to handle at the moment, thank you).
  • Be accountable. Talking with fellow writers who are a step or two ahead of you in their careers is an important reality check. They provide encouragement, brainstorming, and good old fashioned peer pressure.

There are many other ingredients in the formula for writing. These are just a few that seem to be most important to me at the moment.

Friday, April 11, 2008

What's Your Art?

I was fortunate to spend the last couple of days with two very dear friends who are also writers. We did many things & had many conversations that will provide great material for blogging over the next few weeks. We spent a lot of time discussing art and writing. In one of the handmade books I showed them I had used a favorite quote from Madeline L'Engle in her book Walking on Water.
"Until I have worked through self, I will not be enabled to get out of the way."
In this quote, she is explaining what happens in the creative process when the artist gets into what we call "flow." You know, that experience when time & space disappear and you're no longer conscious of what you are doing, where it's no longer you doing the work, it's the work being done through you.
When I write, I acknowledge that as my art. But I am intimidated by other forms of art such as drawing and painting. I do not feel like an artist in that context. So, having visited the Art Institute with my friends, I thought about my perspective on that quote. I'd originally used it in reference to doing therapy with a client of mine. Therapists work to get out of the way so we can be available to work more authentically and thoughtfully with our clients. When I'm at my best as a therapist, I get out of the way. If I can set aside my own concerns, tiredness, and assumptions, I don't have to worry about finding empathy. It just shows up.
Writing is a form of art. Therapy is also a form of art. Whatever you do that makes you who you are, when you get out of the way, that is art. What's your art?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Star Book Pt. 2

I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days. Actually, that might be better stated "in town." Or perhaps "on the town." A couple friends are coming in from decidedly out of town to visit. We'll be staying in the city, so I'll be away from my computer. I figured I'd better blog now so I don't get any further behind.
Here is the second part of the star book video that I promised. Star books are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of fun. When I get back, I expect you all to have left comments with links to pictures of your own star books.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Back in December I got sick & I was out of commission for a while. Since I've been back to the computer, I've not paid much attention to my SiteMeter stats. I kind of assumed that aside from friends and family, I might get the occasional random net surfer and that's about it.
Well, I was wrong about that. I am getting hits from all over the world, including Australia, England, and Canada. One thing all these people have in common is that they seach for "relaxing activities." Apparently, I have a few posts on the subject. Apparently, this subject is googled quite frequently. Apparently, y'all need to relax:)
Side note: Blogger needs to add real smilies like Yahoo! has. That would be quite a bit of fun. Perhaps a bit excessive, but fun.
Anyway, I did do quite a bit of relaxing myself over the weekend. One thing I noticed is that when I least want to do things like journal or make art is when I most need to. So, even if you don't feel like it, maybe you need to go relax.