Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any crazier, it has. The issues confronting this country (and the world beyond) makes one tempted to roll over on ones back, legs up in defeat. I need not mention them. You all know- especially in the USA.
This enormity of disasters makes one wonder- is it all hopeless? What good can I do that will make a difference? I’ve been thinking all this week about this question “why bother?” This is what I came up with…
November 2016 when our current “Toddler in Chief” was elected president was a dark time for the United States. We have continued our plunge into more darkness since then. The only good thing that came out of it for me was that I started writing- copiusly. This blog was born soon after in January of 2017. I knew nothing about blogging but just started to blog because I had to. Some 412 followers later I went back to some of those original posts when I had no readers, let alone any followers.
These two poems still apply now, when George Floyd, a black citizen was brutally murdered by a police officer for no reason this last week. The resulting protests and violence is a symbol of our country having enough- of racism, inequality, Covid 19, and the policies of our 45th president. Out of the ashes comes new beginnings. Let’s hope it’s soon.
I don’t have anything to write about today but say, you should really see the Hawthorne tree in the driveway bursting forth into a blaze of magenta blooms and how about those pie pan size exploding pink peonies on the kitchen table that Mary brought over as a May Day treat from her garden, eye-catching saffron-colored bundles of stamens and pistils in their midst.
I don’t have anything to write about today but the blaze in the woodstove on this chilly May morning cheers me, as well as the news that Raymond saw a pair of scarlet tanagers in the trees by the west fence line! I haven’t seen tanagers in years around this place- so exciting to know they are still around. They must be migrating through. I wonder where they go? And darn, wouldn’t you know that we have a pair of ground squirrels that moved in and are making a fine Swiss cheese mess of the yard along with the huge party of voles living below ground.
I don’t have anything to write about today but wow- all of a sudden the lettuce is big enough to pick in the garden along with some kale and chard and even a few snow peas to throw in the evening’s salad and I’m so excited about the flower seeds I started that are almost ready to plant. The vegetable garden will be so colorful this summer!
Back to birds, the black-headed grosbeaks returned to the feeder and will probably stay to nest in the yard. Oops, the hummingbird feeder is empty.
Also blogging about living sustainably and making nature your friend at One Sweet Earth
Bringing light in these uncertain times is a plethora of poetry being shared. It’s amazing the power that poetry can have bringing our attention to the matters of humanity. The last of these is mine.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Now, why would I want to do that to myself? Like building and maintaining a blog with almost weekly posts isn’t enough of a responsibility? The short answer is that I have more to say about an entirely different subject than this blog on my personal meanderings can handle. My new genre is on how to take action to preserve the health of the planet in the age of climate change and other environmental degradation. This form of activism is by making small lifestyle changes.
I started chipping away on the concept of my new blog “One Sweet Earth” in late 2019 with the hopes of a New Year’s launch. That was wishful thinking as I forgot how daunting building a new blog can be. Selecting the right theme, how to build a menu with categories and pages is daunting enough without wrestling with WordPress’s new block editor. Then there’s writing content and in this case illustrating it. A good portion of “One Sweet Earth” is in my sketchbook.
His voice made me halt abruptly as I walked my dog down a country road. I was listening to a new podcast on my phone. It was a most comforting, soft Irishman’s voice, the kind you know the speaker has depth, an old soul worth a listen with total commitment. That voice was that of Pádraig Ó Tuama, the host of the podcast “Poetry Unbound”, part of the On Being Project He was introducing himself and the podcast. Then he began to read the poem “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” by Brad Aaron Modlin. Not only was I was utterly transfixed by the way he read the poem, his interpretation that followed illuminated this piece in a way that I never could have in my own reading.
I came late to poetry, the reading and writing of it. To be honest there are few poets and poems I really love. I have been guilty of quick reading, passing over an author’s words like speeding down a road without noticing the scenery. But with Padraig’s reading and interpretations, I am finding new love in unlikely poems. He pays attention deeply to what the author is saying in each line and then makes the poem come alive to the listener. After his guidance, he reads the piece again so you can fully appreciate the poem’s magic.
This is a repost from 2017. I have been traveling and have not had the time to create fresh content. This essay of Gilbert’s is timeless no matter if you are a writer, artist, or musician. I reread it from time to time just to give myself a reality check!
I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. She became instantly famous with her novel, Eat, Pray, Love but many readers don’t realize that she was a writer way before that and has published other noteworthy books. She writes a lot about creativity. If you haven’t read her book “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” it’s a great read on the subject. Also, she has a riveting TED Talk that is well worth a watch.
