Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

2016 … The End Is Nigh

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN … THE SAND FOR 2016 has almost run out. I’ve only a few more blogs to do before the closing of the year. I’m surprised I’ve managed to produce one weekly (well, almost). These last few months have been crazy. I knew they would be. I almost burned out—but not quite—from five-plus weekends of book signings and a lovely OGS Artist Showcase party (and a few personal and holiday fun things I squeezed in—I just cannot say no to fun with friends and family!) … leaving me with only one more event coming up tomorrow (that’s Dec 10th at Aptos Grange, Aptos CA folks)—and a mere three blogs to conjure after today before 2016 expires.

I’m ready for it—for all of it! I still have my initial edit for book four to finish (then begin the re-writes) and my publisher will be sending me a first “re-edit” (actually, first truly professional edit) of book one for my perusal—gotta get that back asap so we can get it back into publication! And for my event tomorrow, I worked my fingers to the bone all week trying to get the Christmas cards done—I was so excited that I was able to use images taken two nights in a row at the Christmas at the Inns in Pacific Grove. The Bed and Breakfasts and Inns were splendiferously dressed for the occasion. Beautiful. And yummy goodies to nibble on, too. My favourite was the Jaberwock Inn … for obvious reasons. And I had so much fun turning a slew of photos into lovely faux watercolour images. They all turned out very nice (insert huge grin).

I did not reach the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was about 20,000 words short, but that’s okay. I’m super excited about where the story is headed. I was going to the NaNo TGIO (thank God it’s over) Party last Sunday, but was too exhausted from a combo of some personal fun and work-related stuff on Friday and Saturday. Sunday turned into a day of rest. I had printed up an excerpt to read—re-reading it was fun … oh, yeah! So sad I didn’t get to share it. Maybe I will later … maybe. Book five is going to be suspenseful. Definitely.

Tomorrow, Joyce Oroz and I will be in Aptos at the Grange—along with quite a few other vendors—hawking our wares: Josephine Stuart Mysteries series (I think she has eight) for Joyce and my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books one-three). I think we’re the only ones with books, but I will also have my art. I was told “no photos—we’ve already got three photographers”. I was given permission to sell art and my photopolymer prints (plus … well, I haven’t talked to the contact about my Christmas cards … but I’m sure they’ll be fine because they are “watercolour” vs straight-up photos).

Don’t freak out but … do you realise there’s only sixteen days till Christmas (eeeek!) and fifteen days till the beginning of Hanukkah? Sniggle … on that note—before I close, I want to wish you a blessed Friday and week ahead. Try to stay focused on the reason for the season rather than the craziness all around you.

Adjusting to Life—day by day …

I AM OVER TWO MONTHS POST-OP (wheeeee!) … I know this is an odd thing to be writing about, but it is a very real part of who I am at present.

For most of those two months, I’ve been relatively pain-free … which, for me is quite phenomenal. And deliciously delightful. At first, I didn’t realise it was the “cocktail” given to me during the operation that created this euphoric, pain-free state. For two months! Two. Whole. Months. Even with the burdensome restrictions—which have been a thorn in my side—it’s been a heavenly wonder. At first, I was waiting for the spasms to hit me … but when then didn’t, I started to embrace this new feeling. One I haven’t had in … oh … such a very, very long time. And, hoped that it was permanent (my neurosurgeon said he couldn’t take credit for me being pain-free, but wouldn’t say anything more).

Now … the pain is beginning to return. The problem is, my “pain memory” appears to be zero. The reset button on my pain tolerance appears to have been pressed … so, I’m feeling rather “wussy” as it re-establishes itself. Ugh. Once I figured out the why (none of my docs were willing to tell me anything—I had to figure it out myself)—medications given during surgery relaxed my body so profoundly that it appears things stopped causing undue pressure—I wondered if I could get this miracle “medicinal cocktail” quarterly, to keep me pain free … but those obnoxious restrictions would probably apply also. If I was an under-active individual, I guess it would be fine. But I’m far from that. I’m fiercely independent and very active (some would say overly so) … so these restrictions would be stifling to the point that I’d eventually do my body injury … (they are stifling, but because it is a temporary thing, I’m doing my best to be a good girl—minding my P’s and Q’s … so I can get back to normal life).

My body is beginning to wake up as I become more active—random muscle spasms (none that are painful … yet) that noticeably yank at muscles and occasional sharp, momentary twinges of pain were the first things to knock on my “door”. Such weird sensations. Little aches and pains—nothing serious. But with each new day, more harbingers of “the old days” appear to be settling in, hanging around rather than simply playing tag and dashing off. If it progresses slowly, I think I’ll be able to re-establish my wonderfully high pain tolerance, but if the floodgates open, I’m going to be one wussy gal. Maybe the doc knew something I didn’t when he gave me such a large number of pain pills … (I hope not). So I’m praying for a slow—very, very slow—progression of pain.

