A Way Forward

A Way Forward

I started this piece between bouts of pneumonia a few months ago. My intention was and is to give it to a friend who has supported my creativity for years now, but almost as soon as I scraped the first blobs onto the canvas, my creative journey stalled back into neutral.

Teaching from home through the last eight months of illness has meant I could channel some creativity into lessons plans, making Kahoot challenges for kids who hate math and interactive reading lessons for kids who hate reading.

But, for the first time in my life, channeling a littel creativity failed to yield more creative energy. As foliage season came and went, continued lung issues and anemia smothered my creative spark under a wet carpet. For weeks, I finished work and then passed out on the couch for a few hours before going to bed.

The painting, the drawings, and the journals became bric-a-brac to be dusted, and I wondered more than a few times if you can smother or drown a creative spark once and for all.

The day before Thanksgiving break, Zoom was booting one of my remote kiddos out of class. Most days, this kid turbocharges his way through his reading lessons. That last day, however, he really wanted to be at school, watching movies and having Thanksgiving activities with his friends.

Still, each time his internet got too slow to keep him in the meeting, he’d log back on and pick up where he’d left off in the reading, doing what he could with what he had (I rewarded both kiddos in the class with a link to a Smithsonian Virtual Field Trip).

Monday, my head and chest were feeling cooperative, and, feeling inspired by the pea-pickers on the other end of Zoom that afternoon, I decided to do what I could — even if I didn’t feel like it, even if it was just a little bit.

And I got a post done.

The next night (last night), I had my afternoon nap, fed the Big Guy and Thing2 (Thing1 is quarantining with other young adults this semester), and cracked open my travel easel. This would not be a midnight marathon session with a completed addition to my bookshelf gallery. I wasn’t even certain exactly where this painting, started when leaves were just changing to fire and gold, would end up.

The only thing I did know last night was that, even if it goes very slowly and a little at a time for the next few nights, at least it will go forward. And, hopefully, kick starting the journey will re-ignite some of that spark.

 

 

 

Sunshine on Etsy

Sunshine on Etsy

Under the heading of “she’s kind of funny girl”, I decided to blow sunshine up on Etsy.

And there is a funny thing about my new mantra. Each time I feel frustrated or down, it gets easier and easier to start blowing sunshine into my life. It appears to be pretty good source of renewable energy so far. I liked that the place that prints these T-shirts offers a few colors. i’m thinking of ordering the blue one first and using as armor when I do tech-support.

Blogs I Love

Photo

Many times in my life I have tried to be a writer.  I think in my heart I was always a writer.  I have always had stories in the back room of my brain, but this latest attempt to create a writing life has been the most successful, and I think it’s because I finally came out of the back room.

For years, the only people who saw my writing were my husband and my mother.  Sometimes I’d show other people.  I joined a writing group for a while until each of our lives put too many demands on our time.  But, for most of my life fear kept my journals in a box under my bed.

Then, last summer, came the Writer’s Workshop at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, NY.  Already familiar with the magic effect Hubbard Hall was having on my husband as he immersed himself in their community theatre group, I had high hopes when they announced this writing workshop.  But I was also terrified.

First I was terrified I wouldn’t get in.  Then I was terrified I would, only to find out I was a hack and dilettante.  I was sure that everyone else would be better.  They would be ‘real writers’.

And then the workshop began, and fear was summarily banished by the group’s leader as he asked us each to start a blog and a practice of sharing.  And, as we began to share with each other, I began to stop worrying about who was better and, instead, began to focus on getting better than before.

For me, sharing almost anything was initially about as easy as it would be to deliver the State of the Union address naked (at my current weight – 20 years and 100 pounds ago, not such a problem).  But once I got over my initial nervousness and realized everyone else was baring their souls and lives, it was fun.  And it’s been something else too.  It’s been inspiring.

Each of us has had the pleasure of watching our new friends grow.  We’ve each had our successes and setbacks – online and off.  Our blogs have evolved with our goals and our lives.

Between work and family, my days were already fairly filled before the group began, and after the group got going, I had to find more hours in the day.  As I found more hours in the day, I found I was spending more time reading my friends’ blogs.  I found my way into blogs they liked.  I found I was reading more each day than I had in years.  And as I read I wrote.

I’ve kept a blogroll on my site since its inception.  Yesterday while chatting with a friend from a workshop, however, I came to the conclusion that a blogroll doesn’t really do justice to the people who’ve been inspiring me these last months.  So, today, following the lead of my friend Kim Gifford and our group leader Jon Katz, I decided to add a ‘Blogs I Love’ page to mine.  It’s a little way to pay it back, but I really hope that by sharing the work of these and other artists I’ve loved and come to love, I’m actually paying it forward.


Blogs I Love (so far)


Pugs and Pics by Kim Gifford, Vermont writer, photographer, artist and pug lover.  Whether she’s writing about her beloved pugs or her distinctive photographs, Kim’s work is humorous, heartwarming, and sometimes heartrending.

http://www.pugsandpics.com/

 A real life milkman-turned-writer and poet, John Greenwood’s blog Raining Iguanas is a journey of discovery and nurturing of his own talents as a writer and artist and of his native Upstate New York.  It combines the best of pleasurable escape and motivating inspiration.

http://rainingiguanas.blogspot.com/

Bedlam Farm by the venerable and always affable Jon Katz, was the inspiration and benchmark for each of our blogs.  Honest and fearless, Jon’s blog is living, breathing proof that the most important thing in life is to never stop growing.

http://www.bedlamfarm.com/

Full Moon Fiber Arts by Maria Wulf is a record her life as a fiber-artist and free spirit.  Her quilts and potholders are prozac in fabric form, and she’s also a fantastic writer, weaving  stories and inspiration throughout the colorful images of her work.

http://www.fullmoonfiberart.com

Hiking Biking Adventures by my incredibly cool aunt and uncle Anne and Mike Poe is primarily about their Take a Hike guidebooks, but even if you’re not a hiker, you’ll visit for the photos and stay for the stories.

Hiking Biking Adventures Home

Merganser’s Crossing by Diane Fiore, follows her journeys with her father and his dementia at the end of his life.  Diane’s blog is intensely personal and incredibly relevant at the same time.  Hopefully she will give us a book out of this, but, for now, it’s worth not only visiting, but going to the very beginning and reading it straight through.

 http://merganserscrossing.wordpress.com

I stumbled onto A Teaching Life by Tara Smith when I followed a backtrack, and I’ve kept going back.  A middles school and writing workshop teacher, her blog holds interest for me, not only as the parent of a sometimes reluctant reader, but also as a fellow lover of books.  Each post is a discovery or rediscovery of a new literary adventure.

http://tmsteach.blogspot.com