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Saturday, December 31, 2011

a shift in focus...

Well... hi. Same old excuses, and I'm as tired of them as you are. So I'll skip the list. I'm sitting here at my desk with my brand new desk calendar (50 cents on clearance at target :) ) and thinking about the things that I believe i will face in the coming year... very few of those fill me with joy or peace, but there will be the new Planet You workshops, which I'm happy to say have just about pushed their way out of my head and onto the page... there will be days of art and writing, challenges met, laughter shared and all the wonderful things that come about with day to day living. And there is still the opportunity for a miracle... I've been hopping about facebook and websites today trying to find out where I signed up for an organizing your workspace workshop--- I deleted the email, have yet to receve a follow-up email, and have no clue where it came from--- yeah I need the help organizing :) And I'm seeing so many conversations about Word for the year... and while I'm never opposed to picking a point of focus, I'm thinking that what if, for a change, this time it's not so much about what is ahead but what I am leaving behind. That perhaps, New Years Eve should not be spent in anticipation of the coming year but rather in reflection on the closing of the previous one. I don't know about you, but 2011 was a hell of a ride. I redeveloped some old friendships, I met new people, I discovered my love of teaching art, I launched Planet You, I returned to making books and art. It has been a year of turning within to better enable me to reach out. I have set clearer limits on what I want and need in my life physically, financially and emotionally. I have asked for, received and given help. I have had my heart touched a million times in many small and large ways. This past year has been a soul defining time for me as i have made my way through the mess of every day life. There are still decisions to be made, roads to be walked and joys to discover, but wow... there was so very much accomplished this year.

So... really, it's not that I don't have a focus for the coming year, but I'll happily share that with you tomorrow, when it is 2012. Today, take a few moments to grab your journal and make a list of the things that made 2011.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

the only person you can't kick out of bed...

Life is... what it makes of you. Really. It isn't a well thought out plan, it may not even have a mapped direction and it is going to happen no matter what. I've been busy of late, with a lot of things, some important, some trivial, some just plain necessary, some good, some not so good. In the fight to keep my house, it does look like I'm going to lose, but I'm going to continue to try. I'm going to keep making art and going to work and getting up each day to be the best me I know how to be because... you know... the only person you can't kick out of bed in the morning is YOU. And whether I like it or not, this is the me I chose to be. While I clung stubbornly to the faith and hope that everything was going to somehow work out, I failed to be as careful and protected as I could be... so if this is what comes to pass... I can only say that I've had other choices for a very long time and didn't chose them. I have my reasons, excuses, and in some cases, no idea at all why, but the thing is, that while I am scared and sad, I am still the same me I've been busy becoming my whole life and it's time to remind myself that this fear and sadness are in the way-- I'm not getting the new Planet You workshops written-- they are percolating in my head, but I'm not writing yet. I'm not cleaning up in the house, nor thinking about christmas nor getting my envelopes ready and mailed for a swap I'm participating in. I'm not thinking about getting a christmas newsletter put together, or mailing Christmas cards. I'm avoiding my studio at all costs. I'm not being "me" with the people I care about and I'm being a bit casual with my own sanity and safety. These are all the ways I am busy telling myself to get over it and get on with it. Today, I think, might just be the day I listen.

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30: What did you learn from doing NaBloPoMo

No big surprise here... I learned that I love to write... that when I get caught up in an idea, the words just come and come until I have to make myself stop... that sometimes writing feels like work and others it feels as natural as breathing...
I learned that I do have the discipline to show up every day, even when it's the last thing I want to do and that when it is the last thing I want to do, doing it often makes it feel like something I DO actually want. I was able to relearn that I am not afraid to tell my stories. I was able to find other bloggers that I really enjoy. Writing every day, about something other than crafting, making art, or Planet You reminded me that I have so many other things to say, and to talk about... not that i don't love those three subjects... but that there is so much more of me to share.

thanks, every one, who came along for the ride...
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29: What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

I sort of have a list of last things... I read before bed... every night. I write in a journal, many nights, but not every night. I check my alarm, every night, I tell my son, even if he is already sleeping, "Good night, I love you." I have a difficult time being a parent... for many it seems to come easily, but I really struggle with making time to be present with my child. I haven't a four year old sense of the world... I dislike repeating myself... I take no joy in playing Dinosaur Fights or having stuffed animal races... and I hope that he understands that no matter how hard giving him the "me" he wants can be, that I love him, love him, love him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28: Describe an heirloom that has been passed down in your family and what is its significance to you?

Oh... well... this one is another doesn't really apply to me prompt... I'm adopted... so my family herilooms, and while there are plenty, are part of a heritage I do not share... I will say though that one of my mother's ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and we have his shoes... and i love those shoes... I even wore them once, to give a presentation on the MayFlower...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27th: another prompt free day

So... life goes on, right? It does. And it does whether we are having our way with it or it with us. These days, life is having its way with me more than i with it, but still... it goes on... and here's where the magic is: I'm not keeping score. There are so many adages that apply here, but truly it comes down to nothing other than the choice to be willing to decide what is important and what we are willing to live with and/or without. My decision, and no, it is not always easy, is that being here to be a part of this great big beautiful mess we call life is what is important. And I am willing to live with and or without whatever it takes to be here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26: waiting for something that never comes

Today has been one of those days where I long for the ability to yell with abandon; "Do Over" I've had a headache that won't let go, despite an extra mega dose of ibuprofen, and a nagging twitch in my stomach. I am irritable and tense. I kept checking the Blogher site for the writing prompt... totally forgetting that it was Saturday... and prompt free writing day... which spun me around to thinking about the time we spend waiting for things that never come. We all get stuck there, waiting for the right moment, or the next time, and somehow, those moments and times never seem to actually arrive. It is easy to set a destination but not always so easy to follow the course that brings us there. Me-- I'm easily distracted... a magpie flittering from this shiny thing to that... collecting experiences like baubles and getting myself all bogged down with ideas and memories and plans and not actually moving. I have these great ideas for projects in my head but I can't bring myself to get anything done. I want to reach out to a pretty amazing artist and talk to her about working with her on an online class-- I think our styles mesh well. I want to be free of being terrified about my house. I am one of those people who has the amazing ability to have faith even when things are really rotten. I have hope, even when all the facts point to hoplessness. I believe that there is nothing so sad as the loss of hope, except perhaps for the loss of faith... and so... here's what I know.... that while waiting for things that never come, other things maybe have the chance to come along instead... and if you aren't so focused on the thing you are waiting for, perhaps you'll be amazed by the things that come along in the meantime. The world is full of amazing people and opportunities... and it really is just up to us to reach out to them and for them. So as I've been talking about the things I need, people have been responding to those needs in whatever ways they can or feel the need or desire to... there have been wonderful messages, comments and emails of support, people have used the donate button, and I've been put in touch with someone at the SBA who might be able to help me with my situation there. When you reach out to someone, you never know how far reaching your touch may be. You never know how valuable your gift of kindness may be... nor how deep it's effects may go. So I wanted to take a minute to remind myself that the smallest act of kindness can be the most meaningful thing in the world to someone else. I wanted to give myself a few minutes of silence to ignore the headache and twitchy guts and be blessed by all of you that have allowed me to give freely and who have, in your own moments, given your kindness to me. I am awed and honoured to be a part of this amazing life. So I need to remind myself to stop and be silent, be thankful for all that I do have, and all that I am able to give, and all that I have received.
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25th, Do you like to buy presents ahead of time or when you need them?

An apt Black Friday question... I was so tired today that I actually left early... I thought that working thursday night and this morning at five am wouldn't be quite so difficult... but my brain shut down at about 8:30 am... by 10:30 I was bloody useless... I used to handle the lack of sleep much better than I do now. But back to the question... I tend to make gifts versus buy them, though I will purchase something when I see it and just "know" that it is the right thing for someone. I very rarely do any "last minute" shopping, and I simply don't understand the Black Friday madness--- there is nothing i need or want that would entice me into those crowds at those hours to fight with anyone over the last anything...
I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday had a fabulous day. I hope that those of you who did brave the madness today to shop, enjoyed your day... and as a retailer, I would like to say Thank You to all of you who made it point during your shopping experience to thank your sales people, to be polite, and to pass on your words of kindness to us. Whatever your job may be, stop and think about how you would feel if you were treated at your place of employment the way people treat those of us who work in the service and retail industries. We are real people with real lives who have chosen this industry because it suits our needs or skills or a combination of both. I spent well over a decade in the restaurant industry before switching to retail and nothing would aggravate me more than being treated like I was stupid or incompetent because I was a waitress or a bartender or even a restaurant manager. I'm really good at what I do... and I truly appreciate those of you who take the time to stop and chat for a minute, to say thank you, to respond when we speak to you. When i was bartending in New Orleans during Mardi Gras we were allowed to wear non-uniform shirts during parade nights and days. My favorite non uniform T shirt read "Server, Not Servant".
The way you talk to people touches their lives... remember that when we stop to make eye contact and say "Hi, how are you?"
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24, 2011, do you prefer to be alone or around other people

Now... this one is also a bit of a sticky one for me... because, while I enjoy people and love to talk, I'm somewhat shy, and i deserately crave silence and time alone.    I work in retail, and am a manager, so I have to interact with people on a daily basis on both a personal and professional level...   and while I enjoy all aspects of my job, there are times, even during my work day where I simply have to walk outside and get away from the noise and the people-- and nothing has to be wrong to trigger that, just my need to create a little cushion of silence....  So I would say that the core of this is that I prefer to be alone... but I do enjoy time with other people when I can control the amont of time i have to be in that environment...  and don't get me wron, it's not just staff and clientele, but also family and friends that I still need to separate from and get some down time.    I'm a better me when I get time alone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

november 23: write about a piece of music that changed your life forever...

Oh, well... now this one is hard... for a few reasons-- I don't think any piece of music changed my life forever, but I also really love music and have a strong attachment to much of it... Music has always een able to change mymood, whether deepen the one I'm in or lighten me out of one i need to get out of.  It allows me to feel a catharsis that I don't seem to find anywhere else, even in making art.  The musi that comes to mind as life changing for me... Pat Benetar's Hell is for Children,  Pink Floyd's Wish you Were Here and the Final Cut, Live's Run to the Water, Tori Amos' Crucify, Bob Geldof's I don't like Mondays, Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumours,  Neil Young's Sugar Mountain  and Helpless... hmm... Sugar Mountain... yeah... that perhaps is the one i would pick if I had to pick just one... it still brings me back to being twelve, to finding my voice the first time, and learning that even when everything was not okay, everything was going to be okay...  I have the dubious honor of having had more than one song written about me and more than one written for me, and No, you've likely never heard any of them (unless you happen to be from the Boston Area and catch the local music scene towards Providence).   
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

november 22, what is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you and why

Heh... this is really going to be a bizarre thing for some of you... but the luckiest thing that ever happened to me was being raped when I was seventeen.  It changed my life, and though some of how it changed me, for a time, was really not lucky or pleasant, or healthy or even safe or sane, a lot of how it changed me, and how I changed because of it are some of the best things that have ever happened in my life.  I directed the play "Extremities" in university, perhaps as a direct response to having been raped, but also because having spent four years working with and for the theatre department, I needed to dispell the myths I had about directing and directors.  Had I not been raped, I'd have not likely chosen that show, and not then met my best friend and same-brain mentor.  Had I not been raped, I'd have never walked completely away from the small little place where I grew up, became a city girl, became a someone not afraid to leave places, people or things.  All the changes might have happened in other ways or by a different catalyst, but it was the catalyst I had and i consider myself lucky to have had a life changing experience that I was able to learn so much from and lose... only so very little in comparison.    There's a lot more to say about this, but I'm just not finding my groove this evening...   though I think I may have to revisit this post at a later date and give it a fresh write.

Make somethuing beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21: Do you have a passion project?

Well... I was going to sit and write this morning but the day got all turned around and now I'm sitting on some really bad news and just don't feel terribly passionate about anything at all.  But, of course, for those of you that know me, and those of you that don't, The Planet You  is my passion project.   Writing the curriculum, filming the video (which was really scary for me) interacting with the course participants--- that is all really amazing and it feeds my soul in an unbelievable way.   I just can't get my heart around writing tonight though... For those of you that know me... you know I survived hurricane katrina-- the actual storm.   I was in St. Bernard Parish, right outside of the lower ninth ward and twenty two feet of water came in.  We took a disater loan with the SBA that has been on a hardship deferment for quite some time and that has now ended... and my payments have just been increased again-- to the point at which I cannot afford my home.   I am saddened by this and scared about all the changes that it is likekly to bring about.   Life here was just beginnng to make sense...  Today, I am trying really hard to remember that this is part of a plan that I simply cannot see yet. 

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, The Thumper Rule

Right... so, on prompt free weekends, I let my hair down a little and write from Planet Kaere... which these days, is a cluttered, jumbled up mess.   And that's okay.  I survive clutter, and chaos, and lack of sleep and a million demands on my time, skills, and whatever other spare or essential parts I have laying around.  But what I don't deal well with is the stubborn refusal to learn anything and move forward.  I don't deal well with those I refer to as "stuck on stupid"  and yes... that's exactly how I say it.   Or I ask the question "Who flicked your stupid switch?"  and you know what... that's not really very nice of me.   What it is is that I'm surrounded by people who want to ask a question instead of do the work to obtain an answer on their own.   I think I've had to walk out of my building at least once a day ever day for the last two weeks so thatI could say, outloud, "I should not have to think for you, ffs, think it through and arrive at an answer, then ask the question 'Is such and such the way to deal with this?'"   So... I'm a bit frustrated... because the people who are being paid to do the jobs that require thinking are not thinking, and my job, which requires planning and physically doing, is being interupted all the time to think for someone else.  And that would be all well and good if for every minute I lost to thinking for them, they spent a minute doing for me...  but it doesn't work that way.   I just get further and further behind.  So the thing is, that I often have to just call the Thumper Rule... "If you can't say sumpin' nice, don't say nuffin' at all."    And it saves my sanity a few times every day.  Because I get really angry at the questions that could be answered by walking ten steps and looking, or that I  answered for you yesterday.   Okay... so I'm a smart girl, and I tend to overthink things, but that doesn't mean that every one around me gets to stop thinking. And I work while I'm thinking, and if I get lost in the thinking only then do I get some help.  So... the Thumper Rule... is one of those things I have to keep in my life because I can get down right nasty when I'm feeling pressured and one more person asks me one more question that is only being asked because someone else doesn't want to do the work to arrive at an answer.   So when I sound exasperated when you ask me one more question, understand that it's not that I don't want to help you, but that I want you to help yourself-- and exasperation is much better than me saying what I'm thinking at that moment, which is something along the lines of--- oh wait... Thumper Rule. 

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19-- prompt free weekends!

So... as I've been focusing on keeping up with NaBloPoMo, my blog has lost a little of it's former direction, and gained a bit of a new direction... good things come from creating, and change always... well... changes things.  I make art, but I call myself a crafter-- most of what I do is alter pre-existing things... I love to paint on journals, I love to make books.   Long before I considered myself a crafter, though, I fell in love with words and language and the stories we tell.   I think that many of us don't write because we are afraid of the reactions to the stories we tell...  because we value our privacy or the illusion  of us that we strive to maintain.   I write because the me I wear is not always the me I am, and sometimes, the costume gets heavy.  I write because I believe in records, I believe in leaving a footprint.   I write because, as much as I'm most likely to be the girl in the corner who says nothing, I actually have a lot to say.  I like being heard.  I like making an impact.  I like making a difference.   This past summer, the idea to write The Planet You workshops kinda fell out of the sky and crashed into my office with meteor-like force.   It grabbed me and shook me up and sat me down and said "you've got to do this."  So I did.  And i hemmed and I hawed and I asked for a lot of support from a lot of people... and out of their corners they came, to help me focus, to encourage me to go on.  To help me with the technical aspects of putting together an online classroom, edit video, prepare myself to be someone a bit bigger than the me I am in my own head.    It is easy, when things are tough, to forget that we have amazing talents and skills.  It is easy, when things are hard, to think that we are alone and that no one really cares if we succeed or fail.  It is easy, when things are scary, to think that we are too small, too unimportant to have enough strength to face the world.  The easy thing has never been my way, though I'm as prone to moments of self-pity and sadness as the next guy.    What it is, though, is that I believe that who I am is worth everything I have been through to be her, to be here.    Even when "here" is a great big slippery mess.   Even when "her" is struggling and hurt and angry and exhausted.  Life is what it makes of you, not the other way 'round, but You are what you make of life.    Love is everything.  And I never in eighthundredthousandbazilliongajillion years thought I'd be the girl who not only believed that but also said it outloud, for everyone to hear.    Love is the reason we are here, and I'm not going to the first person to say it, but perhaps, this will be the first time you hear it in your heart:  If you don't love you, all the rest is pointless.    I don't claim to be anything other than this girl who has "been there done that and lived to tell,"  and in many cases, more than once.   But as I've been there and done that, I've taken a lot of notes, and learned a whole lot.    The journey to you begins with a simple step... the same simple step many times... ask yourself a question, and tell yourself the truth.   If you're looking to start that walk, or want some guidance and company on the way, I'd love to have you join me for The Planet You journaling workshops.  View the introduction, free mini-course, and register here.

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18: describe your happiest moment

ummm.... I can't.  I have this brain block thing when it comes to happy... it's just not a word I use or really even understand.  I get love, joy, peace, settled, comfortable... all kinds of "nice" things, but happy... I just don't get.   Sorry... today's blog post, while it exists, is a bust.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, list your crushes, pick one and describe him/her in detail...

Yeah... so I'm not going to post the list... because, well... I don't know you... and I've actually managed to keep quite a few of them to myself...  but as I thought about this list, there is one for whom the details are everything, but it's not the details you'd think...  Yes, he is beautiful, strong, gentle, but the details that matter are that when I first met him, he walked into the room and spoke to me as if he knew me.  He asked questions that were about how I thought, not how I felt.  He said the "right" things--- not about how I looked or what he wanted, but about how the world felt.  How he could feel my place in it, and how it shifted to make room for him.  It's that he's the first person who went away when I said I'd had enough, and came back when I said I was wrong.  It's about how he accepted that I loved him and wanted nothing from him.  It's about how he showed me that I could accept that he loved me and wanted nothing from me.   It's that he never asked a question he didn't actually want the answer to, and that he held me accountable for my answers.  It's that he was willing to care even when my own personal brand of crazy was enough to drive everyone else from the room.  It's that he saw the me I wear to protect the me I am, and could make fun of me playing me.   It's that he was willing to cause the me I wear pain to force the me I am out into the world.   It's that he was willing to call me on my bullshite without telling me I was full of same.    It's that in the moments when I truly believed I was not anything enough, he let me stew in it so that I learned how to pick myself up from it instead of needing someone else's strength to do it.  It's that he didn't ask me to love him anyway, he just loved me and let me get there on my own time and terms.  It's that when he said "I love you" it didn't hurt, or feel like a cage.  It's that all he ever wanted was that I became all I ever wanted...  and that he knew that I had a crush on him but never used it to his advantage, or my detriment.    It's that long before I knew how much he would matter to me, he already mattered...    And hey... if you're he, and you stumble across this... Thank you... for being you.

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16, what is the moment you leave childhood and enter adulthood

While this prompt begs a few hundred witticisms (and I'm sure there are hundreds of blogs posting at least one)  it caught me in a more pensive mood and so I'll leave the humour for someone else.   As an exact moment, for many, there isn't one, it is a transition that takes place over time, but if I had to give a universal defining moment, I'd say it is the moment when you realize the consequences of your actions are as important as the actions themselves.  As children, we truly believe in the "Do Over" and that a mother's kiss will solve any hurt, and that "I'm sorry" makes everything okay again.  The thing is, that while many of us start over (at least once, and for some of us, many many times)  you don't get a chance to "do over"   You can't unring a bell, and when what is done is done, all you can do is move past it, or hunker down behind it, or stay stuck in it.  A mother's kiss will lose all of it's magic (if it even ever had any for you) the first time your hurt is bigger than your faith that someone else can take your pain away.  And "I'm sorry," unless used in the form of sympathy, rarely is ever even enough.   In my house, we don't really even say it, because my response to it is "good for you"  you being sorry doesn't change the fact that you hurt someone else, or that you lied, stole, cheated, abused, ignored, were careless... whatever... you being sorry is about you... not about being responsible for whatever it is you have done.  So, yeah, I think that there is a moment that all of these things coalesce and we become adults... at least in our thinking, if not yet in our actions.  Now, trauma will change a child into the semblance of an adult at any age-- but it's rarely a fully fnctioning adult.  There is a moment in our lives that we recognise ourselves as adults, but I think that the change in the way we understand the way the world responds to us is what really makes the difference.   
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, Describe a favorite place.

When I read this prompt this morning at 4:00 am, I immediately thought of my beach.  It is my favorite place, though I've an affinity for many places, this place always makes me feel calm and centered.  The susurration of the waves calls to me like voices from a long forgotten past.  The crisp smell of salt in the air covers, but not completely, the dank smell of seaweed, shells abandonned by their inhabitants , and the layer of  natural clay.  The cry of seagulls, a piercing call, seems to have music that is just beyond my understanding.  It is a New England beach, the coastline more covered in rocks and shells than sand. 
I take my son there once a year, and it brings me a great sense of joy to know that he is also in love with "my beach."   

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day Fourteen: Have you faced your fears and conquered them?

Well that's kind of a big question... no... no kind of about it-- that is a big question.  And my answer is so squishy...  I have two really common fears-- heights and public performing.  I deal with the heights thing pretty much every day at work, climbing 20 foot ladders,but the public performing thing?   Yeah... not so much.   One of the hardest things about doing the Planet You workshop was putting my face and voice out there with my ideas...  it just makes me nervous.  Public speaking... even when I'm teaching a small art class to people I know, or reading a newsletter aloud at work, makes my voice shake... my knees shake, and my stomach takes up semi-permanent residence in the bottom of my throat.   ButI can make myself do it.   I can talk myself into it.  Now... what I still can't do is sing in public.  I have a good voice, and thogh I struggle sometimes with being a little flat, I tend to sing well.  But I am terrified to let you hear me sing.  So much so, that I can't really sing when I think people might hear me.  I end up all flat and all over place.  In those moments, you'd think I couldn't sing.  But so here's the thing... I was on location for a job in Vermont... little town outside of Quichee Gorge, living a hotel for about a week.  The bar had nightly Karaoke... and my team of people would all meet up in the bar for dinner and a drink and then, Karaoke would begin... and for most of my team, it was just a good time... hanging out, singing, with gusto, with some passable voices, and some even downright poorly but having a blast... and me... couldn't do it.  Nope.  Not a sound would come out of my mouth.  Now... Let me tell you a bit about the job i had at the time,  I led a team of people who literally went door to door advertising for local retailers.  We knocked on over a hundred doors a day, talked to every person we could find and gave them our sales pitch... yeah... me, the girl who can't speak in public.   And at the start of most days, I was responsible for giving a small motivational speech-- many of which I focused on "getting past your fear"  because let me tell you, knocking on doors is a scary job.   So one night, my guys said "Hey... you talk to us every day about conquering our fears... and you sit here too scared to sing in an empty bar... you sing, or we take the day off."  Well... I found a song,  closed my eyes, and shook all the way through it... but I did it.  And they were so proud of me and so unsure of why I was afraid, because the thing is, I CAN sing.  I'm just terrified.  So... our last night in town, we head down to the bar only to find that it is full... like 100 people in there... and here we are wondering WTF when the Karaoke DJ says... to me... I'm glad you came, we're having a contest... you should sing.  And I said No... uh uh no way.  And So my team put my name in...  And the next thing I know he's calling my name.  I sat on the floor, under the bar, and sang Killing me Softly so sweetly it brought tears to a few eyes.  I missed a note or two, couldn't get my voice to stop shaking until the second verse, but still... I did it.  A hundred people.  When I finished, the DJ said "good thing the contest was over or there would be a whole lot of locals who were disappointed"... I smiled, blushed, walked away and believed, for a moment, that perhaps, fear really was just a silly waste of time.   Faced?  Yes.   But conquered? no way no how.  I'm still afraid.   How about you?  What scares you?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the subject of things we keep...

I have a battle with clutter... not just stuff, but ideas, memories, people.   I keep things... and it might even be fair to say that I horde them.  The thing is, that like many people, I have some identity attached to things.  I have a life full of symbols.  Though I have less of the symbols now, post Katrina, than I did, and I have changed the way I keep things, I still am someone who reaches for an item to evoke a feeling, memory, place, time.  Here's the thing, though-- I believe that we all have our own particular brand of my crazy and one of the ways I keep my particular brand in check is by NOT being painfully organized.  When I allow that part of my crazy to come through, I end up being incapacitated by the slightest bit of disarray.  I cannot leave a room with the pictures not hanging straight on the wall,  I cannot just put my jewelry in the catch all tray.   Yeah... I know... bat shite crazy... so I've tended far off in the other direction where I lose hours a day to trying to find something I just put down.  And I cannot for the life of me find a happy medium.  I know that in the middle... i'm plesantly surrounded by the things that matter to me, that my art supplies are well tended but not necessarily always put away for the night.  I know that in the middle, my work clothes are clean and pressed where I can find them in the dark predawn hours that I get ready to go to work.  I know that there in the middle, I gain some control, and some of that precious time that I swear I haven't enough of.    But I have to confess that every time I finally decide, again, that I can't stand the clutter and the mess and the losing of things and the lost hours that when I begin the task of decluttering and organizing I get so caught up in the details of making things perfect that I end up positively hamstrung at the process of going forward.  And as i said, I'm attached to things, so I have a really hard time throwing out those remainder pieces of scrapbook paper that remind me of the perfect page I made, or the canvas I used the paper on...  I have a hard time throwing away clothes that I no longer wear or like or even want because I might NEED them.  And... memories... people... ideas... if I can't throw away a scrap of paper, how really am I ever going to let go of that spark in my heart that is the first boy I ever loved, who I no longer even know, no longer can recall his taste or smell or the way he said my name but darn if tht spark doesn't just make ME burn a little brighter.  
So...  I know that I'm doing myself a disservice by not battling my clutter and finding my way back to middle.  I know that if I allowed my particular brand of crazy to rear her formidable ever so perfect head and take over for a few days (okay--- weeks) that I'd be happier, more at peace with my surroundings, less anxious all the time and I'd have the hours back that I've lost to looking for things.  I know that if I went back to keeping an idea book for the projects and writing ideas in my head I'd be less bogged down in my brain with the ideas I'm afraid of losing, or the ones I can only half remember and so will never start anyway.  I'd feel less pressure to create when the ideas occur, which then sends me into a different panic because I don't have a clean square foot in any of the three rooms in which I make art and write.   I know that if I kept my calendar up to date and my checkbook balanced, I would stop being late with things that I need to take care of.  I would stop being surprised by the passing of time and wonder how, when I had five weeks to prepare for something, it is all of sudden tomorrow and I've done hardly any of what I've planned.   I know that if I treated my personal time as I treat my workday time I would find  better balance in my heart.  What I don't know is what will initially tip me over the edge of willing to be living like this to willing to face my personal crazy to get to a place where neither is the way I live.   Heh... that was more than I expected to say, but for those of you that read me regularly, you know that once I get going, I usually get caught up in it... Because I thought, really, that what I was going to write about was that what is funny, in all of this, is that the things I don't keep are the ones that cause pain.  I don't hold grudges, hang on to the hurtful things that others have said or done, or even the things that I have said or done that are hurtful  I accept that pain is a part of the process but it is a step along the way not the road that we are meant to walk.   And okay, sometimes it's a million steps along the way, but there's still plenty of other road.   I believe that we are meant to experience pain-- that the lessons it teaches are invaluable, and often unlearnable in any other fashion.  I believe that pain is an intrinsic part of being, but not an intrinsic way of being. 
Bad things happen.  Really bad things happen.  Really bad things happen when you are most vulnerable to them, or when you are least expecting them or when you have no skills for which to cope with them.  But they are still only just a moment in time.  They are still only an opportunity to learn something else, to see some other way.  And yes... I know that that is hard to see when you are down in it, or when the bad thing is something that causes not just pain but also sadness.  I know that it is sometmes easier to hold onto the yucky stuff than it is to move forward... and hey... wait a minute.... isn't that what I was just saying about my clutter and messes and disorganized life?  And um... since when did I ever choose the easy road?  So...  now that I've written my way around to the guts of what keeps me stuck, I have a clear and present choice to make: stay stuck where it is yucky but easy or do the work and get back to where things can be hard but better.   And hey... if this sounds like you, too... I have two things to say-- the Burn This Book writing workshop will walk you through the thought processes to get the junk in your heart on the page and out of your heart--- help you get back to the place where you get to CHOOSE what you keep and why.  And you can register for the workshop here and have immediate access to the whole three week curriculum.   And the second thing is that whether you join me for Burn This Book or not, perhaps you'd be willing to join me and choose something in your life it is time to live without. 
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekends are "prompt free"---

So on this journey of NaBloPoMo, we don't get a writing prompt on Saturday and Sunday...   and that works out just fine for me today... because I have been thinking about a few things that need to see the light of day instead of hanging out in my head or heart.   Over the last year, I have participated in a few online workshops that have been fabulous and enabled me to break through some personal barriers with making art, talking to people, setting limits, and setting goals.  Strangely, breaking through any personal barrier is really the same "work" despite what the barrier is.  Define the barrier, define the things that keep it in place, decide which side of the barrier you want to be on, and then begin removing the things in the way either by redefining them or getting them gone.  And, no, I don't mean that it is easy, but it is doable.  And discovering that within me (within you) lies the ability, the power, to be the you you want to be is a really awesome experience.  Even when it happens once a week, or every day.  Our inner life, that voice within is ready and willing to awe us each time we let it be heard.  So, yeah, life is better now that it was, I'm more "me" than I've been for awhile, and I find that that is a journey I take every few years or so-- the one back to me.  Because I'm the kind of girl who has big ideas, and big dreams and I solve problems.  I rarely look at any situation and say "okay... we're done.  We can't fix this, or move past it, or come up with another way to get it done."  Though I don't always enjoy solving the problem or doing the work, I LOVE rising to the challenge, using my creative energy to come up with another "way," getting something solved, done, fixed.  
I'm the kind of  girl who knows that out there in the world are a bazillion ideas and things and people who I absolutely need to know, even if I don't then choose to keep them in my life.   I fear rejection like the next guy but I know that if I don't reach out, the answer will always be a closed door, an empty space where You might have been.  I recently attended a webinar with Jonathan Mead, hosted by Cara Stein, and while I was disappopinted to find that what was supposed to be a two hour webinar was not much more than an hour and most of it a sales pitch,  Jonathan presented the idea that instead of making a "to do" list, it might be time to make a "to stop" list.  And that really hit home with me.  Because I get myself stuck in the "I don't have time" trap all the time... yet I've been up for an hour this morning, and done nothing other than play a few games online and write this blog post.    What would that hour have been worth in terms of "time to do" if I hadn't gotten my cup of coffee and sat down at the computer?   What would each and every hour mean if I stopped before doing and thought for a few minutes about what I will have accomplished, gained, taught, or removed before I give my time to the task at hand?  
I've been giving a lot of thought to the idea that all the answers are "out there"  and we just have to learn to listen.   That we need to learn to be still, quiet and not just hear, but listen.   I know that the power of community is a powerful and altering thing-- that when we work together to accomplish something we are stronger than when we work alone.  I know that we get stuck feeling small and helpless and that our one voice cannot make a difference, our one small action cannot matter.  But it does.  Every time we reach out to someone and offer our genuine support, love we are making a difference.  Every time we turn off a light we don't need we are making a difference.  Every time we choose to shop locally, buy handmade, or even to do without, we are making a difference.  As I've been writing more about the real world realities of  my life, and not just about Planet You, or making art, or any of the other little wonders in my life, I've been so overcome by the responses of those of you who have stopped to listen.  I have been awed by your support.    You make a difference in my day and in my world, and it is so wonderful that you stopped to listen.    I believe that when you reah out, there will be someone with a returning hug.  We are here to make connections, foster bonds and forge ahead.  So I will tell you this... don't be afraid to tell your truth, ask to have your needs met, be honest, give your kindness, feedback, support, help when you are moved or called to do so.  The world is ready for you-- we are ready for all the fabulous gifts you have in your heart that you have been afraid to share.    And we need you. 
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 Make three wishes...

Well... hello... so used to not being here so often that this stretch of blogging daily is beginning to feel a little like a habit...  I'm liking it... though it often feels like reaching a hand out into the darkness, unsure of what is there.   One of the things about blogging that has always left me feeling a little hollow is that I can see that traffic-- I know you came to read... but there is so little feedback.    I love reader comments-- not just that validation that it provides, but the opportunity to meet other bloggers, get exposed to other ideas and styles, and the sense of community that it helps build, as in "I am speaking to you and you are responding to me."   the internet is great for opening doors, but it has fractured our communication to soundbytes and footprints.   I'd rather know my visitors by their words than the technical footprint that tells me someone was here.   So for my first wish:  I wish that everyone who stops by to visit here leaves a comment.  Even just a "hi, I stopped by" is plenty. 
My next wish is is big and personal so I guess I need to give some back story--  I live in northern Louisiana these days, but was in southern LA when hurricane Katrina blew through.  I lost my home, my pets, my lifelong accumulation of things that mattered (or that I just couldn't throw out, and to be fair, it was probably an even split).  We found ourselves in Monroe, being housed by relatives of mine i didn't know I had, and the struggle to rebuild our lives began.   I changed careers, found a job I love but was the only one of us able to find work.  I had a baby, who is now my beautiful four year old boy.  We bought a house, never really thinking that the years would pass without my partner being able to find sustaining employment.  We have a disaster loan from the SBA that has been in hardship deferment for many years, but that has now ended and my mortgage payments have doubled as a result.  So for the second time in less than a decade, I face losing my home.   Despite the facts, I remain hopeful that things will work out, and that perhaps, this challenge is just where I am meant to be right now.   those who don't know me well enough to know the details of my life woud never know that I am struggling to keep my house.  Even with all of this going on, I took on the creation of the Planet You workshops and mixed media art supply store because I believe in Planet You, and the power of our words and of our inner voice and of our collective voice and actions.   I love teaching the writing workshops but I'm woefully ignorant about the marketing aspect of all of this.   Wish number two is that Planet You finds it way into as many lives and hands as it can possibly reach.  (if you're just getting to this blog for the first time and want to know more about Planet You, click here)
Wish number three is that I continue to learn and grow by listening to the world and the whispers within.  
So, help me out with wish number one and tell me what three wishes you make today?    Belief is a powerful thing, and if you are willing to believe, you will begin to see the changes you hope for. 
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 10 what is your secret (or not so secret) passion?

Now.... there's a prompt i can sink my teeth into... because... well... heck... passionate pertty much defines me... though I'm not terribly certain that this isn't more aligned to "guilty pleasure"   I'm going to veer off into another direction.  Not so secret passion-- words.  I don't read books, i devour them.  as many as five a week, but the sad thing is, since i got mommy brain, i read them, and then remember absolutely nothing about them... until I begin rereading one something finally strikes me as familiar.  I am creful with wiords-- I say exactly what I mean, i mean exactly what I say, so when i question you, it is not because i'm being difficult but rather because I'm making sure that you mean what you are saying.  Another not so secret passion-- chocolate... preferrably with caramel or mint, but any old chocolate will do.  I make chocolate sandwiches-- warm toasted bread with melted chocolate...  oh goodness... yum... best on crusty french bread...   Another not so secret passion-- music.  I love music.  all the time,  though i occaisionally crave silence, it is usually only from voices.   I spend my day working retail, and i raise a four year old, so there is noise around me all the time... voices voices voices... and it's not that i don't want to hear ou, but sometimes I'd like you to be quiet.  Or need someone else.   Another not so secret passion, but only recently really awakened in me is that I love to watch your soul get wings.   It gives me great peace and joy to watch as someone discovers/uncovers the voice in his or her heart.    As for a secret passion... well... if i told you, it wouldn't be that anymore...   So... tell me, what sets your soul on fire? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaBloPoMo: When was the first time you realized your home was not like other people's homes?

Interesting question but i haven't really an answer... I grew up in the epitome of normal... 2 parents, two dogs, two cats, some type of rodent pet.  Both my parents worked.  My brother and I are two and a half years apart in age, though I am adopted.  Inside my home was like inside other people's homes... and it wasn't til i was in my teens that I realized how the sameness could begin to be different.  We had enough to eat, enough to wear, enough to love, enough to laugh, enough to know when enough was enough.  And i think that perhaps, even now, as an adult when those things aren't always true in the home i have now, I've never really understand how those things don't exist.  Inside our home was full of books and music, of the secrets grown-ups keep from children, the secrets children keep from grown-ups.  It was safe.  It was always safe until i presented the element of danger into our home.  I was a wild teenager, beginning a little early at age 12.    But again, not so different from any other house i knew.  I guess the first thing I noticed that was different though was that we never yelled in our home.  Raising one's voice was considered to be rude, mean... and always uncalled for. When we got in trouble... the conversations were quiet, tempered-- and perhaps because of such, my behaviours became even louder.  I'm the kind of girl who has found herself, again and again over the course of her life... always somewhat surprised to re-meet the best of me, and never truly surprised by the worst.   I have wandered so many versions of my "path" that I now know exactly where I am every time I get lost.   I know that there were pelnty of other families with one parent, or no pets, or many more siblings... or beliefs and idealogies thatcoloured the lives the lived, but I never saw it as being really different... there was enough...  and that recognistion of our sameness I think is what matters more to me tha the recognition of our differences....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov 8 prompt: Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event.

Really?  is there someone out there to whom nothing traumatic has happened?  But anyway...
Okay… so one of my Big Uglies is that I was raped.  It happened about a bazillion years ago now, and it was a date rape, not an assault rape.  I was 17 years old; I was just getting ready to go off to college and start a new life, and was truly madly deeply insanely in love with this boy, who was equally as truly madly deeply and quite possibly more insanely in love with me.  It was a night like any other night for us and some of the details are long since gone, though I remember we had been at a party earlier in the night... a house with a pool (I love the water, and i love to swim).  I remember changing my clothes in a cedar closet... though for the life of me I can't tell you why that was where i was changing.  I remember that my swimsuit was blue, but I don't remember the clothes I wore that night.  I know that somewhere in the course of the night we had talked about having sex, and I said, “later”.  I know I said “later” because when it happened he told me I said it.  I know I said “later” because it is one of the reasons I felt as though what happened was my fault.  On the drive home, he pulled over into one of my favorite in the woods places, got out of the car and turned up the stereo.  I got out and leaned on the hood of the car, lit a cigarette and let myself disappear into the music and the beautiful dark night.  Abandonned Naval Base, craggy roads and scrub trees that streteched til the land gave way to sand and the ocean-- and so far removed from anywhere that the night sky was black shot through with the stars.
And he held me and told me he loved me and kissed me and said “I want you.” And I remember saying that I didn’t want to, that I didn’t feel like it.  I remember him whispering my name, which is not the name I have now in part because I could not bear to ever hear it whispered again like that.  I remember him reaching between my legs and saying “If you don’t want it, then how come you’re wet?”  I will never forget that.  The power of those few words was a hammer because I didn’t know the answer—that my body could want something none of the rest of me did.  There was no physical violence, there was no fight… just my tiny little word “No” and his bigger than life rejection of my word. 
The scenery... so far less imortant to me than the words, spoken and un, that shaped the way that night played ot for each of us... because I'm far enough away to know that it hurt him, too, and it changed him, too... and that we both became the someone's we are today, in part, because of the someone's we were then.   And for as traumatic as it was for me then, these days, it is just part of my catalog.  I can talk about it without shame or pain, though sometimes sadness creeps in.  The thing about these moments in our lives is that they define us if we let them, they shape us whether we like it not, and only we can chose when we are ready to let go of the shape they have made and become again, someone changed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov 7 prompt: How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life?

Heh... now there's a question... and if any of you have an answer I'd love it.  I don't balance it.  plain and simple.  I work for Michaels, love my job but don't love the stress and the five am shift...  I have a four year old... and I'm an older parent (42) and I live with my partner (who is again asking about when we are getting married... and marriage is just not something I am looking to do again).  I teach here online, make art, play games and am a bit of an information junkie so I do lose a lot of time to the computer.  But I don't feel that my "lives" are balanced.  I give more quality "me" at work than i do at home.  I think my son doesn't get the best mom out of me as often as not.  I think that my partner gets the short end of my temper, time and energy.   Part of what gives me the most trouble is that I really need alone time... and that's hard for a four year old to give.  And it's hard for my partner who has spent his whole day with a four year old to then give me more time "away" when I get home.  I  get frustrated with everyone when I do not get enough time on my own and I dislike being frustrated.  Balancing the demands and stresses of all the different parts of my life is something I learn a little more about each  day... and some days, I only learn that I am really bad at it : ) 

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day Four and some other thoughts

So, Today's prompt is:
When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?  and that's not terribly easy to answer for me.   When I am journaling or writing the class material for the Planet You workshops... I write with a pen or pencil (and I use the word "pen" loosely-- most of the time you'll find me scratching away at my papges with a sharpie marker).   When I am writing fiction I perfer to sit at my computer and write, as long as the writing is coming smoothly-- when I am struggling with ways to make the words say what I want them to, I'm back to paper and a pen for awhile.  I think it is the contact of creation that makes me more comfortable with a pen than a keyboard.  I love the speed with which I can acccomplish a "finished" piece on the computer, but I do NOT feel as connected to my work when I am typing.    I am not a skilled typist.  I have a very advanced hunt and peck method-- I have to edit a lot if i want to watch the words appear as I type, or I have to keep my head bent down over the keyboard to see the keys.   I prefer the "heart" of handwriting, but I love the flexibility of document creating with a computer.  So... my answer is really... both.   As a blogger, I've grown  comfortable writing on the keyboard, but as a girl who has been keeping a journal for three decades, I prefer a pen.   If journaling is something you've shied away from or you'd love to start but just don't know how, The Planet You writing workshop is a great way to get yourself going.  In the new year, there will be two new workshops added.  You can register for the newsletter here.   The best part of discovering your voice as a writer is discovering your voice.  The voice that speaks when we create is the voice that whispers inside us about everything.   And that voice inside you has a lot to say--

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaBloPoMo... yeah... say that three times fast!

Heh... well here it is November... NaNoWriMo month for me for many years--- National Novel Writing Month.. though for the last few years, my life has been busier and my creative passions have been other places than with my love of words.  This month, i stumbled across National Blog posting month (thanks Pippa)  and i thought since I wasn't going to give myself the NaNo pressure this year (1666 words a day for thirty days) I'd at least see if i couldn't give myself this challenge.  I'm coming in a few days late, though one can register up until the 5th of november.  I don't think I'm going to head back and play catch up because, well... i don't do things backwards when I can avoid  it... but todays blog prompt is :Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?   And the answer to that is a resounding YES!  my partner, Joe cannot write to music... so when we were doing Nano at the same time, I'd have to sit with my headphones on and work... I love to have music in the background,  and I often use it to set a mood.  I've lately been taken with Alanis Morisette, and have been listening to some very old Marillion, which also always maks me smile.  Music, for me, is something that helps set a mood or break one.  Words inspire me, whether as sung lyrics or a written piece...  i don't care much for fluff or songs that I can't understand the words to...  seems a little pointless to me to have words no one gets.   I can write without music, too, though I prefer to have it on.   Today... my soundtrack has just been the piped in music at work.. which, horribly, already includes Christmas music.  Not that I dislike Christmas music, but I dislike it November 1st...  it just doesn't work for me.  I used to like to hold off on playing any Christmas until the week of Christmas, and the first piece of Christmas music in my house was always played after the tree was finished-- and yes... it is suitably un-traditional-- Fairy Tale of New York, The Pogues.    How about you?  What Christmas song "sets the stage" for your holidays?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The night Before Hallowe'en....

Ah... this is my favorite Holiday of the year... The one night we are encouraged to be someone else, and are rewarded for it.  We are asked to imaghine ourselves as any other somebody or something, and the only limit is what we can imagine ourselves to be.  I loved making my costumes as a kid... i had a store bought costume only once in my childhood--- little miss muffett, and though there were weeks of preparation, I still managed to scare myself in the mirror with that spider on the side of my plastic mask.  I believe in the power of make believe.  I believe in the power of pretending.   There is quote from Joseph Cotton that I often find myself referrencing  "It is good to act as if.  It is better when it is no longer an act."    What we believe, even if only what we are pretending, has a life of it's own.  The act of believing brings the idea into being.  And how amazing is that?   My son is four, and terribly excited to be going trick-or-trating this year dressed as a GhostBuster  (yes, he's a little old for his age).  He is worried that Hallowe'en is meant to be "spooky" but he is fairly certain that Mom can keep him safe, and if i can't, he has a Blaster and a Proton Pack, and that ought to make everything alright.    As everything else in my life begins to move into that too much too soon too fast pace, I love this last moment of time to just believe, for a night that I can be anyone I choose.   
As the Autumn deepens, I remind myself to slow down, to take a cue from nature and allow myself to take the time to recharge, and gather my energy for the coming seasons.  This has been such an exciting year for me, with the creation of Planet You, the return to making art, the return to teaching art... and all the challenges and leaps of faith that these ventures have brought.  I have made many new friends, been inspired and supported by people all across the world, and the little miracles continue to unfold each day.    For the remainder of the year, The Panet You and Burn This Book will run as open enrollment workshops (registration will be available on the fourth).  You may join in at any time and have immediate access to all three weeks of the course material.    I will be releasing the new workshops in the Planet You series shortly after Christmas.  There will be a Planet You II workshop, a body image/self identity class,  a book of letters, and possibly a few others.  To be updated on the new workshops, don't forget to register for the newsletter.  I promise I don't send tons of email and I will never release your email address to anyone else, ever.    I hope that tomorrow, you find some magic, not only nbeing you, but in being whoever you wish to be for the day.  
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Planet Kaere to Planet You

right.. so I've been sitting in the studio making backgrounds for some small art pieces that have been in my head for awhile and I just never stopped to sit down and make them... busy listening to a mix cd that I made of the music that makes me want to touch my heart with gentle hands and it occurred to me that to some of you I am a stranger.... so I thought I'd take the time to talk to you... not in the classroom, not as curriculum, but just me, Planet Kaere, to you... the world at large....
I recently was asked "how are you doing, really?" and I answered.... a big answer about being scared, terrified, really, about the place my world is right now... not where I am in it, because I know me pretty well, but my world... and that conversation has also been spinning round my head--- I really am Planet Kaere... and i really do live there. It has taken years to become her, and I love her dearly... on any given day when I'm presented the option to be someone else, I still choose me, but I won't tell you that the choice isn't hard. My bullshit meter is set at negative 2-- I hate being lied to, and being asked to compromise. I dislike learning things the hard way, even though that seems to be my forte. But I know that each day, the choice to not be here is mine... and that is every kind of here there is. I can choose not to go to work, not to get out of bed, not to breathe. The world will continue on just fine without me. It did before me, it will after, and it does on the days when I just plain check out for the day-- sure people get angry, and some get hurt, and sometimes I have some clean up to do afterwards--- but the world itself gets by just fine. My little boy will still get fed. Michaels will still open their doors at nine am. The sun will still rise. The bills will still be due. My place in the world is only as important as I let it be... my absence only as tragic as I let it be. I've lately been struck with dreams of being dead. It means that I'm not in a very good place for me, and that will fix or I will fix it, but it's amazing the sense of relief that accompanies those dreams... the "I don't have to so this today" that leaves me feeling free, not sad... Here on Planet Kaere, that means that I'm not living "right with my self" and that's a wonderful awakening-- a great place to be for as yucky as it feels... it's me giving myself a wake-up call... and it's always good when those come from within rather than with out. So... what I'm thinking is that for those of you who don't know me... (and those that do) Planet Kaere is a very real person-- I don't talk to you about Planet You because I have some degree in life management but because I've been there... and I know that sometimes it is easier to feel lost and alone than it is to choose lost and alone, or another course.... I am not always happy, not always excited, not always looking forward to the next thing... but I am always willing to be surprised, to be wrong and to be amazed... by you, by me, by the world at large. Today I found myself thinking not only about me, but about each of you-- do you know that your strength and courage amaze me?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Have you ever noticed that the more you talk about something...

The more real it becomes?  Yeah... ideas are an amazing thing.  words even more so...  As The Planet You has come into being, the more I talk about the course, and the upcoming courses, the more I know that this is what I'm meant to be doing...  Yes... the feedback from course participants is awesome, and it helps me focus... but the conversatios I have had, one on one about The Planet You material just get me so fired up.  Strangely, thouh all of my participants, thus far,have been women, the people I talk to most in my actual world are men... and what is so awesome about that is that i get feedback from a different perspective-- and from people who are not as  likely to share in this type of experience.  I spent the day at my favorite craft show, St. Patrick's annual Herb and Harvest fest, had a wonderful day, sold some art, some journals, a bunch of summer scarves, and had a blast... but I also got a chance to really talk through what I think will become the next Planet You course, on body image and identity.   It is so soul sucking to face the mirror each day with dread and loathing... and it is so unnecessary... You are beautiful... even if you've got a face like a foot and haven't seen your toes since god was 2.  You are beautiful.   Even if you're all angles and sharp bony features.  Being Beautiful isn't about the flesh bag of bones, it's about what that sack carries.   Believing in your own beauty is about understanding that our soul sack is meant to be useful and cared for...  and understanding how, what and why others respond to us.   So just to let you know... I'm thinking, and writing, and testing the waters... and I think this next class will have book making and collage projects, as well as writing. 

Burn This Book is being well received, and I thank all of you for your feedback and interest. 
The October session of Planet You begins on the 21st, and you can register here.    Here's what one participant said about Planet you:
 I've always wanted to write, and I've always known that I could write. As a linguist I strongly believe in the power that our words hold. Journalling seemed like an obvious and non-threatening way to begin, but when I tried nothing happened. Nothing! I knew I had the words inside me, but I just couldn't find them. I was overwhelmed by the blank page. I was afraid to find those words and my voice, and perhaps even afraid of finding MYSELF in those words. Then Kaere created "The Planet You" and I hoped that her writing talent might rub off on me! The Planet You prompts gently helped me to explore my heart and find what I needed to say. I found that the little steps of the "Planet You" curriculum led me to where I felt safe and free to write. Having the classroom chat was helpful in encouraging me to overcome my fears and share, and just write. Suddenly there were so many things I wanted to express! I had found my voice, and discovered myself on the way. Now I can't stop writing, and it feels GREAT!

I 'm ever so glad you stopped by here and I would love to see you in the classroom

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Finding Your Groove

Celebrate Louisiana
Well, I taught art in Baton Rouge this week at the Social Studies educators conferrence in association with the Louisiana Bicentennial committee.  The Bicentennial committee has adopted an art project I desgined this summer for a local church's bible camp as the official art project for grades 1-8 for the Bicentennial Education program.   I was given an awesome space and a great bit of help along the way.  Attendance was open for my presentation, so people wandered in, and made the project at varied times.   Teaching a step based project with everyone working at different steps is quite a juggling act!  Because making art is something that is part of my day, I forget how "unapproachable" it seems to people who don't play with paint and mod podge and paper...  It was great to watch people who do not think of themselves as artists or crafters get in to the project and have some fun.  Towards the end of the day, I realized that in working with adults, I had forgotten one of the things I say when I'm working with children-- I forget to mention to be unafraid--  There's always a "yucky" phase when you don't like the piece in front of you, there's always a spot you want to "fix".   But if you keep working and just trust yourself on the way to the "end" when you get there you'll have a finished piece that you enjoyed making.  Getting caught up in the fear is the hard part for all of us, in everything from facing a hard day at work to relationships to writing, to making art. 
I still have a hard time calling myself an "artist"-- I make art, yes, but the word "artist" just feels a little big to me-- a little kid tromping around in mom's shoes.   So when I teach art and when I talk about making art, I fall back on something that has really been a blessing to me-- I have a four year old who loves to make art with Mom.  I have a child who approaches every blank page and canvas with a sense of wonder and fearlessness that is contagious.  And WE ALL USED TO MAKE ART THAT WAY.   My son picks whatever  colours make him happy on any given day, and glitter and glue and paper to cut and just goes at his project revelling in the process and the way the making of art works...  He paints with a heavy hand simply because he loves the way the paint moves from the brush to the canvas (or paper).  He loves to cut shapes from paper because he is "making something from something else"  and when I try to steer his creativity, "Oh look, this is food pictures-- how about some of those?" he balks, because he has an idea in his head that he is getting on the page--  he is not making the "idea" I have.   He stops when he has had enough.  He likes to make art in stages... fifteen minutes or so, and then go do something else and come back to it later.  He never feels that he has to "finish" in one sitting, or that taking out the art supplies to get busy is too much work.  He enjoys just being and making art.  
As I stood, talking and watching adults take a "designed" project and make it their own, I was reminded that making art, like writing, like loving, is about finding your groove-- listening to that little voice inside you that says "Oh... do that"  and "time to stop."    Your groove is not anyone else's... and you can learn to make art, write, love from a plethora of sources, but the place where the magic happens is where the art, the words, the love, are the representation of that voice in you.  It's not about making the piece you were shown, it's about making the piece your own. 
So... I had a blast and found my groove, and remembered a few things along the way.  (yes, I'm going to bring this back 'round to Planet You)  I was reminded that I love to teach, that I love to watch people learn and that the voice in each of us speaks differently but about many of the same things.  Art, as a tool, is a wonderful way to get quiet with your inner voice and really listen.  Journaling is much the same.  I cannot encourage you enough to be that four year old, pick up a paintbrush, a crayon or a pen, and let your voice talk to the page.  You won't love everything that comes out, but you'll learn a bit (or even a lot) about you and you'll feel lighter and brighter.  When you give yourself permission to just find your groove instead of being perfect, you'll find that the voice in you is much more willing to share what it knows.   I debated teaching art techniques with Planet you, but my little voice said that the words were what mattered most, so Planet You exists as a writing workshop only.  Burn This Book includes a great little book making tutorial that shows how easy making a book can be, and a really intensive journaling course.   Come join me for some fun in either course (though Burn this Book is "hard" work)  and discover the voice in you that does truly have so much to say, to create.   Click here to visit the classroom, watch a preview of The Planet You and register
The Planet You  October session, October 21st
Burn This Book, October 14th

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What a week!

Hi all... did your week just keep getting bigger every time you turned around?  Mine did.  I expected it, but sure as I stopped to breathe, someone added somehing to my to do list.  We had a visit from corporate this week, which went exceptionally well, for which I am relived and proud.   We worked hard, and I think that we often forget just how good we are at what we do.   Yes, we make mistakes, yes, we fall behind, cut corners, rethink directions, and sometimes get by on a spit patch, but we are good at what we do.  To be told that by someone else is really nice sometimes.  You know, I'm a big propopent of being that voice in your own life, of being the first person to say "good job, well done"  and even that that is the only voice you ever really need to hear, but I won't tell you that it doesn't hurt to have someone else chime in and reiterate it.   The second session of Planet You is about to begin the third week of classes.  Tonight we wrap up my favorite week-- the section entitled "I believe."   This is the "meat" of the course, where we talk about how we came to our beliefs, and how we nurture them.  We talk about holding beliefs that aren't true, and beliefs that no longer serve our needs or wants.  We talk about living in a way that honours our beliefs, and supports our beliefs instead of in contradiction to them.  It is my favorite part because really listening to the voice inside of us as we seek the words to label our beliefs, we begin to really see what we honestly believe and what we simply carry with us, as baggage or by habit.  It was the writing of this part of Planet You, that brought me on to write Burn This Book, which talks not so much about beliefs, but about the things we carry with us that hurt, that serve no purpose other than to remind us of pain.  I think that every time we say "yes" to one more thing that is not true, that we do not want, we are simply adding another thin white scar across our already fragile hearts.  I believe that when we carry the pain of our past with us, we are only making sure thatour own history serves not to teach us but to defeat us.  We choose our limits as surely we choose our wings-- and I believe that many of us have become so caught up in the lack of choice, in the idea of the history that we've forgotten that we still have the power to choose.  That we still have the power of words and we can make a difference; we can change.    I've seen lots of new folks coming by the site (sure wish you'd leave a comment and say "hi" -- I love to get to know my readers).  I'd like to reach out personally and welcome you to whispersandwishes, and invite you to participate in either a Planet You or Burn This Book workshop.   You can learn more about either course at the Planet You site or you can contact me directly at  Over on your right, you can register for the newsletter and be updated about promotions, giveaways and new happenings.  I'm so glad you came to visit... I hope to see you again!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A-Z of Me

A. Age: 42
B. Best friend: Steve
C. Crafts you love: Mixed media art, art journaling, paper crafting, book making, collage, mosaics... I kinda love it all, though I'm not partial to floral design
D. Dogs or Cats: prefer cats to dogs, but love them both.
E. Essential start to your day: silence, coffee and a cigarette in the dark as I check in on emails
F. Favorite color: purple.
G. Gold or Silver: Silver,
I. Instruments you play: Flute, Bass guitar (though so out of practice I'd have to relearn) I can peck at a piano, and I've a violin in the closet witing for me to learn-- I've always wanted to play.
J. Job title: Presentation Replenishment Manager, Teacher
K. Kids: One beautifl little boy, 4 years old.
L. Live: Louisiana
M. Mother’s name: Georgia
N. Nicknames: none any more
O. Overnight hospital stays: two that I can think of... and then I stayed overnight with my son when he was in a body cast
P. Pet peeves: poor grammar and spelling (there's a spell check and a grammar editor on your computer FFS, having to repeat myself, being spoken to when I can't see you.
Q. Quote from a movie: "I always meanwhat I say, even when I don't mean to say it." All That Jazz
R. Right or left handed: right dominant ambidexterous
S. Siblings: 1 brother, Older
U. Underwear: yes
V. Vegetable you hate: stewed tomatoes
W. What makes you run late: others or I can't find something, or I get busy and lose track of time.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth, knees, hips, mammogram.
Y. Yummy food that you make: I make the best brownies.  I make yummy truffles.  Caramel Frosting.
Z. Zoo animal: river otters.
feel free to copy and repost your own list... and link back so I can go check out Your List!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Superwoman meets the real world.

I'm Superwoman.  I know I am.  My little boy tells me so: "Superhero Mama" he calls me.   I work a full time job, hold a relationship together, raise a child, make art, write, teach, and design art education programs.  When I listen carefully, i can hear the words you don't say.  When I speak carefully, I can say the words you need to hear.  I get up at four in the morning to go to my job.  I take fifteen minutes of quiet time with a cup of coffee, a cigarette and my computer before I start running around for my day.  I refuse to even begin the list of all I have to accomplish in one day until I've had those fifteen minutes.  Without them, I might as well forgo the superhero cape because I'm just a girl with too much to do.  Those moments of time to center and be still are what allow me to then tackle the rest of the world with a SuperHero mentality.  You ever here Batman say "I can't?"  Yeah, me either.  Because you never get anything done with those words.  I'm not saying that there's nothing I can't do, but I'd like to prove that first, before I refuse to even attempt something.  I'm not ashamed of my failures:  I've learned a lot from them... and my scars identify the places I've been, the battles I've fought, and the things I've lost or gained along the way.  Being a SuperHero is just making the choice, to get up and put on the spandex, everyday.  And let me tell you, at 42, spandex doesn't wear as well on me as it used to.  But here's the thing about being a Super Hero.  It takes  alot of work.  It takes a lot of energy.  And it takes a lot faith.  You have to know your weakness-- your fatal flaw.  Every super hero has one (can we all say Kryptonite?) and for me it is really simple:  it's the word "yes".  I deal with the world by saying "yes, I can," and sometimes the answer really needs to be "No, I'm not able to take that on right now."  Or "No, that doesn't meet my needs."  But as a Super Hero, I believe that I can.  so I do... and do, and do and do until the exhaustion of realizing that there is always something else to do sets in.  And then... oh boy... That spandex feels like it really doesn't fit.  That I'm just my four year old with a bath towel around my neck saying "woohoo, look at me, I'm superhero Seamus and I can fly."   
What it is though, is that we get so good at busy, at meeting needs, schedules, deadlines, demands, that we forget that the art of being a good super hero is having an alter ego.   And that's where I come in... me.  Planet Kaere... in a beat up pair of Vera Wang jeans that fit me like they were made for me (and my first pair of jeans in a size 10 instead of a 12 :), and a tank top that feels good against my skin, bare feet and hair down.  Me... I still work a full time job, still hold a relationship together, still raise a child, make art, write, teach... all those things... but I do it every day because here on Planet Kaere, sometimes a girl is just a girl.  And sometimes it's time to just shrug your shoulders and say "the world will get along just fine without me."   Because... you know what.  It will.  If I don't put the dishes in the sink... the counter isn't going to collapse.  If I don't finish every project on my list today, the world isn't going to grind to a screeching life threatening halt.   Because as just a girl... I give myself more permission to attempt, instead of the pressure to succeed.  I love a good Save The Day as much as the next guy, but sometimes, just plain Survive The Day is the best I've got...  and you know what... That makes me a superhero, too-- just as my alter ego.  And I've got to say... that whether it's spandex or blue jeans... making the attempt every day is pretty fabulous.

Don't forget: you can join me for  Burn This Book, beginning October 7th or Planet You anytime this month.  For more information about either course, you can always contact me directly at or leave a comment here.  Join my newsletter for updates on journal writing workshops, special sales at the shop, and discounts and promotions on my workshops.

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Making art, writing, and taking time to breathe

Wow... the days just fly by and I find myself making a list every day of the things I need to do and accomplish as deadlines, whether actual or self imposed, approach.  My favorite (and only, this year) Craft show is coming up on October 15th, the new Planet You workshop, Burn This Book, goes live on October 7th--  can't wait to shoot video for this with the camera my boss lent me.  In my "real life" job, we have the corporate fall tour coming this week, some additional drama and changes, which, though I think they are needed, add some stress to my workload and environment.  I'm still busy gutting my crafting spaces, trying to minimize the clutter and create a space where I can work and then clean up without disturbing the projects that are in "process".  Do I sound like I'm complaining?   Yikes!  Let me back this up a bit then:  I LOVE what I do, even on the days when I hate what I'm doing... I love my real life job, and I love making art and altering books, I love teaching art classes, and I'm so totally in love with the Planet You stuff that someties it is hard for me to focus on anything else! 
              This time of year, the Autumn, is my favorite time of year.  I love the cooler weather, and the way the world begins to pull in on itself.  I love watching the leaves change  and fall, and to see the decorations for Hallowe'en and Fall begin to appear.  Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite things to do.  Hallowe'en is my favorite holiday--  Every year I carve a new craft pumpkin to add to my collection and carve one live pumpkin.  I haven't decided what I want to carve this year-- any one have a suggestion?
Tow-Mater Pumpkin
               I've been busy altering glass Lanterns for the craft show-- just love working on little panes of glass.  I'm still working on all those journals, too.  My friend, Ashley, is holding an online auction for National Adoption month.  Check out her website, Blessings in a Basket, to see her amazing organization, and you can contact her if you'd like to donate a piece of art for the auction.   
                I have a request for all of you who have taken the Planet You workshop:  I would love your feedback for the course for my newsletter and the website.  If you have a comment that you would let me share, please leave me a comment here, or you can post it at the planet you facebook page, send me an email at, or send a message via the planet you message system (in your profile at Planet You.   And if you haven't already registered for the newsletter, there's one of those fun little clicky buttons on the right that will allow you to sign up for the newsletter.  I promise not to inundate you with email!  
               I think that I have forgotten, yet again, how to slow down and take time to just be at peace with my world and my place in it.  I get so excited about upcoming projects or ideas that I get all busy in my head and with my hands and then... oh heck... it's another mess and bedtime!   and on that note... I ought to get some cleaning and organizing done this morning-- our local Toys-R-Us has Geoffrey's birthday party today and we like to take Seamus there to have a little fun.   

Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A little "me" on the page

Here is one of those journals I'd been making in the craftroom last week.  I seem to be able to finish two at a time.  I just love making them.  Inside they are lined blank book pages.  Just lovely.  

butterfly journal
Well... it's Saturday afternoon already-- how did that happen?  I slept in, til 5:30 this morning, got up, made the coffe, went back over some of the Planet You stuff, took three phone calls on the art workshop I'm teaching in October, got my little one up... oh... yeah, that's where the time went.  I do all this stuff with a four year old.   I love my little lad dearly but I so often forget to budget his needs for my time into my time.    I spent most of the morning slamming back coffee and writing the new Planet You workshop, Burn This Book.  If you know me via facebook, or you've taken Planet You, then you've probably heard me talk about Burn this Book.  The new workshop will start on Saturday October 7th.  It will also be a three week class and includes a handmade book tutorial.  The book for this class is really easy (and inexpensive) to make and though in this course, we use it as a journal, it can be easily adapted and embellished to use as a scrapbook or memory album.  Unlike the first Planet You class, Burn This Book is target specific in getting your "junk" on the page, and then, yes, into the fire.  In this workshop, we'll talk about the things we carry in our hearts that we no longer want or need, why they are there and how to get them out.  You'll focus on just one of those things for the three week session and there will be weekly chats where you can talk directly with me and your fellow workshop participants about your process, your progress and your project and any thing else you might want to talk about!   Though writing Planet You wasn't that long ago, I had forgotten how much "me" goes into the writing.  I am so very excited about Burn This Book, but also exhausted.   Registration for Burn This Book is open at Planet You , and course kits will be available at the Planet You Shop  by the 21st.  Course kits are not required but it will put the supplies for the book making part of the corse in your hands... all you will need is your adhesive of choice.    If you haven't signed up for the Planet You newsletter, there is a link to the right.  the newsletter will be biweekly and fill you in on the latest news, special discounts and promotions and any other good stuff!  See you here and in the classroom.
Make something beautiful with your heart and your hands,