Another issue I’m having (as I work on trying to maintain a stream of thought to get this written …) is an increase in my memory deficit. A medication I shouldn’t have was given to me post-op, whilst still in the hospital. Snort. I think I mentioned it before, right? Sigh—I can’t remember … that, I think, is harder on me than relearning how to deal with the pain. Well, maybe. Perhaps they are close to equal. The good news is, my memory will slowly—very slowly—improve. Eventually (we’re talking years, folks). So, my friends, if I repeat myself, please forgive me … please. If I’m slow to get my next book done—please forgive me (I’m nearly in tears about this). This delay not only means you don’t get the next story in a timely fashion, but it delays me transferring my first and second book in the series to Inknbeans Press. And it delays my working on an anthology of short stories … and—you can see the domino-effect in play here … right?

Memory will improve but, the pain will inevitably (but hopefully gradually) increase. Back to what it was before. Sigh. That’s life …

And in life, things must go on. In one weeks time, set-up for the Monterey Scottish Games begins. I have a helper—bless her—who has offered to do all my heavy work as Michelle and I prepare our clan tent for the weekend event. At the end of August I’ll be able to not only sell books at the WestEnd Celebration in Sand City, but my art also—which means I need to crack my own whip and get ready for that. A week later, I plan on driving back to Tennessee for the Mid-South Book Fair (then fly home—or maybe I’ll fly both ways … don’t know yet). I’ll finally get to meet up with some author friends I’ve met through Facebook and Inknbeans Press—I’m excited about that. Plus, I’ll finally have put my books out there beyond my little corner of the world. That makes me happy!

… And then, life gets really crazy through the holidays with book signings—all local, from Salinas to Watsonville to Gilroy and Monterey. I look forward to all of it—with mixed feelings. My energy will be back by then, but what about the other stuff …?

My next post-op visit to the doctor (mid August) will include x-rays to see how my neck is healing. I look forward to that visit, as I will—hopefully—get the weight restrictions lifted … or at least improved so I can actually begin doing productive things around the house and in my “work” life. I’ve been a “good girl” so things should be just fine (insert huge grin).

So, on with life … one day at a time, as I readjust to the new me with all that it entails.

May your life be blessed serendipitously …

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ …

I’M ON A ROLL … AND IT FEELS GOOD! (Sniggle … that title immediately makes me think of the old western tv show, Rawhide … that wasn’t the plan.) The fog is lifting and energy is finally returning. I wonder if it’s residual from all my walking on Wednesday of last week (I think I managed three miles in one day—that’s a lot for me). On Thursday (last week), I made good progress on the edit of book four—and had fun face-to-face interacting with two other “writerly” NaNoWriMo members. Or maybe the awesome evening I had at Open Ground Studios for their Social Paint Night (if you’re in the area, you really need to check the next one out … not sure there’s a date yet—I’ll check)—oh, yeah! I was able to get a tax extension, so that pressure is off (whew!). Or maybe it’s the fact that, on Saturday, I miraculously scored four hard-to-acquire tickets for the 2017 Gallifrey One event in February and made room reservations for half of us—a friend will make the second room reservation.

I’m on a roll, aren’t I? Well … I did miss the Sunday’s Paint Out with the Aromas Hills Artisans at Point Lobos. They changed the time last minute and I wasn’t able to make the new time work. It would have been great—they paint and sketch whilst I usually wander around with my camera capturing images. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

I even worked in the garden over the weekend. Spring is here in spades—actually, over the weekend, it was more like summer with temps in the high 70s and low 80s! Gorgeous day to play in the garden, even if only for short bits … there’s so much to do. Even though I spend a good hour toiling, it’s hard to see much progress—but I can now walk pathways without getting attacked by thistle plants (yay).

Buoyed by all this wonderful stuff, I walked in on Monday to hear the doomsday lecture from my neurosurgeon. I was prepared for it (plus, I had my extended church family praying for me—thank you—you know who you are). I knew (kinda) what was coming and was prepared with lots and lots of questions. It went smoother than anticipated and there was no lecture (yay!). It took a few more days, but now I’m on the cusp of having a date for my surgery—and the daunting task of cancelling my trip to the UK (that’s the only sad part, really). Air fare and rooms … with the aid of the doctor’s office, I should get most of my money back … I hope.

