“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I was busy yesterday working on a sewing project, although it’s not what you think. That is, it wasn’t a Christmas gift. It was a birthday gift for my sister – and her birthday was several weeks ago. I just haven’t seen her in a couple of months, and today is the first time I’m going to be able to give her the gift. So I needed to finish it. Also, start it. The gift is two patchwork cushion covers, that say the word “LOVE”.
One of the things I really love about maps – apart from their usefulness – is their colours and shapes. Pale pastels – especially blues and greens – or brilliant rainbow hues like pink, yellow, gold and purple. Most of these maps are from my own collection of old National Geographic or road maps. A couple are from photos I took of maps in magazines, which I then cropped and edited in my iPhone.
I appreciate the advice of someone who’s been there before.
I love children’s sidewalk chalk scribbles. I love the colours, the raw energy of the lines and forms, the joyous abandon of the images and messages (like “LOVE” and “Hi!” signed by scrawling first names). When I walk in my neighbourhood at night, I’m always on the look-out for new masterpieces. I especially enjoy meeting the children who’ve marked the sidewalks and driveways around their home. “Beautiful!” I call out, watching them beam.
My favorite are block-long extravaganzas that start in front of one home and stretch on for several metres, as if the artists ran out of space before they ran out of ideas.
I had a former boyfriend and his family over for an hour or so on Sunday afternoon. They were passing by my city and stopped in for a (planned) visit. It was so much fun for me to gather together some age-appropriate toys for their 15-month-old daughter to play with. I love toys. I loved them when I was a nanny and caregiver, I loved them when I was an aunt to young children. I still collect children’s activities on Pinterest, although don’t ask my why. Maybe to do them myself.
Yeah, I like the sounds of that. I’ll do them myself… :)
I appreciate play. And visiting friends. With children.
I had a thought-provoking conversation with Nicole Rushin on Google+ last week. She had posted this blog post, where she talks about how she came to write her most recent “about” blurb for her website. (Read the whole Google+ conversation here.)
In a recent webinar, Eckhart Tolle talked about the importance of telling your story.
Justine Musk asked in a recent post, ‘What is your one sentence?’
Robert Moss reminded me in his book, Active Dreaming, that a human being is an animal that must define itself or else be defined by others.
I have also had a couple of things happen that made me feel like I was dragging too much of my past into my present.
So, I rewrote my ‘About’ page and thought I would share it here.
Her post really hit home, because I’ve been struggling myself for the last couple of weeks with updating the “about” page here on emelgy.com. Unlike the “about” pages on my other blogs, Mirificationis and Kitchen Sink Wisdom, which have very specific subjects and were easy for me to summarize, this blog feels somehow amorphous. I haven’t quite been able to pin down – at least in my own mind – why this blog even exists. Until now.
Nicole suggested writing an email to myself – as if to a friend – so that’s what I did. Here’s what it said.
I fear this is going to make you feel guilty and ashamed (because you’ll think it’s show-off-y and not at all humble), but here’s the deal: You’re writing this blog first and foremost for you. It’s your online journal or daybook.
Do you remember the first published journal entries you read? They were Harriet’s notes in the book Harriet the Spy, and you started keeping private notebooks of your own because of them. And then there was Go Ask Alice, the diary of a teenage girl who gets lost in the San Francisco drug culture in the 1960s… and a number of other Young Adult books written using the journaling device. More recently, you’ve enjoyed Sabrina Ward Harrison's art journals, full of her hard-hitting questions and luscious illustrations. Not to mention your current favorite blogs, which include The Bloggess and Chookooloonks – both first-person perspectives on their creative authors’ lives.
You like reading about other people’s stories for the same reason that you loved going to your friends houses when you were seven years old. It amazed you to see how other people lived. It blew your mind that you had choices – that not everyone lived the way you and your family did. Shirley MacLaine once said (in an interview with Barbara Walters), “Show me who you are, and I’ll know more about who I am.” (You liked her autobiographical books, too.). You want to know who other people are, and you want to know who you are. That’s why you write.
So stop feeling ashamed. Don’t care one whit whether anyone’s going to read this or not. Put your heart on the screen. Give a voice to the song that you hear running through your mind’s ear. Show people the things that you find beautiful. (Like that line from the Depeche Mode song that you love, “Let me show you the world in my eyes.”)
Maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who will someday find what you’ve written, and realize that they, too, have choices.
