Dealing with Your Inner Critic

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If you are any type of creative person you probably have a cheerleader on one shoulder and your inner critic on the other.  My muse is my cheerleader, that voice that feeds me sparky ideas and inspiration.  My muse is the positive force in my life.  My inner critic, in contrast, argues with my muse.  She likes to shout words of discouragement and fear in my ear to the point I quiver with self-doubt.  Unfortunately, she’s an annoying fact of my life.

I have come up with strategies to deal with this bitchy pest that tries to drown out the voice of my sweet muse.  One of them was to give her a name and draw a picture of what she looks like….

Helga, my IC, is an ample pickle-shaped-figure with spiny whiskers protruding all over her grotesque, gelatinous body.  She has a high whiney voice resembling the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  The only facial expression she has is a grimacing frown of disapproval.

Daphne, my muse is a sprite of a being that emits light from her colorful body.  She dances with joy and speaks to me in cheerful songs of encouragement. Her voice is softer than Helga’s and can be easily drowned out.

I’ve become more adept at isolating those two voices by putting an identity to each.  When Helga gets too annoying I visualize swiping her off my shoulder with a THWACK and then dropkicking her out the door. (So satisfying).

Inner critics tend to love periods of creative inactivity.  The best way to keep the beast off your shoulder is to diligently keep up your work on a daily basis in some form.

To those of you that suffer from dealing with your inner critic, I hope my strategies can be of help.

Best of luck!

 

MUSE

Come out & play with me

you my best of friends

I am happiest when we hold hands

& dance our secret dance.

Whisper in my ear

& fill my head until it is overflowing

with sparks & flowers

of inspiration.

Let’s bring forth from the cauldron of the ethos

a new incarnation of matter & thought

an offering of our magic

to the altar of the earth.

My Words for 2020

A good intention is like the seed of a tree whose fruit we do not know.

George Bernard Shaw

It’s become a personal tradition to rather than make a long list of resolutions to pick a word to live by for the year. Last New Year my word for the year was “courage.” Looking back I believe I did the word justice (to the point of perhaps overdoing it?)  I put myself img_2915out of my comfort zone by making a new body of work, participating in the Art Harvest Studio Tour, completing a printmaking residency, traveling Scotland to walk with friends & then to Ireland solo to attend Craiccean a week-long bodhran (drum) camp on one of the Aran Islands.  Then there were a series of health issues that had to be navigated that took a different type of courage.  I am happy to report things are much better!

Ready to give courage a bit of a rest, my new word for 2020 popped into my head during last week’s yoga class when my teacher asked us to think about and intention for the New Year.  That word is “acceptance” with my secondary word being “focus”.  I find one word can have quite a few layers to it and I am eager to explore where these will take me.

Last night I read the following poem I wrote at a gathering of friends as a toast to the New Year.  I am very optimistic for better times and wish all of you the best for 2020.

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Images by Alanna Pass

Continue reading “My Words for 2020”

The Gifts of December

“the comfort of reclusion, the poetry of hibernation”
― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

This is a bit of a holiday card to all my readers.  I am going on a “blogcation, a bit of a hibernation you might say to immerge after the first of the year refreshed with new ideas and new direction.  In this 12th month, the time of pause, I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a rejuvenating New Year!

Alanna

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Beyond the sparkling lights

Apples hang in winter’s chill

Red ornaments on leafless branches

That brighten the sleeping orchard

A flutter of chickadees gather about the feeder

Giving me pause to cherish

The gifts of December

 

The Goddess of Lost Things

The Goddess of Lost Things“If you’re not careful you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.”
― Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Being a creative soul, my brain is constantly mulling over new ideas and possibilities for my visual art and writing.  Being absent-minded really means not being mindful of the reality is in front of me in exchange for the reality I’m experiencing in my brain.  My head is often somewhere in the clouds growing flowers.  A really annoying side effect of that part of the creative mindset is losing things- constantly.  I’m working on it.

A few years ago I welded a piece from junk objects I call ” The Goddess of Lost Things.”On her arms, I hang earrings and I have lost in hopes they will return to me (there have been mixed results). Her headdress is made from a rusted pair of garden clippers, some kind of plumbing fitting for her head and various bits of this and that I came across for her body.

This month”s prompt for “The Nuthatch Society,” My petite writing group was “loss,” a topic that can be explored so many ways.  Rather than the serious side of loss, I chose this everyday part of my life.

Where the Lost Things Are

Tucked in burrows, sheltered from the obligations of daily use

I imagine they are gathered

Possessions I once held in my grasp that broke free and claimed their independence

The khaki hat I wore on the Camino de Santiago, left at a resting stop under a tree

How I missed its wide brim as my eyes squinted and my brow perspired under the Spanish sun- such a lucky find for another pilgrim

My prescription sunglasses in a case of mustard yellow, guaranteed to catch my eye, my name address & phone number in black sharpie on the back

No strategy foolproof

The red leather wallet lost years ago that fit so easily in my pants pocket.  Where are you little one?