My week continued to be pretty darn great—a walk in a cute little park, a bit of editing on my work in progress, then a wonderful speaker at Central Coast Writers (perfect for me … she spoke about writing a series). Though I’d already grappled with many of the things she spoke of, I learned plenty. CCW has terrific speakers!

And, after a busy Thursday of talking with doctors, juggling non-painterly things at Open Ground Studios and getting zapped in a “nerve conduction test”, then working on editing with writerly friends, here we are again … at Friday. There’s still plenty on my plate, like the ongoing editing project, finishing and confirming the cancelling of all my flights/rooms and an upcoming book signing in May—May 7th to be exact … in a garden setting—lovely—in Aromas! I’m praying for good weather, but I will take whatever is thrown at me.

Oh … and there’s that pesky “major surgery” near the end of May. God’s got my back on that one (along with all my friends—bless each and every one of them!!), so I’m not going to worry unnecessarily. There may be a few weeks where I’m in hibernation, incoherently babbling from pain medications (grin) so, no blog during that time (I’ll give you warning) … but I’ll be back to my old self soon enough.

I love my life … with all it’s ups and downs—it’s pretty darn exceptional. I am blessed. Indeed.

May your day … and weekend—the whole week, really—be gloriously and serendipitously blessed.

Art and Socializing …

AAAH. WE ALL ENJOY A WEE BIT OF socializing, right? Well, most of us. I do know quite a few introverted people (including my daughter), but even they like to socialize … just on a smaller scale. Much smaller … and, many of us even enjoy including food and drink (doesn’t need to be an alcoholic beverage).

Now. Add to that mix a little art appreciation. Perhaps not as many think they would enjoy it, but you’d be surprised at how much fun it can be. Honest. Especially when you get to play with paint. Get dirty (oh … maybe there are some neat-nicks out there, but honestly … even they would have fun), tinker with colour and create something. Even if you’re not thrilled with the end product, I’m sure you’ll have fun at some point during the evening and glad you found the time to let your inner muse free.

I’ve enjoyed two such events at Open Ground Studios in the recent past: “Merlo and Miro” in October 2015 and “Red (wine) and Rothko” in January 2016. OGS director, Denese Sanders, has seen how popular the Art Socials are and has put her own little twist to it. Where most Paint Socials advertised have participants merely copying one art piece of the presented artist, Denese has taken it a step beyond that—you choose your creation (sounds intimidating at first, but honest … it isn’t). Open Ground Studios is all about finding the creative muse in all of us. Even the most analytical types (they think they’re not terribly artistic) find their muse and are quite pleased at their serendipitous discovery. I for one am glad to see this becoming a staple on the OGS calendar!

After the social opening (chatting amongst ourselves with food and drink to get comfy), Denese presents the artist’s style and history, shows us the progression of works in a slide show, then lets us loose to create. She and a helper are there to answer questions, give helpful hints on how to proceed and, in general, to encourage us in our endeavors.

I’ve seen artist and non-artist working together, shoulder to shoulder, coming up with some amazing pieces of art. Sometimes absolutely spot-on to what the highlighted artist creates, sometimes not (raising my hand, grinning … I dance to a different drummer)—but that is not the point of this.

The point is—let go and create. Whatever that is, let it happen. And embrace the experience. Enjoy it.

So, if you are local to 831 area code … you should really check this out. Open Ground Studios is doing this monthly now, barring any complications. O'Keefe and AperitifThe next one will be “O’Keefe and Aperitif” on Friday, February 19th from 6:30-9:30pm. I think the next one will involve whisky … maybe, but I cannot recall the artist’s name (insert mischievous grin).

If you don’t live locally, then check your area for similar events and have fun. It’s good fun for the soul.

Take time to be creative and have a blessed week!

It’s A No Blog Blog …

I’M GOING TO BE UPFRONT WITH YOU. My writerly brain has turned to mush. And because of that there is no blog for today … or will there be?

I’ve tried taking a number of draft blogs and expounding upon them but I am so entrenched in getting ready for the Open Ground Studios Co-op Member show that I cannot concentrate. I’m still scrambling due to some very strange circumstances on Thursday. It exhausts me to even think about the craziness that became Thursday.

So, instead I will simply be thankful. Thankful that Thursday has come and gone; that it is Friday and I will be setting up the table this afternoon for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival that is happening this weekend. Thankful that the pressure will be off (mostly). Thankful that there are only a few more pieces of art to prepare for this weekend—and for the Open Ground Studios show, which opens on the 25th … and goodies to gather up for the OGS Artists’ Reception and Holiday Party happening on Friday, 4 December.

