2-3-2023. Friday’s Things.

Yesterday was Ground Hogs day. Phil saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter. But six weeks is around the Spring Solstice anyway, so what difference does it make? I don’t know how or why this spectacle began, but I suppose it’s fun. I didn’t question as a kids, the nuns taught us about it, and I’m surprised they did. There is no religious significance to the day, at least I don’t recall learning that. What do you know about it?

Yesterday was also the birthday of a very special Veteran I know. Marion Logermen turned 99 years old. He is a WWII Veteran. He was stationed in Italy, and earned a Purple Heart. The Battle of Anzio is one part of the war he witnessed. He is a very kind man, and someone I’ve been lucky to get to know and talk with. It’s folks like him who make it hard to not be as active at the VFW. At this point of winter, and due to his age, we most likely wouldn’t be seeing him anyway. I’ll have to call him and let him know we were thinking of him today.

I worked on the borders of Cody’s quilt today. Didn’t get them all finished, but they should be tomorrow. Hoping to wrap that project up next week. Next week will also include filing taxes, finishing the quilt, and looking at the kid book with fresh eyes after too long. February is turning into such a productive month. Let’s check back again in about 25 days.

Finished my third book for the 2023 Reading Challenge. So far, on track! Still coaxing the creative spirit out from the storage shed. I’m really tempted to sign up again for monthly art (painting) projects, but since I didn’t do any of the others I signed up for last year, I just can’t right now. I need something to get me going on it. It will happen.

Once we start committing to our creative journey, it is not selfish to want our own, private time. If we don’t carve that out of our day, we may become resentful. And that’s not healthy at all; not for our spirit, soul, or creativity. Let’s remember that.

If you’ve ever had a martyr in your life, you know how guilt-producing they can be. And you’re not even guilty. That’s how they work. They make everything your fault. You’re always the one who is wrong, at fault, doesn’t know what you’re talking about. They use words like always and never. If you are programmed with that message, it takes a long time to find out it’s not true. And, it’s not only false, it’s abusive. Don’t let them get to you. Don’t let them steal your joy. Create. And make the world a much better place. See you tomorrow.

Shame on ???

When a creative person produces a sculpture, a painting, or writes a novel, their family expresses horror. They try to shame the relative into not creating anymore. The family is often afraid a family secret is let out of the bag.

That is the reason many of us are reluctant to let our family read our book, view our painting, or know what we are creating. It’s just easier, you know? Dysfunctional families really know how to take the wind our sails. We become ashamed of what we were previously proud. Everyone but your own family cheers for you and recognizes your gift.

For some of us, that is how it goes. Fear drives those families and their reactions. Pride and humiliation are a breath apart. They don’t want anyone to know what life is like inside that home that they believe looks so perfect. There is no risk of blowing their cover. There is no risk of anyone asking questions. No risk of anyone finding out. The family is less uncomfortable. But not comfortable enough to be honest with themselves or the world.

When I was in high school, and for years before me, it seems the very worst thing in the world for a family was to have their daughter become pregnant “out of wedlock.” Mind you, no one ever questioned the boy or his family. Only the girl. I even remember being told the girls were the ones who had to keep control of the situation when dating. The myth was boys couldn’t control themselves. And the girls aroused slower, and could stop at any point. Boys, no they couldn’t control themselves. Who thought all that up? Wow!

They decimated those myths. Now no one wants their family secrets revealed. Especially not by some crazy artist-type. A hippie artist, or a beatnik poet, or a revolutionary writer. Keep those family skeletons where they belong; in the closet. But not the closet like the sexuality one. The light is being shone on this remarkable art, and those who do not want to see scold us. “How dare you!”

No, how dare you! The world needs to see this, and know it happens, and it’s ok, and not to feel afraid or singled out or feel you’re the only one. Because you’re not. And we’re not. And people understand.

How much the world has changed! And how much the world accepts now it didn’t before. How good for the world. And it’s people. The artists and authors and photographers and creatives have shown the world as they have not seen it before. How wonderful!

Yes, the bigger our world becomes by expanding our thinking, the better it is for us. Growth is going where we’ve not been before. As we continue this week and concentrate on our personal development, let’s keep our eyes on the future. Let’s not concentrate so much on the future that we miss the present every day. And let’s not keep our eyes on the past. We’re not living there anymore. Make the most of these days, the ones right now.

Enjoy this Tuesday; we’re expecting snow Wednesday. Stay safe out there. See you tomorrow, from the snowy tundra.

Weekend, Day 2, Sunday

The prompt for a blog today is, “What snack would you like to eat right now?

