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.

Nice and Easy Does It, Every Time

If truth be told, it’s often strangers who throw real, honest support behind us, believing in us, and giving our creations notice, honest feedback, and sharing with others. This is what we need and what we fear, sometimes. It can make us uneasy with how we’re viewed, even by a friend. It’s new and we need to get used to it.

Still with Julia Cameron while we’re recovering a sense of power in our creative journey. As things start to gel, percolate, and become more possible than impossible, we may hear some criticism. Yes, of us. Of our work. From strangers and people known to us.

When I was a kid I liked to draw people and clothing. I’ll tell you nearly every time I’d show my artwork, I’d hear, “It’s nice, but you sure can’t draw faces.” I probably would still hear that if I told someone I was taking drawing up again. So I’m just going to keep that info among us. How about that? Works for me.

Sometimes we get going on a path of growth and change only to have it stall, drag it’s feet, and quash our creativity for a few days to a few weeks. What did we do wrong? Not a darned thing. Really? Yes. It’s the nature of the beast. Great! Now you tell me! I thought it’d be all systems “GO!” No, doesn’t work that way.

We are more normal than we think or want to be. The one thing we can do is keep doing our normal routine. In a marathon, the experienced runner will tell you to run ten slower miles for every fast one. That is the reality of many things. Creating is one of them. In fact, there is a very old Frank Sinatra song called, “Nice and Easy Does It; Every Time.” My dad was a great Sinatra fan; I can recite many of the lyrics of a lot of old songs from the old days. Dual purpose? It reminds me of Dad.

So, when you get in a rush to keep up a breakneck speed at creating; Remember. “Nice and Easy Does It Every Time.” Remember, Easy Accomplishes It. Julia Cameron tells us. While we’re waiting for more energy and ideas, don’t forget one of the most important things we need to do every day: Be kind to ourselves. Do something special for yourself every day. It might be sit and read a favorite book for an hour; take a bubble bath; whatever you want. Don’t skip it; if you don’t believe you’re worth it, no one else will.

Quiet time, solitude, is good for us. How long has it been since we checked with ourselves to see how we are? We need to be honest with ourselves. If you’re doing something hard, reward yourself afterwards. The one thing we don’t want to do is reward ourselves with food. I love desserts of many kinds. That makes a bad reward, it will hurt me in the long run. A much better reward is a book I really want to buy and keep. It may help open up more creativity in me, too.

Whatever you do, always be kind to yourself. Forgetting that will sabotage yourself. You need to be your own best friend. Nice and easy. Be nice and easy on yourself. Every time. See you tomorrow.

Monday, Monday & Anger

We’re still decluttering and talking about how to both know what’s going on with everything in the household. Ever since we got married, we kept our finances separate. We both had debts that took a while to pay down. By then, the kids needed legitimate help once in a while, and we just kept things separate.

Since we’re both in our 70s now, we decided it’s a good idea to fill each other in on our separate debts, regular payments, etc. This revelation shocked some folks, but it works for us. It’s worked for nearly 25 years, no need to change it now. Soon, we’ll both be on point to take something out of our retirement accounts annually. I love we have always been able to trust each other with everything. Assets, money, retirement, fidelity, relationships with opposite-sex friends, the whole nine yards. It is a gift that keeps giving.

I feel as if I’m behind with the Artist’s Way this week. I’m creating like crazy on the quilt for grandson Cody, and we’re getting a lot of little things completed along the way. We thought the Christmas tree would be in the box by dinner time today, but no, that didn’t happen. We’ve decided we’re pleased with the results of our extra attention we’re paying to our home now. It’s making our surroundings more comfortable and productive.

I’m glad our dad always insisted we learn to pay attention to what goes on around us. Pay attention to people, traffic, other people walking, whatever is going on. We grew up in a world and neighborhood where all the neighbors knew each other, where it was safe to ride our bikes to the library or the park.

My kids pay attention like I did as a kid. While driving them to school one day many years ago, one of them talked about the beautiful sunrise we could see daily; complete with a couple clouds, orange and crimson streaks, for effect. It was after my dad died. Nick said, “This reminds me of when Grandpa had us watch Bob Ross paint on television.” Yes. He certainly paid attention. I want to paint scenes like that. I will. Just follow along, it will happen.

I need to devote more time to the lessons in the Artist’s Way. This week is about anger. This is a tough feeling for me. Like most women my age, they taught us to not show anger. Nice girls and women do not get angry. Control your temper, ladies. This was not true in our home. Our mom was frequently angry. I did not know why, I just felt responsible. This was what she experienced growing up. Yelling is how she cleared the air. I would quietly go to my room and hide out until I had to come out. Walking on eggshells is not a way to live. I was such a nervous kid, always afraid I did something wrong. I shrunk up and tried to be invisible. Anger should not be the only emotion kids witness.