And … I’ll leave it at that. Short blog. Perhaps next week my brain and thoughts will gel better. Until then, have a blessed weekend!

AHA Holiday Art Festival

Come one, come all to this delightful event! (click on picture for more detail)

Holiday Art Festival: November 21-22 10:00-4:00 at the Aromas Grange
Art of all kinds, beautifully crafted items, books by
dj jameson smith (fantasy) and Joyce Oroz (mystery). Both authors will be available to sign their books.

Co-op Artist Showcase Exhibition: November 25, 2015 – January 21, 2016

With Special Guests:
Monterey Peninsula College Drawing Students
Presented by Instructor Bob Lamp

Artist Reception & Holiday Party: December 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Free and open to the public
Open Ground Studios Gallery
1230 Fremont Blvd. Seaside, CA 93955

The evening festivities include a raffle with beautiful holiday prizes, hot cider, refreshments and community cheer!

For More Information:
Denese Sanders, OGS Artistic Director
Tel: 831-241-6919 | Cell: 861-236-8636
Email: info@opengroundstudios.com
Website: opengroundstudios.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opengroundstudio

 

Think Outside The Box?

I LISTENED TO A YOUNG MAN, PHIL HANSEN, SPEAK IN a TEDTalk on Wednesday–a post shared by a local writer friend on Facebook, which I in turned shared to my Creations page … and his words—and art—inspired me. God is good that way … and I thank Him all the time for the gems he places in my hands, helping me work out solutions to my current “problems”.

I’ve been bombarded with serious, not-gonna-budge deadlines—something I’m not accustomed to at all (a novel concept for this author) … I’ve always made sure I had “wiggle-room” for any self-imposed deadlines—and though I’ve met them all, they left me drained. I am so happy to have them all done. Happy to be one step closer to having The Scymarian in print—it’s so close it’s palpable (insert huge grin) … but drained of creativity, nonetheless.

After I transcribed scribbled notes for book 4-5 from this weekend, I chose to “chill” by cruising Facebook (not terribly productive, usually … just a way to unwind). Laughing at some posts … nodding or shaking my head in approval or disapproval at some of comments. Then I came upon this post. TEDTalks have some amazing speakers, so I knew I’d be listening to something interesting, but for this one … I perked up. Listened intently. I’ve actually played the ten-minute talk several times so it could sink in better. Take root. Some profound insights by this young man. Experience is a wonderful teacher. It was time well-spent.

In the talk, he discusses his disability and—as an artist—his initial reaction to it, then how he embracing his disability, thinking outside the box … and more importantly, finally finds himself drawing back into his limitations. Discovering that having “the biggest, the best” does not make you any better … or even more creative. He found that limitations, either external or internal, can actually allow for greater creativity. I can see how being limited allows the ability for limitless creativity. And it applies to art, writing … even everyday life. I’m hoping to put these concepts into action as I go through my daily life. But the one example he showed that I would really like to try is his story-on-a-turnstile—I’m intrigued … I want to see what it creates with one of my short stories. I’m sure there’s more to it than what I was seeing … I’ll not give away what his creative process is (I don’t even know the half of it, I’m sure)—you’ll need to watch the talk. It will be interesting to see what it produces.

Embrace the Shake. Seize the Limitation. Learning to be creative within the confines of my world. That is definitely the key … and I want to unlock my creative world. But, I know it will be useful in solving everyday problems as well.

Short but sweet this week, but inspiring. It was for me. Hopefully it will be for you. Please feel free to share with your friends!

Here’s Phil Hansen’s TEDTalk link. Enjoy.

Whimsical Art Exhibition

WRITING A WEEKLY BLOG CAN BE INTIMIDATING at times, especially when technology is against you. I was at least three hundred words into my blog for today and attempted to save it in the “quick draft” section—after I copied it completely (to be safe, right?)—and then … it decided not to save. No worries. I went into normal “new draft” section and pasted it in. Only three lines of the three hundred-plus words popped up on the screen. To say I was filled with dismay is a gross understatement.

When that sort of thing happens, it makes me wonder if maybe … just maybe, I’m not supposed to be writing about that topic right now. Sigh.

So … here I am, at the proverbial eleventh hour and I’m kinda at a loss as to what to write about (insert huge pout). The obviously easy way out is to slip in some photos—I have been taking lots of them lately. Nope. Or write a blurb about my upcoming release (which may be delayed either till next month or even later) … hmm. Or talk about an amazing young artist that is new to the area and to Open Ground Studios.

