Creative Every Day 2010

December 24, 2009

Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about…Say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe. ~Rumi

I have again signed up for the Creative Every Day challenge–click on the badge at the right for details. Last year, I signed up, too, and posted a long list of possibilities for things I could do to follow through on that intention. In reviewing the list from my previous post, reprinted below, I see there are some things I actually did do in 2009! (I’ve made them bold.) Not bad, but lots of possibilities remaining for 2010. What will you do creatively this year?

draw from nature * write a poem * start a (joined a) local writer’s group * make greeting cards * visit a gallery * crochet a scarf * post photos to Flickr * finish my afghan-in-progress * take a new route home from work and see new sights * dye Easter eggs * build a bonfire * play with dots * write a short story * make a book * wear a new and different style of clothing * design a journal * see a museum exhibit * volunteer for the local arts council * write a nonfiction book * write a letter to someone in longhand * create a new smoothie flavor * make something from fabric scraps * take a creative day off work * make a dream book * learn to dance * knit a pair of socks * create a collage * make paper * visit a craft shop and see what attracts me * take a pottery class * weave a basket * make a gift for someone * try calligraphy * plan a vacation * find interesting objects in nature * play with words in a new way * fingerpaint * make beaded jewelry * do origami * take a walk someplace new * change my hairstyle * sleep outdoors * make a Hallowe’en costume * doodle * play the piano * design a workshop * browse an antique store * learn to quilt * go to a concert * write a chant * plant a garden * attend a theatrical production * read poetry out loud * organize photos in an album * try a new fruit * give away what no longer suits me * take someone flowers * sing * make a Zen garden * use the Milliande Creativity Club “artist date” prompt for the month * play a wooden flute * design a cross-stitch picture * decorate a box * make a list of funny words * read about a new craft * arrange some flowers * jump rope and make up rhymes * create a brochure * go to an arts festival * challenge a self-perception * burn candles * take nature photos * plan a party * illustrate a journal * create an arty wardrobe * dance to rock favorites from the 70s * make a snowman * play with crayons, colored pencils, or paint pens * plan a surprise for myself * make my own gift bags * recycle old earrings into new jewelry or sculpture * splurge on soft sheets * draw a picture of who I am becoming * write a fan letter * build a sand sculpture * think up arguments to quiet my inner critic * tell someone off in my head * play with stripes * buy myself a toy * create a mantra for each day * observe in moonlight * make love in a new way * make a drum * go caroling * light some incense * daydream in a hammock * create an altar * tell someone how much I care about them * meditate * shirk responsibility * rent a bicycle * build a studio * draw a cartoon * play on a playground * draw a picture of my creativity * have a pillow fight * press some leaves or flowers * rearrange the furniture * join a book discussion group * do some bad art * learn Spanish * climb a tree * pamper myself * write a Dear John letter to the part of myself I want to shed * try out for a play * write a letter to the creative child in me * take voice lessons * participate in an open mike poetry reading * enter a contest * make an artist totem * write a good review of my work * cuddle up with a blanket and my stuffed puppy * write verses for children * notice ceilings * make a spiritual corner in my house * make a junk sculpture * draw a mandala * take tap dancing lessons…


Plain, Common Work

May 26, 2009

The best things in life are nearest; breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I can hardly believe it’s been 21 days since my last post. What happened? Busy-ness. Vacation at Fort Mountain State Park. The Evergreen (software) International Conference. Excitement about the idea of starting my own consulting business. Family caretaking. Not enough yoga. Out-of-town meetings. Business lunches (fortune cookie: “A bold and dashing adventure is in your future within the year.”). Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival. Too much Facebook. Lots of reading (Olive Kitteridge may take its place among my favorites.).

Daily duties, daily bread. Sweet.


Play

January 7, 2009

It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self. ~Donald Winnicott, as quoted in Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (p. 50)

More play, more fun, more laughter in 2009! On Saturday I will gather up my toys (scissors, papers, pens, paints, glue, trims, stamps, fabrics) and spend a couple of blissful hours being creative. And it will be play and process. I will not be afraid to make bad art!

