Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Reflections: Guest Artist Leanne Dougherty

My name is Leanne and I started my Etsy shop,, in July of 2009; this is where I sell one-of-a-kind sewn clothing and accessories, including a lot of purses and cloth cuff bracelets. I've embraced creativity since I was a small child, though drawing and painting were my main modes until about 7 years ago. In the meantime I've picked up a couple more creative endeavors, include spinning, knitting, and bellydancing, in addition to sewing and design. I am also getting into jewelry-making, slowly but surely, and have plans to hopefully start a zine in the near future!
To me, creativity means life and living. As I said before, I've always embraced creativity. In fact, I believe that ALL humans are intrinsically creative, that it's something we're born with rather than something we acquire. Some may have a greater inclination for it, but it's always there, in one form or another. It can either be nourished and develop into something wonderful, or it can be ignored or even, quite sadly, it can be discouraged--not just by others, but the self as well.
Creativity isn't just something that shows up in "arts and crafts," but a necessity that has kept people alive and flourishing since the beginning. Even though many things are factory-made and mass-produced today, there was a time not-too-long-ago when every manmade thing that had come into existence was handmade--think about it!
Usually, when I find myself unable to think creatively, I don't consciously seek inspiration, but instead take a break. For me, ideas often dry up because I am trying too hard or forcing it, and I lose focus. So the best thing is to just step back for a little bit, quit "trying" altogether, and tell myself that it's okay to not create anything for a little bit. It's usually in those times that inspiration strikes from seemingly nowhere. (And often that's the best kind!)

When you desire inspiration, it's important to be open to all possibilities. Inspiration doesn't come from a few select sources, it just depends on how you process thoughts or things. Most agree that it can be found in nature, in art books, and in other pieces of art, but it can also be discovered in a pile of junk, the drape of a skirt, or on the bottom of a shoe.
So naturally, I am finding inspiration everywhere! But to be a little more specific, when it comes to the pieces in my shop, most of my inspiration comes from Victorian and steampunk fashion, with the occasional influence from circus couture, ethnic/world folk styles, and fairy/woodland style. I like things that are elegant and feminine, but at the same time playful, whimsical, and unique. I love color but also love texture, especially fabric that has been manipulated with pleats or ruffles.

When making a new cuff bracelet, for example, I usually begin with a pile of scrap fabric (because I have SOOOO much of it!) I mix it around and see which colors and textures look good, and which buttons or accents go with it, as well. Once I narrow it down, I decide on a design. Sometimes I use patterns old reliable patterns, or depending on how the materials interact with each other, I may come up with a new plan. Then it's just a matter of cutting and stitching!
I am also happy to do custom orders, as Toni* can attest to! I am glad to execute your ideas, or if you're not exactly sure what you want, but know you want something special, I am also glad to try out different designs and hope that you'll find something to your liking!
* * * * * * * * * * *
*And Toni attests!
On my previous blogs, I made mention many times of the exceeding dimensions of my own hands, things like 'the size of a small continent'.  I've never been able to wear bracelets that weren't cuffs, and I only 'settled' for wearing cuffs because I could wear them, not because I actually preferred them at all!  Bangles won't slide over my hand no matter how I crunch my fingers/bones together.  Standard size clasp bracelets dig into my skin or break, and I've always thought extenders just looked tacky.  It wasn't until I chanced on Leanne's FolkEtsy shop that the notion (oh! my! GAWD!) of a fabric bracelet as an option took over my blond brain.  I measured my wrist and saw that the sizes Leanne offered would be too small, so I emailed her and asked if she took custom orders.  She did!  She does!!  Below is a photo of the first bracelet I commissioned Leanne to make for me, a Big Boned Gal bracelet!!!  Except it's feminine, vintage-feeling, HAND MADE, and I feel like I stepped out of a period movie when I wear it and not at all like a woman with beastie hands.
Below is what I have my eye on next.  Since mine would have to be custom sized, I'm not AT ALL worried about telling you these are available in Leanne's shop as we speak for those of you with more demure sized hands! 
P.S.  I want you all to know this post is my way of thanking Leanne for finally bringing the world of bracelets to my life.  I'm not 'receiving' anything in return, no freebies if you go visit and/or purchase from FolkEtsy.  Some discoveries in life just can't be horded, and I'm thinking there have to be others like me out there who can't fit standard bracelets, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) who will see Leanne's work and FALL IN LOVE!!!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Misery & the Creative Muse

“Why Grumpy Can be Rather Good for You”
[by Guest Artist Samantha Brightwell]

Inspiration. It's mysterious, it's evanescent, it's transcendent. When we've got it, we feel great. Life is good and days are too short. But what happens when the inspiration thins, disappears or just seems to have flat out packed up and gone? Do you frantically search for it in places you last saw it, like a favourite lost pen? Or do you wait for the next wave of new ideas to come rolling in, bringing a hit of the blessed endorphins we all love so much? My guess is it depends on how patient you are. I’m not, at all. So here are my thoughts on inspiration and the dilemma of waiting for my Muse to drop in.