Indecision … (seem to be good at that this week) the pressure is on. Okay. Decision is finally made (actually, a no-brainer—sniggle):

In a little less than three weeks, Katie Crawford of Katie Crawford Art will have her first showing since she moved to the west coast. It will be on Friday and Saturday, July 10-11, 2015 at Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Boulevard in Seaside, California. She is working feverishly to get everything ready for the show. Things are looking absolutely beautiful. I am excited for her!

This creative young lady has a whimsical side to her and her art shows it. She lets

Katie Crawford at OGS

At Open Ground Studios, Katie and other artists are able to spread out and create in an inviting atmosphere.

her characters express her fun, frustrations and other adventures she has had since she and her husband moved out here. She writes a blog also, including these delightful drawings to tell of her real-life adventures. They are definitely fun to read. She is a sweet, thoughtful individual that has this amazing artistic side that I am quite envious of. If only I had a drop of her creativity (the ugly green envy monster is rising) …

We were so lucky to have her join our ranks at Open Ground Studios. She is a delightful addition and instills a wonderful work ethic—showing up nearly every weekday to work on one facet or another … from pencil sketches to preparing her “foundation” of old letters that she found at estate sales, adding the sketches, to water colouring the sketches … she is filled with ideas. The newest idea is to create a passport for each of her tiny critters that take flight on leaves, dandelion fluff—ants, crickets, worms (yes, worms) and others. It’s one of those “you just gotta see ‘em to appreciate ‘em” things. I adore her work!

And you can do that at her website: www.katiecrawfordart.com or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/katiecrawfordart. At her website and Facebook page, you can peruse all of her art (please remember, it is her work—no copying without her express permission) and I believe she has a link to her store to make any purchases if you are unable to make it to the opening on the 10th or 11th of July.

I hope you can make it—mark your calendar so you won’t forget. It should be a fun event! She will be delighted to meet you—and do let her know where you heard about it. Maybe I’ll see you there, too!

Until next week, may you be filled with blessings to make it a joyful week.

 

 

 

 

All In Good Time … Patience

WAITING. PATIENCE. QUEUES. How are you at waiting? I think, once upon a time, I had an over abundance of patience—kinda necessary when raising a child (or working with children), both of which I’ve done. Friends would say I had “the patience of Job”—took me awhile to realize what they were saying. What a complement. But … I think, when my daughter reached fifth grade and I was a co-coach (for the fourth consecutive year) to seven kids on an Odyssey of the Mind team … with all their new-found hormone-spewing emotions, something happened to that unending supply … it kinda got up and went. Escaped, really. Fled, screaming and yelling into the night. I loved each and every one of them—we’d become a close knit family—but I swore never to coach again. Never.

After that, well … I had a “normal” level of patience (what is “normal” anyway??). It would ebb and flow depending on the situation. As I grew older and wiser (insert sniggering grin), patience was easier to muster. It was almost like the “old” me had regained some of that youthful reserve. There are still times where I find myself pushing when I could be chillin’, but not as bad … definitely.

Waiting in lines? I actually have found it fun. I use the time to people watch. Watch their impatience or passivity—how they handle waiting. I decided to look up some quotes about patience and this one by Joyce Meyer fits in here perfectly: “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Perhaps they need to be somewhere five minutes ago (oh, I do remember that)—getting agitated, trying to make things go faster, complaining, maybe even making nasty comments. Sometimes it can be quite comical (not their intention, but that’s how I see it that way) and I need to squelch a giggle or smile.

Watching people, like I said … but also interacting with them. I’ve found striking up conversations while in line helps pass the time, too. Once, while “suffering” through the summer heat and l-o-n-g lines at Disneyland, I pulled out a bag of freshly washed string beans and we three (father, very young daughter and yours truly) started munching. Cool, sweet and perfectly healthy. People in line would stare and then comment on how smart it was to bring such an easy and nutritious snack (and wishing they’d thought of it). Then the conversations began. Time flew. Stress flew out the window. Perfect.

Other times, as I stood in the grocery store lines, with my daughter in tow, I’d strike up conversations with people. My daughter used to look horrified as I talked with complete strangers (after all, hadn’t I taught her not to talk with strangers?)—only to find out the horror was not caused by that, but the fact that is was so easy for me to chat with a complete stranger. She finally asked: “How did you do it?” Hmmm. I honestly couldn’t tell her—at least not at the time. I know now. Having faith and simply allowing it to happen. Make the first move, say hi or simply make a positive comment about something happening while we are waiting or compliment/comment about something they are wearing or purchasing (“oh … my, that cake looks yummy!”). It’s easy. Doesn’t require any thought, really. Then let nature take its course. It may stop right there, or in may evolve into a complex discussion about something totally unrelated. I love it (insert grin).

