A Little Bit of Everything

It is Sunday Fun Day, and I’ve been listening and watching this world, looking for wisdom all around me. Here are a few creative beauties that have kept me going lately:

My garden continues to be a source of inspiration. This has been our best year for hydrangeas so far.

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A few months ago, I asked for podcast recommendations, and my friend J— recommended Creative Living with Jamie. Jamie Ridler has created an online studio where she shares blog posts, art classes, and Behind the Scenes with Jamie (my absolute favorite!). There’s so much great artistic inspiration on this site. I hope you will check it out.

I’m also into Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. My favorite interviews so far have been with Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (so funny!), Carly Simon (fascinating!), and Sarah Jessica Parker (intriguing!).

Anne Lamott did a Ted Talk! Just Awesome.

…and the Tony Awards are on tonight! What more is there to say? Can’t wait.

 

Replenish

April was a busy time for me if you couldn’t tell. I wrote only one post—spending most of my days on lists of things that must be done.

It has all been positive vibes though, and sometimes, when you put your eyes to the sky and ask for help, the universe sends you exactly what you need: connection with friends, quality time with family, a walk somewhere familiar…and a walk somewhere new.

Instead of creating over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeding my soul and nourishing my heart.

—And I realized that this is all part of the process. We cannot create all the time. Sometimes we are only observing and learning…replenishing.

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Sweet Spring

I write this morning from my couch. I’ve sipped my first mug of coffee, and I need/want! another cup, but there is a sweet beast snuggled at my side. He is curled into a little teddy bear ball. His back leans heavily on my leg.

I cannot don’t want to move.

It is a lazy morning wrapped in quilts and softness. I want to savor the quiet and peace of the day.

The beast snores in agreement. His nose nuzzles into the couch pillow.

Our Japanese maple dances shadow puppets across the window blinds as the sun beams break through. A bird trills her morning song, calling down the chimney and interrupting our coziness.

Spring is calling us to start the day—

to start a new season—

the season of sunshine, play, and new blooms—

the season of change and possibilities.

 

Sleep, Creep, Leap!

When my husband and I moved into our house many years ago, the backyard didn’t have any landscaping. It took us some time to budget for a garden, and we decided to start with planting a flower garden on one side of the house.

Of course, on the day we designated for the project, I thought we’d dig the plot in the morning, plant in the afternoon, and then we’d sit back and watch our garden flourish in the sunny days that followed.

(There seems to be a theme on this blog, and perhaps my life, of grand plans followed by reality checks!)

Unfortunately, the Georgia earth did not share our vision. We spent the entire first day chiseling through rock and compacted clay, sweating and swearing, with our shovels clanging in protest.

We regrouped the next day and mixed planting soil into our small border plot. We planted some colorful flowers and a two-foot camellia.

My dad loves to garden, and during one of my visits home that spring, he gave me clippings from his perennials. He wrapped them in wet paper towels and plastic wrap. My mom gave me seeds from her morning glories, and we packed the seeds and clippings in a shoe box, snug in my suitcase, for my flight back to Atlanta.

(I’m happy to report I made it through airport security without being strip-searched or arrested for plant smuggling, but you might not want to try this yourself.)

We planted the clippings and seeds, and we watered our garden and tended it over the hot Georgia summer. Over the next few years, the garden evolved, and some of the original plants blossomed as we’d hoped. The sedum, euonymus, and morning glories from my parents’ garden adapted quickly.

The camellia grew steadily and surprised us with beautiful pink blooms every January and February—before spring even started!

After success with the first flower bed, we decided to plant a similar border on the other side of the house. While the first garden was very freeform, the second border was planned to be more structured with a line of shrubs.

We bought three azaleas, which are native to Georgia, so we thought they would thrive. However, the second garden was prone to flooding—and maybe we didn’t dig the holes deep enough, or maybe the soil was too acidic (or not acidic enough?). Either way, during the first spring to summer, we watched the azaleas fry and die.

We tried another set of azaleas the following year, and again we had the same result. The third year, we tried a new shrub type. I didn’t learn its name. I didn’t want to feel too attached.

We tended the shrubs…We watered them, but we didn’t over-water them.

We watched and waited.

They didn’t grow much, but they didn’t die…it looked like they were going to survive.

My friend commented that they were working beneath the surface.

“Have you heard the expression?” she asked, “The first year they sleep, the next year they creep, and then the next year they leap.”

Her gardening advice was on the mark, and our second garden grew from an orange mud puddle to a thriving and soothing green space. Like the first garden, we added clippings from our family’s and friends’ gardens, and we eventually learned what worked for that environment.

Nature has given us Sleep, Creep, Leap—and, if you’ll take a bit of a leap with me here (ha ha!), I believe we have the same stages in creativity too.

Sleep

Sleep is the vision stage of creativity, and it comes from sleeping, dreaming, or daydreaming. It is the time when a color, idea, or story appears in your thoughts, and you begin to think, “I wonder what would happen if…”

This is the stage of researching and gathering ideas and seeds from your community. It is the stage of drawing preliminary sketches in your journal.

