Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thematic Photography: Night

Carmi has chosen a theme that challenges me as an amateur photographer. When I look at the world through my camera lens, I'm looking for sunlight and water and color. But I think this picture, taken tonight from my kitchen table, is a respectable entry.

I'll be looking for more night scenes as the week goes on. Thanks, Carmi!


Whooosh is the sound of creativity moving through my veins again.

Horoscopes today say most of it:

"You're feeling pretty overwhelmed with good feelings about friends today. They are more helpful than ever and should be looking out for your best interests without your needing to ask."

And this:
"No one is perfect, and that includes you! So why are you holding yourself to such an impossibly high standard?"

Last night I surrounded myself with just about everything I've written in the past five years: free writes, memoir, short stories, journals. I was desperately looking for something to build on. But as at the Chinese food bar, everything looked okay but nothing was tempting.

A fellow writer suggested I write about a fifty-something woman who is having writer's block brought on by a taste of success. And that's exactly what I did. The character ends up writing about what she knows: a fifty-something woman with writer's block. It's not great literature, but it served as a mental laxative, Drano on the clogs in my brain. I woke up with a good idea how to proceed on something that's been brewing for a few days.

Whew! I'm glad that's over. And thanks to all of you who sent courage my way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Writing (or not)

I have a short story due on Tuesday, and I can't decide if the things I've done this morning are a way of making space mentally and physically to write or a way of avoiding the writing.

I have done a load of laundry or two, made my bed, checked my mail, wrapped two presents, thrown away dead flowers and food that has been in the refrigerator too long, swept and mopped the kitchen floor, loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the counters.

All of this could be a way of putting off writing because I have no idea what to write. Or it could be a way of clearing out the literal and figurative cobwebs that are keeping my creativity at bay.

Something else that may be getting in the way though. I got a story back yesterday from my writing teacher. She said it was the best thing I've written. On the pages there are many check marks, "hilarious" and other positive comments, and at the end this: "Brilliant!" And I'm afraid that I can't live up to that, and nothing I have come up with so far seems good enough.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In contrast to the sentiment in my photographs of the past few days, I'm feeling decidedly melancholy. I had my girls home this weekend - something that happens rarely - and my dad came to be with us too.

Now they've all gone home or are on their way. And I'm feeling the blues.

I voted on Saturday. As I waited for my daughter to finish, I watched the people coming out. Heavy sighs, big grins, stooped posture - the reaction to having finally filled in the circles seemed to be that of relief. I felt the same way.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thematic Photography: Happy

This first photo is of an African woman who asked me to photograph her for her website. She was one of the most photogenic (and happy) people I have ever met.

This is my daughter on the bow of our boat:

And this is one of approximately 25 photographs I took of my daughters one year in an attempt to get just one good one for our Christmas card:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thematic Photography: Happy

Carmi's theme this week is HAPPY. This first picture shows my husband doing what makes him happy:

And this photo makes ME happy!

Great theme! Thanks, Carmi!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More books

Since I can't think of anything to post (I'm out of my mind with busy-ness), I'll just share some more of ABC Baby's books:

This little weekly planner is built to last with archival materials and a sturdy flat-back binding. It can be used for any year, beginning whenever you want. Fill in the months and dates yourself. Hand drawn weekly pages! Also includes several blank pages at the end. Slate gray book cloth and linen thread, Rives BFK endpapers, and beautiful, unique cloth on the cover. Dimensions approximately 4" by 5.25".

This hand bound book features gray book cloth and original, custom cover design. Filled with gridded paper. Colorful and unique, with a sturdy binding and endless possibilities! Approx. dimensions 11x5 inches

Dear Santa, I want one of each, please!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Perfect Gift

If you are looking for a special, affordable Christmas gift (and this season who isn't?), go over to The AyBeeCees and buy one of these beautiful handmade books. I have a few of them myself and they are such special works of art that it pains me to write in them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thematic Photography: Blur

This week's Theme is "Blur" and I had to think about what made a GOOD blurry photograph. Most of us, as has been noted on Carmi's blog, hurriedly delete any blurry photo in case someone would think we take anything but prize photos! Here are my picks for the week:

This first photo was taken through a window that had raindrops on it:

I think this picture, taken at a wedding, has a dream-like look:

And finally, this picture of a fisherman has survived many delete-athons:

Thanks, Carmi!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thematic Photography: Grounded

Interesting that this is a daily reading for me today, as we explore the theme of Grounded. As always, I am challenged by the various ways I can interpret the theme. I have been giving thought to people that I consider grounded, and now this idea that we are grounded in our living places.