The proper way to deal with anger is to use it for good. If you are a person who blows up and yells at everything, you need to learn why you do this and learn what you need to do to handle the feelings causing this before you cause harm to others in your family, especially children. Mom still goes through her “rant and rave” sessions. And it still makes me feel like I did something wrong. It’s different from “venting,” it’s damaging to relationships, your personal life, spaces, and other people.

What Cameron says about anger is huge. Anger is fuel, it’s a map, it is to be listened to. Anger is a map. To show you where you need to go next; it shows what you need to change boundary-wise. It points the way, not just a finger. If Mom, stressed and angry, should have used the anger to see what the problem was and how she could correct it. She didn’t know any better.

Problem was, the dysfunction took over, just as she witnessed as a child; yelling and shouting was the learned response. It is one of the worst ways to handle the situation. But they didn’t know any better. It would have been a healthier response to think about the stress, overwhelm, and problem. Handle it constructively.

During this time era, people kept secrets. Secrets about everything. Domestic violence. Infidelity. Mental Health issues. Special needs children. Children who had learning disabilities. And stresses/problems of stay at home moms. No one admitted to any problems.

I didn’t have a blueprint for what to do when your kids grew up. I’ve had a hard time when they’ve all left, which is what I raised them to do. Even with the Babe in my life, I missed those kids so bad. I still do, but differently. I’ve never insisted they come on holidays when others may need their presence too. They all know they’re welcome anytime. But where did that leave me? All we can do is carve out a niche for us and furnish it with what we need.

All of this is uncharted territory. Find what you get angry about and figure out how to stop it. There was a time in my life that I, too, yelled at my kids. My mom was angry, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. My unhappy first marriage caused my anger. I filed for divorce and stopped the destructive behavior. I became very calm and happy. It was amazing. I didn’t end up an angry woman. Grateful.

I will take this unit to heart. Recovering a sense of power is important. I am aware of my power and I want to use it to the max. We’ll see how the week goes. We’re supposed to get some snow this week. I’m happy. It is winter, after all. If you’re angry, analyze where it comes from. And how to re-direct it. You may get some answers you didn’t bargain for. Have a happy Monday, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Weekend Day #1-Saturday

What are you doing on the weekend? Watching NFL playoffs? That’s where we’ll find the Babe. and he deserves every minute. We’ve done a lot this week. Doing a big deep-cleaning and rearranging of the house. Concentrating on the Babe’s Office and my Studio/Office. The Babe doesn’t need his office anymore; he offered it to me for my writing. It’s near impossible to do quilting and writing in a small office. Too many reference materials, instructions, etc.

I’m delighted to separate the two activities into their own private spaces. I’m feeling more creative every day. I asked a friend who writes and paints, how does she divide her time between the two distinct activities? Her response? She goes with whatever is speaking to her. I’d find that a great way to decide how to spend my time. I suppose I’m trying to make it more concrete.

It may not be concrete at all; creativity is abstract, isn’t it? At least I think it is. What do you think? Does anyone out there have more than one creative endeavor? I love to sew, quilt, and now, writing is up there, too. I want to add painting and drawing. Initially, I believe I need to have a schedule for the lessons I have for painting. The videos are available to me until 2024.

I put all the dog squares together today for Cody’s quilt. Yesterday was his third birthday. What a fun day it is when your child has a birthday!

The Babe assembled all our new book cases. I cannot tell you how happy I felt to have a proper place for my books. They look wonderful, finally in their home. Such a simple thing, yet so meaningful. I have many books about quilting, too. It will be nice to see those books too, in their new home. Not to mention our wedding photos. Haven’t seen them since about seven years ago, when I packed them to move.

Tomorrow will also be a day to pack up the Christmas tree for storage. In our downsizing, we’ve found someone to take two separate Christmas trees we had. That frees up a lot of space. So will the boxes of books. We look forward to becoming very tidy, organized, and less stuff around.

In “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron tells us we must do two things: Morning pages every day, and an Artist’s Date once a week. For this week, my Artist Date is to watch the videos that introduce supplies to us and determine how many of them I have. I started getting supplies before I began the lessons, then didn’t follow through. Not this time. I will take these lessons this year.

Think of me enjoying the surprises in my stock of art supplies this morning. Maybe I won’t have to purchase many supplies after all. Cross your fingers! It’ll be fun. We both feel as if we may catch something; mile earache, sore throat, tired. Hoping it’s just a fleeting viral thing. We’ve both had RSV this winter, so we hope we don’t get sick again. Enjoy your Saturday, and be good to yourself. You deserve it. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, Early A.M. (I Hope!)