Roadblocks and doldrums

As an artist, I've hit roadblocks before that have interrupted my creative flow for weeks or even months. For me, it's a visit from Churchill's 'Black Dog' that usually does it. Though art can be the thing that gets me out of it again (and please know that I mean writing, as much as painting or crafting, when I use this term). But this time around it wasn't depression or stress that was interrupting my work, because this time around I was happy. I’d just met someone great and was cruising through the contentment of being admired and feeling attracted to someone. It was a beautiful meeting of minds. Only my intelligent writer’s mind seemed to have vanished, leaving me adrift without a care.

I did the only sensible thing I could do at the time: I surrendered to the thing and let it flow. But little nigglings started to creep in after a few weeks. I’m a subscriber to the view that as a writer you turn up at the page, regardless of the whimsy or the mood you’re floating through. There will always be a million other things going on in my life that attempt to distract me from my art (my work – I see the two terms as interchangeable … one and the same thing). But the urge to write is always there and can always be relied on. Or so I thought. Yet here I was, staring at the keyboard, with nothing coming out.

Look on the bright side!

I started to face the possibility that contentment could be antagonistic to my creative process. Years of writing forged from struggle and discontentment might have just conditioned me to working from that place. Is my writing often grumpy? I don’t know. Perhaps there is a certain amount of what I hope is humorous self-deprecation involved (it’s a Brit thing – think Hugh Laurie or Rowan Atkinson). Darker subjects often seem to hold more depth and mileage for me but I don’t think I’m the only one affected by this bug.

Recently I came across an interesting review in the Telegraph, about Lady Antonia Fraser’s newly published memoirs of her marriage to the great British playwright and poet, Harold Pinter. They were together for over 30 years, until his death in 2008, but many of the critics believe that his truly great works were those written before his relationship with Fraser began in 1975. Fraser herself attributes the changes in his writing and political views to a change from an unhappy, complicated personal life, to a happy, uncomplicated personal life.

Endorsing grumpiness, ‘down under’

There, I thought. This could be the proof that I need to show that there is a definite link between misery and the creative muse. But how can I write about this? The Positive Thinking Police will never allow it to pass into real circulation as an idea.

Don’t panic. I’m not about to start promoting grumpiness as a way to cultivate your creative flow. However, you might like to think about this first before you dismiss me as a total crank:

A psychology expert in Australia, who has been carrying out a study into emotions at the University of New South Wales, has found that being grumpy can be good for you. Apparently, being grumpy makes you think more clearly and miserable people are better at decision-making. In a series of tasks carried out by his subjects, he found that that those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly. How surprising is that? And this is where it gets particularly interesting for those of us who spend a lot of time writing: he found that sad people were better at stating their case through written argument and had a more successful communication style.

Embracing dissatisfaction

Is contentment antagonistic to my creative process? Well, does it really matter? I won’t always be this ridiculously happy. The sheen of new love will one day fade to the pleasant fulfilment of building an ordinary life together (please, I’m just being realistic). I won’t always feel satisfied with the way things are right now. And this is where I think the Positive Thinking Cult can do us a little more harm than good. Because it’s ok to want to strive for excellence in your art. In fact, I firmly believe it’s good to know your weaknesses and keep pushing yourself to achieve mastery. But if we’re always repeating the mantra of gratitude and appreciation for what we have, then aren’t we always saying that we accept things the way they are and we’re not really hungry for more?

What’s wrong with wanting more anyway? Because more is what brings us great changes and developments in human evolution. Wanting more is what drives social changes and makes the world a better place. And in order to want more we have to be a little bit dissatisfied with what we’ve got right now. I know I am. Aren’t you?

I’m signing off today with an open mind to the notion that maybe my Muse loves a little bit of misery. And I think that that’s ok. I also think that we’d all do well to embrace our grumpiness a bit more readily, because though there may be beasties within, there also may be diamonds.

