Monday, November 24, 2014

It Has Been a Long Time

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Life has been full of grief and gratitude, joy and the joy of challenges and some really hard work.We are getting ready to sell our home of 46 years and I'm looking forward to moving into a small cottage like place near the university. All this won't happen before this summer, so there's a long drum roll of activity until them and all sorts of opportunities to be courageous.

I have been loving Mary Oliver's new small book of poetic gems, "Blue Horses."
This poem stopped me.

If I Wanted a Boat

I would want a boat, if I wanted a
boat, that bounded hard on the waves,
that didn't know starboard from port
and wouldn't learn, that welcomed
dolphins and headed straight for the
whales, that, when rocks were close,
would slide in for a touch or two,
that wouldn't keep land in sight and
went fast, that leaped into the spray.
'What kind of life is it always to plan
and do, to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe? Yes, by the
heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
a boat I couldn't steer.

Baruch ata adonai...I say I love this poem, but what sings to me? Even for my new life I am planning and doing for the near and safe. Do I want a boat I couldn't steer, or do I merely want to want? And if what I want is what I say I want, then please help me go for it with joy and abandon knowing a safe  harbor is a good thing too. Amen

Monday, June 2, 2014

This is What is for Now

"Spiritual practice is about transformation, but it's also, and more importantly, about working with what is." Angel Kyodo Williams

In Memory of Suzanne
I won Suzanne at an art fair, won a lesson on bookmaking, won a friend who taught and supported me me and challenged me to believe in myself as much as she believed in me. She called herself The Paper Queen, she could do anything with paper, and she called me Bookie. Once following surgery, she brought me a a carton of papers that over the next few years and up to today is the basis of books, paintings, bookmarks and cards. Her patience with folding origami designs and little bitty books is legendary. The best way I can remember her is to to believe I have as much creative juice as she was sure I have. Suzanne was a loner, a person most comfortable in her studio which was actually her entire living space. I need a lot of alone time, but I'm most comfortable in the community of friends who know me. We clicked from the beginning. I'd reached out and she let me in. I am grateful.

This morning I made shrine for her: books she taught me to make, a thank you card made with one of her paste papers, a small book she made of green tea bag wrappers for my birthday, and I lit a candle.

In this time of ebb and flow, of the transition between life and death, of moving into my summer life in the mountains, of coming up to a very significant birthday, I've decided to pull back even more on blogging. Right now, I don't feel I have much to say, and I need to go back to more personal writing exercises and dig into myself. I want to be more personal than I feel I can be going to a wider audience through Facebook and online sites, and I want to blog only when I feel motivated. If you don't get me in your email box and you want to follow me, sign up to receive me through email. If you would like to stop seeing me in your email box, let me know. I thought you could unsubscribe by a simple click at the bottom, maybe you can, but I'm not seeing that. Let me know and I can do it from my end.

Thank you for reading me and thank you for your comments which always mean a great deal to me.

Baruch ata me to be gentle and sweet with myself. Help me to let go with grace and gratitude. Amen

Monday, May 12, 2014

Welcoming Myself to This New Day

"Only a few things in life really matter, and those few things that do matter, matter immeasurably." Kent Kilbourne

In the past two weeks I've had three mini vacations away from home and at restaurants and theaters, at shops and hotels or private homes, I've been struck by the importance of how feeling welcome adds to my enjoyment of a show or a meal or conversation or even my perception of the hotel room before I get to it. This morning I'm thinking about the importance of welcoming myself to this day and how that can make the difference between me feeling energized and enthusiastic or slogging onward, because this morning I didn't welcome myself as an honored guest and then move on. First thing today I peeked into the Life Book 2014 lesson, felt overwhelmed, and right now I am trying hard to resist a downward spiral of not knowing what to do with myself of not wanting to take out art materials and start this new project.