Earrings – always my most cherished

The mates, now single, put into service as zipper pulls, charms, and bling for art projects in memory of when they made such a darling couple

Hats, headbands & gloves fallen from pockets on ski trails through snowy woods- usually the ones hand-knitted by dear friends

Sets of car keys

The scarf that dropped from my neck as I walked through the bonny highlands of Scotland

Then the myriad of expensive striped wool socks that enter the wash as pairs and then exit a party of one

Unfaithful jokesters

At times the lost return by chance or effort

Like my favorite watch of silver and turquoise from Santa Fe

But not before I bought a replacement on Ebay

Now I have a spare

In the end, it’s the curiosity that haunts me, the perplexing questions of how, when and where the lost were lost

Questions I would like to be answered complete with videos and maps before I die

Have the socks and earrings joined in more diverse pairings?

What new adventures did my khaki hat have?

Unsolved mysteries that will most likely remain as such

But for now blessings to all my lost possessions

Thank you for your service and blessings to the finder if there was a lucky soul

May you go in peace

As I do as well

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“My Head is Full of Flowers”  mixed media monoprint by the author

 

 

 

 

The Day Before Halloween

 I was out in the garden today “putting it to bed “ for the winter.  It’s good work on a chilly autumn day.  I looked up at the sky and the colorful leaves and said to myself “this day deserves a poem- just do it” so I dashed off to the house in search of a notebook and pen.  Sometimes you just have to pause, be amazed, and write about it!

 

Putting the Garden to Bed

Under an intense blue sky

My garden disappearsimg_3033

with each whack of the machete

As I work I discover monstrous cucumbers

Submerged in dying vines like green submarines

And overlooked onions hiding below the straw

The parsnips pull out of the ground reluctantly as always

Sadly too mature to be good eating

As my armloads of spent foliage build up the compost pile

I sigh with memories of sweet tomatoes

And savory salads

I leave the dried heads of the sunflowers standing

For the chickadees’ delight

Of a Different Feather

daiga-ellaby-h43VqtlnV7U-unsplashA cup of steaming tea in hand

From my padded perch with propped up pillows

I gaze out the bay window

Observing morning activity at the feeder

 

Among the usual finches, chickadees, & nuthatches

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Author’s photo

Unusual activity catches my eye

A petite junco carefully feeds seeds to a juvenile robin

Three times its size

 

Wait, this cannot be!

This bird is of another feather

With no natural obligation

But my eyes do not lie

 

This little junco is clearly committedimage2977637_web1_shaw-1

To care for this young robin

As another to its own

From mindful feedings

To standing by at the edge of the concrete bath

As the youngster bathes and drinks

 

I wonder, what is the story of this orphaned robin

And how did it come under the junco’s care?

I would like to think mercy to save another not of its kind

2018_bird_week_15_dark-eyed_juncoI can only conjecture

But still, I find hope

In the actions of this tiny little bird

And its very big heart

 

*Note: According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, “cross-species” feeding is a very rare thing to observe.  You can read more about it here.

 

 

The Art of Germination

Growth drawing

It’s the growing season and my garden is being planted in stages.  I marvel at the magic of seeds- how something so small can germinate to become a huge sunflower or a plant that offers juicy red tomatoes.IMG_2158

With the exceptions of weeds, seeds cannot manage successfully on their own in a garden.  The soil must be tilled and enriched.  Then once the seeds have been planted they must be nurtured with proper watering and attention lest they be eaten by some pest or choked by weeds.  It’s work to bring seeds to their full potential of flower or food.

Ideas are so much like seeds.  The soil of the mind must be fallow and fertile.  To have a fallow mind, one must be open and ready to receive the seeds of ideas.  Fertile means paying attention and being open.  Ideas often come when the mind is relaxed like when you’re taking a shower, on a walk or doing something innocuous like washing the dishes.  Having a head is full of earbuds and social media is not conducive to collecting seeds the muse has to offer.

IMG_2164When they come, catch them by writing or sketching them in a notebook less they blow away into someone else’s “garden”.  Then give them the attention they need to germinate.

Like seeds, not all ideas will manifest.  Some are not viable. Then others are past their shelf life.  Don’t be afraid to throw them out and get new ones.

I’ve had ideas like these artichoke plants that surprised me and grew into something much more than I expected.  I started these plants last year from tiny seeds and now they are 6-foot record-setting monsters!IMG_2146

You don’t have to plant a garden.  Just get a pot with healthy soil, some seeds, water them, and enjoy the magic of germination.

 

In Every Seed a Promise

A germ of possibility

Tucked into a tiny package

Waiting to unfurl its cotyledons

Up in the sunlight

From the depths of fertile ground

 

The sprout will grow vigorously

With the right conditions

Beneath the suns rays and the spring rains

With the breath of nature whispering

“grow, grow”

 

Tend it with care

Lest it be choked by weeds or eaten by pests

Then feast from your labors

and natures’ mystery

The wonder of a tiny bit of matter

That waited to reveal its purpose