* * * * * * * * * *

{For more thoughts on inspiration and the creative process, please visit my blog, Out of the Void}

I'm a writer, a conscious-living coach and a business advisor. I juggle all that with being a mum and letting my inner artist out to play. When the inspiration is flowing, I write about creativity and conscious living at Out of the Void .  In February, I'm launching a business support programme for arty-types, creative souls and innerpreneurs, called How To Build A Really Good Business  My goal is to help you create success. There are 50 million Cultural Creatives out there, and when we all step into our power, we just might change the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Write-Off: No Anger, But A Dance

Write-Off Prompt for Wednesday, February 3, 2010:
There have been
whisperings in my ear,
so far unintelligible except
Wednesday Write-Off
wants to morph, transform.
While I await further direction,
I leave you no writing prompt
beyond this:


* * * * * * * * * * *
Last Week's Prompt:
Write a [minimum] 10-line poem
about the last time
made you angry.
Rhyming not required.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The thing of it is,
I haven't been ANGRY
in a very long time.
Annoyed, yes.
Irritated, irked,
often frustrated.
But "angry" - not.
& I decided anger
was not a place I wanted
to revisit
during a really good week.

I have no anger poem.

I offer a collage entitled
A Visual Prayer
the poem it
last night.

I have been wanting
you and me
dancing "us" again,
braving the storm-strewn path
we so recently cut
down our center.
I have been wanting
you and me
twirling around the
rubble of distance,
turning atop the
compost of raw reveal,
two-stepping amid
the craters & thrown limbs of
calling this done.
I have been wanting
you and me
to feel our feet --
able --
tangoing among the debris
of our division,
discovering in the process
the steps to a new dance,
more fluid with
the pulse of difficulty - faced,
more fluent accompanied by
lessons taken & learned,
a free solo of change,
as we wind our way
to "us",

still dancing.

l. antonia brown
isle of sky words
[for Double BB]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Technique'N: with Guest Artist Pam Tucker

Pam Tucker
is a self-taught mixed media artist.
She enjoys creating all types of art;
collage, abstract painting, textile art, and
digital art are among her favorites right now.
You can visit her blog at:
to see her work.

CitraSolv Technique
Beautiful Backgrounds:
[text & photos by Pam Tucker]

Here are the supplies you'll need:

National Geographic magazine
(Note: It has to be an issue printed within the last ten years.
I'm told the technique won't work on issues older than that.)
CitraSolv Concentrate (make sure it's the concentrate and not the spray)
lots of newspaper or other absorbent material
paper towels
container and brush (I used a chip brush)
apron (it gets messy)

Also, have a good-sized place prepared to
lay your finished pages to dry.
I cleared a space in my loft, laying down a sheet of plastic
and then covering that with newspapers.

Before I start actually soaking the pages,
I'll go through the magazine and
tear out pages that have lots of text.
What you are looking for are pages with vivid color.
I'll leave in some text pages for "neutral" backgrounds.
There is an advantage to this as you'll see in an example below.

With your newspapers layered onto your working surface
(I used an old padded card table),
open your magazine and just start "painting" the pages
with the CitraSolv.
You can be very liberal with your application.
I literally splash it on the pages,
give it a good couple of swipes with the brush,
and move on to the next page.
Coat the front and back of all the pages you wish to use.
This photo shows how I've coated
one of the two-page spreads:

Work your way through the magazine,
coating the pages with the CitraSolv.
You may have to replenish your container
a couple of times since the magazine has quite a few pages.
Just make sure each page you want to use has
a good coating front and back.
You'll start to see black ink spill from the pages.
This is why the newspaper is a must.
I always get some ink on my hands when I do this.

When you are finished coating your pages,
close the magazine and pat down the cover with your palms.
You'll see a lot of black ink ooze from the sides.
Blot all of that up with some paper towels.
Here's what my magazine looked like
after I blotted the ink:

Now, wait for the magic to happen!
The time will vary, depending on how humid it is where you are.
I found that usually 25 minutes is a good amount of time.
It's okay to peek after about 15 minutes or so,
just to see how it's progressing.
You don't want your pages to stick together,
so make sure they're still wet when you go to remove them.

Start to remove your pages.
Since the magazine has been soaked,
the pages will usually just lift right out.
If you need to, just give a little tug and they'll come free.
When you lift your pages out,
try to grab them by the corners.
The wet ink will show where your
 fingers have been if you aren't careful.
Also, depending on how much of
the CitraSolv you put onto your page,
it will still be drippy when you remove it.
Be careful not to let it drip onto your floor.
I just hold a paper towel under the page as
I carry it to the "drying station".

Take your pages to the place you prepared for them to dry.
Lay them out flat, not touching each other.
Drying time will depend, again,
on the humidity level where you are.
It was really cold here yesterday when
I made these and it took a little longer to dry.
I left them to sit for a couple of hours while I ran errands.
When I came back they were dry.
The first batch I made only took about 20 minutes to dry;
 it was much warmer that day.