How will you discover yourself this week through play?


Distractions

January 5, 2009

Motion is not necessarily progress any more than noise is necessarily music. ~Gregg Levoy

I have sworn off computer games. (Well, maybe a game of Scrabble or two now and then, but definitely no more of those arcade-type games!) I swear they were stealing my precious life. I would sit down to be diverted for a few minutes and get up stiff and irritable hours later. What a waste! Already I can tell a big difference in the quality of my days and my ability to sustain mindfulness.

Yesterday, however, I set up a facebook account. What fun! Now I am asking myself whether this is just another mindless distraction. I hope there is social value that redeems this activity, this “motion.” While it may not qualify as progress, it is connection, and I have been hungry for connection. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, join me on facebook and let’s make some music together, or at least some noise!


Creative Every Day: My List of Possibilities

January 1, 2009

Change and risk-taking are normal aspects of the creative process. They are the lubricants that keep the wheels in motion. A creative act is not necessarily something that has never been done; it is something you’ve never done before. ~Margaret Mead

As part of the Creative Every Day Challenge for 2009, I might:

draw from nature * write a poem * start a local writer’s group * make greeting cards * visit a gallery * crochet a scarf * post photos to Flickr * finish my afghan-in-progress * take a new route home from work and see new sights * dye Easter eggs * build a bonfire * play with dots * write a short story * make a book * wear a new and different style of clothing * design a journal * see a museum exhibit * volunteer for the local arts council * write a nonfiction book * write a letter to someone in longhand * create a new smoothie flavor * make something from fabric scraps * take a creative day off work * make a dream book * learn to dance * knit a pair of socks * create a collage * make paper * visit a craft shop and see what attracts me * take a pottery class * weave a basket * make a gift for someone * try calligraphy * plan a vacation * find interesting objects in nature * play with words in a new way * fingerpaint * make beaded jewelry * do origami * take a walk someplace new * change my hairstyle * sleep outdoors * make a Hallowe’en costume * doodle * play the piano * design a workshop * browse an antique store * learn to quilt * go to a concert * write a chant * plant a garden * attend a theatrical production * read poetry out loud * organize photos in an album * try a new fruit * give away what no longer suits me * take someone flowers * sing * make a Zen garden * use the Milliande Creativity Club “artist date” prompt for the month * play a wooden flute * design a cross-stitch picture * decorate a box * make a list of funny words * read about a new craft * arrange some flowers * jump rope and make up rhymes * create a brochure * go to an arts festival * challenge a self-perception * burn candles * take nature photos * plan a party * illustrate a journal * create an arty wardrobe * dance to rock favorites from the 70s * make a snowman * play with crayons, colored pencils, or paint pens * plan a surprise for myself * make my own gift bags * recycle old earrings into new jewelry or sculpture * splurge on soft sheets * draw a picture of who I am becoming * write a fan letter * build a sand sculpture * think up arguments to quiet my inner critic * tell someone off in my head * play with stripes * buy myself a toy * create a mantra for each day * observe in moonlight * make love in a new way * make a drum * go caroling * light some incense * daydream in a hammock * create an altar * tell someone how much I care about them * meditate * shirk responsibility * rent a bicycle * build a studio * draw a cartoon * play on a playground * draw a picture of my creativity * have a pillow fight * press some leaves or flowers * rearrange the furniture * join a book discussion group * do some bad art * learn Spanish * climb a tree * pamper myself * write a Dear John letter to the part of myself I want to shed * try out for a play * write a letter to the creative child in me * take voice lessons * participate in an open mike poetry reading * enter a contest * make an artist totem * write a good review of my work * cuddle up with a blanket and my stuffed puppy * write verses for children * notice ceilings * make a spiritual corner in my house * make a junk sculpture * draw a mandala * take tap dancing lessons…

Whew! That was FUN! What else would you include on your list of artistic possibilities for the new year?


