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Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Practicing My Royal Wave

As the Royal Wedding is now less than half a day away, I give pause to ponder yet again the nature of love.

What is it to love another fully?   We use the word unconditional as a descriptor for the loving relationship, but I wonder if the word selfless is the better descriptor and the higher path to full communion with another.  In any relationship we will hurt one another, disappoint and be disappointed because when you care for someone it comes with expectations, hopes, needs. To love fully means you are fully invested in the life of another, fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses without exploiting (or reminding them) of either, fully invested in their successes and failures, fully invested in what others think of them, fully invested in the strength of your union, and fully aware of when that union is shaken.  

Single and 42, I will never claim to be an expert in matters of love. Full communion with another for more than a few years has eluded me, but love has not eluded me.   It's easy to love, harder to live out that love. My approach to relationships is often very practical before it is emotional--this is the rational side of my brain at work.   I am almost never attracted to the physical aspect of any man before I am attracted to his brain and his heart.  “What good is the beautiful package if the contents are ugly,” I say in my head.  That's not to say that I don't appreciate physical beauty, but it’s all subjective isn't it? 

I know some women who get upset with men who say they like tall thin women for instance.   That's like getting upset with a man for liking the color green or lasagna or The Rolling Stones. Taste is what it is--a preference. If I am not someone's type I say "amen" to it and life goes on.  So no one can get upset with me for liking intellectual, sensitive and articulate men...that is my preference. 

Love is the subject of most songs, much art, literature, plays, is pursued with great fervor and paraded with much pomp and circumstance. Americans in particular seem to be in love with love. The wedding industry and greeting card makers alone profit every minute from our love of love. But in the trenches anyone in love knows that love for the sake of love is short term. Selfless love is the kind that lasts and the kind that requires one to first acknowledge that God loves us fully and we did nothing to deserve it. In other words, love starts with humility.  To understand God’s love means we’re more likely to be understanding and accepting of others--it is the higher path, the narrower path and the less traveled, but it makes all the difference. 

I must examine my heart daily—I am not the giving, selfless person I’d love to be and a daily moment before my heavenly cardiologist shows me how clogged my arteries are with the gunk of being earthly minded.

Do it:  Ask God to unclog the arteries of your heart so you can be free flowing in all that He desires for you.

Ponder it: “Age does not protect you from love but love to some extent protects you from age.”    -- Jeanne Moreau
Have a creative day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes There Just isn't a Good Way to Tell Someone Bad News

My day pales in comparison to this kids'!   And isn't that usually so? We can always find someone that has it worse than us.   Its so easy to get focused on our own struggles that we fail to see what others are going through.   Poor kid--you wanna pick him up and give him a candy cane or something.   Wait 'til someone tells him the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny are dead  too!                                                                          
In my line of work I often give feedback to others.   I don't find any sort of high or power from this as some might think.  I find it often to be a burdensome, yet necessary responsibility.  I give feedback that is my honest opinion and that is based on my education and experience.    Sometimes I think its best to just rip the bandaid off fast and give them parting words of encouragement.   Sensing the fragility of others, I have taken more time, emphasizing what has been learned and accomplished.   Sometimes there just isn't a good way to tell someone bad news.
When I know delivering bad news is on my plate of tasks for the day, I pause to consider the kid above knowing that what I will say to someone can shape them for a long time to come.  And even then it might not be the right thing at the right time but I have to be at peace knowing I tried my best in difficult circumstances.

Though I confessed in an earlier post to sometimes being an emotional eater, in these instances dark chocolate does in fact seem to make it least temporarily!

Have a creative day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The music box

When I was little I had one of those common music boxes with the pink ballerina on the inside that danced in a circle to the music.  Then and there I was fascinated by anything pink and the beauty of dance.  While I tried dancing as a kid it didn’t necessarily come naturally and I wasn’t the most graceful of 8 year olds. What hard work I thought it was and yet still I loved the look of it, the feel of it and the synchronization of it all.  My pink ballerina danced effortlessly and consistently in circles, very unlike me.  I have always dreamed of having little girls so that I might see in their eyes what my mom likely saw in mine.