Wow, not a brilliant question to ask a starving woman. Nachos would be good, but no jalapeno peppers. Some nice warm Italian Bread with real butter melted on it would be good. The bread with a grilled steak like only the Babe can make. With a nice salad. That would do it.

More squares sewn together for Cody’s quilt. I’d like to finish the quilt top by mid-week. Photos soon! It will be so cute. It’s tough to sit more than a couple hours to sew or do anything. Baby steps.

I’m having a bit of a hard time finishing a book that I want to finish. It’s the third of a series of three written by Colleen Hoover, her “Maybe Someday” series. The first book held my interest in plot turns and twists. In the second book, minor characters from the first book developed, and it explained their relationship. The third book I’m struggling with. I believe it is because I’m much older than the characters and probably the audience. It’s a romance story (which I’m not sure how I feel about the genre). The characters are in their 20s, living on their own, going to school, and learning about life. In my 20’s I was married and having kids.

Is it hard to relate to a story when you are much older or younger than the characters? Is it just a matter of age? What are your thoughts? I am hooked on crime stories but never committed a crime. I’ve never had a ticket or stopped by the police.

What do you think keeps a reader in a story and coming back for more? Please don’t misunderstand; I am not trashing Colleen Hoover’s writing. I’ve read a couple of her books and really liked them. “November 9th,” “It Starts With Us,” and “It Ends With Us.” I know Colleen Hoover has a huge following, and I applaud her. She wrote other novels that I bought. I want to sample a full range of her work. I’d like to read about her career, too.

This will be a full day of more football playoffs and random busy stuff around the house. And when we’re finished? And what snack would we like most? Ice cream. Who doesn’t love that? Have a beautiful Sunday, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Progress Made

In contrast to how I felt last night, I’m thinking this The Artist’s Way is what I missed out on last year when I was struggling with creativity. I needed this when I bought it, but I didn’t pursue it.

I heard the voices of people during my younger years, telling me, “You never have been able to draw faces! The clothes are fine, but you should just forget about drawing.” And so it went for so many people my age when they were kids. Girls were rarely encouraged to go to college; Mom told me I could go but I’d get married before I could finish, and I really shouldn’t waste my time and money. It’s how the world was.

Usually, the negative feedback we’ve had previously in life is what we hear when we’re adults with finally enough time and money to pursue your dreams. In the past five years, I’ve stocked up on supplies. Supplies for all the dreams I want to have. Learning to draw. Learning to Paint. Learning to Write. Building my own Website. What about a blog? Yes, I think a blog is a good idea. We should write every day. And I have for over #178 days now. Not missed a blog. That is pretty cool. I’m proud of that. Some are great, some aren’t so great, but it’s just fun to do.

The first chapter in The Artist’s Way is about Recovering a Sense of Safety. It means protecting our Artist spirit against negativity, which is in our brains and minds and reinforced over and over. We need to be encouraged. We need to play in our ideas, paintings, and words. They will find their way to where they should be. It’s part of the process. Yes, I feel safe. I know I’ll get there. It’s all part of things I need to try out before I die. Hopefully later than sooner.

The name of this website is Kathy Raabe, Author and Creative Soul. I’ve known for some time I am creative. I need to express that in more than one way. Quilting is important to me. I just got back to it after more than a year of concentrating only on writing. I made some progress, but not what I wanted. Considering I’m 70 years old, and I want to learn to draw, paint, and keep quilting, sewing, etc., etc; etc., I need to do all of these things, not just one at a time. I think that is what will make me happiest and produce more creative things.

I will figure out how to schedule my time, and I need to follow my schedule. That needs to become a habit. I will be on my way to that by the time I’m finished with this commitment to Artist’s Way. Thank you, Julia Cameron. I’m so enthused about what I’m creating!

I had the pleasure of visiting with Kimberly Faith Hickman this afternoon. Some extra fabric of mine can be used by the McGuigan Arts Academy for costumes or crafts. I’m delighted to share my stash with them. It will be used and appreciated. Stay tuned folks, it’s going to be an exciting year. See you tomorrow!

Creativity Contract With Myself

To continue with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’m finished with the first 25 pages, describing what to do and the key concepts; The Artist’s Date, and The Morning Pages. I think the Artist’s Date will be easier for me to do. I know many people who will let me view their work and talk with them, and receive great inspiration.

I need to review about the morning pages. It really sounds like something I don’t want to do. I need a nice journal to capture those thoughts, whatever they are. Cameron has included a contract in her introduction. She requests people to make a commitment to themselves to complete the course in 12 weeks. Gosh, this will take me into late March! WOW! A lot can happen in 12 weeks.

