My good friend Jamie has jumped into the 365 project fray with her wonderful art. It was Jamie who got me exploring aspects of art and creativity I'd abandoned for decades. It was Jamie who introduced the idea of expressive or therapeutic art to me, and it was because of Jamie that I ultimately wanted to share all this through teaching story writing classes. Check her out at the link below, you'll love her work and her ideas.
"I don't want to analyze myself or anything, but I think, in fact I know this to be true, that I enter the world through what I write. I grew up believing, and continue to believe, that I am a screw-up, that growing up with my family and friends, I had nothing to offer in any conversation. But when I started writing, suddenly there was something that I brought to the party that was at a high-enough level." —Aaron Sorkin
What is it you find beautiful? Based on what I know of most of my faithful friends here in blogland, it’s not going to be that pretty pop star whose photo was manipulated to “perfection” for the cover of Rolling Stone. I could look at Bob Dylan’s face and find mountains more beauty than I can in hers. But that’s me. My definition of beauty is formed by where I came from, my ideals, my age, my interests, my education – and my needs. What about you? What defines beauty in your world?
I find old train tracks beautiful. And forgotten corners of cottage yards. And broken down old sheds. And my mother’s hands. The way a little kid darts around his father repeating “Da-a-d…?” as they walk toward the Air Canada Center to the hockey game. Or the stunning gradation of the sky as it was the other night – from breathtaking orange to the deep royal blue housing that delicate sliver of a crescent moon. Or Santana’s rendering of Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock. The soft traces of humming I hear coming from the woman with the beatific smile who sits on the other side of my office cubicle. The bowl on my table filled with sweet potatoes, beets, Bosc pears, an acorn squash and some bulbs of garlic – a haul from the market last week. Giant ropes coiled on the decks of ships.
What is beautiful to you? I challenge you to explore it:
Find 101 examples of beauty, and show, tell, list or write them. Photographs, songs, poems, paintings, crafts – however it is you tell your story.
There is no timeframe, because the number target may seem high to you. (It won’t for long – trust me.) And modify the challenge to suit you. Do it once a week and it could become an ongoing topic for a year. Find a few things a day, the project could last a month. Sit down for a few hours and you could finish a list in one go! Maybe you’re not ready just now. Or maybe you are stumbling across this challenge six months from now. Any time is a good time to start.
Feel free to grab the badge below and put in your sidebar if you like, as a reminder of where to find inspiration in an uninspired or down period. And that, really, is the point. Where the doldrums take over – finding beauty brings inspiration back.
Why 101 things? I just like odd numbers better than even ones. It’s only a number and who knows, maybe the term “101” will just be a symbolic sort of thing, representing “my collection” or “my exploration.” I just know that for me, it’s a topic I need to return to time and time again, and I’m hoping it will turn into something of an extended exploration here.
If you do take part, be sure to let me know (as well as the tag or category you’ll use, if you wish) and I’ll list a link to your blog on this dedicated page.
After all – it’s really beauty that I’m searching for in Realia every day. I’d venture to say it’s what we’re all looking for.
Today was the next-to-last class for the current run of my Creative Non Fiction course. I don’t talk much about my classes here. That’s because for any person taking a writing (or any kind of art) class, there is a level of personal risk invested. For lots of people, just signing up for a class like this requires a measure of courage. Whatever kind of art you make, it’s part of you. And when you share that art or even your own special process of making it, that’s like baring a part of yourself for what is to you, scrutiny and judgement. My job as facilitator is to create a safe space in the hopes that people will take those kinds of risks and take their art to a new level. I like to think of those classrooms as a nest: where ideas are born and fostered, where the world is not allowed in until those ideas are let loose to fly.
I know what the rewards are for anyone who dares tell a story, that’s why I do it. And being able to participate in the unfolding of a story is a greater gift than its new (or old) writer could ever know.
If I’m honest, after twelve weeks I am looking forward to getting Saturdays back for awhile. But, as always, I’m also thinking I’m really going to miss spending Saturdays with a group of people who have grown and evolved into something very special. Kind of like a snowflake – most beautiful and utterly unique. Today I’m feeling like I’ve grown a bit more, and that I’ve got an even greater appreciation for the story than I did when I came in. Each person in this class has contributed a little bit more to who I am – as a faciliator, and as a person. I couldn’t be more grateful.
If there's anything I've learned about myself and the creative process it's to have patience. I've learned to accept that once in awhile life demands that you just live it and save the documenting of it for later. No doubt there's something going on that requires some sitting with before there's any interpretation to be got out of it. Still, each day I look at my blog space and each day I think of the people who stop by to read what I have to say and there is some inner chastising happening. When I don't write I miss it – and I miss you.
