Sometimes you have to climb…

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.  ~Anaïs Nin


I took Journi to a new playground a few weeks ago.  There were new things there, namely a climbing wall.  Watching her negotiate it was amazing.  She looked at it from a distance for awhile, walked around it.  Soon she walked up and took hold of the footholds, almost as if testing them for strength.  She sat on a protruding edge, and felt the surface all the way around.  And then, almost without a backward glance, she began climbing.   When she was done, she had no fear of it, no worries and it became part of her play.  She found no need to conquer it anymore, she had found her way thru.

Considering the idea…

I have changed my life.  Thru a series of events that pushed me to act, to no longer settle for what was, but to reach for what could be, i packed up my favorite things and took a new job.  I moved 6 hours from where I have been for 12 years and found a new place to live.

To say that this is scary is an understatement.  Exciting, breathless, and sometimes lonely, that too.  I have not been without a husband and/or child(ren) since I was 19.  This is like leaving home for the first time, except this time, i don’t live in a dorm room and hoard extra change for postage stamps.

Sometimes you just have to begin climbing…

In retrospect tho’, now that I have been at my new residence for 2 whole weeks, I think I probably followed some of the same principles as Journi.  I considered this idea, living on my own, leaving the familiar, for months- even years.  I tested the strength of where I was heading, found a new job, doing something I have always wanted to do.  I backed away from the whole idea at one point, believing that I was probably crazy, and relegated myself to stay where I was.  But then I just started climbing…probably seemed sudden to some…but I had been contemplating the possibility for years.

I think the fear will go away in bits…I am finding my way thru…

Happy New Year.

its early… i can never sleep very much the night before the first day of school.  I always faithfully set my alarm, just on the off chance that I will oversleep…heck, i haven’t overslept since college.  I am a habitual early riser, but the ‘first day of school’ worries always knock me a bit off center.  I have been in public education for almost 30 years, how can i still get nervous?  As a kid, i worried that no one would like me, that i wouldn’t have any friends…moving to junior high, i worried about getting lost…in senior high, i stressed over the right clothes, was my hair just right?  In college, i thought i might not know anyone…and here i am in high school again.  And none of those things are on my mind- i have friends, i know my way around, and I’m 50- I wear what i want.  So what is it?

I was at a well known chain store that starts with “W” last week.  As I headed past pharmacy, and hair care, I could see the cases of notebooks in the center of the aisle.  And while mothers were shoveling the dime notebooks into their carts, daughters were picking the ones with Justin Beiber.  Mothers were saying, “oh for goodness’ sake, pencils are pencils, i don’t think you need the ones with the ergonomic grip that light up at the end of each sentence!”  All thru the store there was an air of expectation…

A new school year… always a chance for a new start, new ideas, new decisions, new ways of doing things.

Maybe that’s it– a new year…will I do well? will i make this year the best it can be?  will my new ideas and decisions be worthwhile?

Maybe i am just nervous over the newness…

Well, time to get ready,to grab that last cup of coffee, to pack up my backpack…do you think the kids will like me?

shoes with silver buckles

i have large feet…like really large feet…large feet for a woman, size 11.  I am nearly 6 feet tall, and have had large feet all of my life.  My father always told me i was “big enough to hunt bears with a switch”…not really a compliment to an adolescent girl.  One time in junior high school, I went to the shoe store with my mom, Brown’s shoe store in Mitchell.  Duane Kellinger was the clerk (very handsome guy in my day and i had a crush on him) and he told me that the only thing that they had that would fit my feet might be some boxes in the back room… i wasn’t sure i heard him right, i was horrified.  Through most of my adolescence I entertained all kinds of ways to shrink my feet.

Women who have a thousand pairs of shoes in their closet mystified me. I have never bought many pairs of shoes, very few actually…the bare minimum to get by. To sit in a shoe store and bare my extremely big feet to a salesman for his brutal comment was not my idea of fun.  I would slink into the shoe store, try to find something in a bargain place, so i don’t have to meet a salesman’s eyes, and quickly, head down, make my purchase and beeline out the door.

Last summer, when I was shopping for shoes for my daughter’s wedding, I realized that my feet were here to stay- and I could hate them for the remainder of my days, or i could embrace them.  I came to grips with the fact that I don’t have big feet because of any irresponsibility on my part, or a lack of self control.  They are not the result of running red lights, or lying too many times.  My feet say nothing about my character. Why should I be embarrassed or ashamed of them, just because they are not the size of many other women’s feet…i am not the size of other women.  I am not unhealthy, but I am big.  I am a strong woman, in body and soul, and in my life, I have carried many…i have carried my babies, i have carried family members through heart wrenching times, and I have carried many students and their loved ones.  I have been entrusted to carry the hearts, tears and secret stories of many… and that is why my feet had to be so large.

I bought four inch sexy heels for the wedding.

shout it out loud!

“Wow, you must have been hungry!” my husband noted, as he looked at my hamburger almost gone.  This was his way of praising me for being a ‘good eater’.  He has always admired the way I eat…Haha, I have been a good eater since birth!