So I start over. I do what I usually do each morning. I have a glass of hot lemon water and sit down to the computer for a five minute writing to learn what's on my mind in the most gentle way.  This  routine is important to me. I wake up, still more a part of my night than my day. This daily routine welcomes me gently, gives me time to enter quietly, time to smile at myself, time to say "hello dearie, I'm glad to see you again, how are you feeling, I'm glad you're here. Now please take a deep breath and just sit here for a few minutes." It makes such a difference to me. In those few minutes of restarting my day, of honoring myself with a decent welcome, of doing something immeasurably important to me, I've decided to delay the art project until later today or tomorrow and do something else I've been wanting to do: create very small works. And my world won't end if I don't do this week's class another day. Or not at all.

Last Monday after my water and writing and sitting and listening routine, I decided not to go to a yoga class but rather do it later in the week. I felt so liberated. Last Monday and Tuesday I was in a flow of activity and productivity I know I wouldn't have been if I hadn't taken a few minutes to allow my heart and body figure out what I needed to do rather than my head. I trust this part of me to know the way when my head is busy busting barriers and making too much noise. I've been actively trying not to try. You can click onto this link and read more about this here.  This link brings you to the brilliant Always interesting and thought provoking. It will seriously sidetrack you if you start your day here.

Baruch ata adonai....I am so grateful to be in this stage of my life when I have the time and presence to listen to myself, to be gentle with myself, to honor and welcome myself to this new day. Amen

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Good Girl/Good Woman Continuum

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very very good,
and when she was bad, she was horrid. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love Monday morning. It's the day I get do write my blog for my heart and start a new Life Book 2014 project for my creative part which I can hardly wait to start. Monday is the day I set aside for myself. Just minutes ago I did a brief meditation and my good girl was in a big snit about needing to go to yoga and she was trying to shame the rest of me. You should go, she said, you've got to go, she added, how can you do the rest of what you want to do if you fail to take care of your body? She has no middle ground. She can make life so unpleasant for me. I'm not sure it's a place of good intentions she's speaking from. She reminds me of a teeny tiny mother, a little girl who doesn't know how to mother at all, but who has all the words and the idea that she knows perfectly well what's right and wrong and what I should should should do. She can be one bitchy piece of certitude.

While I was doing the meditation, my little lady above, the one with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead, tapped me on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. Though she is very strong in her sense of joy and delight in life, she's a bit afraid of the good girl. I never doubt her intentions for me are right on. Not like that good girl who is so prissy. She told me I can really go to yoga on  Wednesday, which I always do, and on Thursday which I never do. And, she said, she's sure I would love one of the Thursday morning classes. So I sit here in my bathrobe smiling. I may stay in my bathrobe for a good long time this morning, right up until the time I get into my paint clothes. I may not even wash my face or brush my teeth. I am feeling so good. My good girl is in retreat.

I've been drawing little ladies for a long time. I've always thought they represent the best part of me. They are joyful, fun and undemanding. They just have a good time. After watching the delight of my four year old granddaughter as she celebrated her birthday this weekend, I think my little ladies are four at heart.

So here I am. Not going to yoga. Getting to do art. And write. And read the newspaper. And feel very very good about myself. I'm not punishing myself by making myself do something I don't want to do this morning and I've found a way to take care of my body on Thursday. That little lady is a very good woman!

I've been thinking and talking a lot the past week about the good girl/good woman continuum. The good girl is drilled into us from the earliest times. With nursery rhymes even. I remember there was a little girl who had a little curl being said to me when I was very young and knowing with all of my little girl heart they only said it when I was being a bad girl in their eyes. The little girl doesn't have it all wrong, though her delivery stinks. Every good woman knows the good girl still lives in side her, only now, she lets her know she can't be in charge unless she's inclined to be a fun loving joyful even devilish little lady.