This week, my job continues to hammer at my consciousness like a spoiled, loud child. "In-between moments" have been spent with a notebook, mulling around some ideas, some new directions, creative and otherwise. And I'm reading stories and preparing lessons – this semester's Creative Non-Fiction class full on and once again I'm discovering new writers and new people and the joy of fostering creativity.
And I've visited and shared meals with both of my daughters who have ended the "sister roommates" era and are establishing homes of their own. Several years ago, becoming an empty-nester whacked me over the head with an impact I hadn't anticipated. Who'd have thought that suddenly ending the responsibility and the nurturing and the sharing and developing and encouraging would leave you standing there dazed and wondering where you'll ever find that kind of purpose again?
Oh, but I love my grown up daughters. The purpose and intent behind the raising of them has produced gifts far beyond that which I ever imagined. And to be in their homes, feeling the love and the values I based my own home on as central to theirs – I feel nothing but gratitude. And anticipation for all those experiences that will come next.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to simply hold back and let the well be filled, even if that source remains a mystery.
Thanks for having patience with me my loyal friends.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering you own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.
~Saint Francis de Sales
I was born into a line of creative people. It’s a family that values and shares and supports creativity and there are many of us, spanning generations, exploring all kinds of arts related pursuits in many forms.
My father has expressed his artistic self with visual arts and music all his life, and one of the things I love most about him is what one might call “creative industriousness.” He likes to find creative solutions to little problems and tasks using available implements and recycled materials. Whenever he would visit us at our old house in Windsor he would go around and fix and patch up and repair, and after he left there was always a warm pleasure and satisfaction in at least one small thing looking or functioning better.
My dad’s workshops are stocked with implements and tools collected over a lifetime, and in other peoples’ lifetimes. When he inherited the shed and workshop that went with the cottage he bought on the island, he got with it a world of items and mementos and tools collected by the previous owner Kathleen. For anyone with the mildest interest in history (and love of workshops and studios like me), that workshop is a treasure. Dad spends parts of every day out there in spring and summer, listening to CBC Radio One and working on any number of creative projects.
Like his model ships – an ongoing endeavour. The project began with a detailed prefab model given to him to assemble by a friend some years ago, and now he plans them and handcrafts them from his own design and materials, based on pictures and archival data he digs up. It’s a patient, detailed process, taking a season or a year to complete one ship. Many of the tiny details on his ships are crafted from items we overlook and pitch out in the daily scheme of things.
And then there are the birdhouses, my stepmother Julie’s project with her pal Jan: “Bent Nail Productions.” Dad builds the structures, again recycling materials at hand, and Julie and Jan embellish and sell them.
My dad gets industriously creative in the old cottage gardens, where he plants marigolds and splits perennials and restarts old geraniums from year to year and grows snap peas just for the pleasure of eating them raw.
Dad gives little kids drawing tips and lessons on creating perspective on a page. For me he’s tackled fixing almost anything, even plumbing, which he does not enjoy but he does it because he can. Dad gets great satisfaction from creating things with his hands, finishing them with uncompromised care and meticulousness the rest of us can barely comprehend. And he puts his own creative stamp on every iced cake served at family events.
My father appreciates individuality and old things and beauty, and all my life he’s been my creative inspiration. Of my favourite places to be in the world are with him in his creative spaces. I feel lucky that I’ve inherited his artistic perspective, and for many reasons more than that, I’m glad I get to be his daughter.
Hearing a bit of happy brouhaha in the kitchen at the office this morning, I go in to find Crystal arranging these beautiful Valentines cupcakes to share.
Who doesn't love a cupcake! Friday morning loveliness in the kitchen.
(Sadly my woefully inadequate phone camera does not do them justice).
Welcome to my new blog home. If you're one of my old friends, thanks for re-directing and I will be eternally grateful if you update your bookmark/feed reader. If you're new – thanks for stopping by!
The path to TypePad has been a crooked one. I originally had a self-hosted blog, mainly because I like the name of mine so much I wanted to own it. I think I still own it actually, but I'm afraid my technical abilities did not measure up to the maintenance of the thing and disaster ensued.
Then I moved to WordPress, mostly because the self-hosted blog was hosted on a WordPress.org platform. However, I never found a design I liked that much. My original ideas for my blog included the use of images – changing them to reflect moods and seasons, using them to support story themes, etc. I like to create. Building a blog home is fun. It's like developing a personal style – kind of the same as creating a home or a wardrobe. I get invested in these things and the same goes for my blog.
Blogger is terrific – I use it to create blogs for my classes every semester. It's easy and has lots of creative freedom. Unfortunately it doesn't import WordPress blogs, and I wasn't prepared to lose the old posts and comments.
So I did some reseaching and looking at my favourite blogs and landed upon TypePad. It gives me the freedom to create and change. And so here we are.
I hope this is the last move for me. Because the most important thing of all about blogging is you. It's the wonderful interactive process and friends I've come to know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for walking into my little part of the world.