I’m sure there was one object in particular that you fancied as a kid.  I bet you’re smiling right now just thinking of it.  Whether it was a jar full of marbles or a connector set or dress up clothes, a piece of jewlrey, an electric train or a rocking horse, there was something about it that mesmerized you, something about it that allowed you to lose yourself in it for hours.  Part of that is just being a kid and part of that is a spirit of wonderment.

I hope you haven't lost your spirit of wonderment.  Sometimes I’ll go places just because the environment unleashes that spirit of wonderment, an opportunity to dream or a flood of childhood memories.  And I’m taken back, if only for a second, to my first lifting of the lid on the music box—the first glimpse of the effortlessly dancing pink ballerina.

Write it:  Journal about a favorite childhood object or activity and try to find a picture online or in a magazine that could illustrate it.  Put it in a scrapbook or on a computer file and share with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews.

Do it:  Scour flea markets, second-hand stores and antique shops for something you had as a kid and just enjoy the flood of memories it brings back!

Have a creative day!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Guarded Static

The wonderful blue and orange can that I use mostly in the winter sits atop my computer hutch. I recently moved it because, well, the winter dryness is gone and the spring rains have come and I don't need it so much right now.  It has the best name--Static Guard.  I wonder if sprayed on relationships, cell phones, radios, committee meetings and government agencies it would have the same effect?  To guard against static is it’s goal.  If you had to describe your purpose in two words would it be as succinct as Static Guard?  

Some people guard the static in their lives rather than guarding from it.  I have always said that unnecessary habits and behaviors are just a kind of static.  We repeat them because we feel or think that they satiate us in some way.  If  we didn't have that thought we wouldn't keep at them.  For instance, my sweet tooth--I keep feeding it.  Why? I guess I have a false perception of the comfort that dark chocolate (my favorite!) will provide.  I admit it--totally an emotional eater!   And yet those extra pounds (and what they'll eventually do to my body) are static.   Where's the can for this?!

My faith is so vital to me--in essence God is my static guard.   God's children really have all they need and excess of any kind is a self-inflicted static that makes us cling to something other than Him.   The solution doesn't come in a can, but rather God's word.

I know scripture, and God for that matter, seem to be politically incorrect subjects anymore.   People long for a rose-colored world view where everyone goes to Heaven and everyone has the same God.   And yet my source doesn't say this.  While scripture offers hope and peace, it is filled with lots of violence and quandries and puzzlements.  Scripture is not limited to happy endings so why should life be like that?   God leaves many mysteries in scripture and I believe this is purposeful--if everything was in a book in a how-to format, would we any longer look to Him?  God longs for a relationship with his people--and the conundrums keep us close to Him.

We must guard against the static that interferes with our communion with God.  The static may come from people or things but we must be ruthless in rooting it out and spraying it down.

Do it:  Decide today one thing you can do to lessen the static in your life.   Keep deciding it everyday.

Have a creative day with your Creator!


Friday, April 8, 2011

The New Worry

Isn’t it funny that you never hear anyone ask,  “What if they like me?”  “Does this dress make me look thin?”  “Oh no, I’m just sure I’ll win, what then?”   Why is it that we don’t worry about good things happening?   In fact, I think we worry about not getting something but never consider what will happen if we do. 

Let’s attempt a new worry.  Let’s consider going through a day thinking about the possibilities of positive things rather than negative things.   Maybe this is what makes successful people successful—they actually considered what would happen if they reached the goal.   I've heard of positive mental attitude and visualization techniques--perhaps reframing our worries is another description.

If we replaced our earthly worries with prayers perhaps we’ve found the answer to worry.   Worry gives us some feeling of satisfaction or we wouldn't engage in it so often. Perhaps worrying helps us to feel we have control over situations in which we really have no control.   Many of us are not good at waiting or just being so fretting becomes a habit.

I used to know a guy who said you should draw what you really want and put it on the fridge and exhibit a spirit of thankfulness for it before you even got it.    I think if we truly took the time to do that we might wish and ask for different things.  And maybe that was his point.   It's a good thing my artistic abilities have little to do with the ability to render recognizable images--the picture of the new art studio I want might actually look like a mastiff and my only (four-legged) child is not good at sharing the limelight.

