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.

“The Enlightenment of Iris”

I just finished a long, relaxing weekend with Joshua Berkov’s latest book, “The Enlightenment of Iris.” It was great! Talk about surprises and plot twists. It had it all. Laughing, crying, and lots of actual characters. I imagine these characters as having some root in life, maybe a family member or two. Joshua, could this be a little true? I imagine a family reunion of yours. If Iris, Angeline, and Esther were sisters, I bet they’d be a hoot on Thanksgiving or Passover. Angeline and Esther had an Enlightenment book of their own, too. They were what got me hooked. I’m still reeling from your plot twist, Joshua. You are a master!

And don’t get me started on “Adulting at the Moto Lodge.” If you all want some fun stuff to read, and good writing, get some of Joshua Berkov’s books. You won’t be sorry. There are a couple other books by Joshua, I’ll probably order those too, next Amazon order.

It was a relaxing, wonderful weekend for the Babe, me, and the dogs. Colder than heck outside, but we had lots of comfort food the past two days, and enough down time to have a nap each day. And now, it’s Monday again. Another week to have a great start and finish. Let’s do this!

Want to hear the funniest thing I can think of right now?

The Babe always teases me about all the fabrics, quilt kits, notions, patterns, etc. I have. And yes, I have a wonderful collection. I bought ahead for when I’d be retired. And so here we are.

The irony in this situation is this:

For all the kidding I’ve endured, today, I was working on Cody’s quilt, and stitching the eyes on for the dogs. They’re simple white outer circles, and black inner circles. Huh. For all the boxes of threads I have; sewing, embroidery, quilting, and serger, guess what? I have not one spool of white sewing thread. To make matters worse, the local quilt shop in Gretna, The Quilted Moose, is closed on Sunday and Monday. Wow. I think I’ll have to make a trip into Omaha or just wait until Tuesday. That might be what I do. I have other parts of the appliqued dogs I can work on. Just thought it was quite ironic.

Have you ever had something like that happen to you? Share it. Life is just this ironic, isn’t it?

Maybe this will be a week of irony. Irony can be good, too, can’t it? I’d settle for funny. Even if I’m the butt of the joke, it’s ok. We can’t take ourselves too seriously. It’ll be a busy week, so let’s get started. The new month will be here in a couple days, so let’s get it started off on a positive note. See you tomorrow.

(SIGH)

Some days no matter what you try to do, things don’t work out too well.

I’m referring to my old friend, technology. We have three laptops, one Chromebook, and two cell phones. I’m changing over from Norton to AVG security. It’ll be a good thing.

I’ve installed it on the phones and one laptop. I did the other laptop today and downloaded the HR Block software for this year. The Babe and I also sorted through the box of papers we need to complete the input for the software. Chomped and ready at the bit.

Got the credit card out to purchase the software for HR Block. It appears they don’t have you pay before downloading. I’m guessing they make you when you complete the forms before filing with the IRS. At least I hope that’s what’s going on. So, I saved the return I started after downloading everything from last year’s return. All the same blah blah info. Done. Saved. Not ready yet, need to tabulate lots of numbers for totals.

OK, all good. Now for the Chromebook. OK, the Google Playstore has the software. Here we are. Password, then. What? It will download later. What in the holy heck does that mean? I’ve not seen this before. Hmmm. OK. Try again. Same result. Wow. Still nothing.

My best hunches haven’t panned out. I know WordPress uses extensions of software. Maybe there’s a secret compartment somewhere to find what I need. Nope. doesn’t appear so. My last resource is my I/T Department at an offsite, secure location. Got a suggestion from my FBIL (Favorite Brother in Law), and I’ll try that tomorrow. I’m just brain dead right now. It will have to be tomorrow.

I had great plans yesterday. I was going to finish the main part of Cody’s quilt; didn’t happen. Tomorrow. First thing. It will be a new day tomorrow. Have a great day and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Friday Finale

These are the things going on in our world:

The Snowmageddon predicted on Wednesday kind of shifted and morphed into more rain than anything. We had more “lingering” snow overnight than we had during the predicted storm. It’s been nice to look out and see it, and not have to leave the house in the cold Thursday.

Today’s blurb from The Artist’s Way has spurred a lot of memories. “Describe your childhood room.”