Tomorrow, I will start. I’d like to see how it goes, getting going on the first week of reading. I think I can catch up on the reading and exercises in time to start the second week. It’s exciting to begin. Speaking of the beginning, I signed up for a series of painting sessions online. It was on a big sale, and I need to find which day of the week will be best for this extra activity. Gosh, that could even be my Art Date once a week.

The Babe is putting together three large book cases so we can finish unpacking after 8 years. More de-cluttering ahead! We can finally donate books we no longer use and have some extra room. No one wants great aunt Martha’s candy dish. You know? No, kids, we won’t make you take it. Not to worry.

It’s only 4 days into the New Year and things are going great! How about for you? We’ll get there, together. Invite your friends along on our journey. We’ll all work on regaining our creativity. Stay safe out there. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.

The Basic Tools

Of Julia Cameron’s way to recover our creativity are these:

The Morning Pages – These are about three handwritten pages about your thoughts as you wake up. I’m not sure what to think about these. I’ll try my best. Usually, the early hours see me drinking coffee with the Babe, and checking Facebook. We also watch Good Morning America. I see I need to add a notepad and plan on writing three pages of musings, sort of brain-dump to get to the good stuff.

Cameron mentions all the petty stuff, the whiny stuff, etc., are what’s keeping us from creating. We need to get the junk out of our minds, to make way for the creativity we are itching to get it out – onto the page, the canvas, the staff (music), and out of our minds.

As we’re getting out our thoughts, our doodles, or whatever we need to, there is the chance our critic/censor will discourage us. After all, we’re not any good. If we were, we would have done it long ago. We would have published, printed, whatever, long before now.

Our censor, wherever the dialogue grew from, can derail our creativity. After a steady diet of negativity, of course it’s easy to give up. But we don’t have to. C’mon! Let’s tell ourselves the truth. Be honest; we need to remember; the Censor is trying to undermine our creativity. Don’t listen to the negativity, concentrate on the good. We need to listen to the Artist Brain, not the Censor Brain.

And The Artist Date – A very special time, often just yourself, where you spend a couple hours with your artist self. I have some ideas of how to spend/how I have spent what I would consider Artist Dates. The first was with McGuigan Arts Academy, at the presentation of “The Ugly Holiday Sweater Soriee. These young creatives, who wrote their own scripts, and perform them, and do a fantastic job at it.

My ideas for Artist Dates right now are:

Spend some time with the leaders at McGuigan Arts Academy and get their insight on creativity. I’m a great fan of their work, I think the discussion could be really eye-opening.

Spend time with Julia McGuigan, who has her own shop where she sells her works. I’d love to get her input on creativity for her art. She’s very good.

Spend time with Jeffrey Koterba, who was an award-winning cartoonist for our local newspaper. He is fantastic. We met in person at the McGuigan Arts Academy performance of the Ugly Christmas Sweaters he saw over my shoulder. I was watching his video on how he crafted his cartoon on Patreon. I’d like to talk to Jeff about his career as an editorial cartoonist. And so many other things. He’s written a book. He grew up in the same neighborhood I did (close enough) as a kid. There will be much to talk about.

Liz Boutin is an artist from the Bellevue area in Nebraska. Her husband was in the Air Force; she was a Red Cross Volunteer in Germany. It was the hospital where terribly injured soldiers came from Iraq. Liz has PTSD. She uses her art to help ease her PTSD. She’s an incredible woman. I count her as a friend.

Taylor Frye Ullom is a friend and the founder of Guitars for Vets in Nebraska. She leads the organization who offers lessons to Veterans with PTSD. I’ve met many of the students, and am happy to see what good Taylor does with this organization. We could spend a long time talking about a lot of things.

There are many other people, places, and things I want to use as an Artist’s Date. It will be fun. And I should get a lot of ideas on creativity. I haven’t yet explored all the possibilities of an Artist’s Date, but I’m totally open to the possibility of putting myself out there and visit with people who are actual artists. Writers, painters, cartoonists, artists, the Omaha-area is full of them. I’m excited about 2023. Come along with us, we’ll have an adventure in 2023. There are many more folks I know casually who will be great resources for future references. Thank you for your help.

Thank you, loyal followers, and new fans. Let’s all stretch our wings and fly this year. We’ll all have each other to hold ourselves up. Happy 2023. Let’s get out there and create! See you tomorrow. #1023followers!

Basic Principles of Creativity

It’s interesting to me, finally making time to learn “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. As I said yesterday, I’ve been in a slump. I want to be more productive creatively, and I have identified areas I need to change.