Here are a few of my favorite pages from this batch.

You will also discover some really cool surprises with this technique!
In this example, I had left the text side of the spread alone.
I didn't put any CitraSolv on it at all since
there wasn't any color there to blend.
But I liked the opposing image of the man and
thought the colors around him would
make a pretty background.
Evidently I didn't coat this page very well and
the image didn't really bleed out.
But look what happened:

The image had transferred itself onto the text page!
And, totally by chance, there happened to be an ink blot
exactly on the man's eye.
I didn't plan that;
I didn't even know it was happening.
So the transferred image had a hole
where the man's left eye would be.
I was thrilled with this little discovery!
I will definitely be using this guy in my art
(embellished, of course).

That's the beauty of this technique.
If two people paint the same page from a pair
of the same magazines, they will turn out different.
It's all chance, depending on how much
CitraSolv you coat your page with,
how much pressure you put on the cover
when you close the magazine to let it cure, etc.
If I did this again, using another copy of
this same magazine, I would get different results!

I hope you try this technique.
I'm sure you'll be amazed and delighted with your results!
CitraSolv has a website where they post
the different artists' results using their product.
Check out all of the tips and techniques
they've put together for using CitraSolv in their art.
I am not affiliated with them in any way; just a happy customer! 

* * * * * * * * * *


* * * * * * * * * *

If you have a technique you'd like to share on
Tuesday Technique'N,
please contact me at

Monday, January 25, 2010

There Is No Such Thing as A Burned-Out Prompt

' ... because every time you do a project
you are
a different person
different things to talk about.
A new voice will
always take over
take the project into
a completely

So never feel ... 
oh I did that assignment already.  

Approach it from a
different perspective
or different voice.
Always challenge yourself.

You could do
the same assignment
every day
always come up
with something new!'

Juliana Coles
[quote used by permission]
Personal Mythology through Extreme Journalism
http://www.artandsoulretre/ Hampton VA May 20-21 photos/julianaco les

* * * * * * * * * *
Collages from my weekend for my on-line class

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Energize, Not Homogenize

Thinking about
blog post content.
Thinking about
how we all
stimulate & support each other.
Thinking about
how we
meet & greet each other
in comments.

I love comments,
leaving them for others,
receiving them.

Still ...

... isn't it true that
you might read
a little something here,
a little something there,
& find yourself
(your SELF)
rising up with a
different point of view?

Yea, I know.

What I want to say,
I believe it's ok
via comments.

I think it's good to say,
"Hey, I like what you said here,
and here,
but when I read this part right here,
I thought maybe I'd offer another slant,
a second take,
another angle,
because that's
where my experience has led,
that's what my life lessons have taught me."

if I feel super CHARGED
in any way about someone's post
then I know that's the time to
shut my comment yap.
Go away, chill out,
and maybe,
only maybe,
return, and respond.

mind you.
even gently,
the way
I'd want someone to
disagree with me.

NOT 'retort'.
NOT 'correct'.
NOT 'proselytize'.
NOT 'ordain'.
NOT 'command'.
NOT 'attack'.
NOT 'judge.'


I think
there is just as much
I can learn
(maybe more?)
from someone else's courage
to point my brain in a new direction
as there is
(and there is)
from the generous
doses of encouragement
& delight &
community & ideas
we mainly offer
one another.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Reflections - Part 2: '... What We Really Need to Learn'

I'm a brand new reader of
I don't practice & have never practiced yoga.
But the Winter 2009/2010 issue
landed a must-have-talon
in my chest,
so hence came home with me.
Features like
"Heart of India'
'11 Insomnia Solutions'
'The Heart of Pilgramage'
'Your Guide to Spirital Activism'
and the cover art ...

well ...
particularly after
finally viewing,
last weekend,
 a Yoga For Beginners
DVD I've had for months.

Then I read the interview in Yoga Threads
also new to me,
came across this quote:
'My biggest teacher is my teaching.
As teachers, we teach what we
really need to learn.'

THAT thought,
my friends,
was also brand spanking new to me.

Here I am,
with a new blog,
and the intent of using it as a teaching tool,
a forum for learning

What, my goodness,
do I need to learn?

I'm not sure about that,
quite frankly,
I can tell you what I AM learning.

I am learning
that I was right:
I do have a voice,
and something to say.

I am learning,
via comments, email & other feedback,
where the interest pulse resides,
which topics are reaching readers,
where the concerns & fears exist.