Baruch ata adonai.... this morning, I am a good woman, a woman who knows what's really important for me this day, a woman who helps me make a way to do what I need to do to feel good and strong and able to lift my heart and to feel and hear the goodness of this day becoming known to me.  Amen

Monday, April 21, 2014

Living with Diminshed Urgency

Only a few things in life really matter, and those few things that do matter, matter immeasurably. Kent Kilbourne

"I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise."
Dawna Markova

Most of last week I spent doing stuff that was important at the moment but not what recharges and refreshes me.  For a few days I was on a tight time table to get things done and there was a price I didn't count on paying. My five minute first-thing-in-the morning writings were superficial and unsatisfying. There was no time to write my blog which often helps me know who I am that day. My sleep was worse than usual, there was no time to do art and these are the things that matter immeasurably to me.  At this point in my life, I've completed most of my life tasks and now I live in a way I haven't before: meandering rather than being purpose driven. I can't go back. Through writing and playing with colors and media I've learned to open myself to myself. I am continually grateful I have the luxury of diminished urgency.

Finally on Friday, I did something that really mattered. I got to be Nana. I picked up Charlie after school and  and we went to the arcade, to the bookstore, to the yogurt shop, found a small outpost of San Francisco's Exploratorium where we explored magnets and iron filings and how each ear functions separately from the other depending on the input. He's close to seven and holding hands when we cross the street isn't what he wants to do, so we held fingers. Each time we crossed we figured out how to make different fingers hold on to each other. The next day I watched my almost nine year old granddaughter become a fearless soccer goalie and immersed myself in appreciation of my other granddaughter as she navigated playground equipment both fearlessly and with an awareness of what is safe for her four year old self to do and what isn't.

Today I when I woke up I wrote and painted and went for a walk with a friend. I enjoyed some homemade soup for lunch. I took a shower around noon and went out to do some errands. Today I put a spell on myself and did only things that satisfy and refresh me. If you could see me now, you would see me pounding my chest and dancing up and down. Well, not actually. I'd like to see myself doing that too.

I think these pictures I completed yesterday afternoon reflect a letting go of too much busyness.

Baruch ata adonai....Help me to remember what is important to me and what isn't. Help me to tell myself and others I can't do some things even if I want to because it isn't good for me. May I have the courage to be attentive to the steps I take. Amen

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hope and Capability

Today I honor fusion and confusion
beginning again
trusting what has passed.

Today I honor hope and capability,
embrace forward movement.
I'm only on the five thousandth try
with five more to go.

Today I honor brokenness 
and tolerance of change
as just another
life variation
not a road block
not a rude heave ho
off the path.

Today I honor wearing myself out
before I remember to stay
in the here and now.
I balance hope and
my current capabilities,
my life in this
present moment. 

I am a month and six days into my morning five minute writing challenge. Now I'm not skipping any days because I forget to write. Now I feel incomplete if I don't sit down first thing in the morning and begin the day with finding out who I am before the day shaped by the calendar or art challenges convinces me I'm someone else. I've been writing for years. I've done this before. I hope I don't stop this time.

Do you know "The Humans of New York" blog? Brandon Stanton spoke in my home town last week and reminded me yet again that it takes a lot of work to be as good as your ambitions. And he's only 30. And darling. And his book is a best seller. And he's been at it for four years. And in those four years he went from not owning a camera to taking pictures every waking moment to the point he has taken hundreds of thousands photos and humbled himself and worked along until he honed his craft to wonderful captures of life. 

Baruch ata adonai...I am aware I am not hard on myself now as I paint or draw or challenge myself to use new art materials. Sometimes my work disappoints me, but I'm aware that I've done the best I can do at the time, and that everyone goes through this crablike progression of moving onward while seeming to stagger backwards and lurch sideways as long as they continue taking one step after another. I do not doubt the rest of me is watching my progress to see if I can make it work in other parts of my life. Thank you for being with me on this journey. Amen

Monday, March 31, 2014

Upon Awakening

Upon Awakening

this spring morning
to dew drops
blossoms opening
noise on the freeway.

for back stories
echoes of relationships
loops between words
how I'm changed
by friendships

It takes a little while
when I awake
to invite myself to this
new day
to reassign labels
I gave myself yesterday.

I'm feeling a bit anxious...
breathe, stretch
say good morning
wait for the dance to begin
trust my muscles
know the steps.

I haven't written poetry for a long time. This is the fruit of one of my early morning five minute writings...not born exactly this way, but the framework was there when I wrote intuitively without an idea of where I was headed. Several times lately, when I've realized I can't get places with my thinking brain, I've found my way when I trusted my muscle memory, built over time, to get me there. It's such an interesting experience.