I did not see until I signed on to write Tuesday’s blog Monday night where Monday’s was. OMIGOSH! There it was, thumbing its nose at me. I was relieved it was still here and fully intact. Sure, when I don’t check if the scheduling worked or not, it fails. Sorry to have just published it later last evening.

Here’s hoping this one makes it out there at 5 a.m., like it’s supposed to.

For all the complaining we do about technology, it really is amazing. Since I took coding and programming classes in the mid-80’s, things have progressed like we thought would only exist in Outer Space, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, The Jetsons, and The Wild, Wild, West. Yes. Gadgets and foiling the enemy.

When I worked as a Systems Analyst at Mutual of Omaha, we had a mainframe where all the programs ran to bill people, process reports, enroll people for Insurance, (Health and Life) and AD&D and Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability. We worked on a Legacy system. It would have been far too costly to replace all the old, old programs. We added code that was used only for certain criteria. Mutual was very good at testing before implementing changes. We rarely had to correct it. Another place, not so much.

Long story short, I love what we can do from the comfort of our homes. And I know once we’re too complacent, things might not work perfectly. Look what just happened yesterday for me!

It was just a day of cleaning, scrubbing stuff up, and deciding how to rearrange things. I’m reading the second chapter of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” I’m amazed by the number of ways to define a drama queen. Cameron calls them “Crazymakers.” Guilty as charged, to be sure. That’s exactly what they are. Like drama queens, they want to ensure everyone’s world revolves around them. Like drama queens, they put you down for wanting to follow your creative dreams. Maybe they even wanted to, but ended up being blocked creatives. Often, blocked creatives are the best at discouraging creatives who think for themselves. It can be lonely on your way.

And there are many people who wonder if you’ll write about them. And if you’ll portray them as they think they are. Chances are, you will portray them as you think they are. And the truth will be somewhere in between. The worry tortures many authors if their characters are based on real people; will the real people be mad? My thoughts are between thinking, “they should have treated us kinder,” to, “I never could while they’re alive.” It’s a tough decision to make. I haven’t weighed in on where I stand. Still evaluating.

Did some more work on Cody’s quilt. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I have to say, I’m fascinated by “The Artist’s Way.” some things Cameron describes makes me think I’ve dealt with certain things the Crazymakers caused before this point in my life. I’ve dealt with a lot. Maybe I’ll face an ambush later on, and it could happen. It’s good to have your defences up. More football on tonight. I know the Quarterback from TCU is from Council Bluffs, Iowa and his hometown is rooting for him. It’s all good for me. Georgia is ahead, it’s just the second quarter. Just hope all emerge safe from the game tonight.

The Babe assembled all three of our new bookcases over the past few days. I forgot what finish we ordered, and it turns out it’s a dark brown, Espresso, I believe. They’re nice. Now to go through all the books. All. The. Books. More ono that later.

What’s up for your agenda today? I hope it’s a good day for you all the way around. Be kind. Be safe. And read a little bit. We’ll see each other 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.

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!

After the Meltdown

I’m back to being myself after venting yesterday about changes to the color of our credit/debit/ATM Card. Was I ranting like an old lady? I didn’t think so. We all have times when something just ticks us off. I’m letting you see that in me. And I remind you we all do this some times. Some people go way too far. and bring in things (like race, or education) and place blame, etc. They lose focus on what the problem is, and they attack. Hatred takes over. It gets ugly. Glad I didn’t let it. 

I’m glad I didn’t go there in this situation. The young man at the teller’s counter name was Mohammed. It’s true. In my writer’s mind, I saw a whole other scene there. It took an ugly turn. So it is living with a creative kind of mind. Author friends? Do you do this? Am I normal? I think I’ll make notes about what ran through my mind. It may be in a future book. It was pretty vivid. Stay tuned, kids!

The other thing at the bank yesterday is I noticed some pretty wall art around the offices with glass doors. There was a kids’ room for play, they had poured paint designs with the same colors. They were placed randomly with different sizes all over. I love noticing new and different things. How about you? It’s part of the creative art of attention. Julia Cameron wrote about that in “The Listening Path.” I am still making my way through her three books, along with one about personality changing. My brain is busy these days.

Police Week Challenge Coin. A gift for our neighbor.