I am learning
that asking doesn't mean receiving,
but asking is a tiny baby step
toward my goal,
and each step validates my path,
solidifies my purpose,
reenergizes my faith in my ability to do this.
And asking,
many many many times,
does mean receiving.

I am learning
that all the years of writing
'to a void'
'in a vacuum'
'alone to myself'
amount to a vast reservoir of confidence anyway.
Ditto blogging,
ditto taking workshops & classes,
ditto participating in swaps &
round robins & on-line groups,
ditto submitting my art,
although none of it was accepted,
ditto the uncountable hours
spent at my studio desk
trying the techniques I read about,
or practicing the ones I learned from others.

I am learning

I am learning
I have to teach,

Friday Reflections: A Brand New Year

This just in from My Lovely Mother: 

No matter how badly
last year treated you,
just walk tall

with your head held high.
This is a brand new year, Baby!

love it.

[& sorry, but I can't give image credit,
except to say I didn't take this photo!]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Write-Off: What's on YOUR Plate?

Write-Off Prompt for Wednesday, January 27, 2010:
Write a [minimum] 10-line poem
about the last time
made you angry.
Rhyming not required.

* * * * *

Last Week's Prompt:
Find something weird, cool, comical and/or inspiring
on a license plate or bumper sticker,
and write about it.
Take it any direction you'd like,
in any format you choose,
and write at least 20 minutes, altogether
(you can break it up if you want to).

I stuck with the original personalized plate I saw,
the one that prompted the prompt (grin):

Squashed-fig purple, almost brown but sparkling, spinning rims, suspension with the hiccups.  GONINJA plate.  A woman's car.  She opens that glitter-painted driver's side door, sets her left foot squarely on the pavement.  Pauses, then glides out of her seat in one power move.  Baseball cap with ponytail tugged through the slot in the back, tank top, blue jeans, shit-kickers with a Frye Boots heel but a pointed toe (not for embellishment, but for use when emphasis is required upside somebody's behind).  Gold stud earrings, a gold cross tucked under her tank.  She glances around, once, and moves out just enough to close the car door, swinging her keys on one no-nonsense, no fake-nailed finger.  This is not a bikini-&-pumps-on-the-beach super hero woman.  She's never even seen Charlie's Angels (the original TV series or the film remakes), just heard about them and languidly picked her teeth with the rough edge of her thumb.  She's a woman of few words but those can sometimes out-colorize the rainbow, bi-lingual expletives and minus hesitancy.  Hers is an animal stride, like a large calm cat, checking its territory - aware, awake in every muscle & tendon.  So beautiful, raw & lithe like she is.  She's a woman who startles by saying a plain, "No, "  neither preceded nor followed by an apology or explanation, the way men say it.  She walks by two women with full grocery carts, one juggling several Payless shoe bags, a group of four giggling girls cloistered outside the entrance to La Salsita -- and they all feel a flicker of their own interior false notes as she passes.  This woman, she's a wave of confident personal reality, personality realized, as low maintenance as she can conceive for her own comfort.  The hideous car, recently purchased, takes her from point A to point Z, reliably, gets good gas mileage, and on Saturday she and her brothers will tackle that soft suspension.  She passes and the other women watch, quietly at first, then commencing the insult-chitter - have to put down she who challenges their posturing, their compromises.  Later, though, one who has observed will chisel something of those out of her own way, and privately practice her personal panther stride.
* * * * *
18 minutes of just-keep-writing.
I recognize myself as the watcher who returns to my home,
chisels off a piece of b.s., and practices my stride.
That's okay, too,
because I'm learning.
Sightings of a woman like that are
still quite rare, don't you think?
I feel it whenever I watch the DVD
Veronica Guerin

Hey, didya write something? 
Leave me a
comment and a link!
I'm still working on a Mister Linky
gizmo and hope to
have it ready for next week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Technique'N: Know Your Irresistology!

The Five Sense-Ational Symbols you can't resist!
Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Hearing

Your senses know who you are,
ohhhh yes they do!
And your senses can,
individually or in combination,
kick-start your writing.

Let's just take smell & go for a walk with it:
Some of my own
'nostril essentials'
jasmine, rose, gardenia,
fresh-ground coffee,
rain steaming off hot concrete,
new-mown grass,
Zoe's fur after she's been laying
in the sun, on her window ledge, snoozin'.
Whenever any of these smells
waft up in my vicinity,
my pen starts twitching. 
True story!
How can I not write about
a steaming cup o'java,
my sweet feline beastie,
RAIN!  (In Phoenix?  C'mon!)

So tell me, what tickles your nose hairs?