"Our home life is a large, wondrous, and centering part of our lives, and creating a haven to retreat to means that we have a safe place to collect our thoughts and recuperate from the busy-ness of the outside world. When we make a space that is secure and grounded, we call that type of energy into the rest of our lives. Settling down doesn’t mean shutting ourselves off from the rest of the world; instead it is a way in which we allow ourselves a means to be rooted in a protected and healing place that we can call our own. By developing a space that makes you feel grounded today, you will always have a retreat."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thematic Photography: Grounded

Better late than never!! Here are my entries for this week's theme of Grounded. They all look kind of brownish, but that's the point, hmmm? Sorry I haven't been able to visit the other blogs to see what's up, but I will! Enjoy.

One More Time...Andrew Harvey

The feedback from the Andrew Harvey weekend has not all been positive. Andrew's presentation is that of a fire and brimstone preacher, and his message carries a little of the fear and damnation of that type of church. I knew as I sat in church yesterday watching him rage across the stage that there would be some negative reaction. Here is what I expected:

1. People flashing back to the church they couldn't get away from fast enough.
2. People offended by his political views.
3. People offended by his message that we'd better wake up because things are looking pretty damn bad.
4. People who didn't want to hear his message that our kind of New Age church thinks all we have to do is be happy and everything will fall into place.

Some of those things came out in the emails, but not all. I think people have been reasonable about their objections. The church is not the place to tell people how to vote. To vote, maybe, but not how. Church yesterday was not relaxing. I would almost bet that not a single person left feeling peaceful and serene. Our minister speaks softly and soothingly, and this was about as far away from his style as you can get. And even I don't want to think about how bad things are.

But I'll stick with my final opinion about the weekend. It shook things up. For people to get up this morning and start composing emails about how they felt, that is good! Thoughtful reaction springs from thoughtful contemplation. That, to me, means the weekend was a success.

(If you'd like to read some of the emails, you can go to the Spiritual Gifts Study blog but I would appreciate it if you would just read, not comment, as this is the facilitators forum, not the general readership.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey told us today that with things as insane as they are right now our hope is in combining sacred practice with sacred activism. Sacred practice being prayer, meditation, worship, studying spiritual texts. Sacred activism being identifying the cause that breaks our hearts and doing something to effect change around that cause.

He shook us up. He made us think. He read us poetry by Rumi and played opera and Bach. We meditated until we felt comatose. But in my lethargy tonight there is a new desire to do something good, for myself and the world.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Weekend

This weekend I will be spending a lot of time at church. Andrew Harvey is coming to do two workshops and two services on Sunday. The most exciting part of the weekend for me, though, is that I will be having dinner with him tonight.

I think if I could do anything I wanted, I would do what Harvey does. Spend my week gathering energy and inspiration, writing, taking good care of myself, so I could head out on the weekends and give all of that energy and inspiration to other people. I have been thinking about the steps that someone like Harvey took to go from impassioned and inspired to someone who is paid $4000 for a weekend.

In my own small world, I like to think that I make a difference. Maybe that's enough for now, but I'm going to be asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of good listening this weekend.

You can read about the full schedule of Andrew Harvey events at Unity's website. Click on Calendar.

PS Please go to Peggy Payne's blog for some excellent advice on making the best of these turbulent times. Thanks, Peggy!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Comments and My Friend, Linda

I just went on The Pioneer Woman's blog where she is having a contest and OMG there were 8,632 comments on the post!! That's eight thousand six hundred thirty two for those of you who still write checks. I doubt there will be many posts from her for a few days while she plows (pun intended) through them.

Anyway on a more serious note (one that will hardly bring eight thousand comments but should), I have asked my friend, Linda, who is living with cancer, if I can share with you part of a post she wrote this week. With her permission, here is some incredible advice from a woman who has learned to live the hard way:

