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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Unlimited Time and Funds.

Let's go ahead and add unlimited courage. Now, what might I do?
  • Earn my M.A. in children's literature
  • Take several classes in Egyptian art and culture
  • Join regional theatre, even for silent roles
  • Follow a Phantom of the Opera tour and explore the cities
  • Take a writing class with Francesca Lia Block
  • But a set of high-quality, matching white bookcases
  • Make collages again and put them on etsy. 
  • Join all kinds of subscription boxes
  • Pay someone to paint my nails properly with my polish (I have a good collection)
  • Visit all my old friends in Nashville at least once a year
  • Expand my Madame Alexander doll collection just a bit
  • Focus on writing stories and then sending them out--see what happens! I'd do it like a day job
  • Send care packages regularly to people I love
  • Try a support group
  • See more ballet
  • Get a texture treatment for large, lazy curls
  • Have seahorses and someone to take proper care of them
  • Take courses in handwriting analysis
  • Take Keely and Melissa on some kind of road trip
  • Go to shows in Vegas with Bruce
  • Get all my teeth fixed up and sparkly white
  • Pay everything off--student loans, medical bills, etc.
  • Always be in a creative writing class or group

Friday, February 17, 2017

Don't Be Afraid of a Book.

This isn't so much about my giving you advice and a challenge. It's more like my coaching myself.

My husband will pick up any giant old first edition from the library at the college where he teaches. He never questions his strength as a reader. I do think that some of this comes from his wide interests--the books do keep his attention.

But if a book seems too long or dense, I usually don't give it a chance to fascinate me. I have several partly-read books in GoodReads limbo because putting the books down completely would feel like failure.

Recently, I spent forever on one book--I couldn't take the style. But now, I'm about 3/4 through it, and it was a gift. I need to learn to push through if I insist on finishing a difficult book.

I'm 4 books behind on my reading goal! But I can overcome that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Right now, on little jewelry dishes and big wooden, painted signs, I see words about sparkling---leave some sparkle behind, don't let anyone dull it...I wonder why.

Often, when people have looked me in the face, they have commented on glitter around my eyes and falling to my cheeks as if a craft session went wrong. They don't exactly look happy when I say it's on purpose, but they seem to change gears in their thinking. So I do think something as minor as makeup can influence people. It influences me too--I look sparkly, and I start to feel sparkly too.

Early Francesca Lia Block books make me sparkle inside--all those spun-sugar details and mind-opening ideas carried inside the characters.... They change my approach to the world.

I think laughter makes me sparkle too. And the people to whom I'm closest are hilarious.

Even blogging brings out some shimmer. I focus, often on something beautiful or life-sustaining. And I remember why I want to be here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Seeing and Creating Symbolism.

When I taught, I often discussed symbolism. I told my students that symbolism wasn't just something they had to dig for in a literature paper. I talked about how they recognize, whether consciously or not, symbols in their daily lives both in the moment and in later reflection. We talked about simple objects, such as a wedding band, and how the meaning is probably different for each of us when we go deeper.

We use symbols to remind ourselves and show others who we are. I want as much meaning or memory as possible in whatever I surround myself with.

My parents gave me a beautiful ring for my graduation with my MFA. To me, the ring didn't just represent their love for me. It showed me that they accepted and supported my passion for writing, that they were proud of it.

The symbols around us can change our lives in so many ways.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What I'd Take Home to Mars.

Two movies I've loved lately are Passengers and The Space between Us. In the latter, a handful of astronauts go to Mars to live. I guess new supplies and people would arrive, but that would be after months or years. So, assuming obvious necessary items would be in place, what would I bring or request? I have to imagine it as if I'm single and childless--it's terrible otherwise. Some items won't be realistic, but just go with me.
  • Hair ties
  • Sticky flags
  • Access to favorite movies
  • Lots of working writing utensils
  • Fresh Sugar lip balms
  • Fun makeup, depending on gravity
  • My blanket, of course
  • Some beautiful silk flowers: violets, mini daffodils, mini tulips, white and pink roses
  • My Disney graphic tees for PJs
  • Natalie Goldberg books
  • Francesca Lia Block books
  • Fleece pants
  • Nail polish for hidden toes
  • Some pretty postcards for my quarters
  • A pretty calendar--Papaya, Susan Branch, K. Y. Craft...
  • My most beautiful journals--plenty of them. The finished journals would have a safe home on Earth.
  • A good glasses-cleaning cloth
  • Cute socks
  • The ultimate hair brush
  • Letters from people I love--I'd ask in advance.
  • My Ariel jacket
  • Access to so many books, some of them concrete
  • My Madame Alexander Cinderella doll
  • Icebreakers Cinnamon Mints
  • A few of my most beautiful fairy tale books
  • Laminated photos
  • Puffs with lotion
Most of the items I chose because they would help me remember my self and feel like myself, if only for a little bit of time.

What's on your list?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

So Much Joy.

I get so much joy out of

  • The faux opal and silver ring that came out of a bath bomb.
  • Cheap ballpoints that write beautifully.
  • Anyone telling me that Josh and I are doing well with Oliver. We need all the encouragement we can get.
  • Eye contact and hugs with both arms from Oliver.
  • Forgetting how silly my laugh can sound.
  • A kind word about my blogs from someone I never would have expected the posts.
  • Liking every nail polish in the set.
  • One of my parents saying or writing, "I'm proud of you."
  • Putting on sweats after a cold swim. 
  • Finding out that my brother liked the book I sent him for his birthday.
  • Figuring out what to wear to a show.
  • Just cinnamon toast for dinner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Delight! in January and February.