All of our senses have
specialized triggers that
swoop us up like magic carpets
and whisk & wind us past
all possible writer's blocks,
whether distraction,
downright laziness,
a long list of 'shoulds',
an empty list of ideas.

Oh that is soooOOOooo easy for me: 
My Mainstays: 
Heart, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell
certain soundtracks
Stevie Ray Vaughan
But the birds that
sing to me every morning & afternoon
out on my patio roost?
Music of a different, necessary kind.

What enters your audio channels &
transports you,
moves you to write?


Even words/phrases are trigger enough,
because of what your mind &
memory associate with them.
These are mine, but
feel free to make them your own!

What if
you have a head swarming with
your day,
your ideas,
to-do lists,
juicy overheard bits of dialogue,
to the point that you
don't even know where to start?
May I suggest these five classics:
[Try answering each of those with only one word.
G'head, I dare ya's.]

the scans you've been seeing
are rubber stamp images
I keep in my blue binder,
alongside my personal symbols.
These images,
one & all, comprise the
large part of my
library of irresistible symbols.
I haven't analyzed,
[and don't/won't analyze]
WHY they work.
But I'll tell you what,
they DO work,
& that's all I want
when my pen needs a push.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Lost in Art Space

Spent all weekend working on collages/journal prompts
for my on-line A Life Made by Hand class.
Spent all weekend moving laundry through
the washer/dryer/fold/put-away cycle.
Spent all weekend thinking it was
January 9th & 10th. Go figure.
Got a lot done, though. 
Even took time out for a small gallivant
with My Lovely Mother. 
Saturday, the Phoenix Cardinals lost,
but my testosterone posse was ok with that.
Sunday, though, the Cowboys lost,
& I'm not describing the reaction of
my testosterone posse to that.
0 for 2 by way of teams.
As for me, I arranged my nap time during both games.
* * * * * * * *
First, a few prepared collage backgrounds,
awaiting journaling in response to selected prompts:

* * * * * * * *
Signed myself up for a free
interior decorating workshop at Pottery Barn,
something they're offering once a month.
Decorate your Bedroom.
I'm excited, and frankly relieved it ain't about kitchens!
For 2 months I've been seeking out
opportunities for FREE LEARNING,
anything to push me out of my studio
& expose me to new ideas, processes, etc.,
so this is pretty cool!
Did you know Williams Sonoma has free
technique classes once a month, too?
Go Foodies! 
* * * * * * * *
And now some of my backgrounds with the journaling included,
and I'm off to work!

I am Venice.
water & lace,
both hidden & revealed.
Echoes, reflections, illuminated,
whispers, historicity,
private, raw, passionate,
quiet, intricate, intimate.

Conformity, Surrender to Pressure, 'Miss Congeniality' Syndrome
I'm scared as hell of hiding myself,
hushing my own voice in the face of
social, media, & cultural pressures & expectations to be
a certain kind of woman,
a clone, a yes-woman,
a "girl" no matter how old, experienced, intelligent I am.
I'm scared as hell of making the choice to
dumb myself down,
to accommodate ANYONE else's
comfort zone or limitations.
I'm scared as hell of EVER becoming
a blow-up doll,
an arm trophy,
an outline or silhouette (only) of
a real woman, a real individual.
I'm scared as hell of selling myself out for
approval, love, a job, anything.
I'm scared as hell of
trading my 'balls' for Botox,
or trading in my honesty for
any kind of 'bone.'
I'm scared as hell of being nice
when some truth needs to be told.


against settling for status quo,
against curling up in comfort zones,
against cherishing habit over change,
against turning into a petrified rock
calling it my life.

I want to play, seek, question, grow,
light dynamite under my own ass,
implode boundaries,
find new ways,
learn, always be becoming!

I want to slam dunk on fear.
I want to be the MVP of my own life.

Peace is via my pen:
description, recording, analyzing, chatting, recalling,
vowels & consonants becoming
thought, idea, poetry, story.
Peace is in choosing the details to tell & how to tell them.

Peace is not just writing, but claiming it at last:
Without apology, guilt, or backing down.
WITH pride & delight & pure acceptance.
Peace is knowing who I am.

Peace is a celebration of identity,
Peace is calm, sure self-awareness.
* * * * * * * *

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Reflection: Guest Artist Ann Bell

Very recently, someone named Ann Bell left a comment for me here on one of my posts, and, as I always do with new names, I went to 'visit'.  What I discovered, just from reading a few posts on her blog, was a kindred spirit but also a woman who feels like she is a mentor, ahead of me, leading me, pushing branches out of my way, laughing and saying, 'Come on!  Come on!  You can do it!' 