Funny Favorites

August 11, 2008

It’s time to lighten up! Too much sadness, illness, and seriousness lately. And just to shake things up further, today the commentary is the prelude to the quotations. Here are a few of my favorite humorists and a sampling of their witticisms I particularly like. Enjoy!

Oscar Wilde
* In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
* The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

Dorothy Parker
* The cure for boredom is curiosity; there is no cure for curiosity.
* This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Mark Twain
* Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
* The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

Groucho Marx
* I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.
* Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Do you have funny favorites to share?


Blogsickness

July 2, 2008

There is nothing that can stop the Creative. If life is full of joy, joy feeds the creative process. If life is full of grief, grief feeds the creative process. ~Stephen Nachmanovitch, in Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (p. 196)

Again I will say that this is one of my favorite books. The last chapter, from which the quote is taken, is called “Heartbreakthrough.” I love that idea, and in fact have been having visions of my heart breaking wide open. Although I must say, I have not been able to tell that my grief of recent days has fed the creative process. It must have (else from whence came visions?), but I’ve been “blogsick” at being unable to write here lately.

So I’m glad to be back at the keyboard today, talking to myself with a hope that someone kind is eavesdropping. Iris Dement in person last week, what can I say? Claudia said I was acting like it was Elvis, and I said, “Iris is my Elvis.” The enormous fun I had with friends brought my loneliness into sharp relief. Iris didn’t sing “Got No Time to Cry” but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Have you ever had a heartbreakthrough? I feel one coming on…


Happy Music

June 22, 2008

Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead. ~Scottish proverb

This week, to my delight, I signed up for Pandora and created my own Internet radio station, playing only music I love! Thanks, Dave, for introducing me to Pandora. And now I feel compelled to spread the word far and wide about this great site.

Pandora is an application of the Music Genome Project, which was begun in 2000 to “map” the attributes of songs, making it possible to match music to your particular tastes. It works!

My radio station is called “Americana Radio,” and I shared it, so you should be able to find it yourself if you’re interested. Here are the artists I entered as examples of ones I like: Bap Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Delbert McClinton, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Graham Parker, Gram Parsons, Guy Clark, Iris DeMent, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, John Fogerty, John Prine, Joy Lynn White, Kasey Chambers, Kelly Willis, Kim Richey, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Nick Lowe, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, Van Morrison, Warren Zevon. Seems like it will be a great way to discover new artists, as well as listen to my favorites! Check it out…


Get Young

April 29, 2008

The great thing about getting older is you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. ~Madeleine L’Engle

Today, L’Engle’s words make sense to me. I am ready to reclaim some earlier stages of life and elements of people I’ve been–for example, that laughing, back-talking 20-something that somehow got papered over. I think we often throw the baby out with the bathwater as we “grow up.” (I can only imagine what my friend Teresa, (in)famous for garbling aphorisms, might say here–possibly, “yeah, you cut off your foot to spite your nose,” or “throw the baby out the window with the bathtub,” both of which she has actually been known to say.)

But hey! Let’s get young again and have some fun. What say you?


A Hand Up

April 25, 2008

What do we live for, if it is not to make life a little less difficult for each other?  ~George Eliot

I am writing less, working more, and handing power over to stress these days, in spite of the beautiful greening and flowering of spring. Stop. Breathe. Rest. Pay attention. I have to remind myself. It is easy to get far removed from creative impulse, to forget to listen to inner wisdom, in this world so full of distractions.

Last night my friends made me laugh in spite of myself. Eliot’s quote makes me think of a bad poem I once wrote with an ending something like: “Why would we be here/if not to offer a hand up/still reaching with the other?”

This evening, the indigo bunting is what takes my breath away.


Lightness

February 3, 2008

To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life.  ~Gelett Burgess

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.  ~Rabindranathe Tagore

Life is too important to be taken seriously.  ~Oscar Wilde

Three ways of saying, “Lighten up!”  Tagore’s words also point to the ephemeral nature of life. If we don’t laugh now, then when?