"So if you, my dear friends, can learn anything from me, learn that you are terminal. It is highly doubtful that both you and your significant other will die together, so some of you may have to go through the grief of losing your life’s mate before you think it should happen – or do you think it should happen?? Well, it might not should happen, but it may happen. I want you to think about those things and work through any depression or fear. Be intentionally thoughtful and truthful with yourself. Learn honesty and open, critical thinking. Know yourself. Let your life run before your eyes as a movie might. Face your deepest, darkest thoughts and fears. Don’t assume you know how you will react. Just feel what you feel. Let it roll as if into a babbling brook that is silvery and beautiful running through majestic mountains, but see the trash that may be thrown in periodically. Accept that. We are not perfect, and we all have trash in our brook. Forgive yourself for those shortcomings you perceive. Ask for help with forgiveness needed, for yourself and others. Celebrate accomplishments, what you did well, and contemplate what you consider you didn’t do so well. What can you do about any of it? What do you want to let go of? What are you sick and tired of that interrupts your life and has always interrupted it as you can remember? What are your regrets? Can you do anything about them? Determine what that might be for those things you no longer want to regret and let go of those things you determine aren’t worth worrying about any longer. Really do both – do what you can and let go of what you choose. Just do it according to a plan or don’t ever think of it again. Push it out of your mind. Give it no more power. Simplify your mind, your thoughts. Love yourself as God loves you. Feel the power and move on to change and growth. It can happen. Don’t wait for tragedy to change you. Think things through now.

"Can you do this? Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Prepare in the way possible now. Enjoy every moment of your life and learn from those moments you don’t enjoy. What did you learn? Write it down. Revisit it periodically, and write your life’s journal. It may help someone else sometime, even after your terminal time has come. Be real. Be strong. Be happy. Don’t worry…face life. Gain power by choosing your attitude. I love you all."

We love you too, Linda, you wise woman you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Day

Only a writing student can understand my joy at seeing this piece of mine with nothing but check marks on it:

I have to give a lot of credit to my writing teacher, Angela Davis-Gardner, and my writing coach, Peggy Payne. Here is a hats off doodle I did during class last night after receiving my paper back:

And as a grand finale, this:

Happy day to you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I wish

This is what I'd like to see when I sit up in bed tomorrow morning:

Oh well, you know what they say. Wish in one hand and....

Restful weekend

One of my sisters has suggested that my life of commitment and busy-ness is as much an addiction as drinking and smoking. Maybe I protested too much when I argued that I love to be with people, thinking and learning, going to hear good music and to church, being active.

This weekend I decided to hide the to-do lists and take it easy. I did have a few things I wanted to accomplish. I had two books I was reading that for various reasons I needed to finish, the Books for Kids used book sale was going on at Quail Ridge Books, my husband's gospel band was playing at church last night. But for the most part, I had quite a bit of free time on my hands.

I have to admit: there were two or three moments when I felt lost. When I felt like I should be doing something useful.

I don't think I'm addicted to activity, but I still enjoy having many things to do. My writing, my card-making, reading, watching movies, meditating--they don't feel like work at all. They are busy-ness that feels like relaxing. To have put aside all the church work and housecleaning and grocery shopping felt good because it opened up room for the activities I like.

I feel successful in my attempt to relax because I combined accomplishment with selfish endeavor. I could get addicted to that!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dreams and Writing

This is from "Seven Days: A Diary" by David Grossman:

"When I write a story, I try to go to sleep with one unfinished idea, an idea I haven't gotten to the bottom of. The hope is that at night, in my dreams, it will ripen."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thematic Photography Take 2: Kids

These first two photos are of kids dressed up for Spirit of Christmas:

Can't you see the fire in this child's eyes? She was a twirling burst of energy at her grandmother's 80th birthday party:

This photo was taken in Paris. I liked the way the mother was posing for her daughter.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I am awe of the synchronicity of life. When I am driving to work, I will not listen to talk radio, preferring instead to play a music CD. When I stop at a light, I fold my hands in my lap and try to sit still and quiet. Today at a particularly long light, I decided to try to really be present: I listened to the music and traffic sounds and wondered if my life would slow down if I truly lived in the moment rather than constantly thinking ahead to what I am going to do the next hour, day, month.

In the office, I did my daily do's which include reading several inspirational readings and horoscopes. Here are two of them:

From Daily Om, "It can be easy for us to walk through the world and our lives without really being present. While dwelling on the past and living for the future are common pastimes, it is physically impossible to live anywhere but the present moment."

And from, "Fight the growing urge to speed up your life -- what you think you want in your life may already be happening right now, but you're not able to notice it because you're so concerned with what is coming next. It isn't that difficult to live in the moment -- just slow down and think about what is happening today, not tomorrow."

I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thematic Photography: Kids

Thanks, Carmi, for the new theme, "Kids" - I'm posting these two oldies but goodies:

And these three newbies:

I have to say something about this little girl. When we told her how beautiful she was, she closed her eyes, smiled widely, and said, "I know. I'm a model." Cracked us up!

This next little girl posed for many photographs. She was an excellent subject.

This last photograph was taken at Bald Head Island. There are many weddings on the island, and I'm assuming that the father had been instructed to "take them somewhere."