Baruch ata adonai...The past two weeks I've burst with creative energy or felt dry dry dry, and I've been acutely aware they are only cycles. If I wait, I will bloom and I will fade. I'll feel indolent and then suddenly awake with possibilities. I ebb and flow with inner tides. Now I know I am at peace.  Amen

Monday, March 17, 2014

Create Your Best Days

"The universe supplies exactly and absolutely what you perceive your reality to be, that is to say, what you believe in." The Art of Manifestation

Each time I stand in front of a work of art that resonates with me, each time I look at a tree tricked out in spring bloom, each time I meet with a friend and feel a spark of recognition fill the hidden spaces between us, I am changed and enriched in a way that fills me with joy. As Gary Zukov said, "Every intention sets energy in motion whether you are conscious of it or not," so why not set that energy in motion on purpose.

Recently I have been thinking of things I'd like to manifest in my life, simple things  I can recognize when they happen.  The first day I set the intention of manifesting lots of contact with friends, and that came to pass the next day: two emails from people I haven't connected with in a long time, phone calls and an invitation to lunch. I felt embraced with love. The next day I paid it forward and called my friend, the Glorious Grandma Glad for her 94th birthday and emailed a few people I was thinking about.

Yesterday I searched for a lost library book, due today, one I hadn't even gotten around to reading. I began systematically cleaning up one room after another: the bedroom, my studio, the kitchen, my office. Everything looked immaculate, but I still hadn't found that book. I emailed a friend and asked her to manifest me finding it because she's good at that sort of thing, and then I thought I would test this whole manifestation idea and see what would happen. I set the intention of finding it easily and not worrying about it if I didn't. Shortly after, I walked into my office, put my hand on the books above my desk and fingered each one. There it was, and then I remembered putting away a stack of books a couple of days before and jamming them in empty spaces.

I don't believe this happens with furrowed brow, a grim determination to wish something into existence, and preparing yourself for failure.  I think it happens when we hold our intention lightly like listening for the sounds of birds and then continue on our way. What I've found since I've been doing this is that everything seems like a gift.

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for the richness of my days, the opportunity to create art and the balm of friendship. Amen

Monday, March 10, 2014

Art as Metaphore

"What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you. I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy, but flowers keep blooming inside me." Lupita Nyong'o

The activity in last week's Life Book 2014 online art course was to celebrate connections in life while at the same time continuing to learn how to draw a face, create transparent layers using collage, gesso, stamps, writing, and applying paint over and over again. The first task was to find a face in a magazine to use as a base and then make it our own by completely changing it. Wow. Isn't this just like real life. If you peeled off your layers, wouldn't find you find something completely different underneath, an entire back story? This week's project is a metaphor for life: create a face, change it, try on clothes, change a hair color, collage over the rough spots, get a new wardrobe until you've got your very best look. Then with compassion, change your thoughts as well.

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o, winner of the supporting actress award for 12 Years a Slave, is an amazing inspirational speaker and writer. "I had begun enjoying the seduction of inadequacy but flowers keep blooming inside me." I love that. I know about that. Peel back my layers and you can see all the times I've lived that seduction, but not now. Now I'm getting better and I'm gentle with myself. Lovely combo.

Baruch ata adonai...I am so blessed to live a long enough life to look back and appreciate my many layers with compassion and love. Amen

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Let Go of Rules to Get Moving

"'Synchronicity is there when we're ready for it.' It's like the first rule my father taught us about surfing. You have to be moving to be moved. It's one part labor, one part grace." Jeff Nunokawa

Baruch ata adonai...writing today's blog has been an exercise in patience. It has taken me hours. Because I haven't been writing, I'm rusty. I'm going to begin writing everyday for five minutes first thing in the morning. I used to do this and I want to begin again. I am grateful to myself for coming back to this piece over and over until I finished. Amen - See more at:

At the end of my last blog, I committed to writing five minutes each morning to stretch my writing muscles. I pulled out three thin volumes by poets Mary Oliver, Wislawa Symborska and Billy Collins so they would be ready for me to open to a random page in the morning. Years ago I worked my way through Genesis and Exodus in this way. That night before going to bed I leafed through an old New Yorker and read about Jeff Nunokawa, a Princeton professor, who does exactly the same thing I'm doing and has done it for years on Facebook. It was hard for me to fall asleep. I wanted to Google him and could hardly wait to begin writing. He too finds a writing prompt, writes on it for five minutes or more, and publishes it on Facebook.The next morning I emailed him to say how amazing it is that I should have had this particular magazine for so long and only last night read about him. I concluded, "Synchronicity is there when we're ready for it." He wrote back, "'Synchronicity is there when we're ready for it.' It's like the first rule my father taught us about surfing. You have to be moving to be moved. It's one part labor, one part grace."

I Go Down to the Shore by Mary Oliver.
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable
what shall--
what should I do? And the sea says in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

If I am miserable, it doesn’t matter if the waves are moving in or moving out. It doesn’t matter if I say I should. It doesn’t matter.  If I am miserable should I simply be miserable? Allow that to happen? What a waste of a day. Waves do what they do. And for me, writing. If I want to or not. If I feel inspired or miserable, or too busy. I’ve set myself just five minutes to play in the waves. I can consider it my work or I can consider it my chance to play unfettered by rules or purpose other than to write. My internal waves come and go, in and out, and I too have work to do. 3/4/14

I could edit this endlessly, but the thing about a five minute writing is that I don't. I love it because I learn something I wouldn't learn in the endless loops of rethinking and rewriting. At the end I have recommitted to the next day. I love it because it's imperfect and I get to leave it just that way.

Baruch ata adonai...writing gives me such joy when it is freely received by me and written down without my brain commenting on anything at all. I begin writing before it is awake enough to make kindly suggestions or do an eye roll. It's as if I'm in love all over again. Amen

Baruch ata adonai...writing today's blog has been an exercise in patience. It has taken me hours. Because I haven't been writing, I'm rusty. I'm going to begin writing everyday for five minutes first thing in the morning. I used to do this and I want to begin again. I am grateful to myself for coming back to this piece over and over until I finished. Amen - See more at:
Baruch ata adonai...writing today's blog has been an exercise in patience. It has taken me hours. Because I haven't been writing, I'm rusty. I'm going to begin writing everyday for five minutes first thing in the morning. I used to do this and I want to begin again. I am grateful to myself for coming back to this piece over and over until I finished. Amen - See more at:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Can't Wait for Inspiration

"You can't wait for inspiration. Sometimes you have to go after it with a club." Jack London 

"Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." Anne Lamott

Given a choice, it's a no brainer. I want to live in the world of WOW NOW. I want to stride from peak to peak, to be effortlessly inspired, cheerful, full of seeing things for the first time and knowing my heart is full and I am present. I want to look out my kitchen window and always see the full rainbow that arced across the sky yesterday. I want everything to come easily. I want to write and paint effortlessly. Don't we all!

Entering the unknown of the blank page or canvas takes a lot of wandering in the wilderness. It takes a lot of practice to bring something out of nothing. It takes a lot of faith and a lot of work and given a choice, I want cut to the chase and start with inspiration. But when I start out knowing where I want to go and stick with that, I limit myself. I'm in the land of easy, of tried and true, not on the road to discovery.

We all have limiting beliefs. One of mine is that for most creative people art and writing come easily. I know this isn't really true, but there is this nagging belief; since it doesn't come easily to me, it means I'm not very good. And then Jack London appears. Thanks, Jack. The truth is I love the process of discovery, of not being so good and getting better. I'm so in love with those aha moments. The most important thing is to do a lot of work even if it's not very good work, because I know my work has gotten better. It takes a lot more time than any of us want to become competent in almost anything.

When I get bogged down on the creative path, I realize I am also way low on the gratitude scale. The more I feel grateful, the more willing I am to see the blank page as an opportunity for discovery rather than a stab in the dark.

On my desk is a lovely gratitude box. Around the edges are the cards below, little recycled remnants of art projects and motivating messages.