As a writer, photographer and artist, I have found that patience is, indeed, a virtue. I’m not as too good at being patient whilst waiting for the “right” shot—many times I give up just before the optimal opportunity arises—and kick myself in the rear for not waiting just a wee bit longer, missing an extraordinary shot or two. I have garnered an abundance as a writer, but it has been a long, painful haul. One does not rush writing or art—and obviously, taking pictures if you want to catch the “perfect” shot. But, especially with writing and art, when it happens, it happens. It is so obvious—at least to me—when things get rushed. This is why, even though I’m way past my self-imposed deadline for my book, I am not rushing. I want to get it right. I want it to be the best it can be.

Patience?

Definitely a virtue and one to hold close as we navigate through this life.

I’ll leave you with some little gems I gleaned from my search on patience. Have a blessed day, filled with love and patience for your fellow man and in all the things you run up against, both big and small.

  • Patience is a virtue: “Only Patience has the strength needed by all the others (virtues), from Psychomachia (Battle of spirits) by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius, during the early fifth century A.D.
  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
    A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
    Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones
  • Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.  ~George-Louis de Buffon
  • Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  ~John Quincy Adams
  • Have patience, my friend, have patience;
    For Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    You wear yourself out for nothing
    In many and many a way!
    Why are you nervous and fretty
    When things do not move along fast;
    Why let yourself get excited
    Over things that will soon be past?
    ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience” (1940s)
  • Patience is the companion of wisdom.  ~St. Augustine
  • Patience is also a form of action. ~Auguste Rodin
  • One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.  One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  ~Chinese Proverb

A Cornucopia of Thoughts…

LIFE HAS BEEN AMAZINGLY GOOD for me over the years. Even when I look back and recall the trials and tribulations that have popped up again and again. They have shaped me, tempered me into who I am today.

As a child, I felt ostracized. Different from others because I was such a “dummy”—and danced to a different drum. I loved art, read voraciously (once I learned to deal with my dyslexia), and was just coming into my own both artistically and as a writer. Sadly, school did a great job of squelching my artistic side and my peers squelched my writing.  I learned to do any art or writing “in secret”, not showing anyone, until it finally faded into distant memories, lying dormant for what felt like ages. I did continue to read though, and in my subconscious, my painterly and writerly sides were preparing themselves.

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started to do both again.

I did manage to keep playing with my cameras. First (as a middle schooler) a Swinger—the kids version of the Polaroid camera and a Kodak Instamatic…then a neat little video camera–prehistoric compared to what’s out there today. Sadly, I never developed the last roll on it from my days at the original Pepperdine University in Watts during the civil unrest. Sometimes I wonder if there is someone out there that could salvage it. Then, as an adult, I graduated to an Olympus SLR. Together, my husband and I would go camping and take copious photos of our trips. I have many, many wonderful years of memories from that camera. My husband purchased it for me–selling an old collectable camera to get this new one (and several lenses) for me. So sweet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those were pretty sweet treasures he gave up for me. I wish I’d known (insert serious guilt here).

That Olympus saw some serious usage—and abuse (well, mostly the lenses, but the body as well). It was responsible for scooping up the frosting off my nephew’s cake (I don’t think his mom ever completely forgave me for destroying her beautiful creation…)—for some reason, I had to reach over to the other side of the table while I was wearing the camera around my neck…oops.

And, was never the same after my little ‘incident’ in a helicopter that couldn’t stay in the sky…all the dings left in the body jostled the mirrors big time. Even though we sent it in for repairs…it just wasn’t the same. I never sold it…just finally retired it to a drawer. Perhaps some day, I’ll pull it out and give it a go—if I want to try my hand at film again (I am so over-the-moon sold on digital)…

I have drawers…many drawers filled with little boxes of negatives and packages of photos—both mine and my husband’s. Many of them are from before we even knew each other. Memories of his I’ll never fully understand without him there to explain the photos…where and why they were taken, the subjects in the photos—things like that. I haven’t taken the time to go through any of them (his or mine)—sorting the good shots from the bad…and the multiples. Maybe because there’s still too many memories attached to most of them. When my husband and I went on a trip, many times we ended up capturing the same image. Sometimes, it was interesting to see if there were any differences—little nuances that one might have seen that the other did not. Occasionally, yes.