A friend forwarded this essay of hers on writing. I enjoyed this so much and thought I’d share. You could substitute the words creative, artist, or musician for the word writer and it would still apply.
Sometimes people ask me for help or suggestions about how to write, or how to get published. Keeping in mind that this is all very ephemeral and personal, I will try to explain here everything that I believe about writing. I hope it is useful. It’s all I know.
I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling. I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young. I became Bride-of-Writing. I was writing’s most devotional handmaiden. I built my entire life around writing. I didn’t know how else to do this. I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began.
There are times you will find yourself mired in a quandary. Sometimes the solution becomes clear in a relatively short amount of time and in others it takes a while to get clarity. Making art is a great metaphor for life in this regard.
I’ve had two art pieces that were finished – but not. Some things were missing and I did not know what. So I let them sit for weeks revisiting them from time to time. I had to let the questions percolate within me for months and be patient. Recently, I finished both pieces. All that mulling worked out in the long run.
The collage (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) piece pictured was mounted on a cradled (dimensional) board. Over the weeks I added more marks and contrast but it still wasn’t enough. I finally came to the realization that it needed a more definite frame around it. Thus I purchased a bigger cradled board, flipped it around, painted it a deep plum, and then mounted the collage board within it. Voila- closure!
The ceramic mask was the same way as I tried bits of this and that over weeks. In the end, I replaced the headdress of wheat with two lovely feathers, mounted a piece of an old earring on the forehead, and then glued brass nails around the neck area. That last step made the formerly boring piece really shine.
In both cases, it took me about three months to get resolution. The muse can be slow. Rushing won’t work. I do this same process with my writing. Put it away and let it stew for a while. There is nothing like having fresh eyes when looking upon a problem.
Solutions will come. Sometimes you just have to slow down and be patient!
Three years ago I started this blog to promote my artwork because that’s what “everybody” said you should do. (See “I was supposed to be Blogging About my Artwork”) I had no idea how to start a blog, nor post, and what do I write about?? I started anyway and when I got a “Like” and a “follow” on my first post I was stunned that someone actually enjoyed what I wrote!
Three years in writing a blog post is a weekly ritual. In the process, I’ve developed a love of writing and have gotten several pieces published along the way. It’s become a meditation of sorts, thinking about what’s been important to me in the week to share. The practice of blogging keeps me grounded. Some posts are better than others. Showing up is the important part. Originally I thought it would be more of a show and tell of my visual art process. My intuition told me to do otherwise and as a result, my artwork has taken a more back seat. This really is just a blog about me on the creative journey we call life.
Then there’s the takeaway from reading the blogs of others. I’ve gained a lot of perspectives just from reading about the experience of fellow bloggers and commenting on their posts.
Putting up this blog was a creative risk. Every time I post is a creative risk. But it’s with those risks we take we grow so much! Ultimately the most important thing is that my personal expression satisfies myself. I still don’t know exactly what I am doing but that is what makes it such an adventure. If you have been toying with the idea of starting your own blog, just do it. There are so many tutorials right on WordPress to help you on your way.
Soon to come this year is a second blog dedicated to tips on sustainable living. Also, I will be including some of my artwork on the bottom of posts just in case anyone is interested. Stay tuned….
“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Mahatma Gandhi
One of my intentions for the New Year is to manage my time more effectively. As a creative type, I am constantly let astray by shiny distractions – a crow woman of sorts. I found two books that are very helpful on the subject.
“Make Time” by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky gives clear strategies to simplify and prioritize your day in a way that will give your life less stress and more meaning. The two authors are self-described “time dorks.” They were so overstressed in their high tech world that they developed simple techniques to really focus on what matters by doing less. Besides providing you with a simple daily template this book is chalked full of strategies to help you deal with digital distractions, tips to eat and sleep more effectively, and even how to get the most out of your caffeine habit!
Then there is “Manage your Day to Day: Build Your Routine , Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind”published by 99U. This compact little book is geared more to the creative than Make Time. There is also some overlap. Each chapter is written by a different person in creative fields about building a successful creative routine. The chapters are short, there’s a lot of quotes(I love quotes) and you can open anywhere in the book for a little pick-me-up.
Check these out. Best wishes for a creative New Year!
“If you want to create something worthwhile in your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions”Mark McGuinness