One of my clay faves is Adam Welch, Director of Greenwich House Pottery in NYC, so when I heard that some of hs work would be in Beyond Function, the ceramics show at the Arts Council of Princeton, I hopped to, swung ’round to Small World Coffee to pick up a Nola, then strolled and sipped and stared at these a while. Think the artwork did more to wake me up than the icy caffeine. A vibrant rainbow for the inside of a cloudy brain.
Old Tyme is still a-flying…
It’s so much more romantic when Robert Herrick says it. Or when John William Waterhouse paints it. Enemy time. There’s never enough. The thought of that fuels my fire every day. So much to do. So much to write. Work to do. Parenting to do. Books to read. Places to see. Spring brings it all to the surface again: the green flush of the grass, the gray-green furred buds on the magnolia, the yellow crash of the forsythia at the end of the drive. Another season of creativity is here after the sweet, slow hibernation of winter, and it’s out there, waiting, wondering what I will do with it.
Copywriting is what I’m doing right now, and it’s high time for real estate. Seven days a week for the last month, with another month in front of me. I would have thought that there would be no room for creative thought with all the hours I’ve been putting in to write about archways and gracious floor plans, but something strange has happened. All this “technical” writing has allowed my creative brain to roam freely. It’s like when you have eaten a giant meal and the waiter asks if you have room for dessert. Of course, you say, that’s a whole separate area…
This current gig has taught me the value of the edit, the hook, of using less words to mean more. Because of the additional income, I feel legitimized to have a shared office space, which has the added benefit of allowing me a quiet place away from my musical, sports-filled, boys-filled household. I’ve learned to be very economical with my time. Does anyone really care if I make an elaborate meal from scratch or will a rotisserie chicken do just fine? I work in the car while waiting for soccer practice to end. It sounds a little frenetic, because it is a little frenetic, but I like being busy, being useful, earning my own money, encouraging energy to beget energy.
I am also trying to remember to take my walks and my tea, to read my book, to slow down for those morning hugs before the busy day begins. And you know what? I find I savor them all just a bit more because I know these quiet moments are to sustain me and provide me respite before off I go again.
I’ve been busy with some writing work lately, but found a little time to make these little polka dot dishes. I’m think I’m partial to the red glaze. (I always seem to be partial to the red glaze, the brighter the better, right?) but I think the pink is quite sweet, too.
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! Hope it’s spent with those you love.
If you’re like me, sometimes you focus a lot more time on what you did wrong than what you did right. It’s so easy. We all know how easy it is. Second nature sometimes. Berating yourself, maybe even mentally calling yourself names, getting angry at your just being human.
But what if we tried to see – really see – what we did right? What would that look like? I tried to keep a list this week. I’m not saying it was a perfect week. Far from it. But at least there was some positivity to balance out the self-flagellation. And guess what? It made me feel better.
What if we took it a little further? What if we did the same kind of nice things we do for our family and friends, for ourselves? What would that look like?
Here’s my week:
1) I chose an apple instead of chips. Twice.
2) I remembered my coupons for Staples. And mentally congratulated myself. AND saved $7.
3) For some reason, working at home felt like house-arrest this week, so I called a friend and asked her to go for a walk with me. The whole dynamic of my afternoon changed.
4) I pulled on the dreaded spandex and kept my appointment to lift weights. This usually gives me agitata, but I flexed my arm before I left the mirror, and damn it if there wasn’t a muscle there.
5) I fully accepted a hug when I didn’t feel particularly hug-worthy.
6) I patted myself on the back for marrying well.
7) A little cup of peppermint tea goes a long way.
8) So does a hot shower.
9) Or a fire in the fireplace, even if it’s just for me.
What right things did you do this week? How did you take care of yourself? How COULD you take care of yourself? C’mon, think. I bet that list is longer than you thought. Or if not, it could be…just sayin’.
icy rain sings a hard little song against the window
cardinal hiding under brambles
bitter coffee in the cup
my hair still holds last night’s sleep
i find the notebook that holds last year’s thoughts
so different from my thinking this morning
i wonder where those old words will go now
i wonder where the new words will come from
i wait for the rain to fill the well
the cold wind and blue skies and tall pines.
a healthy body with which to take walks.
enough food to eat.
a family who loves me no matter what and whom I love with my whole heart.
to always be curious about and sometimes delighted by this strange world in which we live.
to always be hungry to make things of one sort or another.
a hot cup of tea. Always.
bad jokes. Q: What’s a skunk’s favorite sandwich? A: Peanut Butter and Smelly (HeeHee…)
the hope that lists provide.
So many folks out there can narrate their journey on every portal that social media has to offer. I wish I could. I can’t even put my earphones in while on my morning walk anymore; it interrupts my “thoughts”. (Insert eye-rolling here.) Where have I been? Working. Claywork. Wordwork. A new gig as a real estate copywriter. Mommy-ing. I find that the quieter I am out here, the louder my work. Anyone else find that? Head down, lost in the process? Working begetting working? Anyone?
I came up for air over Thanksgiving. Spent my birthday in my favorite place, Martha’s Vineyard. I brought my laptop and didn’t log in once. I read a book with pages. Ate lemon rosemary shoestring fries at a food truck and dark chocolate at Chilmark Chocolates. Hiked the Moshup Trail in Aquinnah. Went to bed before 10 every night. Walked and walked. And it was like coming up to the surface after being underwater for too long. You know that feeling? When you’ve held your breath for so long that it’s as if your lungs will explode? And that sweet air at the surface – been waiting there all this time.
Now there is clean laundry in the drawer and eggs in the fridge. I’m back to my lists. All my boys hate them. Post-its everywhere, spiral notebooks piled on bedside table. But it makes me feel as if I can see all four corners of my “room”. Here’s a little look in my brain/notebook.