Ms. Cameron sets out to list the ten basic principles on page three of the Introduction! Talk about knocking your socks off right in the beginning! While talking about Spiritual Electricity, Ms. Cameron lists these principles: (these are directly from the book, not my words).

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creativity force infusing all of life— including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to exploring our creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

(Back to my ideas, words, and musings.)

I’m greatly enthused by reading these principles. Of course creativity is part of the natural order. Have you ever met a kid that doesn’t pretend to do/be something? They create worlds they are part of, they learn and grow in those creative endeavors. We shouldn’t discourage them. But we do. Everyone eventually is expected to fit in and comply.

The arts are where we can keep that alive. Kids need somewhere to be themselves, who they are meant to be. Music, acting, and art are where they can be. The more they learn, the more they can create. My friends at McGuigan Arts Academy do that very thing, here in Omaha, Nebraska. These folks are helping to water the creative seeds in all the student’s minds. Kids that are all talented and need to be encouraged what to do with it. It’s an amazing thing to see and experience. If you can make it possible for your children to experience classes in the arts, creativity, and growth, please make that possible. I was lucky and had piano lessons. My teacher lived across the street, and she wanted me to play classical music. I was more interested in Rock and Roll music. I quit after 8th grade.

Cameron suggests reading these principles every day. Eventually, we’ll be able to see our progress. Things we notice we didn’t notice before. I’ll take note of what changes in my outlook, the things I notice. I think this is pretty cool. And as for now? The Babe and I have some appointments today, and to navigate whatever Mother Nature left us last night while our family in South Dakota got about another foot of snow. Be safe out there, and we’ll see you tomorrow. Be Safe!

Another Repair Man Visit

Gosh, it’s been rare for us to need repair guys, but two appliances within a week? Holy smokes!

Last week, it was repair #2 for the Samsung Ice Maker on our 7 year old refrigerator.

This week, the Samsung dryer has been making some noises. I figured a belt was slipping or something. Yesterday, it made a horrible noise. I made the appointment for Friday morning. They called at 2 p.m. and told us they could get here today. Bonus! We don’t have to be dressed at 8 a.m.

I requested the same repairman, since they go by area. Luckily, he was qualified to do the repair we needed. He said it was amazing; we got 7 years out of the dryer. Most repairs are required at a couple of years. Another faulty part. Poor designs. Is this what America does now? He seems to know his stuff, and someone I’m not worried about letting in our home, if I’m home alone. That’s an important issue in today’s world. The company he works for is Nebraska Home Appliance. I’ve used them for over 20 years, so it’s a company with standards that are followed.

The Babe and I talked. It’s not great having two breakdowns in a week. What is good about it is we have the money to pay for it. Neither of had spare cash lying around when we were younger.

In the early years after my divorce, my dryer stopped working in January. I asked my brothers for help. They couldn’t promise when they could look at it for me, couldn’t commit to anything. Mom kept telling me to just wait for them. I waited until July, the same year. Six months of drying all of our clothes on lines in the basement. Underwear, socks, towels. It reminded me of when I was a kid, and we didn’t have a dryer.

I got fed up waiting. I went to Sears over 4th of July and bought a dryer. Couldn’t afford payments, but we needed it. I’ll never wait that long again for help. It never came, and I realized I couldn’t rely on anyone but myself. Lesson learned.

We could choose to be upset, blah, blah, blah, or be grateful because we could get it handled without too much disruption to our life. We’re choosing gratitude. How about you? No matter what it is, things could usually be worse. And 9 of 10 times, I’m grateful they aren’t.

Let’s all have a great day today. Only two left in 2022. See you tomorrow!

Christmas Week, 12/23/2022

On this day, I want to wish my lifelong friend Kris Leavitt, Happy Birthday, as well as FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!

Yesterday was the most frigid day since I can’t remember when. I want to say about 1983, maybe. We stayed in Wednesday night because of the icing that was happening, and were going to stay in yesterday. But we needed to deliver some things to the MVF warehouse. The Babe wanted to have lunch and go to the store. My to do list would have to wait.

I thought the store would be crowded. It wasn’t! A Christmas Miracle! The store staff was all very nice. That would be a tough job, along with anything retail this time of year. Those people all deserve a bonus, you know?

As I’ve said before, it is tough to be on this side of Christmas; a grown family and the littlest grandkids live far away, so it’s tougher to get into the spirit. The header photo is of our two great nieces, children of nephew & niece Alex and Megan. Their little girls, Kenna and Knox, are adorable. The header photo is the family Christmas card this year. While I was out at the dentist a couple days ago, I was remembering having kids that small at Christmas. It occurred to me those are the years Christmas is magical and fun. Having some memories? Me, too.