Oh wow! My childhood room was my haven from the world. Luckily, I was an only girl with three brothers. Our older brother had his own room, the two younger ones shared a room. I spent hours and hours in my room. It was always homework after school and often into the evening. Hours of homework every night.

Dad made me a desk from the vanity that matched my dresser. He did such a great job on not damaging it. When I had it refinished to discover a beautiful bird’s eye maple wood under the years of darkened varnish and layers of antiquing. Jackpot! It’s beautiful. I suppose someday should I need assisted living that dresser and vanity will go with me. From the cradle to the grave, right?

My room was painted blue and the woodwork was painted bright white. I had three windows. As a young girl, I remember the thunderstorms we had at night. The thunder exploded after the lightening cracked and made me jump out of my skin. I buried my face under the pillows many nights. There was an old tree in the back yard. I was sure it would come crashing down, into my room, killing me during the night. Never happened. But I was petrified, nonetheless.

The room had a big walk-in closet. I didn’t have a lot of clothes, mostly church clothes and the uniform I wore to school. I kept my winter coat in the closet too. As my life went on, and I returned home while my first husband was in the service, I lived there and had my son Frankie. The room was big enough for my twin bed, dresser, vanity, baby bed, and baby chest of drawers, and my black & white tv. I moved back home less than a year after getting married. My husband was drafted five months after we married. I found out I was pregnant two months after. I moved home in May of 1971. Frankie was born in October of 1971.

All of my life was in that bedroom. I have great memories after getting married and moving back home. I came back to the family I left and brought a baby home a few months later. He was such a good baby. His dad served in Germany and didn’t return until he was 15 months old. I got an apartment just before Frankie turned one. I was happy to be able to live alone and wait until my husband returned home.

Mom still lives in the home I grew up in. I’m lucky to be able to visit my childhood room. It kept me sane, gave me the privacy to dream, draw, and write plays a friend and I acted out. Such innocence. I also listened to music that got me through hard times. Brian Wilson’s brilliant song, “In My Room,” was my anthem as a teenager and pre-teen. I was safe, I could put my problems aside. The bullies couldn’t get me there.

All of these memories have been on my mind since Julia Cameron placed them there. My favorite thing in my room? As Julia Cameron asked, I’ll answer. I still have the small shelf Dad built me one year. I had all these dust-catching knick-knacks. The shelf is in the bathroom of our family room downstairs, with knick-knacks from tropical places on it now. I still remember the Christmas I opened it. What a good childhood memory.

Have a wonderful Friday. And stay safe, warm, and be good to yourself this weekend. See you tomorrow.

New Releases in Books

In the past few years I’ve come to meet many authors through Facebook. I have not met most of them in person. I may read their book, then see they have a Facebook page. I follow or like their page, then comment here and there, just as I’ve done with my sewing and quilting friends. When they release new books, I will buy them.

One author I’ve never met in person but whose writing I love is Joshua Berkov. His books always make me smile, chuckle, and laugh out loud. He writes so well about older Jewish ladies from New York, I can hear their accents as I read the words. They are books I’ll keep to re-read when I need a good laugh. His latest is “The Enlightenment of Iris.” Joshua, you have a gift, and I thank you for sharing it with the world. We love you!

Another author I feel lucky to know is Tammy Marshall. She is a Nebraska author, and such a nice person to know. Tammy has written five books, with her latest being, “Ticker Tape,” “State of Georgia and Other Writings,” “Clearwater House,” “Twinges,” and her latest, “Trouble on Tybee.” Tammy’s books are found in many libraries in cities and towns in Nebraska. I plan on learning how she becomes featured in libraries, it’s inexpensive but a smart thing to do in your home state. Tammy will share her secrets at the Nebraska Writers Guild in the spring. I’m looking forward to it.

There is another book release that most likely garnered the most intention this month, perhaps for the year. “Spare,” by Prince Harry Duke of Essex. How do they alphabetize by his last name? What IS his last name? Does he even HAVE a last name?

On a more serious note, I feel badly for Harry. He had his mother taken from him in a horrible way, his father and other family members were ill equipped to help the youngster deal with the grief he was experiencing. He tried to deal with it publicly all through his late teens, twenties, and early thirties. I’m glad he decided his mental health needed help, which he sought out on his own. I think I would read the book based on this struggle, and his victories in his fight.