1) Mommy/Home (truncated for time’s sake
submit doctor bill
make appointment for orthodontist
new outdoor table and grill cover
bday card for Mom
mail nephew’s bday gift
indoor soccer shoes
organize holiday party
2) Mudstar Ceramics:
replace 365 Grolleg
glaze: aqua, opal and sapphire
roll out cheese boards
make angel template
two dozen bluebirds large
3 dozen bluebirds small
3 dozen tweets
start hydrangea lamp
3) Copywriting list:
submit bill (yay!)
find American Architecture book
ideas for agent bios
4) Manuscript list:
check out Booktrope
six word stories
find list of Cape towns
write chapter about faith.
xo love, rae
Every problem is just fear. I heard this sentence this morning and it sort of lit up the room. I started doing that mental test you do when you hear something that rings true but rattles you at the same time. “It can’t be that simple,” you think. You start running scenarios through your head to prove it’s not the real deal.
But guess what? I might be making a case of t-shirts. Get ready.
Why can’t I finish this book? Because I’m afraid I’m not a good enough writer. Because I’m a perfectionist. (As Elizabeth Gilbert says: “Perfectionism is just fear in really good shoes.”) Because I’m afraid of putting myself out there for all the world to see (and judge.)
Why can’t I lose weight? Because I’m afraid of how hard it will be. Because I’m afraid I’ll miss cookies and cheese. (Duh.) Because I’m afraid of attention, which I hate. Because if I’m afraid that, if I’m not this size, which I’ve been my whole life, then what am I?
What do I want to be when I grow up? I don’t know, and I’m afraid that I don’t know. Not knowing at 24 was scary. Not knowing at 44 is terrifying. I’m afraid the thing I want to do isn’t big enough. I’m afraid I’m running out of time. I’m afraid of leaving this earth having not made a dent.
You get the picture. See if this isn’t true. Think about a problem you have in your life. And then think about what that problem looks like if the fear surrounding it were removed. I’m gonna guess…
So how to conquer the fear? Gilbert suggests we don’t tell it to go away, because it will never go away. Instead, mother it. Crazy? I don’t think so. We mother everything and everyone else. So we acknowledge its presence. We acknowledge it for the wicked little tyrant it is. I envision fear as a cranky toddler. Then we tell it: shhhhh. It’s okay. I hear you. You’ve been so busy today; it’s time to rest.
Here you go: here’s your milk; here’s your teddy. Let me tuck you in. Close your eyes. I’ve already checked under the bed for monsters; it’s all clear. Quiet now. Sleep as long as you like. Mama has things to do.
Summer is when everything is at its peak: fruits and vegetables, nights filled with friends and gin and tonics and grilled fish and cool swims, trips whose suitcases come back filled with sand, bright clothes and bicycles, long days punctuated with popsicles. Summer is not the time for hibernation. No. Decidedly not. That would make no sense.
And yet, I’ve had a sleeping bear within me these warm months. Nestled in a forest den, deep in the cool earth, trees keening in the wind. A bear with a lot on her subconscious mind, a bear that is doing the sleeping work of dreaming what’s next – that strange work that is somehow very easy and very difficult at the same time. And a bear that has chosen sleep over dealing with some things.
Not so long ago, and for not the first time, WHAM, out of nowhere, someone decided to sling an arrow straight to my heart. I used it as an excuse to hibernate, go dark, and worse, to separate myself from my true people, and avoid doing the work.
I don’t know why the people who are supposed to love you the most are able to sling the deadliest arrows, but sometimes they are. Crack shots. Ouch. And being the walking wounded is not fun. After licking my wounds, feeling sorry for myself, I had a small epiphany: maybe I wasn’t shot by this one person? Maybe I had forgotten why I am here, and instead, it was the Universe who poked the bear. Though it really, really hurt, today I woke up grateful for that nasty arrow. And woke up in general. I realized that making excuses because I keep getting hurt by someone who is too scared to do the right thing, means I am acting out of fear, too. Unacceptable.
This morning finds the bear out of bed, barefoot, in a flowered skirt, hair tangled, listening to towhees ask her to drink her tea, turning her face to the sun, stringing words together. She’s realized that Summer is here. She’s awake, ready to start again, though she’s a little slow to wake up, so might I offer just one piece of advice? Until she’s fed and healed, and showed you what’s what, please don’t feed the bear.
Noise. Lots of it. The cute squeals of little boys have been replaced by FIFA games cranked up until the room thrums, a new PA system “for the band, honey”, weird Minecraft sounds, Foster the People on a loop, and the incessant pinging of my teenager’s phone. Guitars, a bass, and a keyboard play non-stop. And have I mentioned the rebounding WHACKS of a soccer ball against the garage door for hours on end?
The noise is problematic as I have pages due to an editor friend, to see if she’ll take me on as a client. In my noisy alcove I write; I re-write, and I can’t see that this will ever be finished. Non-writing friends ask how it’s going; writing friends know better. Almost, I say. I’m getting there, I say.
So, back from some well-spent time at the Writers’ League Conference, I return now to the noise in my head, and it’s louder than any soccer game or electric guitar. The experience at the conference was overwhelmingly positive: a lot of publishing, public relations and revision questions were answered. And my pitch session went as well as it could, considering I was a Jell-o mold in teal gladiator sandals. Send me 100 pages and a synopsis, the agent said, handing me her card.
Here I am, my mind wanting me to cook because it needs to quiet itself. It’s like any artwork I have done. I vacillate between it’s not so bad, hey – chapters 3 through 7 are good, and let’s just set fire to the whole thing. Think I’ll go make some gazpacho. And jack up the Vitamix to 7 so I can’t hear my own thoughts.
What do you all do when you can’t find “the quiet”?