Sorry, couldn’t decrease size of this comparison, front and back, of a Police Week Challenge Coin. I saw it advertised and bought it for our neighbor. She is an officer in Omaha, and in a rough part of town. She is very respectful of everyone, she is tough but fair. Her husband is a probation officer (Federal) and they have three children. The kids are great. I learned all I need to know about them the day they moved in. The oldest teenage daughter was out mowing the grass. It’s a huge yard. With kids who will do things like that, they have been raised well. Respect is high on their agenda. It’s what the world needs now. We appreciate you Rosa. And salute you!

It’s a sad day in Omaha, Nebraska today. It’s the anniversary of the death of Officer Kerrie Orosco. She was killed in the line of duty just before going on maternity leave to care for her young baby. It was brutal. It shook me to my core. Watching the funeral on television was so sad. Her murder was two days before my birthday. So here we are today, remembering a young woman who did not deserve to die while serving a felony warrant. She deserved to go home to her preemie baby who was finally released from the hospital.

The Babe and I were in DC during Police Week the year Kerrie’s name was added to the Police Memorial. We were not able to go to any ceremonies. We found out too late the time, and it would have taken too long to drive to the location. We saw evidence of many officers returning home after the ceremonies at the airport. One man, wearing a polo with a badge embroideried on it, was deep in thought. I walked over to him and thanked him for his service and for being present for the ceremonies. I mentioned Kerrie as a hometown hero. He stood and thanked me. I told him I could see in his face how difficult the week had been. He agreed. And he went home to Chicago. It was a moment, for sure. I still pray for his safety.

As we continue our days, remember the families of fallen police officers and families of Veterans who do not return home. They all have a loss they can never replace. It hurts. Endlessly. Be Respectful to each other out there. Be Safe. Be Kind. Thank an officer today. And think about them, wishing them well. They need it.Thank you for reading, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow.

Prayers for her family today.

Overcoming FEAR

Ideas for writing this daily blog drop into my lap some days. I’ve read something from two unique sources about the same topic – FEAR. It’s something we all have; it wears many masks, though.

The first time I tried to speak to a large group of people was when I was a senior in high school. I never had debate or speech or drama classes. I just simply did NOT want to do that. Ever. I was painfully shy, which really didn’t help. Everyone who was an after-school club President had to give a presentation to the entire Freshman Class; it was about 250 people. I was the Art Club President.

I remember writing what I wanted to say. It sounded so good in my head. When it was my turn to speak, I stood at the podium and looked out at the sea of hunter green uniforms; and I froze. I felt nauseous, hot, cold, and I shook. I stood there and could not utter one word into the microphone. I was so embarrassed. Finally, I stepped away and stood near the other club presidents. One boy named Dave Schwee told me, “It’s OK.” I was grateful to him for that.

You can imagine how shocked I was when one girl, a quiet girl like me, approached me a week later and said she wanted to join the Art Club. Maybe she related to my terror. It was something I’ve never forgotten. I believe now there was a lesson for me in that. Even though I died in front of that microphone, I remembered how that felt. Twenty years later, I took Public Speaking class at a local University AND joined a group for business people to practice public speaking – Toastmasters. I learned how to speak, and it doesn’t bother me now. I haven’t done it for a while, and I must practice for when Cartney McGuigan (my illustrator) and I have our book launch later in 2021. I’m sure she’ll have no problem speaking. She is accomplished in acting, forensics, and singing onstage. I will learn a lot more than about art from her!

Julia Cameron, Author of The Artist’s Way and The Listening Path, describes fear as, “Perfectionism in a fancy dress.” I need to read more about her theory, at first I disagree with her. My fear of water isn’t perfectionism (at least I don’t think it is)! It’s the knowledge I will absolutely, positively DROWN if I am in deep water. What do you all think?

Julia continues we “don’t want to look foolish.” I get that. She claims we hang back, thinking we’re being sensible. Hanging back paves the road to kill our creativity; we don’t realize our potential, and we can deny our human need to create. OK, maybe that is what it really is. I need to think on that some more. I’ve certainly started to think creatively again after a couple months off.

Julia also tells us to let go of any fears you have about the drawing, painting, writing, or anything creative. We need to stop the negativity. Fear of success can strangle creativity sure as fear of failure. Right now, I feel so lucky. I’m not depending on income from writing to feed my kids or to keep a roof over our heads. I have unique freedom that I can do this. That is very freeing, and a feeling like no other. 

My Facebook friend Mackenzie Clench (Ken) says fear is an ally. He says he needs to face what he fears. We all do! It’s keeping us back from really living. And we want to live life fully. So it boils down to we are stopping ourselves and calling it fear. That said, I’m not afraid of failure as an author. At least I tried it. Doing it is what we need to do. I certainly have learned a lot of things I didn’t know a year ago. So I’ve already “won.”

However you slice it, we have to overcome things that hold us back. No matter how we try to shift the blame elsewhere (I had a bad childhood – most of us had things less than ideal); I’m too nice (you’re probably an enabler – I know I was); I can’t draw a straight line (you don’t have to do learn to draw or paint!). Self sabotage is the reason there are so many unfinished manuscripts, stories for kids, and paintings. We lost faith in ourselves. Let’s work on getting it back and keeping it.

Omaha Nebraska is so fortunate to have McGuigan Arts Academy call it home. They offer a unique array of classes for every age. Guitar, Art, Theater, and many other categories. Check out their offerings at http://www.mcguiganartsacademy.com. They also have a Facebook page. A photo showed the outside of their temporary space with welcome chalked on the sidewalk to three students on their first night of class. I cannot think of a more fun way to be greeted to something that will help change your life – AND you. Kids can learn so much if they just have the opportunity. And much of their fear diminishes when they master these creative things. Maybe someday I can finally learn to sing. But that’s another story!

Thank you for reading and being here. We have quite a journey to finish. I’m so glad you’re along for the ride. See you tomorrow. Be safe.

The Listening Path

At 5 p.m. CST, I’m joining a free class by Julia Cameron. She is the Godmother of Creativity from what I’ve read about her. She is a best selling author, poet, songwriter, filmmaker, and playwright. She has penned over forty books. It’s an impressive resume. For some reason, I’m late to this party. But glad I’m here, nonetheless.

Sometimes I get bogged down with all the creative interests I have. I don’t know what exactly to work on. I want to do it all. I’ve already put “learning to draw and paint” on the back-burner. In fact, I removed all the new supplies I purchased from my studio office and put into storage in the basement family room. I wanted to do art this year. Maybe later.

Finishing my children’s book became “urgent” to me after New Year’s Day this year. It’s a story about our grandson Gavin and our puppy Roxie. It is full of life lessons and hope. Everyone needs to have hope, and especially children. It’s very exciting to know something Cartney McGuigan and I are creating will help children. It can help children understand some hard things about life. Yes, and give them hope, too.

Ms. Cameron’s new book, “The Listening Path – The Creative Art of Attention” sounds as if it will be very interesting and be sound advice to apply to life itself. It is a free class, you can register on Julia Cameron’s website or Facebook page, I believe. I need to get all of this creativity together and out of my mind, heart, and belly, and get it on pages, canvas, fabric, and wherever else it needs to go. Sharing it with the world gives comfort, joy, peace, and all the things we need as humans. Even if people thing they don’t care for art, they are influenced by it. They like it or hate it, but it evokes feelings.

I know during hard times throughout my life, I need to be creating something. Before I started writing, it was quilting. I really want to get some quilting squeezed into my life. The problem is getting my crooked spine to cooperate with me. It prohibits my sitting very long, either at the desk, writing, or at the sewing machine, stitching. The writing is on the front burner right now, and I will see it through.

Speaking of not sitting very long, my MRI showed nothing I didn’t already know, and feel on a daily basis. The neurosurgeon said if there were to be any surgery, he’s sure he could not do it. It would be stabilizing my spine, and straightening the scoliosis, which would require a lot of hardware. He’s not sure if anyone could rebuild me. And if they could it would be several years regaining strength and stability. The lower spine is compromised from stenosis (moderate to severe), and arthritis in the severe stage, too. I told him at my age it would be foolish to try and have it fixed. He said he agreed. God will help me continue. I pray for a positive attitude every day. I think most days, God blesses me with one.

It’s so hard to pick when you love a lot of things. I just have to keep going, every day do something! It will all settle down. I’ve recently joined a page called, “Rage Against the Manuscript.” Of course, the title piqued my curiosity. Steff Green is an author, and a “call it as I see it” woman. She’s young, tends toward the Gothic look, has numerous tattoos, and is a good author. She hails in New Zealand. I’m not sure how I came across her, but she talks a lot of sense to me. I need to read all her ideas about “Raging Against the Manuscript.” I like her style. You can always learn something from people who are different from you. Your world becomes bigger simply by listening. Thanks, Dad!

For today, it’s going to snow. I’m putting my snowman collection out for fun. I used to put them out at Christmas, but it’s nice for January, too. I have some winter-themed plaques, and they brighten the rooms with optimism. I like that.

Stay warm and safe today. Thank you for reading. We’ll see each other tomorrow, but later in the day. The Babe and I have a meeting at the VFW, so it’ll be later in the day I think. Help someone out today. They’ll be grateful and you’ll feel good. Make our world better. We can all make a difference!