Harry is a champion for veterans everywhere. His involvement in the creation of the Invictus Games Foundation has done much good for many wounded warriors. Harry will continue to do good throughout his life because it’s one way he can honor his late mother, Diana.

I do not care about the fights among the royals. The monarchy may be so out of touch with reality it may be time for it to change dramatically. I hope Harry continues to care for his mental health, and he remains vigilant in continued care. It’s critical for his future. He is a brave young man to bring his PTSD out in the open. No longer should it be hidden away.

For the rest of the winter, make sure you have some books on hand to help pass the time. We’ll need it, since February and March can be brutal in Nebraska. You’ll be glad you did. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday. See you tomorrow.

Happy Monday!

This is the second Monday in January, 2023. How was your first week?

I kept with my intentions of learning to paint, working on my kids book, and continue with something I do pretty well. I registered for an online painting class, I’ll try to login later today. I will get back to the book editing this week. And I actually started grandson Cody’s quilt. Photos below:

There are so many pieces! The pile you see above has layers of pieces to make sixteen blocks. The background is off-white, the blue pieces are the dogs ear, body, and head. His head has a triangle of black at one corner for the nose. I reoriented the pieces above with brown in the correct directions. As you can see from the header photo, there are quite a few pieces to sew together. I think that’s a favorite part. I hope it works out to use a green fabric for the backing; it is close-up of blades of grass. Won’t that be perfect?

By playing in my fabric piles, I feel like I’m creating again. I think it will work if I work with several things at once, and schedule one or two days to quilt, one to paint (or two), one or two to work on the children’s book, and one day to do whatever I feel like. This will be besides blogging, as I don’t want to give up on that.

Yes, I could do nothing but write until I finish the book, finish the quilt, the painting, etc. I lose my mojo. I think my attention wanders off, so this may help keep it focused. Gotta try, what I was doing wasn’t working. We will see.

I’ve finished the first chapter of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” It deals with Recovering a Sense of Safety. As a kid who was bullied, I found the faster I could walk home from school, grab a handful of homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies, and go to my room, the better the day was. My room was a sanctuary for me; being the only girl, I didn’t have to share my room. I could be alone. I’d draw, read stories, use my imagination, and be safe. Sometimes, people in your home hurt your feelings, your self-worth, and sense of hope. It’s hard to shut them out and feel safe from those things that don’t show.

With very low self-confidence, I was painfully shy. It took many years (until I was 30) to overcome that. I’m still a work in progress, but at least I can now speak in public, to a crowd. Once I learned to sew in high school, I could sew the outfits I drew in grade school. Funny how that works. And there was always the library. We used our school library, as well as the public library, about a mile walk away.

Being self-defined is important to recover creativity. I’m quite an independent worker. I love to figure things out. The most important thing is to read any existing directions, make sure you understand them, and go from there. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries to keep the interruptions down. It helps I have a very cooperative partner in the Babe, and he knows doing these things is important to me. And above all, creating makes me happy.

As our confidence and identity rise, sometimes so do our doubts and internal-naysayers. It gets louder. We get used to dismissing the doubts and moments of self-doubt. Instead of 3 morning pages today, I did a paragraph and pieced those squares with dogs in them. It’ll work. I’ll get there.

We need to be our own protective parents. We must avoid toxic blocked creatives; these are shadow artists. They are not ready to overcome their issues and see us learn, grow, and share our creativity. Other blocked-creatives distract those of us who are following our plans. Stay the course. Don’t let anyone come between your dreams and their fruition.

The best place we can be is spending time with people or a partner who believes in us. That is rare in many couples’ relationships. I am blessed with the Babe; he has a strong sense of health, and no jealousy of anyone I may know. That is unusual and welcome. I am a blessed woman.

If you’re joining me on the creative journey, and want to let me know about your creativity, please do. Comment on WordPress. Tell me if I can publish it or not, or I will answer you privately. But please, no scammers. None of us have time for that. Take care, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Safety First, January 6, 2023

One of the first things most of need to do is make sure we don’t entertain all the negative thoughts we’ve accumulated through the years about ourselves and our abilities.