Card by card, I will write on the back of each one a few words about people and events I'm grateful for.

There are very few whoopdeedoo wowzers in this box. The cards are appreciations of lunch with friends, a good movie or concert, finding something I've lost and found, good food, community, a productive time in my studio. Forty-seven little cards so far this year. I look at that little box and those little cards and know card by card I'll fill that box to overflowing in another couple of months. It helps me to pay attention to the smallest joys, joys that can be written about in a very few words.

Just as I expect too much of myself as a beginning artist, I sometimes forget to remember the power of gratitude. It all takes time and practice. As much as I've been working on this, sometimes I forget how easy gratitude is and how good it makes me feel. Perhaps a few words on little cards in a lovely box will work for you, too.

Baruch ata adonai...writing today's blog has been an exercise in patience. It has taken me hours. Because I haven't been writing, I'm rusty. I'm going to begin writing everyday for five minutes first thing in the morning. I used to do this and I want to begin again. I am grateful to myself for coming back to this piece over and over until I finished. Amen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Possibilities of Gratitude

"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention." Oscar Wilde
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." Meister Eckhart

Prayer Flag (Acrylic on Denim)

Sunday I received a gift, a most wonderful email, one that has created within me a deep warm feeling of well being. Each time I think about it I smile. It begins, " have been on my list of people for which I am grateful, since 2011, and have wanted to thank....Periodically I search the net to see if I can find contact info for you. To my delight this morning [I found it.] You never know how large the ripple you create is.

Several years ago I showed prayer flags and bookmarks with colorful pen and ink drawings I'd made  at a local open studio art show. For me, this series of bookmarks are visual prayers. It was a leap of faith for me to participate in that show. I had never gone public with my drawings and flags, and yet with all my uncertainty and a sense of being in heady company, I felt a strong impulse to be there.

One of the bookmarks was bought by a very thoughtful and receptive woman. "You will never know how much your Our Lady of Possibilities kept me focused on the positive when I was battling a now defanged autoimmune disease." She loved that bookmark into weathered raggedness and now keeps it in a safe place.

If gratitude were to have a symbol, it would be the sign for infinity. No beginning and no end. In this case it was a blessing to the person who gave and the person who received and then it worked back the other way.

Thank you notes of any form resonate long after they are sent. I like to think I always write them with a full heart, which probably isn't true. Today I know, when they are written that way, they bounce around like echoes and go on long after I've stamped and sent them, no matter how long it takes me to mail them off.

Yesterday and today I awoke from dreams that could have left me sandbagged for the day, until I thought to be grateful for them because they reminded me I'm not like the person in that dream any longer. I'm not a Pollyanna, though she had a lot going for her in bad situations, and more and more I believe there is gratitude to be found in more situations than I ever thought possible. When I do work my way to gratitude, it is though I had stretched and released in a way that allows me to breathe more freely than moments before. Gratitude works.

Baruch ata adonai...whenever I hear people my age referred to as old, which seems to happen more and more, I laugh. Today I am healthy and strong. Today I can laugh and cry and I know that's because I'm a whole person. I'm brave and move on through fear and doubt, and I'm very happy to be alive. Amen


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick by Lettie Cottin Pogrebin was written just in time for me and my friends. It's an important read for the friend who is ill and for those of us who want to be the best kind of friend we can be when all the rules change. I bought a copy for myself and gave it to my friend with breast cancer. Then I ordered another for myself. Now I'm ordering a third.

My friends and I are getting to that age, not that there is any right age for this sort of thing. It can happen at any age, but more and more a bad diagnosis for you or your friends is likely to happen the older and older you get. My friends and I have been dancing with each other for a long time, dancing like we know the steps when we do and when we don't, dancing when we feel more like crying and hiding, and being wonderfully brave and adventurous when we haven't a clue what dance we're doing. And then the bad diagnosis taps us one of us on the shoulder, cuts in, and partners us off to an unknown ballroom where the rules have nothing to do with us, except they do. And so it is for three of my go to friends.