Delight is my word for 2017. So I want to check in and make sure I'm seeking, creating, and noticing it. Here's a small list of delights:
  • Writing in a journal with hearts all over the cover. 
  • Glitter stickers that make a delightful mess. 
  • A large, golden Beauty and the Beast journal I plan to use in March.
  • Passengers, a romantic sci-fi movie I loved.
  • The Space between Us, also a sci-fi romance that I look forward to seeing again.
  • Using a pen with an unexpected shade of pink.
  • Seeing a wild musical with Bruce.
  • Making plans to see Mom.
  • Finding the gorgeous green earrings I'd lost.
  • Receiving my first $10 Birchbox so quickly.
  • Ibuprofen's immediately wiping out my jaw pain.
  • Finding my black top with black beads and gold sequins.
  • Allowing myself to watch funny videos on YouTube.
  • Watching trailers for new movies I might actually go see.
  • Wearing my pretty scarves.
  • Oliver's singing and dancing with me to showtunes every morning as I get ready.
  • A massage from Josh that can distract me from pain.
  • Seeing fewer bills in the mail.
  • Two dudes telling me daily that I'm beautiful.
  • Dressing up for a show with a black and gold brocade jacket I found for $16 at Old Navy. 
  • Josh's putting up tiny glowing stars on Oliver's ceiling and, at bedtime, Oliver's telling me to "Look at the stars!"

Monday, February 6, 2017

At My Age.

I've recently seen two great movies. One made me feel older; the other made me feel younger.

And I'm thinking that I should never ask to be older or younger. I should play with what I have. Anyone older than I would say I'm still young, but I also have a massive responsibility to keep myself well. Gathering wisdom, gathering peace, and gathering delight (There's that word of the year!) are incredibly important tasks. Fill the attic and the basement. Fill the freezer in the garage--not to hoard but to keep a steady supply on the rough days.

One of my favorite quotations (I may be paraphrasing badly) is from Iris Murdoch: "The secret of a happy life is continuous small treats."

The texture of the towels you use every day.
A pair of just-right earrings you haven't worn in months.
A postcard to send--touching someone's heart with about 3 minutes of effort.

The treats, the delights, don't have to be new. They don't have to be concrete objects. Notice the look on your best friend's face when you can tell that you've made all of his or her worry and stress disappear for those moments.

Even now, I don't have a great many moments free from fear, but I cherish them. I keep them.

As for wisdom, it just suddenly appears nose-to-nose with me.

And I'd better pay attention.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Someone Keeps Buying Them.

I love going to Barnes and looking at the journals, especially when I find one I've never seen before. It's a thrill even if it's not a journal I would buy. It means people are still buying jounals and gifts to themselves or others.

And that means that to some degree, people still believe in the power of scribbling. They must believe that a person can heal inner damage, develop a writing talent, spill secrets, or just pass the time pleasurably in a book waiting for the person's words. Something pretty and sturdy and completely one's own--what object could be more soothing?

I used to think I'd never be able to fill up a journal. Now I've done it 163 times over the last 17 years. Filling a whole notebook or journal with one's words (and drawings, quotations, or anything) is such an empowering experience. It always feels awesome, whether it takes two weeks (as it did when I was a manic 16-year-old) or two years.

Journaling has kept me tethered to Earth. It has helped me when my hold on reality was weak. It has calmed my anxiety and accepted my grief again and again. It changes the way I look at and experience the world because I'm thinking of how I'll describe it in my journal, which will enhance my delight or soften my fear. Journaling is one of the elements that may have kept me alive this long. And I've held onto it instead of pushing it away. It is one of the strongest, purest loves of my life.

Someone knows some of this intuitively (or maybe from experience) and wants that help (and that joy!) for himself or herself or for someone else who just might be open to a journaling life.

So I'll keep going to the journal section, greeting the journals I'll never want to buy, the ones I'll never think I can afford, and the twins of ones I've already written in or that are waiting in a green polka-dot box under my bed. And sometimes, I see something new and feel glad that whether or not people are scribbling, they are seeing a journal's potential and buying it as a gift or as a gift to themselves.

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Mixing Paints on Dinner Plates."

--Jennifer McMahon, Dismantled

This book was thrilling and confusing, but the memory of this image is clear. This moment in the book captured, for me, an important skill that an artist (and I include writers in this, as well as many other artists that I know too little about) must have or develop. These girls managed to get the paint but apparently couldn't afford or justify wooden palettes. Yet the palette is such a strong image representing the artist, perhaps as much so as the easel. But artists are also, supposedly, resourceful, irreverent, and unpredictable. I also notice the symbolism in the objects, intentionally or unintentionally stating that basic human needs (like food) are inferior to the demands of art.

Writing is different in that it doesn't require the same kind of physical labor (okay, that's up for debate), and the tools are simpler. For scribbling (writing practice), I just need a notebook and a couple of pens. I upgrade those supplies because I prefer hardcover journals and a rainbow of pens in many forms. When I want to do product writing (a poem, a story), I go to the laptop, which most writers have or have access to.

But this mixing paints on dinner plates is an image that still grabs me. I like to search for common threads among all kinds of artists.