You buy some supplies. They gather in the corner while you stare at them, and they stare back at you saying, “There’s never a perfect time to start.”

Creep

During the Creep stage, you’ve planted your idea, and you’re ready to give it some care. You spend dedicated time nurturing your vision.

It is the stage of writing and editing, painting and layering, molding and baking. Your vision moves slower than you expect, but it is still growing.

It is also during this stage that your idea may shoot in a different direction, or maybe your original idea reaches a stopping point. The shrubs get flooded or the leaves are fried in the sun. You might need to start over in a new direction with new information.

It might not feel like it, but your vision is growing beneath the surface, giving your art foundation and strength—gathering nutrients to feed the buds above ground. You are in the flow, your vision has a quiet momentum…

Leap

In the Leap stage, your project has been nourished. The roots that grew during the Creep stage give it strength. It has survived the seasons, cold, heat, flooding—and coming into the spring, it is stronger than ever. All the work you did during the Sleep and Creep stages has allowed your vision to leap ahead. Your art is blooming wild.

Time to Reflect

As we transition from the sleepy winter into the potential of spring, I invite you to reflect on the color and light that inspires you.

Do you have an idea that is ready to grow?

What seeds are waiting to take root in your art?

What can you do to nourish your creativity?

Here’s wishing you patience and peace with the Sleep and Creep stages. May your creativity continue to leap and bloom.

Much-Needed Inspiration

Peeking out of my Facebook feed, amidst too much real news and politics (it is clearly time to clean up my newsfeed), two stories about street art caught my attention this morning.

Check out Jim Bachor’s pothole mosaics featured on CBS News (just ignore the other news stories while you are there) and the Audubon Mural Project.

How cool are these artists? They each had a vision, and they used their creativity to beautify their cities…and maybe even inspire some contemplation about the world around us.

Love it.

 

This is What We Do

Last Saturday, January 21st, I walked in the Women’s March on Washington. It was an amazing, peaceful gathering of people, united in protest. We were 500,000+ women and men packed shoulder to shoulder. At one point, I couldn’t lift my arms because we were sandwiched together so closely. As someone who is not comfortable with crowds, I still felt like I was in a safe space.

Our fellow marchers had travelled all night from all over the country. I met people from Oregon, Texas, New York, Indiana, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the signature pink pussy hats, there were many signs.

A guy walking behind me commented, “Wow, there’s so much angry creativity here.”

The day wasn’t about creativity, but it’s what we do— right? As artists, and simply as human, creative beings, we channel our anger, loss, heartbreak, love, hope, and experiences onto the page or canvas.

If we want to understand a society, we study their art.

SNL political spoofs remind me of Shakespeare’s satires and tragedies.

The knitting of the pink pussy hats (…and gigantic uterus shown here!) reminds me of quilting bees and how women have historically sewn their stories and messages into quilts.

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Some of my favorite moments from the day are as follows:

The song Quiet became a flash mob, sung around the world.

One group handed my friend a folded note. They were distributing various quotes of inspiration and freedom.

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There was a group from Savannah, Georgia carrying signs painted by artist Panhandle Slim. Each sign had a quote from a writer, poet, singer, artist, character, or public figure. Read more about this incredible artist and his story here.

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Whatever you are feeling right now, take time to immerse yourself in your art— express and articulate, breathe and heal. Wishing you peace, my friends.

Finding an Answer

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a resolution is defined as follows:

“the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.”

and

“the act or process of resolving: as

  • the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
  • the act of answering : solving
  • the act of determining…”

I bolded the words I just love in this definition: finding an answer, simpler, and solving.

This definition seems so much friendlier to me than the self-torture goals most of us set in the New Year. Nowhere in the definition does it mention deprivation, starvation, or rigorous workouts.

Yes, this is a good time of year to review what is important to us. It is the time of year to reset and take better care of ourselves. It is the time for long walks, journaling, and meditation.

I hope you will give yourself a resolution for more joy the answer of creativity.

If you need scientists to tell you how good creativity is for your brain and your health, read Study Says Making Art Reduces Stress, Even If You Kind Of Suck At It.

If you’re waiting for permission and validation to create your art, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast #204. (And let’s just revel for a moment in her conversation about immersion with Mark Nepo. I think immersion is my favorite word for the year ahead. What will you immerse yourself in this year?)

If you feel that you’re too old to start, read/watch Hollywood Reporter’s Creative Until You Die. (language warning on these clips!).

Instead of “no pain, no gain,” give yourself a resolution that will bring you joy. If one hour a day is too much of a commitment, start small. Try one hour a week or one hour a month. …One hour just for you, to let your brain wander, dream, and solve problems.

Sign up for a class or workshop, write in your journal, set up a creative space just for you.

It’s time to play and create.

Happy New Year.