Lettie Cottin Pogrebin is an old friend too. She doesn't know we're old friends. She's someone like me only on a national scale. She is one of the founders of MS magazine, and because we're the same age and because we're both Jewish we've always had a lot in common. Twenty-five years ago she wrote a book for me when I was beginning to figure out if I had a place in Judaism. She introduced me to her friends and I read their books as well, and I found my way. Some of them cycle back through her current book. I'm grateful I met them all.

If you are in the dark corridor of illness, your own or a friend's, if you're looking for a light to lead you forward, the title of this book is the beginning of everything you need to know. 

Baruch ata adonai....I am grateful for health and the wealth of friends who guide me to unknown parts of myself. Thank you for waking me up this day. May I be a friend to others and especially to myself. Amen

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In Sync with Why

"I bless this journey
with moments of delight
where time disappears
and truth emerges...."
Peleg Top

Week Four Life Book 2014

This quote by Peleg Top is my current measure to see if I'm in sync with my why. Why am I doing what I'm doing now? When I'm in touch with my why, I create with soul filling energy.

I would say I'm deep in the healing step of reclaiming my joy in creating. Yesterday I stopped by a shop that shows my cards. I wanted to swap some out, and when I got home, the truth was that I didn't want to make cards to sell anymore. I love the time I spend drawing. The joy drained out when I began to "manufacture" them to sell. Above my desk is an  unfinished painting from Flora's last online class. It has a lot going for it. When I can approach it again and work on it with delight, I will. I will not struggle with myself to get myself to do it. Right now I'm having a lot of fun beginning with a toilet roll and seeing what I can do with it. I'm playing to get the fun back into art.

Elements of an Assemblage in Progress

As I try out different elements and while I play with assemblages, the hours pass seamlessly. I draw little ladies that make  me happy. They grew out of years of doodling and express various parts of me. As with writing, when I draw, my creative expression comes from following an intuitive trail, and when I come to the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Painting is a very different thing. Much more difficult and less spontaneous. My main achievement in Flora's Bloom True class is letting go of outcome. I love big brushes, big canvases, big mess, lots of layers. Fun if I don't make work out of it. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm so grateful to artist Jeanne Bessette who asks great questions on her HeArt Space Facebook page.

Baruch ata's so easy to do what I do because I've walked down a path I thought was a good idea or because someone encouraged me to, but when I've lost energy and enthusiasm for that way of doing or being, I've lost myself. Just now there are lots of teachers in my life all saying the same thing in different ways and I'm hearing them. Thank you. Amen

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Something from Nothing

Start with a blank canvas, a piece of white paper, a cardboard toilet roll. Start the new year wtih ideas from two internet classes, Creative Jump Start and Life Book 2014. Where have three weeks gone? Here's my show and tell.

Scrapwrap. Start with a household item, stuff in your stash, low technology and creative time.

Life Book 2014 is a year long class. Each week a new teacher, new techniques. Carla Sondheim, this week's teacher, is known for her blobamils. Start with a blob of paint and see what appears. This is some octopus!

Start with a day set aside to do art. Start with good intentions. Then clean out your studio, get involved with HeArt Space on Face Book, spend time with some newly salvaged stuff for cardboard box art, eat, make some appointments, check for email, go for a walk, lose something you've put in the scanner, spend time trying to find it cleaning up as you go, need to go to the Dollar Store, Michaels, feel tired from so much avoiding doing art. That was yesterday. I'm sure today will be completely different.

 Make a flower with two pieces of paper and see where it goes next.

Lay down three different kinds of tape. Make sure they overlap. Fill in with pen. Who is waiting to appear?

I'm not even going to tell you what this animal was suppose to be. The task was to draw an animal in one continuous line with your eyes closed. Another was to cut a typed paragraph into words or phrases and compose a story. That was a bit of a bust for me. Instead I wrote part of the story around this guy.