Do it:  Ponder the opposite--"what if I have a great day?"  "What if I do well?"  "What if they like me?"   How does it change your productivity, your outlook, your expectations for the futre?

"I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative."
             --James Baldwin

Have a creative weekend!


Thursday, April 7, 2011


I love old metal toys—tops and cars and buckets and pitchers made of tin and painted bright colors.  They aren’t very practical to collect and they can be quite expensive but I enjoy looking at them. 

Truly fun and pretty things comprise a whole industry.  In a world that can be so heavy and full of care, sometimes having fun and pretty things to look at is comforting.  The practical part of me won’t allow myself to buy many, but inside I want one of everything and walls and shelves full of pretty things.  Maybe that's why I'm an artist--I can't afford to buy everything I want, but I can make my own pretty things.

I know myself so well that I could obsess if I allowed myself to collect anything.  The other way to look at it is that if I had a houseful of pretty things I might not have the need to go about looking.  No, let’s be reasonable—its fun to look and dream and to think of the pretty things in our own houses.  And occasionally I buy something simply because its fun and pretty though it doesn’t do anything or serve any practical purpose whatsoever.   Perhaps that is the definition of toys?

            Ponder it: “Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery.” (1900 - 1944)  Is there a toy of sorts you like to look at but never        buy because of the impracticality or cost?  If you had it, would you view it differently?   

           What do you think?
If you could make it yourself would it effect how wonderful you perceived it to be?

Have a creative day!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Only Two Tools You Need?

I can’t credit the source but I saw a sign once that read something like:

The only 2 tools you need: 
If it doesn't move and should--WD40.
If it shouldn't move and does--Duct tape!

 I don’t often use stereotypes about men and women, but that life philosophy has MAN written all over it!   I recall watching an episode or two of The Red Green Show (hilarious!) and a favorite saying of his was “Spare the duct tape, spoil the job.”

I sort of admire the simplicity of the idea of only needing two tools.  While it would work on a lot of things, I’d love to see it keep the innards of my apple pie from oozing out or a child from climbing out of her crib.  WD40 and duct tape, while wonderful things cannot cure everything.  Though I’m sure a man somewhere has tried! Did I just type that outloud?

One thing I admire about some people is the ‘get it done’ sort of attitude that cuts through the complications to finish the job.  I can be very indecisive at times and it’s refreshing to see someone that just sets their mind to something and has quick results.  No doubt the duct tape and WD40 are a part of the timely results.

As an artist I know that sometimes I will mull something over far too long wanting it to be "just so."   While planning and taking your time with some projects is great (can we say Sistine Chapel boys and girls?)  taking too much time and thinking it to death can also be the death of a project.  Sometimes we just need the WD-40/ Duct Tape approach to projects.

Do it:  What things in your world could be simplified, downsized or hastened?  And what merits lingering a little while longer?

Have a creative day!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Music is Like Glue--it sticks with you!

Music is such a powerful tool that sometimes a song will stick in your head for days.  That’s annoying when it’s a trite song but wonderful when it’s a song with great meaning.  All I have to do is say Company B or pina colata and I know exactly what song you're thinking of! 

I sing with a swing band and one of the songs I do regularly is Stormy Weather.  I hear the music and I immediately see Lena Horn in my minds eye.  What a singer she was.  I think she changed her whole career when she sang that song.

Do you recall the episode of Cheers in which Sam and Coach went back to school and they were having trouble with geography? They put the spatial relationships of the countries in a song.  I think the tune was When the Saints Go Marching In and the words went something like, "Albania, Albania, it borders on the Adriatic..."    I can’t hear of the Adriatic Sea today without going right back to that episode. 

Is it any wonder we still sing “A, B, C, D” in our heads when remembering which letter follows which?  Music is powerful and I think it’s an underutilized tool in education. If more memorization was taught through music, I wonder what the impact might be.  This might lead to a discussion of funding for the arts in public education so I’ll segue.

Ponder it: ” I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music.  It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain.”  --George Eliot (1819 – 1880)

What do you think?  What value do you place upon music and the other arts?   What do the arts teach children?   Find five passages of scripture in which the arts are referenced—what is your conclusion about how God views the arts?

Have a creative day!