At some point, when my daughter was beginning to show an interest in photography, we ended up with two Pentax K-100 digital cameras—one for me, one for her—plus matching tripods…and accessories (insert huge grin here)—lots of accessories. I don’t even know how long ago that was—middle school? Freshman in high school? We’d go out on little photo walks, taking pictures and—sometimes the three of us, but usually, just the two of us. I loved those times. All too soon, she grew up and away, spending more time with friends, taking photography classes and spreading her wings in preparation of flying off into her own life. We both still own our Pentax cameras. I’ve added a few lenses plus different sizes of tripods while she has stayed with the original equipment that came with hers (though, she is thinking of upgrading—I’m glad to see that). I’ve also purchased several other cameras (Canon and Nikon), but always find that I fall back on my Pentax for trips or when I just want something comfortable and familiar.

My pivotal year for writing was probably 1999. My storytelling in the schools was winding down to just a few a year. I’d started scribbling thoughts onto paper the year before, with the idea of doing personalized short stories—perhaps even transcribing the taped classroom stories and creating an anthology of those, but when my mom died suddenly in the spring of ’99, that all changed. That’s when I took on the responsibility of watching after my dad, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I had more time on my hands—so I wrote…and wrote. I found myself getting more serious with it and it started to become what I now fondly call my “never-ending story” that is still unfolding, even today. I did create some personalized short stories for some people, but it never took off, even though I do still offer the service.

Then, it was about four or five years ago that I seriously started tinkering with art, taking classes at one of our local community colleges. As my skills improved, I had this grand idea (when the Fort Ord area opened up and the housing went up for sale) to purchase four of the barracks and turn them into an art haven of sorts…yup—a grand idea…that never came to fruition.

Whilst I mulled over that idea, I became aware of a new venture proposed by one of the teachers at the community college I attended. Being lazy, and far short of the needed capital to begin my own venture, I turned my energies over to this lovely, creative lady, Denese Sanders. Her ideas and plans were sound and, though less grand than my own (and therefore, far more doable financially), would be more likely to make it off the ground! Open Ground Studios came into being almost two years ago and I have loved every minute there—being part of this creative community, making friends, taking classes/workshops, learning and creating art. OGS fills a much needed niche in the community and I’m glad I’m part of it. I’ve turned into the unofficial photographer for events too—capturing people being creative—and I love that.

Just the other day, in my busy rushing around—running to Open Ground Studios to work on my writing and then onto a sundry of little chores, I stopped off at my daughter’s home and we chatted for a bit. At the end, we discussed her upcoming birthday—deciding when to celebrate with the traditional birthday dinner. And as I left, she asked if I was free on the Friday before to go to Point Lobos with our cameras. I imagine my face answered the question quite easily—I probably had a grin from ear to ear. The thought of a simple walk in my favorite park is delightful, but to include my daughter and cameras was more than perfect. Of course, I said yes. Wheee!

Art, in whatever form one chooses—and writing, can create a very insulated, quiet life. It is very easy to become a bit of a hermit. So, finding ways to interact becomes important. Time spent with my daughter, chatting, tromping (hmm…maybe we should tippy-toe if we want to capture any wildlife) through the underbrush, trees and over rocks is a wonderful way to socialize. I can hardly wait for that Friday! Another is to spend time at Open Ground Studios, where I can, of course, find time to spend alone to work (whether it be art or writing), but can also find other artists to engage in conversation, to observe them working on their art form. Plus, there are always workshops and classes going on at OGS, so I get to learn and improve my skills as I socialize. The best of both worlds.

I know this blog has become quite inelegant…rambling hither and yon, but these are thought that needed to be sung out in this new year. The joys of art, of photography, of writing—of life…the frustrations that accompany growing up…trials and tribulations—and joys of life.

It’s what makes us who we are, don’t you think?

 

 

Good Bye, Old Friend…

Yes, a new year is just around the corner and I greet it with open arms, eagerly willing to accept anything is has to throw at me. It will be an adventure, as always.

I will not miss the crazy hours I kept for most of 2013. I do know there will be more of that, but thankfully, less–at least, I’m hoping so. Protracted stretches of time into the wee hours of the morning, when my creativity decided to dance in my head, begging to be released will always be there, but the need to respond will not be as strong. That’s the plan, at least.

I look forward to more time behind the camera and in my studio, creating art. Though 2013 was a year of discovery for my artistic side, very little came of it. Mostly, old works, newly framed and hung, languished on the wall. I was delighted that a few pieces did sell. In 2014, I want to give wings to my Painterly side, allowing it to soar.

Hunkered in the confines of my house, writing and editing for most of 2013, left little room for travel. Oh, yes…I did manage to get away by train to Seattle for a few days to celebrate the retirement of a friend, then to Vegas to witness the union of my geeky (said lovingly) nephew to a lovely young lady. I sneaked off to take photos in the desert for short periods during my stay, which filled my heart with joy. Plus some local photo shoots resulted in some decent work. This new year will find my calendar filled with dates of travel–for the sheer joy of travel. And with photography. My heart will be bounding with joy.