Sure, there’s plenty to be distressed about. But satire can help us bear (and hopefully change) those things:

(Imagine a “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” clip here. Every time I try to bring one in from YouTube it disappears. If you can help, I’d love to hear from you!)

There is also much about life that is fun, light, playful. May I notice those things more readily, laugh more easily, and make play at least as important as work in my life.


Music and Cats

January 28, 2008

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.  ~Albert Schweitzer

I am sometimes astonished by the power of music to lift my spirits. The right music, of course. John Fogerty, for example, or Professor Longhair. Just TRY to listen to the Professor’s “Crawfish Fiesta” and not smile. I really don’t believe anyone can do it.

And cats…well, watching my cat stretch and roll on her back on the sun-drenched deck makes me want to be in that same state of mind. It’s really about being present in the moment, because she is quite alert and apprehensive when a deer walks into the yard.

I think Schweitzer did pretty well with these choices, although I might add one or two things. 😉 What serves for you as “a refuge from the miseries of life?”


Lasting

January 27, 2008

To be somebody you must last.  ~Ruth Gordon

I got this quote out of the little book of Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much. The daily meditation that accompanies it is about perseverance, but I prefer to think that Ruth Gordon was talking about living a long life. It is only recently that I have had the thought that I want to live a long time. I think because it is only recently that I have really learned how to live.

When I was young, I assumed I would die young–I’m sure it was part of my overly dramatized depressive persona. Later, I just feared I would die young. Now I want to be a feisty, or at least spirited, old woman who says exactly what she thinks, does what she pleases (which will certainly involve learning), and laughs a lot.

Michelle Shocked sings, “When I grow up I wanna be an old woman,” and that seems about right. Meanwhile, I’ll keep in mind what Ruth Gordon says and try to last.


Editors’ Choice

January 13, 2008

The worst thing about reading new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.  ~Joseph Joubert

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.  ~Kathleen Norris

I have spent nearly the whole afternoon getting the audio version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire into iTunes to put on my iPod–17 discs! (Thanks, Kay, for urging me to try Harry Potter.) I listen to a lot of audiobooks these days, what with my 72-mile commute 3 days a week and my frequent traveling around the state.

The Booklist Editors’ Choice was recently released for 2007. Here are the books I have chosen from the Adult Books list to add to my own reading list. See the Booklist site for the annotations.

Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson
Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo
The Gathering, by Anne Enright
The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard
On Chesil Beach, by Ian MacEwan
Strange as This Weather Has Been, by Ann Pancake
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

Wait! There’s not too much really fun stuff here. How about Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America, by Jonathan Gould? Yes, that goes on my list, too!  Truth be told, there’s not much fun stuff on the editors’ choice list, either. I’m almost finished listening to Alan Alda’s Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. For a serious guy, he can be pretty funny! The book is basically a compilation of addresses he’s given at various graduations, memorial services, and other occasions. But I have to say it’s better than I expected, and now I want to read Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.

What funny books have you read lately?


Fun

January 12, 2008

You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that’s been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.  ~Monty Python 

Having just visited the delightful BookLust site, I am inspired and resolved to have more fun in my blog. Yes, I might actually give you (and myself) a break from my serious pondering, my search for enlightenment, and my “always do right” attitude! Won’t that be refreshing?

So here goes:
There once was a blogger who laughed,
(when she found a new blog that was daft)
“I can make this fun
and I will,” whereupon,
she created a whimsical draft.

Let’s get cracking!  What’s your favorite joke/riddle/pun/funny quotation/silly poem? I mentioned Cautionary Verses in an earlier post. While we’re on the subject of books, here’s a link to Sarah Byng, who could not read and was tossed into a thorny hedge by a bull. Enjoy!

P.S. You can see I just learned to embed links, so of course I had to show off and use 3 of them!  Isn’t learning fun, fun, fun?