To recover from that negativity, we need to counter each negative review of our abilities with positive thoughts. We most certainly are talented artists in writing, drawing, painting, needlework, textile arts, or whatever else we are talented in. Whatever we do is special, and enough. Don’t sell yourself short as someone has been convinced you to be. Be yourself. The world will deal with it.

Yes, it’s a novel thought if we had adults in our lives who cautioned us to stay away from the Arts. It wasn’t a normal way to make a living back in the day. You stuck with your job, no matter how you hated it, and provided for your family. Those same people would stay together for the “sake of the kids.” Please. That could have caused more problems than getting a divorce. When parents are trying to act normally when they no longer want to remain a family, tensions rise. Kids feel it. It’s not doing the kids any favors to stay together.

I was amazed at the depth of the dysfunction there exists in the court of public opinion. Ideas of writers being drunks, crazy, broke, loners, irresponsible, promiscuous, doomed, unhappy, and born, not made, existed for a long time. How strange! I’ve been associated with many stereotypes to describe me. Not just an I/T Professional who could actually relate well to people, who could communicate well, who was attractive and very smart, all the stereotypes were wrong. Especially those of a single, divorced woman. Word on the street was we partied all the time, we didn’t pay our bills, we had strange men over all hours of the day and night, we didn’t work, we were after the married men in the neighborhood. It was ridiculous. I won’t even waste space here to dispel the ignorance.

I have learned so much already in the first week of the twelve weeks of The Artist’s Way. I’m behind in my “morning pages,” where you dump your thoughts/brain on three pages of writing in longhand. You dispel your inner critic and have a chance to consider positive affirmations. Actually doing the things you can do well creatively is a bonus. Even though I’m writing a children’s book, quilting is an important creative outlet I have that makes me more creative. Yes, it might impinge on how quickly I finish editing and publishing my book, but I’ll have fewer times when I’m out of ideas, want to tell myself I’ve got Writer’s Block, or Artist’s Block, etc. Before I complete the first chapter, I will do the tasks, catch up with the daily writing, and get ready to start Chapter 2 on Monday. So far, I’m all in. I’m building my safety nets, my places to go and things to think about when I feel stymied, a creativity lull, or writer’s block. Preparation.

What creative things are you doing this weekend? Are you reading anything new? Relaxing and Resting? #NotEnoughTimeInTheDay! Take care out there, 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!

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!

The Artist’s Way

I purchased this book about a year ago. I also purchased “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again,” and “The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention.” Julia Cameron wrote, “The Artist’s Way” and stressed recovering different aspects of a child’s life to help us figure out how to be more creative and produce more.

It’s amazing how we hold ourselves back. Once we discover that, how do we move forward? Self-sabotage is easy to fall into. It’s our lack of time. It’s our kids/parents/children/spouses/etc. Many times, it’s us.

Once we learn to recover these precious aspects of life we’ve set aside, we need to find how to reignite many individual senses; Cameron shows us the way there, too. The conclusions we draw are our own.

I have been struggling with my creativity the past few months. I’ve published the blog 172 days consecutively. I don’t want that to stop or falter. It’s writing, it counts. I don’t want to slow or stop that. I need to accomplish more.

I have the binding to sew on my granddaughter Kayla’s quilt I wanted to send for Christmas. Didn’t make it, being sick for 2 weeks with RSV. I started Cody’s quilt today and it will be an easier finish, no appliqued pieces. It’s also smaller. His birthday is January13. He’ll be 3 years old. Getting to be a big boy.

Back to The Artist’s Way. After resigning as a self-conscious author, Cameron says, “Nothing dies harder than a bad idea.” Her “block” was the drama of a suffering artist. Aren’t we all doomed to be starving artists? Isn’t it true you sell nothing until six months after you die? When it doesn’t matter anymore?

Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole thing about finding your creativity is a spiritual thing. And I get that. It has nothing to do with religion. It is you paying attention, noting the feelings, the reactions of others, and of potting it together. I hope to read some on it today, and explore what I can do to get my mojo back.

Also, I signed up for an online learn at your own pace art classes. I know, super busy already, but if I don’t jump in with both feet, I’ll finish nothing. Let’s keep each other on task and honest. Much more the rest of the week. I love blank slates and calendars. The sky is the limit right about now! Have a great day, and see you tomorrow.