One of my cherished goals for this blog is to have guest posts on the subject of creativity.  Ms. Bell's blog lit a fire under my nervous heinie and I asked if she would consider just such a post.  AND SHE SAID YES!!!   She asked if she could direct attention to the very post I most responded to, if that could be the subject of her guest post, and I wholeheartedly accepted!

Without further ado, and with my deepest excitement and appreciation, please welcome:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Encouraging Your Creativity is Easy!
January 8th, 2010

Each human being is creative. Young or old, rich or poor, educated or not! Each of us has hidden within us the capacity to be creative, whether or not we realize that it is there. Some people think that only artists, musicians and writers are creative. Others are willing to include people who do handwork or crafts.

You are creative, even if you don’t realize it! If you don’t consider yourself creative, it might be that you do not recognize your creativity and give yourself credit for it. Creativity displays itself when you find new ways of doing routine tasks or when you find a way to do something you haven’t done before.

All progress is the result of human creativity. Each technological, scientific and medical breakthrough happened because highly trained professionals creatively applied their knowledge in a new way. Creativity is responsible for every new product, however simple or complex.

I don’t want to oversimplify here. For progress, much more than an idea is necessary. But the idea is the seed from which it all grows. Without the ideas, there could be no progress.

Most people are so busy doing routine tasks that they don’t allow themselves the luxury of quiet time. Stress builds until they become ill. I suggest that taking some quiet time in your day to renew yourself and nourish your creativity might actually save you time in the long run. Two immediate ways this could happen occur to me: you might discover better, quicker and/or more effective ways to do your tasks and you might save the downtime caused by illness through preventing the illness.

Creativity flourishes when the mind is able to enjoy unstructured time—or play time.

If you would like to be more creative, the first step is simply deciding that you want to become more creative. Your intention becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when you simply take the second step of allowing a small amount of “unbusy” time into your life. Your intention alerts your creative right brain that you want to be creative. So, as you make space in your time, your right brain notices whenever an idea crosses your conscious, and it alerts you to the idea.

Unfortunately, if you continue your super-busy schedule and don’t provide some quiet time for your brain, nothing will happen.

Creativity flourishes when the mind is able to enjoy unstructured time—or play time. I suggest these 3 easy ways for you to open the doors to your creativity.

Sit quietly for a few minutes and breathe deeply. If you can play relaxing instrumental music or arrange silence, you will get the best results. Voices distract from the relaxing ambience. Quiet is the key word.

Take a walk. The act of walking combined with observation of nature seems to attract ideas and promote the peaceful state necessary for those ideas to show themselves.

Take a leisurely shower. The rhythm of the falling water seems to lure ideas to the surface.

Pick one of these suggestions and follow it. When you are finished, write down the ideas that come to you in the next hour. Then make your own list of things you “don’t have time for” that might actually save you more time than they take with the ideas they generate.

For more creativity tips, consider.

Ann Bell
Houston Mixed Media Artist & Teacher

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Would you like to be a guest artist here at Who Said Mermaids Can't Tango?  TALK TO ME!!   I'm interested in any topic whatsoever, so long as it's grounded in/related to the subject of creativity.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Butt Dust

That's right:
I said

The message of my collage, above, is true about me.
The message of my collage, above,
is true about me

Lots of interior time sharing goes on,
studio & patio roosting.
A lifelong pattern.
My Daddy-O used to have to
'punish me' by
forcing me to go outside.

This year,
I want to emerge.


For me, that means I have to make
deliberate action plans to shake off my

Once a month,
I am going trekkin.

Starting 01/31/10 - Butt Dust Buster #1:
Toni is driving to Jerome, AZ.
I've never done the drive myself,
because I'm afraid of heights,
& it's a
up scary narrow hills
peeking over really-far-down drops.
But I'm fed up with being afraid of that drive,
because Jerome is one of my
favorite places in Arizona,
& there isn't always someone
[a driver]
available or willing to go WITH me
every time I need a fix of the place.
So Butt Dust Buster #1
will concurrently see me addressing
a) the issue of getting outta my own head,
b) one of my genuine fears.

I will have a passenger along,
someone capable of taking the wheel
if I can't muster all the way.
But I intend to keep trying.
And said passenger
will also be in charge of
photo-documenting my trek,
so I have journal & blog
evidence of my progress.