Come to think of it, I’m also remembering some other memories.

The year everyone had terrible colds, were cranky, had red faces and raw lips from being chapped in the cold temps; 1978; I was 8 months pregnant and miserable; the years we couldn’t afford anything, so I made a lot of gifts; the year we hosted dinner for 28 people. I made Swiss Steak and Baked Potatoes and it was perfect. I also cleaned up, did Santa, and all the Christmas Eve duties, while the kids’ dad went to bed. He was too tired to help. He was angry when the kids woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning. That’s what Christmas Day is about! No, I don’t miss the collateral memories that go with the little kids and an uncooperative husband.

Knowing Alex and Megan as I do, they will do things together, and be more excited than their little ones to wake up early. They will be patient and loving all day, too. The girls’ Aunt Ona will certainly do what an aunt does on Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Brad will enjoy every minute. Enjoy, Shuck Family! Merry Christmas. We love you all, and hope your memories are wonderful.

Of course, since we did the store and lunch yesterday, it was too late to start the tree. So, today is the tree. Photos tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute. When my kids were little, they always knew we had to wait until Grandma Tomasek’s birthday to put the tree up. December 7. It got a little earlier, December 1. Finally, when I divorced, and we had my house, we’d do it the day after Thanksgiving, when the boys would decorate the outside of the house. I miss those Christmases, too.

Take each of these moments during the Christmas present, and enjoy it as much as possible. The good and the bad. I look forward to the meal we’re hosting, and to seeing the family who are available. We are blessed, and grateful.

Have a great day today, stay warm, finish your shopping, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Happy NaNoWriMo, Day One

I almost feel as if this should be “Captain’s Log, Day One.”

It’s November 1, a day of Saints in the Catholic Church, the day after Halloween, and the day my Aunt Lois died a number of years ago. She went peacefully, in her home, surrounded by her family. She and Mom’s other sisters gave me a look into their lives growing up in a very poor, working class part of Omaha. The house is no longer there, taken years ago by the Interstate construction in Nebraska. There are a lot of stories, in those conversations I was blessed to have with them.

That said, I use important parts of those stories about people and their strengths and weaknesses, to propel my characters into the places they’ll go in my novel. It helps to have some skin in the game, as they say.

I was reminded of some of the darkness I’ve written about by a comment made by Ian McEwan on Sunday Morning, on CBS. He said he didn’t know where some of the darkness came from that he wrote about. Some of the things I wrote a couple years ago while going through a hard time with a family member were so dark it scared me. I had no idea the depth of my anger at this person. The bottled up resentment. It actually frightened me, and I put it away. That was two years ago, when I made it through NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t read it again, but I have thought of the feelings I had after that. My anger and resentment was lessened considerably. I came to realize I was not a person with an evil heart, because I am a good person, a fair person with a lot of love in my heart. I realized it was a recognition on my part of the evil in the world. And it’s good to be aware of it. And learn how to deal with it.

The writing and release of the feelings I experienced is useful to me right now. In the Intentional Peer Support class I’m taking. Journaling has come up as a method used to help people get things on paper that weighs heavy on their minds. This was a perfect example of what we need to encourage people to do. I intend to use it as an example since I’ve experienced it. Things I had no idea were there, weighing on my mind, have been dumped, dealt with, and dismissed.

I feel if this first attempt of over 50K words were edited and enhanced, it could still be a book. The timeline is fluid, it has flashbacks, but they’re relevant. I’ve noted many books I’ve read since then have had timelines that jumped around. It’s how life happens, isn’t it? You are present somewhere, yet memories come up. Some chapters deal with those memories while something else is happening in the present. I’ve read many books that do that.

Triggers? I have written things about verbal abuse of children. The examples I used triggered some people I asked to Beta read. They had to stop. I didn’t pursue any others, as I was just unsure what to do next. It might be good writing, to trigger something. I felt terrible about that. Another person said if they had read it, they’d throw the book across the room. What good might that do? Are your triggers my responsibility? No. I’m not responsible for them. You are. You need to learn to work through them. You can learn to do that, with Intentional Peer Support.

The other question I have regarding triggers, is it necessary for an author to note trigger warnings? I’d love to hear what professionals may have to say about that. I know there are many, many books about abuse, and I’m not sure they print warnings. I should ask a bookstore owner. I find the topic interesting. Let you know what I find out.

I may write a second blog later tonight for tomorrow. It’ll help me get ahead of the game, have time to devote to the novel, the kids book, and other projects. It’s time. Hope you have a beautiful evening, and a great day tomorrow. See you then!