Baruch ata adonai...I am having fun and growing and my mind is in creative places. I am grateful. Amen

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Open Studio

I'm reading The Hare with the Amber Eyes, a book about a particular collection of objects that is passed down to the author, Edmund de Waal. As he traces their journey, he steps through the door to his family's history as well and learns much more than he could have imagined. This week I also looked through Where Women Create, a magazine showing the work spaces of women artists, and I wondered what one of my work spaces says about me. Here are some of the views of my writing space.

If you sat at my desk and turned your head to the left, this is what you would see. In the first column of shelves are what remain of the books my parents read to me as well as books I read to my children and grandchildren and children's books I bought on trips to foreign countries. In the middle section you see my blue Smith Corona from my freshman year in college and above that, a step below the center of this section is a storyteller from Santa Fe and poetry books from when I was writing poetry. The third section is Judaica, the history of my genetic makeup. Each item on these shelves is connected to a specific memory and touching any of those things transports me to my past.

If I look up from my computer, I see a shelf of my aspirations and books and nichos I've created. I think this shelf is is about what I want for myself.

I like that part of me that is so earnest about creating and is mostly appreciative, looking back, on what I accomplished. At the time it may have been a much different story, but with time, lots of it looks better to me now than then. When I learned about putting books together with binder rings, it gave me an enormous sense of freedom. The first books are the ones at the top. You can see the covers. They're alphabet books containing quotes, cards, stuff I liked at the time. Below these books are three containing a cache of cards I thought I might use as a writing prompt. I'm sure there's a book there I doubt I'll ever write. There are journals from trips and art journals and in the lower left, an accordion book I created with the most delicious Indian orange pages. I think these must be my personal museum shelves.

There's a soulful continuity here I didn't appreciate before I started writing this blog. I began writing about something completely different, and I'm not sure how I segued into where I am at the moment. I'm glad I trusted the need to refocus my writing. Now I can see why I like being in this room.

When I write, I learn things about myself I didn't know before. What I see in this writing is the way I've been able to trust and invest and reinvent myself over my lifetime. It's very comforting to know, especially when I'm currently stewing over an unresolved issues it seems I should be able to let go of or change. 

Baruch ata adonai...this morning I woke up very early and gave myself unstressed time to read and write. I'm grateful I didn't continue to stay in bed and think about what I would do today. Now I feel very ready to enjoy what will arrive through my open door. May I resolve the unresolved and be a more loving person today. Amen

Monday, January 6, 2014

Feeling Content

"All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer...It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as  your ambitions."Ira Glass

This morning it only took me an hour to make that watermark. That's a lot of time first thing in the morning. I started at 7:15 and voila! There it is, covering up an important world. I'm settling for good enough. One of my words for this year is ease, and so I relax. This morning Ira Glass whispers in my ear, "It's going to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through."

Well, here she is. My artistic guardian. I love her. She's the first face I've ever drawn I truly love. She looks me steadily in the eye and reminds me to keep being creative and pay no attention to those snotty voices that could be muttering away if I were to listen. She wants me to have fun. And I am. I do need to give her a name. Hmmmm. I'm going to give this some thought today.

My guardian, loving and steely, appeared during the first assignment in a year long online class, Life Book 2014. One week into it and I'm smitten. I think it's going to be a wonderful course for me. There are students from all over the world. It's a huge class in terms of the number of people participating and the content. In the first week there were six videos. There will be many guest teachers over the course of the year, and Tamara, the founder, producer and guide-in-chief has done an amazing job of building in support for artists like me whose courage might flounder, whose stuff is just not that good, yet, but trying to be good and getting better with practice.

The word you can't quite see is Abundance. My guardian wants me to explore Abundance. Isn't she wonderful? With ease!

Usually the first few months of the year I like to go away to someplace warmer and sunnier. Last year I painted in Mexico. Another year we spent a month in Kauai. This year I am very happy and content to be at home and to grow myself right here in my own sweet place. Sometime feeling content has a short shelf life. Today I'm creating a gratitude jar and dropping a little piece of paper inside, a reminder that today at nine in the morning, I am feeling an abundance of contentment.

Baruch ata adonai...I rejoice in moments like this when everything seems right with my world. I rejoice that I recognize in this very moment I am optimistic and happy. No qualifiers. Thank you. Amen