We had just returned from an afternoon of geo-caching – it went pretty well, found one…the GPS signal couldn’t get it together for the other one, so we gave up. After a dirty buggy hike thru underbrush, and coming up on a road, we find out that the GPS had given up the goal and instead told me that there were no caches nearby.

I feel like that sometimes, that I have this goal in mind…I have written it down, i have made a plan, i have steps in mind to get to the end…and then I wake up one morning and forget about it totally…its gone- like my GPS that lost the signal.

How does one keep the ‘signal’ and stay motivated towards a goal, even when it appears that there is no end in sight?

well, I am a person, not a piece of technical equipment, and I need people…people to remind me of my goal- one of my problems is that often I won’t tell anyone of my plan, in case I fail.

Once i say a goal outloud to someone i trust, it seems more real…more solid than the words on the paper, and the steps in my mind.  I can’t back out as easy.

I could go on and on with the steps to strategic planning but I think I have hit the crux.

Make your goal, and shout it out loud, tell you friend, your spouse, your mother…tell someone who will encourage you and help you be accountable.

shout it out loud!

and here is a little KISS to make you smile 🙂

a whiter shade of pale


so i am letting my hair go gray…i have been naturally graying since i was in my late 20s, but chose to disguise it.  For someone who values authenticity above most other qualities…coloring my hair just didn’t match with me…not to say there is anything wrong with coloring your hair- just didn’t fit for me anymore…  So last November I declared myself ‘done’…my last temporary color of raspberry creme was destined to grow out and be cut off, leaving room my my own natural color, which just happens to be gray at this point in my life.

I tried this ten years ago, when I was 40.  I decided to let my hair grow out long again- to wear it in a long gray braid down my back…such a mother earth, hippie thing to do…Quite frankly, it looked horrible…and perhaps I just wasn’t ready.

and then Merrilee, one of my high school classmates, who is my “friend” on Facebook turned me on to a website called Going Gray Looking Great .  There are people on there that say  we have to get used to the new color, to stop looking for our old color and to embrace the new one…so i have just been trying to ’embrace’ haha, i mean, how often do you just GET a new hair color- a surprise- that you haven’t chosen off of a chart, or off the cover of a box in the Walmart haircolor aisle?

every day i check my roots and see how much longer before my raspberry creme is just all cut off and I am gloriously gray.

this really has nothing to do with creativity- much more to do with courage to be…but creativity springs from many things and one is courage 🙂

enjoy this chilly first day of summer

PS. the beautiful picture of a wolf is from Zahradka Art…seemed to embody my message of courage and being gray 🙂

how to begin.

the only joy in the world is to begin…~ Cesare Pavese

beginning…i have trouble beginning.  Of all of the creative parts of a project, beginning is the toughest part for me.  I can go thru preparations, gathering, mulling, but the actual STARTING…that sticks me.

Once i start, its gravy.  I can see all the things that work and don’t work, what falls apart, what worked better in my head, what LOOKED better in my head, and it is energizing to actually SEE in a concrete sense what i have been seeing in my head, what i have been theorizing.

So how can you get yourself to START?

Here it is- step by step

1. Put your hands on your sketch or if you have no sketch, close your eyes and picture your finished project in your head.

2. Gather your materials and put within reach in your work space.

3. Picture your finished project in your head.

4. Deep breath…reach up high, and reach down and touch your toes.

5. Picture your finished project in your head.

6. Pick up each of your materials and put them each down.  Do this several times.

7. Picture your finished project in your head.

8. Put everything away for the day and go for a drive…just kidding 🙂

Actually, this is the sticking point- do it! Put pen to paper, start writing, or pick up your paint brush, or put the clay in your hand – but it is time to try to make what is in your hand match what is in your head…

and here is the deal…if this project was going to go easy, you would have already done it- so be prepared for 2 or 3 or 27 false starts or practice/trial runs…in fact, try to figure out how NOT to make it work first- trying the beautiful floaty, ethereal idea you have in your head first may be what is stopping you flat.  So test your ideas out on trials first and see how it goes.  Get those out of the way!  Don’t even attempt to make the first thing you try the Golden Finished Product.

I have, at times, been paralyzed by the fact that i only had enough of a certain material…i didn’t want to waste it if the project didn’t go right, so i just didn’t begin.  In this situation, practice with a lesser equivalent of your coveted material, or pull it out of your project- its a problem.

once you know what will work and what won’t, that beautiful floaty ethereal idea in your head will begin to take on concrete dimensions in your head, AND in your workspace.

Go forth and conquer!

don’t let the technical monsters eat the creativity!