What might YOU do, by way of a
Butt Dust Buster?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inspiration - El Albaicin

Sara Baras - Ballet Flamenco

From Wikipedia:
El Albayzín (also Albaicín or El Albaicín) is a district of present day Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain, that retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past. It was declared a world heritage site in 1984, along with the more famous Alhambra.  It rises on a hill facing the Alhambra and many tourists journey into the Albayzin primarily for the spectactular views of the Alhambra from the viewing point by the church of San Nicolas.  Highlights within the area include the remains of an Arab bath complex, Granada's archeological museum, and the church of San Salvador, built on the remains of a Moorish mosque. The Albayzin also contains some original Moorish houses and a wide-range of restaurants, including several streets whose eateries are inspired by North Africa.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wednesday Write-off: Early Bird Special

Write-Off Prompt for Wednesday, January 20, 2010:
Find something weird, cool, comical and/or inspiring
on a license plate or bumper sticker,
and write about it.
Take it any direction you'd like,
in any format you choose,
and write at least 20 minutes, altogether
(you can break it up if you want to).
Coming home from work today, I saw
on a personalized plate,
and that's where I got the idea.

All righty then --
I'm still plowed under on the professional front,
so am putting this post/prompt up early.
[I am determined NOT to break my commitment to this,
or my flow in response to it!]

Last week's prompt:
Create a character sketch.
Dash off some descriptive words,
phrases, bits of dialogue, anything at all
to bring someone you know to life.
Use that person's name if you want, or a code name, or a nickname.

Here's mine:
Once Upon a Landlady
Probably slender all her life, now age-thinned, hesitant in her posture like she checks, & often, if she's standing all the way straight up.  Wrings her hands a lot.  "No pets, and I don't like a lot of holes in the walls, and please rinse out your food containers before you put them in either of the cans, regular or recycle."
Excuse me?  "I want to keep the cans clean.  You know they charge you if they have to replace them, and I can't afford it."

When I parked a rental car in my space, lining it up over the also-mandatory-oil-drip-spillage-catching piece of carpet (provided by me), the police woke me from my nap, pounding on the door.  "I just knew someone had broken in!  You didn't tell me you'd be driving a different vebicle!  You know you have to register your visitor vehicles and permanent vehicles with me."

She spent four hours outdoors in 110 degree weather hovering over a sweat-sick plumber fighting with decades' old bathtub parts.  "I can't afford you milking your time and overcharging me.  How much did that part cost?  Did it really NEED a new one?"

Widowed 30 years, she only emerges from her separate unit in the back of the duplex that houses one other single woman and myself to attend church.  All day Sundays.  She rides a bike, her wide-brimmed hat jammed low on her forehead, basket on the back fender, conjuring (I swear) visions of Miss Gulch on a terrorize-the-tenant mission.  Comes to my door with my mail in hand, trying to lean her way in while she asks personal questions about every single one of my postal items.  The only hope of ending a conversation is downright rudeness, "Have a nice day!" followed by a firm closing of the door, regardless where her shoulder or foot might be positioned.  Otherwise, she takes no breaks, even if the phone rings, a guest arrives, the UPS man wants my signature.  "Oh!  What did you order?  Do you [**gasp**] give your credit card information over the phone!"

She watches out her window, catches me as I get into my car to go to work.  "I'm sure you realize the light bulb over your carport space is burned out."  Whenever possible, I wait until Sunday to write my rent check, then slip it through the slot in her door, so I won't get trapped in an endless, rambling conversation wherein my part consists wholly and only of, "Uh huh, uh huh."

But certain moments, I just want to hug her, close her fidgety hands in both of mine, and whisper in her ear, "Sometimes, I'm lonely, too." 

[A big thank you to someone I know who actually co-exists with this individual; I've personally interacted with the landlady, and collected several of my own impressions; others were lifted directly from dialogue with my friend.  And yes, she does speak in Italics like that!]
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Did anyone else find this prompt daunting?
In the ultimate turn of tail, I
(who have regularly and unselfconsciously written
countless 'people imprints' in my journal)
found myself gulping, then frozen.
Suddenly, this process had
An Official Name:
'Character Sketch' --
and my brain decided whatever I wrote
Had To Be Important.
You know, capitalized just like that.
Maybe even in quotes.  Or quotable.
Goodness, what mental tomfoolery!

Consequently, I didn't take pen to paper
until I got home from work today,
and only then (I'm certain)
because I knew I wanted to put up this post tonight.

Silly woman.

Also, I skittered away from writing about anyone
I know who reads this blog,
which (rats!) subtracted major fodder for
character sketching.
True story.
But I also thought, naw,
that would be TOO easy,
since I write about some of these folks
rather too frequently as it is.
I'm all about challenging myself, too,
not just you.


See you here!