Writing will always be important. I still have two books–my second and third in the series, to edit and publish, a fourth manuscript to finish so I can begin the first edit and there’s always this blog that will keep me busy.

I will be busy in 2014. I’ll be doing what I love–writing, traveling, photographing, creating art and keeping you apprised of the amazing, funny and surprising things that happen in my travels, and with my Writerly and Painterly sides.

I can hardly wait.

Until then, my faithful followers, I wish you a Happy New Year’s Eve and an amazing New Year.

May it unfold in surprising and wonderful ways. Have a joyful and blessed New Year!

Painterly Side Arises

I’M BETTING THERE ARE SOME OF YOU that are tired of hearing about my upcoming book.  Listening to me tooting my own horn can get tiring — the excitement of it all makes it a challenge to refrain from it…sorry.  So, for you, I have decided to dwell on my painterly side.

I take classes (recently, more sporadically than usual because of the book) to spur on my painterly creative bend.  This last weekend, I chose to spend time inside, learning the Japanese art of carving blocks of wood and inking them up to make prints.  It is like — yet unlike — carving and printing with a linoleum block.  Linoleum blocks are easier to carve and can be inked up in multiple colors all at one time; but like the wood blocks, the printing method is similar (using a hand-held baren to press the ink into the paper).  There is a discipline…an order in which everything is done.  A name for everything…the tools, the materials, the styles of resulting prints, inking one color at a time (so, multiple blocks required for one final print).  I suppose the western printing methods have their own specifics to follow, but this seems a bit more exacting.  For a ‘lazy’ artist, this may not be the best avenue…I’m still trying to decide if this is going to be something I want to dedicate time and energy towards, since I would classify myself somewhat lazy.  Despite that fact, it may be that this would be a good route to go — to invest the time to acquire some important preciseness to my art.

In the past, I have thought of myself as “a ‘Jack’ (or should that be ‘Jill’) of all trades and master of none” — even in writing.  But now, I wonder.  I think, for me, the most important factor is to enjoy whatever I am doing, no matter what I’ve decided to create.  To love what I’m doing; then, that love translates into what the final outcome is.  My carpentry leaves a lot to be desired (even those that know the basics would probably cringe or laugh at how I achieved my end results), but function is far more important than perfection — my chickens don’t care in my angle cuts are non-existent — the cage is sturdy and keeps them safely inside and wild critters outside, plus, it was fun to build!

As for my two main creative outlets: sometimes it’s a pile of colors or words on paper that seem to make no sense, sometimes it turns out amazing, bringing the viewer in, smiling, for a closer inspection.  But each and every time, there is a lesson learned — whether ways to improve my creation — or me as a person.   That, I love.  To me, that’s the reason I do the things I do — loving to do it & the lessons I learn from it.

This workshop on Japanese Woodcut techniques was an amazing adventure in patience, experimentation, stepping outside of my safe little ‘box’, perseverance and working on my listening skills.  I discovered lessons and rewards in all areas.  My final critique of my own work:  loved what I was doing — playing with wood and sharp tools but need more patience, need to start at mastering simple designs & shapes before progressing to more complex projects, no shortcuts, (did I mention more patience?)…but I didn’t do too bad, considering I chose a rather complicated design for my skill level.

‘Showing off’ any of these skill sets to others is a new thing for me — maybe about a year old — and one I am just now learning how to master…still a ‘Jill’ here.  The learning curve, even for this, is steep.  First of all, getting past the embarrassment of thinking my work is worthy of allowing others to view it.  That’s a biggie.  Then to realize it is good enough to actually bring in some money from it — that, I’m still getting used to, but enjoying the idea.  I’m having fun with the exhibitions (and the process I’m going through to get my book ready).  And, yes, I have sold a piece.  Some would call that the final validation that their work has truly ‘arrived’… for me, I try to not allow it to effect how I work — I want to retain the fun, the love of the act of creating.  I don’t think I will covet that validation as some do.

I will certainly appreciate and be grateful to those that appreciate my body of works.  Whether sales flourish or flounder, I will continue to dive into both my writerly and painterly activities with all the gusto I’ve had in the past because I love what I’m doing.  No matter what. There.  I said it.

And, in case I haven’t said it — I want to thank each and every one of you that take the time to read and/or follow my blogs, bother to check out and/or Like my endeavors at the Facebook page — you have plenty on your plate already, or even considered purchasing my soon-to-be-released book (oops…I did mention it, didn’t I–sorry).  So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Have a blessed day, friends.