Coolest Commercial EVER!!

i had a brilliant sculpture professor in college- Lynn Carlsgaard- there in the middle of the photo, with the apron on.  He had a passion for bronze casting, but that never stopped him from offering instruction, assistance or direction in any creative direction to anyone who had a question.  He has a raucous sense of humor, and made me laugh in a way that made me put my hand over my mouth, because i felt it was probably not OK to laugh, but he was so funny…in an off limits sort of way.   One thing that he said, that i have said over and over to others, that i mutter to myself when i am mulling a project that seems technically overwhelming…those projects i can see in my head, but can’t figure out how its going to hold together in a concrete sense.  He said to never let the technical issues get in the way of the creative process…he probably didn’t say it that way- he probably laughed “heh heh heh” and said, “Patti, figure out the technical later, keep going with what you got right now” (I went by Patti for the first semester in college- thought it was a cool thing…it wasn’t.)

that concept has helped me over and over- that the vision of a project, if its strong for you, if you can see it clearly- it can carry you thru the technical struggles that make that vision seem impossible.  Carry thru the drawing, the gathering of materials, the obsession with a finished idea in your head, and START! You have to play with things, find out things that don’t work, so you can get thru that stage to the “putting together” stage.

an amazing demonstration of that -persevering thru the technical forest- fell into my lap this week! Tom Eastburn, a potter that is in a neighboring town, put this youtube video on his Facebook…LOVED it and i wanted to share it with you!  Its actually an Asian commercial for a cellphone that has a wooden back, but the artist who had this vision…wow!  I think you will love it!  Am interested to hear what you think!

here is the link again! Coolest Commercial EVER!!


keep on tryin…

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins.  ~Bob Moawad

We took Journi kite flying on Sunday.  It was a cloudy day, a bit cool and windy. The soccer field seemed like a good place, wide open, grassy and flat.  As we unwound the string and got ready for the first attempt, you could see Journi’s dismay at the usually stable predictable adults in her life.  “what in the world are they doing!?” 

She loved the kite, but couldn’t grasp why we wanted to run around a field with that pretty thing on the end of a string.  And run we did!  (well, not me…i took pictures)  Michaela ran up and down the field, tugging the kite behind her.  Even tho’ it was windy, the kite didn’t seem to be taking off…just hovered at about 6-8 feet.  The kite crew reconvened and checked the equipment once more… aaah… the tail…who knew that putting the tail onto a kite could make that much difference!?  (i know…those of you who are aeronautic masters are just shaking your heads at me)

Once the tail was in place, the kite soared, taking up all of the string and sailing high and to the south of the field, until it was just a speck in the sky.

What are you working on right now? What is your immediate goal?  If its not flying kites, what is it? Are you seeing something in your dreams that you are itching to paint, build, create? 

You have to keep trying…this is yours alone, if you don’t do it, no one will.

If things aren’t working out how you envisioned, can you change your vision? 

If not, are you missing some critical piece- equipment, knowledge, experience, education- ? 

What can you do to get by?

There may be  a few  (or many)  failed attempts on your way to making what you envision for yourself…but those are a necessary part of the process…they can only improve the vision…

and…sometimes you have to do what you can, you have to get by, until you can do what you want or what you envision…

but you have to keep on trying…

stuck…in creative silence

a few years ago Tasha, my middle daughter, gave me a case of blue glass bottles for Mother’s Day…”what?” you may be saying…”what kind of a Mother’s Day gift is that?!”  Perfect for me!  I absolutely love cobalt glass, and the idea of a case of bottles to play with was exhilarating!  So i set to.  i came up with this marvelous idea of decorating them with wire, and beads, and making them holders of ‘messages’.  I was so excited! I bought corks, and special paper, thread to bind the messages into a scroll to put into the bottles, wax to seal the cork…it was a fabulous idea.  And i finished the wire and beads on one bottle, admired it…hmmm…what to put on the “message”…? I struggled with that for a few days, and decided to go on to another bottle, confident that the “message” would come to me.  Another finished, and no message…another…no message…another…no message.  Well, you get the idea.

So now i have this collection of wire/beaded blue bottles…they are beautiful, they sparkle in the sun…but they are empty.

Yesterday (2 years after i have begun this project, lets keep in mind) i got out one of the bottles.  Determined to finish one of them, i put it on the table with materials to make the message and seal it into the bottle…and there it sat…all day.

Late last night, with the bottle still sitting empty, i realized that I am afraid…afraid to put the wrong message in there, afraid that what i think is of substance to write and seal into a bottle isn’t valuable to another…and so i wait for the perfect message, while the bottles gather dust.  Why does it matter what someone else thinks of my message?

Isn’t this blog, essentially a message in a bottle?  It is.  And I have become braver every day here…its practice…and watching my blog grow in audience, and reading the comments.

Being stuck creatively…i think it might be fear that ‘sticks’ us…the key, it would seem, is to find out what you are afraid of.  Maybe these questions will help.

  • If I move to the next step in this project, what is the worst that could happen?
  • What kind of a mess could I make, if i don’t do this “right”?
  • Who would love this piece?, who would hate it?

so today, i am setting the task of writing the first message, and sealing it into the bottle…i will let you know how it goes.

Update: Here is a link to the finished product in my etsy shop

Message in a bottle

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