___ I’ve recently imported my Tumblr blog, A Little Instant Emelgy, here to emelgy.com. It’s going to take me a while to add titles to the blog posts and clean up any tags, but feel free to explore my archives for photos from my last couple of years.
Update: The Tumblr import didn’t work out so well. I’ve deleted all the Tumblr posts. Not sure if I’m going to try again, or just let the whole thing be.
Last week I attended a children’s penny carnival for work, and took these photos. When I looked at the images afterwards, I was struck by how nostalgic they made me feel. Something about the power of fun and games, and the riches you can buy with a bag full of carefully saved coins.
I came across two children kneeling on the ground. They were picking spilled pennies out of the dry grass. Moments earlier, the pennies had filled a blue plastic Stax tube. “Good eyes,” I said, when the little boy found some especially hidden coins.
“Good eyes,” he kept repeating, turning the words over and over again in his mouth, like a hard candy that he was trying to suck every last lick of pleasure from.
“Do you have a girl?” his big sister asked me, as I helped them re-fill the Stax container.
“No, I don’t have any kids.” Like empty pants pockets turned inside out, my woman-ness felt momentarily deflated, and empty.
There was a water balloon relay race. Each team member had to break a water balloon over their head. It was a hot day. I laughed to see the expressions on the kids’ faces, and hear the squeals, when the cold water hit the backs of their necks.
And colouring… is there anything more thrilling than a container full of crayons or pencil crayons? There is a world of possibility in a handful of pigment.
I appreciate the fun you can buy with a penny or two.
I’m not quite sure how it happened (to be honest, it feels a little like a dream that I may wake up from at any moment), but I’m writing a book right now. It’s based on these daily blog posts that I’ve written for my Kitchen Sink Wisdom blog over the past two months, on the theme of ritual.
I’m excited and humbled by this project. It keeps me up at night, and puts a smile on my face every morning.
I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never knew how to get a book written. To tell you the truth, the very idea of writing a book always intimidated me. How do you choose a subject? How do you make it interesting? Even though I’ve been a paid writer for nearly 20 years, the sheer length of a book scared me. I write short things: articles, newsletters, information sheets, procedures, training materials, blog posts, reports, business plans. But a book? No way. Too many words to ever get down on paper.
Then I found out that an acquaintance of mine has published 55 books in his lifetime. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. 55. And when I realized that his books were written one day at a time – sometimes one blog post at a time, the way I was writing – it finally occurred to me that maybe that’s how a book gets written. Through a regular practice, sentence by sentence, day after day.
The second, wondrous aspect of this particular book that I’m writing is that the subject matter of the book is the same as its process. Meaning, I’m using creative ritual to write a book about creative ritual. I’m tapping into an energy larger than myself (which some people might call God, or their muse, but I like to call creative Source), and letting that energy flow through me, while writing a book about how I let creative energy flow through me. Yes. Pretty trippy.
I’ve been blessed to have a small circle of readers who’ve followed the original blog posts day after day on Kitchen Sink Wisdom. Having them there has been a huge inspiration to me, and in honour of their faithfulness (and to help keep me focused), I’m making the working manuscript available to anyone who’s interested. You can read the introduction here. Email me if you want more. I’m happy to share.
I’ve been spending so much time writing lately, I thought I’d put my visual art aside, but on the weekend I had the sudden urge to pull out one of my art journals and do some collaging. (I don’t think that’s a word, but anyhow.) Here’s a snapshot of my work area, gluing in progress. The finished art journal spread is below. I’m going to use it in an upcoming post on Kitchen Sink Wisdom.
I saw this image on Facebook Sunday morning. I wish I knew who’d originally created it, or who wrote the original list, because I’d love to credit them. But for now, I’ll just share what I think is a brilliant manifesto for artistic fulfillment:
How to feel fulfilled as an artist Or, how to get over your self-sabotage
Never compare yourself to other artists.
Know that your family is biased. Whether for or against, their views are skewed and do not represent an accurate reflection of your work in the world.
Base your success on how your art has enriched your life, and how you feel when you create it.
Constantly push yourself to expand and learn.
Know that art can never be measured in dollars – and can only ever appreciate in value.
Trust that when you are making the world more beautiful, there is always enough. Honest work is not a compromise if it supports the creation of art.
Remember, it is the job of the artist to create new culture, not simply to regurgitate what exists.
Never expect your family to understand your art, but do your best to educate them, patiently.
Whenever a client / gallery owner / patron offers their advice, smile and nod. Then create your art authentically.
Remember what Dali said: “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.”