Monday, February 28, 2011

For What It's Worth

What is it about us? We accept bad things happening. We see a storm coming and we grit our teeth and bear it without questioning it. We give trouble a shrug and an "Oh well, that's the way it goes." Only the Plastic Soul Attention Whores (as my friend Jessica so aptly named them) ever really complain about rough patches - and for them, those patches aren't really all that rough, they're just another way to get attention.

The other day my friend Jenny said to me, "Worthiness. I am struggling here. Things in my life are a jumbled combination of frustration and worry mixed with unmitigated joy and fulfillment... When things are absolutely amazing, I feel like there is a terror lurking behind it... I've never thought of myself as someone who struggles with the concept of worthiness but I suppose that's really what it comes down to."

It's like the woman reads my mind. Word for word. I mean, I'm not just in touch with that feeling - I've got all four limbs wrapped around it in a big gorilla hug.

I think, what it comes down to, is that there's a huge difference in feeling deserving and feeling worthy. I know I deserve good things, I just don't always feel worthy of the good things when they come. For me, it's a little different from the feeling of knowing there's another shoe waiting to drop. That's just part of life, and part of experiencing life. Death is imminent for all of us from the moment of conception.

Worthiness though. That is a tough nut. Probably the toughest. Having grown up Catholic, I was raised with the Not Worthy concept practically tattooed on my forehead. Part of the Catholic liturgy is "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." I'm sorry, but what a crock of shit. What a horrible thing to teach a child from the very beginning. You're not worthy. What a vile sentence. Not worthy equals worthless. On top of that, we learn that God might just decide to be nice to us even though we are not worthy. Though, not if.

I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes, or maybe even infuriated, thinking, "There goes that Atheist again!" But this has little to do with my atheistic stance, and more to do with rebellion against having been taught from the very beginning that we are not worthy beings. Says who? Really. Says WHO?!

As individuals, there may be things that we are not worthy of. For instance, I feel I'm not worthy of owning a guitar, simply because I don't have the time to dedicate to playing it. I'd love to have one, but I have enough other stuff that requires my time and attention.

But Jenny was talking about bigger things. One of the greater issues I struggle with every day is, "Why does this man (Steve) love me so much?" The logical side of me gets it. It's my blue eyes, it's the care and consideration and respect I show him, it's my goofy sense of humor, it's the way my hair drapes across his chest as we're falling asleep, and probably 6483 other things that I'm not aware of. However, there's a deeper side of me that constantly whispers, "What did you ever do to be worthy of a man like this? What makes you think you're worthy of this kind of happiness?"

Yet, I know I am worthy. I'm worthy... and here's the kicker... I'm worthy by virtue of the fact that I question my worthiness. I'm worthy because I don't take the good in my life for granted. I'm worthy for no other reason than that I was born to experience, as Rilke says, "beauty and terror; no feeling is final."

We are human. We get the good, we get the bad, we get the notable, we get the mundane, we get the happy, we get the sad, we get the funny, we get the anger. We get blood, snot, shit and sinew, and we get skin so soft that it's nearly heartbreaking. We get orgasms and we get broken bones. We get extraordinary in the ordinary by listening to a loved one breathe as they sleep; we get the bravery born in fear as we kiss a loved one knowing full well it may be the last kiss, but all the while believing that there will be another. We get beauty in the regurgitation of everything that has gone into making us, every bit that has fed our souls.

If we are alive - if we are paying attention to being alive - we get it all.

We are worthy because we are here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fifty Nifty Things


Today is a special Saturday post because I'm joining Tizzy over at Impossible Dreams (here), for her Nifty Fifty Blogfest Contest (pick me! pick me!). She's celebrating having over fifty followers on her blog and is doing so by offering a challenge to other bloggers to write a piece having to do with the number 50.

Fifty is actually a number that's been on my mind quite a lot lately. Just recently I've begun my 50th year of existence - at this time, fifty years ago, I was a two week old embryo. I was just a tiny floaty thing that looked like some kind of mutated shrimp, but I'd begun. My mother knew by then that she was pregnant.

I once asked her if she thought, at that early stage, about who I would become. She said she didn't. Her only hope was for a healthy baby - 10 fingers, 10 toes, and all the other bits in the right places. She got her wish on November 17, 1961.

Something I've also been pondering heavily the last couple of weeks is, "what was I born for?" Not why was I born, but what was I born to do - as in, "Yeah, baby... I was born for that!" Y'know, things that stir me. I thought... why not make a list of Fifty Nifty Things I Was Born For?

Why not, indeed? So, I took a look at the accumulation of half a century and came up with a list. There's only one wee caveat; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts it's made of.

Here goes... Fifty Nifty Things I Was Born For

1. Loving
2. Laughing
3. Singing
4. Playing piano
5. Writing
6. Painting
7. Crafting
8. Cooking
9. Telling stories
10. Making others laugh
11. Compassion
12. Making love
13. Friendship
14. Inner strength
15. Crying
16. Journeying
17. Humoring
17. Questioning
18. Curiosity
19. Being stubborn
20. Art
21. Sleeping
22. Waking
23. Sunrises
24. Stars
25. Nature
26. Mountains
27. Atheism
28. French Fries
29. Snow
30. Poetry
31. Learning
32. Words
33. Eric Clapton's music
34. Rain
35. Hugging
36. Thinking
37. Blogging
38. Bean! (Coffee, for those who don't know me.)
39. Procrastinating
40. Doing laundry
41. Making cards
42. Snuggling
43. Tenacity
44. Willfulness
45. Perseverance
46. Observing
47. Flying in my dreams
48. Sewing
49. Swearing
50. Bacon

Friday, February 25, 2011

Price of Admission

Psst. Yeah, you. Over here... I need to tell you something. It's personal in an Oh-no-not-that-naked-dream-again way, so I'd appreciate if you'd keep it on the QT. 'Kay? Thanks.

See. Well. You know how most people fear failure? They don't try things because they're afraid to get laughed at, afraid they'll get chided, or just plain fall flat on their face? Granted, risk is a scary place, but then there's the whole "nothing tried, nothing gained" bit. But, I understand.

What? No. That wasn't what I called you over to tell you. My friend Dave... do you know Dave? Funny, funny guy. Total goofball. Gets me laughing so hard that I'm silly with it and can barely breathe. And then every now and then he flings out these profound little darts that just stab right into the heart. He's wily that way. Anyhow, right out of the clear blue, Dave said, "It's ok to think about what you want to do until its time for you do what you're meant to do." I immediately agreed. I mean, I'm all about action. I'm all about getting in there and doing instead of sitting back and dreaming about it. So I sort of mentally rah-rahed and thought, "Tell it, Dave!" To Dave, I simply said, "Yup."

Evidently he was talking to me. His next words were something to the effect of, "So, why are you struggling with the idea of entering ArtPrize (an art competition in Grand Rapids, MI - here)? Are you scared?"

Damn those darts of his, and damn if the dude isn't a dead eye. Nailed me in the heart twice in quick succession.

So... shh... this is just between you n' me. I'm scared, but not for the reasons anyone would think. I don't fear failure. I've failed enough things enough times in my life that failure doesn't hold any threat for me. Here's the thing... I fear success.

Yeah, I know. You're not the first person to tell me that the cheese has slid off my cracker. It's true though, success scares me. Because.... because.... because then I'll have no excuses for not trusting my instincts. And because then I'll have no reason not to completely embrace this person I've become. I've spent so much of my life convincing myself that I'm less than extraordinary, and that it's okay to be less than extraordinary. It's safe here in the dark where I can be just a little above average maybe, and perhaps a little more than a little above average to those who love me.

What. I am not crying. This is a difficult admission.

I will enter ArtPrize this year. Because win or lose, I'll win. I've felt something inside me screaming for air, for life. It's time for me to stop thinking about what I think I might want to do, and do what I'm meant to do...

...To be an artist. I have the genes of an artistic genius coursing through me. This is what I was born for.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.”
~Maryanne Williamson

Thursday, February 24, 2011


(For Emily...)

There comes a time that you discover the power of your own shoes. That's right. Just like Dorothy. You have the power to do whatever you want to do and be whoever you want to be and go wherever you want to go, right where you stand.

I won't say that I'm the Queen of Reinventing Myself, but there's definitely a warm room in the castle for me.

Twenty four years ago I left the town I'd grown up in and moved to Maryland. I thought I was moving just for a new job opportunity and to "get the Hell out of Dodge" as they say. Granted, that was true, but unconsciously I was on a mission to reinvent myself. I wanted to be where nobody knew my name. The problem was, I was still too naïve to know that I could reinvent myself. I pretty much stayed who I was and simply changed locations. Even so, doing at least that much moved me forward, pointed me in the direction of answers for which I didn't yet have questions. Mmmhmm... call me Dorothy.

Being in a place where I was alone and away from former influences did work a certain charm. It gave me a lot of time to think and stuff started to surface. Stuff that was much too much for me to handle at the time. It found outlets though in poetry, music, and I even dabbled with a couple of paintings (one of which was pretty damned good, if'n I do say so). It scared me. It scared me shitless to feel that surge, to read a poem the next morning that I had barely any knowledge of writing the night before. It was overload for a girl who'd been taught to stay inside the lines.

So, I squelched it and went with safe.

And I got mired. Big time. I found myself in a very dull marriage to a very unimaginative person that left me thinking, even on a good day, "What the hell have I done?!" Then a dear friend of mine died, and watching her battle every day just to be taught me volumes about what was important. I started to be the person I'd been pushing into a neat little box for so long. There were not a few people who couldn't handle that (especially my ex), and others who just didn't like it. The lack of any real validation left me... lonely.

At the same time, I felt pulled in the direction of the Pacific NW. Maryland had never felt like home, and I knew going back to Michigan would be a little bit of death for me. I moved West. I settled into a life that, while not completely fulfilling, at least seemed... more right. Once again, nobody knew me, my past, or who I'd been. This time I recognized it for the opportunity that it was. I blossomed, at least a little.

Nine years later, when my mate John died, I thought about the promises I had made to him. Promises to live well, and to be a woman of honor, and to find love again. Harsh promises, all three. I knew that living up to those promises would involve huge change and brand new paradigms. I contemplated moving - thought about Arizona, or New Mexico - someplace completely different. Every time I'd really consider it though, that old Confucius saw always came back to me, "No matter where you go, there you are."

Besides, I love it here. It's home.

Again, like Dorothy, I came to the realization that I didn't need to go looking any further than my own backyard for my dreams. I looked down at my shoes and decided it was time to stand. Right where I was. I knew huge change was coming. I felt it. It was a low, steady thrum in me that put me in mind of a power generator warming up to full capacity. I knew that eventually it was going to send shock waves all over the place. I knew there would be people who wouldn't like the changes. I knew there would be people who wouldn't understand at all. I knew there would be people who would do and say everything possible to "protect" me from myself.

But I also knew that it was time to stand right where I was, in my own shoes, and harness my own power. I had to do it for my own sake, and for the sake of three promises I made to a dying man. It was time for me to be. My honest feeling at the time was, "If they can't handle it, fuck 'em." I stand by that decision.

It worked. It wasn't magic. It was gruelling. But it worked.

The right people started populating my life. The right opportunities started happening. The right love showed up. But mostly, twenty four years later, that girl finally found some fearlessness and some boldness and a certain je ne sais quois when it comes to unleashing her creative side.

And now?

I've never felt so free. I'm right where I want to be. I'm doing what I love to do.

These shoes are damned comfortable.

I know they'll take me anywhere.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cry Havoc!

While I often equate them, writing and art are two entirely different processes for me. Although they are both necessary avenues for me to travel, they take me to separate, disparate places. I can write amid the chaos in my head. In fact, that's the only way I can write, or maybe it's the reason why I write - that search for order in the anarchy. There is comfort in taking a million ideas and thoughts and forming something concise.

Making art is different. Vastly. It's almost the opposite of writing. Art is the acknowledgment of things just beyond my periphery, intimidating, disquieting things, massive things that could never bow in obeisance. Looking at these things full on is as... dare I say? yes, I do... as dangerous (and frightening) as trying to kill a charging rhinoceros with a spork.

There comes a time in the day when everything goes silent. Words have been written. Chores (or at least the internal nagging to do them) have been put to rest. Details have been attended to. Then comes the quiet, and in that quiet the Muses whisper in irrefutably seductive tones. Everything else narrows to the tiniest pin point. It's not focus, not really. It's allowing. No. That's not right. How can you allow something that you can't say no to in the first place? It's acquiescing - granting admittance to things somewhat feared and revered just before they break down the doors.

I say all that as if it is a horrible thing. It isn't, except that in some ways it is, because it is always a complete unknown. What begins as an idea, a small dot of color, segues and morphs into something terrifically different than what I thought was charging the gates. At the end comes an exhilarated exhaustion, a gentle closing of the gates of which I seem to be the keeper. With it comes a shaky knowledge that I've somehow done what's right, what's right for me, at least.

Writing is about finding myself. Art is about losing myself.
Writing is about taming. Art is about loosing the wild beast.

You might be asking, "Which do you prefer?" I don't know that I could have (or handle) one without the other. But if pressed to choose between the two - may all the gods, muses, and universal gewgaws forbid - I would choose art.

I would choose art for no other reason than that I'm addicted to the rush. That and it requires little, if any, explanation. Art speaks its own language and is individually translated. I want my words understood, desperately so most of the time. But my art... it stands alone and says what it will. Even if it's misunderstood, there it still stands, as if it wasn't really my voice to begin with. As if it is a rhinoceros, preparing to charge, staring down a young lass who is armed only with a spork.

"Likewise be all manner of beasts, when they be brought into the field and cried havoc, then every man to take his part."
~Grose, History of the English Army

And so, the shaking, but defiant girl musters everything within her and hollers, "Havoc!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Silent Charm

There is a certain kind of silence in the early morning hours that charms me. A silence that whispers, "Here it comes. It's all yours for the taking." It's a hush that rises on the steam coming from my cup. It builds and swirls like a Copland piece.

I can be a night owl, but there's something about early morning hours that sings my song the loudest, in a voice that only I can hear.

I hear the sweet gurgle of the coffee maker and breathe in the scent of brewing bean. My thought is, "So far today, everything is right with my world."

There is nothing like a beginning. Nothing like a blank canvas. Nothing pulls like promise.

I get up and pull on my fleecy bathrobe. I splash water on my face - always cold because I love the shocky feeling. I don't bother brushing my hair just yet, I like frowzy. I fill up my cup with that deep dark murky beauty. I bring it to my face and inhale. The steam caresses my cheeks; the scent envelopes me. I look out the window into the pale dark and whisper, "Welcome."

So it begins.

So it begins.

In a charmed silence it begins.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Between the Lines

Last week I wrote about wondering why or how anyone identifies with either my words or my art (read it here). I got the impression that my friends and readers thought I was looking for validation. I wasn't, which made me think I hadn't worded the thing correctly. Except that I did.

Regardless, my friend Lisa (who writes wonderfully here) gave me the insight I was looking for. In the comments she said, "There is an affinity when people speak the truth, especially if we share a truth, have similar truths." I thought, "Of course. Of course. That's it!"

Truth. If there is an element to what I do, whether it is writing or artwork, or whatever creative bent I'm on, it's truth. Whether my work is good or bad, eloquent or undignified, I strive for honesty. My innate fear of being misunderstood demands that much, and whatever talent I've got requires it. Besides, the Muses unleash unholy hell if I exhibit any capricious behavior.

I think that, no matter how abstract a work can be, no matter how rudimentary your skills, when you put your heart into it, when you use genuine instinct to create it (rather than any kind if machination or manipulation), the truth shines through.

I think that's quite possibly what people get out of my stuff. Truth. Honesty. They see beyond the creation and get the heart of it.

And that's a whole different kind of validation. Because that's the kind of validation you don't go seeking. That's the kind of validation that just happens.

Which is why I'm still pretty freekin' amazed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The More I'm a Merrier Me

There is nothing so freeing as laughter, as getting silly, as diving into some deep fluffy goofiness. I love that feeling of complete abandon when someone gets me laughing so hard that I can barely breathe.

We forget how to be silly with each other because we fear showing that kind of vulnerability (is my theory). Maybe we worry about possible offense, or maybe we're anxious that the intended humor will be met with crickets. Maybe. But I think it's mostly that vulnerability. Laughter leaves us wider open than tears. There are easy ways to quiet tears, but full-on laughter is nearly impossible to quell (trust me on this, and never sit next to me at a funeral).

And laughter is harder to explain. I mean, if you're crying and someone asks why, you can pretty much pinpoint the issue and elicit some kind of sympathy or empathy... "My car broke down, I've been rendered bald from a bad perm, and I can't remember the last time I had sex..." "Aw, you poor thing... there, there." Of course, I'd be laughing my ass off in the inside, but I'm not a completely insensitive lout. Laughter though, you can't really explain it. "What's so funny?!" "Well, she went into the... bahhaaaaa... and shhsssshhhheeee... ohhaaahahaaa... you had to be there." I get myself in trouble for breaking into giggles at odd times simply because I'm remembering something that made me laugh long ago. "Why are you laughing?" "I just remembered something." Really. How lame is that?! If you try to explain, it usually comes out sounding... more lame.

When you're in it though, there ain't nothin' else like it, and it makes me wonder why we don't allow ourselves to get to that place more often. We feel that we need to be serious in order to be taken seriously. That's just pathetic really. Some of the most intelligent things I've heard have come from people who were making me laugh at the time. The greatest moments of love that I've experienced have been shared laughter. The heart of my closest friendships is the ability to render each other hysterical.

I couldn't tell you what it was the other night, and you probably wouldn't find it funny anyway (see paragraph 3 above - re: you had to be there). As Steve and I snuggled together in bed, we got to giggling about something one of us had said. It would go quiet for a minute, and then one or the other of us would begin to chuckle again, which would trigger the other. We just lay there, snuggled and snerking with laughter until it turned into snoring. What a great way to fall asleep!

If laughter is infectious, let's make it an epidemic. It's a disease we could all use. Give the endorphins free range, I say!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Identify Crisis

I think it's probably time for me to accept that what I do is worthy. Yes, I toss it all out here every day, and yes, I think I have some skill. Even so, I continue to question what it's worth to anyone but myself. It's not a self-deprecating issue. It's more of a... I don't know... morbid fascination with the notion that anyone else gets anything out of what I do.

Just after I'd hit the "publish post" button on yesterday's babbling, I received an email from the good folks over at A River of Stones (here). They were the ones responsible for me participating in the Month of Stones: Small Stones challenge in January. Well, boy howdy, now they're putting together a Book of Stones and they've chosen one of my posts to be in the book! (Read it here.) Zounds! This will make the fourth bound publication to feature my work.

Yeah, yeah, yeah... it's not just you. My Muses are also rolling their eyes and saying, "Well.... duh! And why the hell wouldn't they?!"

Honestly though, it's not a lack of confidence on my part. Art is subjective and I'm grown up enough to know that not everyone is going to relate to what I "say" with it. I mean, someone can be a great musician, but if you just don't like their musical style, they're not going to do much for you. Picasso was brilliant, but I just don't really get him. Don't hate me, but I feel the same way about the works of Hemingway (although I've read most of Papa's stuff just out of... literary geek obligation?).

So, whenever someone identifies with my work, work that feels utterly personal to me (no matter whether it's writing, art, music, etc.), I'm always a little taken aback. I always have that feeling of deep curiosity, wondering just what about it could have spoken to them. Maybe I should quit wondering (not bloody likely) and just do the stuff.

I know, I do it anyway. Why are we even having this discussion?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Existential Tourist Rides Again

The Existential Tourist

About sixteen or so years ago my dear friend Laura, unbeknown to either of us, introduced me to my artistic style. I wasn't even an artist then - or maybe I should say, I wasn't being an artist then. It came in the form of an audio-book (on cassette tape, remember those?!) one Christmas. I thought, "Goody. Something different to listen to on the trip home."

A couple of days later as my ex and I drove home - from Wheeling, WV to Rockville, MD - I popped the tape into the player. So began my introduction to Nick Bantock and his story Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. I was enthralled the entire trip. Upon arriving home I didn't even wait to unpack the suitcases before I headed off to the book store to buy the book.

It was the most amazing book I'd ever seen. It was not just your average typewritten manuscript. It was full of art and images and doodles and all kinds of fascinating interactive stuff. The correspondence was housed in little envelopes that opened to reveal the letters that flew back and forth between Griffin and Sabine. I was instantly a fan of Nick Bantock's work, and over the years I've bought up every publication of his as soon as it's hit the shelves. The man's art spoke to me, spoke to me in a way that had me thinking, "He gets it! He doesn't even know that I exist and he gets what's in my head!"

Fast forward ten years. I had just become completely addicted to rubber stamps, and the artist in me was just beginning to awaken and stretch her limbs. I was still searching for my style, for that essence that would make my work say, "Barb did this." Right around that time I discovered that there were rubber stamps made by Bantock. I suddenly realized just how close I was to having an outlet for the stuff in my head. It had all come together, and it was all right there in front of me.

Fast forward another five years. I was surfing the web looking for mail art calls. An artist had posted that she was holding a competition for art pieces that reflected Nick Bantock's style. She had met Bantock at a workshop that he hosted, and she wanted to put together a tribute book to give him as a thank you. I read the requirements of the competition, screamed, "I'm in!" and ran for the studio as fast as I could.

The above collage piece, The Existential Tourist, is what I came up with and what I entered. I didn't win top prize, but I'm please to say that I made it into the book, Nick Bantock Tribute (available here). I'm flattered and thrilled and overwhelmed at knowing Nick Bantock will be looking at my work. To me that's like Clapton knocking on the door and asking me to play one of my songs for him.

The thing is.... the thing is... when something sparks passion in us, and when we give that passion room to grow, eventually it comes full circle. If Laura had told me when she gave me those cassettes, "One day you will be making art for this man," I would have straight-jacketed her and led her to the nearest Thorazine factory. I doubt that was on her mind anyway, but I've always said that Laura tends to know me better than I know myself. No doubt she knew she had stumbled upon something that would speak to me in a fairly loud voice.

What speaks to you? What are you rolling your eyes at today, thinking "as if..."? What if that thing is a dream worth pursuing? Because I'm here to tell you... the things that speak loudly in my life, the things that I stubbornly convince myself I'm not capable of? Those things are, in actuality, my passions... and there's just no telling where a passion will take you.

If Clapton knocks on my door, I'll pretend to be surprised.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Dish Best Served

Yes, I've redecorated. Is it reredecorated if you've done it more than once? I don't know about you, but the mountainy background, although pretty, made it too difficult for me to read. I don't like distraction - my inner ADD child can't cope. It was time for a change. Besides, when I'm not focused and/or motivated, I tend to putter.

I've started doing a slightly more "naughty" line of cards, per the request of some of my more "naughty" customers. I've hesitated hauling them out in the daylight for everyone to see for fear of offending some. But. I think they're really quite tasteful and funny. So, I'm debuting one here today. I'm feeling a need to shake things up a little, if only in my own little creative world.

I was overwhelmed with the response I received from yesterday's post. You are all so very kind. Honestly, I wasn't even going to post. I didn't feel terribly motivated and when I read what I'd written it felt clunky and plodding to me. Even so, I didn't want to just leave all that empty space hanging, so I hit the "publish post" button. Just goes to show you I'm not always the best judge of my own work. Maybe I need to tell my internal (infernal) editor to shut the hell up and look at things through my readers' eyes every now and then.

Maybe I need to step out of my own way. Ahh. Recurring theme. Lovely. Sometimes I feel like there are two of me in the kitchen, both of us mostly brilliant in our own way. Rather than working well together within our own space(s) and creating something completely stunning, we keep bumping into each other, upsetting each other's dishes, and adding a general annoyance to the air. It's as if the two of me are glowering at each other, brandishing dripping wooden spoons, and berating in a low Clint Eastwood-esque growl, "Will you just get the hell out of my way?!" Sounds psychotic, I know, but that captures the feeling of it.

My mental report card says, in big red letters, Does Not Play Well With Others!  I'm at odds with my Muses, stubborn fool that I am, often saying defiantly, "You can't make me do that," or whining, "But I don't waaant tooooooo..."

This morning I oh, so gently picked on a friend, telling her that she really should turn her hand to writing (and she should, she's brilliant). I told her to quit doubting herself, to quit sweating what others will think. As I saw my words on screen I thought, "You're so full of shit. All talk, so little practical application as evidence." (*rolls eyes*)

And there you were thinking, "Geez, but I would love to be Barb for a day! I wish I was that creative!!!" Yeah? Have at it. I've got laundry to do.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Amor Platonicus

Happy Valentine's Day!

A heart is not measured by how much you love but how much you are loved by others.
~The Wizard of Oz

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard all the booing and hissing and moral outrage at a holiday that, with a wink and a nod at love, is really all about corporate greed. I get it. I've been there. I was a florist for eight years. I make cards for a living (but they are individually and lovingly crafted with great gobs of thought). I was also single and alone and lonely for a very long time. I get it. Really I do. Don't be hatin' on me just because I've managed to, in all the Universe, trip over a guy who, against all reason, absolutely adores me, and who is easily adored in his own right.

I'm not here to talk about mushy, gooey love. Relax. I wasn't even going to post today, but then I was inspired by (cue foreshadowing drum roll) a friend. I posted the above quote as my Facebook status this morning. My buddy Dave responded, "then you're in trouble..your heart will be growing out of your chest..just from MY love..not to mention the love of the hundreds of others..."

So, I want to talk about friendship. I want to take a moment to appreciate the beauty and value of friendship. Because, let me tell you, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for some truly amazing friendships. There is no greater love than a friend. There is familial love, and while it's true that blood is thicker than water, family love is in place sort of because it has to be. Like Frost said, "when you go there, they have to take you in." Lovers, husbands, wives, etc., sure, those are deep loves. To be someone's mate, to be part of that spark that becomes a flame that says, "only you and no other" is breathtaking. But friendship, true platonic love... if you've ever met it in another, it will blow your mind ten ways 'til next Thursday. To be chosen as a friend is beyond compare.

Plato (from whence comes the word platonic) believed that if we love another person, all that we see as beautiful about them will direct us spiritually, will direct us to a divine love. One proceeds from recognition of the beauty of another to appreciation of beauty as it exists apart from any individual, to consideration of divinity, the source of beauty, to love of divinity. Victor Hugo put it more succinctly, "To love another person is to see the face of God."

Don't worry. I'm not getting all spiritually woowoo on you. It's just that I've been struck by how deep the love runs in the friendships that I have - and always, that's love that goes both directions. You have to be a friend to have a friend. That's what makes real friendships so amazing - it's the choice of the matter that goes into it. I don't have a huge quantity of close friends, but I have friendships that span decades, as well as friendships that are new(ish).

I guess when all this really struck me was over this past weekend. I have a new(ish) friend who really wants to spend some time with me. Trouble is, we live in different states. She sent me an email Friday and said, "You know what? I just want to spend some time with you. I'm willing to pay your airfare if you'll take the time to come and visit." At first I thought, "How sweet, how flattering." The more I thought about it though, I realized, "This is someone who knows the value of friendship and she is choosing me. She is ready and willing to move any obstacles just to spend time with me."

I have another friend who wants to come and visit me this Summer. We've been online friends for about six years now and we've had some deep conversations, share a warped sense of humor, and a penchant for all things art. She sent me a message a couple of months ago and said, "I'm not letting another year go by." I wept when I read those words.

Then there are the few deep friendships I have that span decades. Friends that have watched me go through everything, friends that have been there while I change and grow and get ugly and rant and sing and dance and... just... be. And they're still there, arms and hearts open. They've given me time, and money, and advice and, laughter, and inspiration, and... and love, unconditional love.

I will never forget a moment nearly four years ago. It was after John's memorial. It was dark and everyone else had gone inside. It was raining and I stood in the backyard, crying in the rain, thinking... thinking, "Now what." Timothy came up to me and, without a word, wrapped me up in a hug and just stood there like that in the rain with me for what felt like hours. It was long enough that I found some calm. I realized that John had handed over the reigns of a 31 year friendship. I had been given something precious, something to treasure. John had given me the most valuable thing he had ever known in his life - Timothy's friendship.

Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends
~William Butler Yeats

Yesterday I watched Grumpy Old Men for the g'zillionth time. I saw something new in it this time around. Toward the end of the show Matthau's character looks down at Lemmon's character lying asleep in a hospital bed. Matthau's face softens as he gets tears in his eyes. This time I didn't see an actor doing his job. This time I saw Walt not as an actor, but as a man looking at his dear friend Jack, thinking, "It's been quite a ride, pal. Quite a ride."

When I think of love, I think of the friends whose eyes I want to look into and say, "It's been quite a ride, pal."

It's been quite a ride... and there's always someone cool in the shotgun seat.

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Be Loved

Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.
~Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and talk of love is in the air. Of course, most of it is talk from florists and jewelers trying to sell something. However, I've been privy to some really great declarations of love lately. What made them so great is that the people who made those declarations didn't even realize that, in essence, that is exactly what they were doing...

... a father wondered if he is doing everything he can to be a good dad to his daughter.
... friends share a knowing nod and slight smile over an inside joke.
... a fledgling poet musters the courage to share her work with friends.
... a sister and brother laugh together over some childhood misadventure from years ago.
... a nephew spends time joking around with his aunt.
... a group of friends offer sound advice and support to a peer who needs some direction.

All of these were resounding declarations of love. None of it required flowers, jewels, or candy.

The same held true in my own household this past week. Steve has been working insane hours and I barely see him before his head hits the pillow or before he dashes back out the door and off to work. Even so, there are little moments, a touch, a kiss on my sleepy face, the contented sigh as he settles in next to me on the bed. Although Steve often says "I love you," it's the moments in between that show me how truly, madly, deeply loved I really am.

Yesterday was one of those Have-You-Seen-My-Imaginary-Friend-Steve days. He left the house at ohgod o'clock and didn't get home until 11 p.m. (thanks to some clod causing a bit of a catastrophe on the job). I couldn't hang. I had awakened (mostly) when he did, and by 10 p.m. I was on the sofa, nodding off and doing those annoying little reawakening whiplash moves. So, I went to bed, but not before I drew a heart and wrote "you!" on a post-it and stuck it to the coffee pot (which always gets set up the night before).

I barely noticed Steve get home and crawl into bed. I was still fairly zoned when he leaned over the bed and kissed me goodbye this morning. I always tell him I love him before he leaves, but at that time of morning, it typically comes out in a mumbly mutter that sounds like, "Bah luboo.." As usual, the minute I heard the truck leave I stumbled down the stairs in search of the freshly brewed bean that demanded my non-somnia attention. There on my coffee cup was the same post-it I'd put on the bean brewer last night, only in the middle of the heart, in Steve's handwriting, was the word, "Too!" That will probably constitute my Valentine's card from him, and that is just fine by me.

Love wasn't meant to be gaudy and explicit. Love is meant to be as vast as a day in the wilderness and as subtle as the whisper of the trees.

So, while you're waiting for that "perfect" moment that includes flowers and jewelry and saccharin proclamations, take a look around you, take a moment to listen. If you're really paying attention, you'll realize that declarations of love are everywhere.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wash Day

I had such lofty plans. I had an idea for what I wanted to write today, an idea that began brewing yesterday afternoon. I even made a couple of notes so I wouldn't lose some of my more brilliant thoughts. Then I woke up this morning and... poof! All that's left is smoke and mirrors.

I've been sitting here staring at my notes, at the blank page, and it just won't come. I type. I delete. I type again, delete some more. Stare. Surf websites and facebook. Type, delete, get bean, look out the window, type, delete. The topic that wove its way into my dreams just will not do my bidding. Maybe later.

I'm telling you this to make you understand that intelligence and talent are wonderful things, but if you don't have a good launching point (aka inspiration), they are pretty much as helpful as a heat lamp in the desert.

Granted, most of the time stuff is just there, just waiting for me to give it an avenue to wander down, and it's more of a matter of filtering out what not to use. Sometimes, like today, the stuff is in utter chaos and disarray. It's just so much clamoring noise without a single true voice.

Does that mean you walk away from the whole gig and give up? Nope. Never. Dealing with stubborn creativity is just like dealing with a recalcitrant toddler. The toddler is not always going to do what you ask of him, much less what you expect of him. Some days the toddler can be cajoled and coaxed into something like obedience. Other days, you just have to give up any plans for predicable behavior and let the kid do what he is gonna do. When I was a nanny I called those wash days - not because I spent the day doing laundry, but because the day was a wash. You can only struggle with an obstreperous child for so long before one of two things happens. You either get frustrated and aggressive and everyone ends up being unhappy, or you lean back, watch the kid and his antics, and find amusement. Amusement is better.

Amusement and a nap.

If the kid will let you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Great Mandala

There's been a recurring theme in the conversations I've had lately, as well as in posts I've read by other bloggers. The theme is, why do we do what we do without questioning it? We go to work because that's what we were told to do. We hold to religious dogmas and political leanings because that's what we were told to believe. We behave a certain way because that's how we were told to behave.

As children, we learned from everyone and everything around us. Good or bad, stuff stuck - and some of it adhered with all the force of super glue - and we never questioned. We simply took it all as "how it is" and wandered through life with a basketful of someone else's ideals.

My friend Timothy put it best the other day. "You know, I grew up learning that you put your head down, work your ass off for 40 hours a week, get the house, the car, the stuff and call it a good life. What a crock of shit! It's just stuff, and in the end it isn't what's important. Why did I do it for so many years? Why did it take me so long to wake up?!"

There's no easy answer to that, but it really is a lot like sleep. Some of us wake up early, some of us sleep in. Some people can jump out of bed and hold an intelligent conversation before the sleep is out of their eyes, and then there are some of us who aren't even capable of "good morning" until we've showered and swallowed a cup of bean. The important thing is that we do wake up.

We can shake the sleep off and begin a brand new day. Each new day is full of its own promise. The promise is, we get to do whatever we want to do. No, I'm not saying shirk responsibility. I'm saying we can look at our dreams and take appropriate steps toward them. Just because something got written on our psyches long ago doesn't mean it's written in stone. We are the authors of our own lives and we have the authority to rewrite the rules as we see fit. We don't need to accept stuff just because it's what we've heard for so long.

It's now been two years since I was laid off. Honestly, I've never been happier. While I don't recommend getting laid off as a means to jump starting your dream career (kind of like recommending the flu to jump start your diet - it ain't pretty), I do recommend seeing and seizing opportunities. I recommend being creative in how you want to live your life. Do you really want to live in a square grid where everything fits just ever so perfectly and never moves? Or would you you rather live in a mandala where everything flows and progresses toward an ever deepening wholeness?

Wake up, friends... open your eyes... your dream is waiting.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Ever have one of those moments when some feral beast buried within you comes to the forefront? All your hackles go up and you can all but hear yourself emitting a low growl. Without a clear reason why, you have some primitive sense of danger.

Such was the case with me this morning when I checked my email and saw that there were new comments to my blog post yesterday. I read through a couple of comments that were in general agreement with what I posted. Then I opened another, posted anonymously, and immediately got a big bad case of the creeps. Then I got a big bad case of What-The-Fuck?! Then I chalked it up to the rantings of a (possibly drunken) lunatic. I hit the "delete comment" button. I felt it really had nothing to do with the topic of my post and that it was just way too "out there."

It nagged at me that I was so quick to censor. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I jumped to judgment too fast. So, I read it again. In fact, I read it at least a half a dozen times more. The more I read it, the more it creeped me out - like I'd received a letter from Ted Kaczynski kind of creep me out. Even so, I feel compelled to share it here. Maybe because I'm looking for a hand to hold in solidarity against this dark lunacy. Maybe I'm just looking for validation. Maybe because what repels me also fascinates me and I'm geek enough to want to share a view of the squirming bug under the microscope. Regardless, here it is in its entirety (complete with misspells). To my Faithful Readers, I'd love to hear your thoughts, views, opinions - yes, even from you, Anonymous, if you're reading this... but, you're pretty damned creepy.

I should add one small "legal" note: The views expressed by this person are absolutely not in any way, shape, or form the views of Black Ink Pad and/or Barb Black.

Posted in comments at 10:28 PST in response to Oh Say, Can't You See?:

"So many people don't care about global warming. They disregard the need for conservation and instead drive SUVs. They don't care about the Federal deficit/debt (outside of partisanship) and they don't care earning $400k for an $80,000/year job will eventually bankrupt the country. They have awarded themselves $400k pay and retirement packages, loading up their friends on the payroll during the boom 90s through the real estate bust while all services which the program were intended to fund now get cut to pay for it.
They think they are going sometime during/at the end of this life, and disregard the poor souls who are left behind.
Sounds like the Italians who were used to plan World War II and the Holocaust, and not by accident.
These are the people who will be here in the United States when bankruptcy is declared and society deteriorates into chaos. And they will deserve the anarchy which ensues.
The gods used the Italians to ruin life in the 20th century.
The gods used the Italians to ruin life in A.D. with The Church.
The Church controlled Western Civilization. As the largest land owner in Europe they controlled the monarchies. They were responsbile for slavery, revenge for African invasion and rape of Italy. They created religious discontent, ultimately leading to the disfavored dumping ground known as the United States.
And each generation of these Italians were sold on "earning", only to be reincarnated as a lesser life form subsequently, punishment for their evil.
"The West Bank, where the end of the world will begin." With xtianity.
The gods are the commensurate rapist pathology, focussed on control.
It is appropriate they picked the Italians for the downfall of man. The perception offered is exactly how the gods are. Unfortunate for the Italians, they were deliberately altered to match this pathology so the god's behavior could be justified in the context of the god's positioning.
I will forever regret and resent being picked for this event.
I'm just a poor girl in a rich man's house.
I may not have learned as much as I have but I WOULD have gotten more done and made more progress, and at the end of this life that's all that matters. We will all be reincarnated and must re-learn about the gods and their methodology in each sucessive life.
This is the worst possible senario in my life.
I demand I take my hatred for the gods forward to the next life, legacy from cradle-to-grave abuse.
The empty promise is I will have a real chance of going, and if I retain this experience there is no way in damngod motherfuckers that would ever be possible. Secret is they have the freedom to remind me of this life in a future life, "executive priveledge" retained, sabotaging all progress up to that point. And they WILL utilize this tactic.
This is a lost cause. They entered this committment knowing they would escape its obligation. They positioned in a guarentee to fail, ensuring the are not to blame for their failed empty promise and therefore not obliged to make it up to me in a future life.
The upside down star is my symbol. There is of course no Satan. That's just the gods with different clothes on.
You're all in big, big trouble. Everyone who failed to ascend before 1900 is. But the importance of this Situation is to ensure people learn the god's system while they have enough time to fix their relationship and ascend before The End.
Don't forget:::Ascending into "heaven" is not the same as entering clone hosting. One is good while the other is evil. The clue is their request to work multiple clone hosts to "earn", for if you were welcome into heaven you would be invited directly. My example of someone who ascended is John Muir. His "fake" went on to accomplish BUT NOT IN A DISCIPLINE WHICH HURT PEOPLE OR PROVIDED FOR SOME TEMPTATION. What happens after speaks volumes.
You're on the clock. This is where the cream rises to the top."

There you have it folks. Tell me you're not just a little creepified by this!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oh Say, Can't You See?

I was excited yesterday. I was actually excited to watch a football game. I'm not a football fan at all, but for one day of the year, I figured I'd be part of the cheering crowd. It didn't matter to me who won as long as it was a good game. I fluffed the pillows on the sofa. I got the chips and dip and other snackage ready. I settled in. I watched a bit of the pre-game hype with growing anticipation.

Football is such a quintessentially American game. Really. What could say more about who "we" are than a bunch of burly men going after what they want using brute force and gritty determination? The spheroid is held tight and carried close by a well-padded man running for a goal, while his teammates strive to guard and protect him.

If there's any single event that hollers "USA!" it's The Superbowl. People everywhere tune in to their TVs to catch the game. Families, from very young to very old, will actually sit together and watch it. Snacks and beverages are planned around it with more thought than what goes into a Thanksgiving dinner. People actually gather for this event. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to be part of that collective. At the very least, I thought, I'll be able to be part of all the banter on Monday.

The announcer said, "After this commercial break, next up is our National Anthem." I thought, "Yay! Here we go!" I was hyped and ready. The commercial ended and the announcer made the comment that the game was being dedicated to the men and women of the US Armed Forces. "Wonderful!" I thought, "What a beautiful gesture."

Alas, my enthusiasm was dashed with a big bucket of icy cold water. To sing our national anthem we had a pop star who royally screwed up the lyrics, nevermind that she seemed to feel that shout-singing would add more meaning to them. Was she drugged? Who knows. Perhaps her tight suit made it impossible to breathe, or her stiletto come-fuck-me heels had her at a high enough altitude that she was oxygen deprived, or all that heavy make-up and hair product sent toxins racing through her blood stream, any or all of which left her without the mental capacity to appropriately sing our nation's anthem. That was bad enough.

But wait. That wasn't all. As the camera panned the two teams during the singing of the anthem, not a single player stood with his hand over his heart. Hardly any of the players stood at attention, and in fact, many seemed to see it as an appropriate time to do a little "get your game on" warm up - jumping up and down, flexing, making rock star gestures, etc. The Packers, the Steelers, their coaches, owners, and sponsors should be ashamed.

All of this occurred before the beginning of a game that was dedicated to the honor of our armed forces, the people who keep our country safe, and who do so, often, at great cost. All of this occurred while American families everywhere were tuned in and watching, and probably a few non-Americans across the globe.

I must have missed the memo. You know, the one that reads, "During the playing and/or singing of the USA's National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, it is no longer necessary for Americans to stand at attention. Further, putting your right hand over your heart and saluting our country's flag during the aforementioned song is just not required at all. In fact, feel free to do whatever you please while the anthem is being played. It just ain't a big deal any more."

I was raised that when our National Anthem plays, you stop what you're doing, face the flag, take your hat (or helmet!) off, stand at attention, and place your right hand over your heart. You don't have to sing along - it's a tough melody to sing - but you do have to be completely respectful.

So, to see such disregard shown for the American flag and for the American National Anthem by well-paid entertainers and atheletes who, let's face it, need Americans... well. I was pissed. I'm still pissed off today. Yesterday I was pissed off enough to turn the game off before it even started. I won't tune into a football game again. I won't be buying doritos or pepsi or, gosh... even a mercedes.

Is anyone out there listening? 'Cause I do know the words, and I'll proudly stand and sing alone if I have to.

The Star Spangled Banner
by, Francis Scott Key

Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the Dark Side of the Moon

The moon is a very quiet, lonely place. The absence of noise is a dull roar.

This I know from my very unsettling dream last night, a dream that refuses to leave me alone even after two cups o' deep dark bean.

I was elected to go to the moon by family, friends and a group of scientists ("Pow! Straight to the moon, Alice!"). I don't know how I got on the list, but there I was. I was one of a final group of three undergoing scrutiny. The man who was in the group didn't pass the background check - which cracked me up because it's not like the moon is littered with meth labs, y'know? The other woman was a contender, but at the last minute she began to show signs of severe psychopathic, disconnect from reality tendencies. In fact, when they told me I'd made the cut, they whispered it to me because they didn't want her to hear. A man leaned over and said, "You're in, but we don't want to create a scene. