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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?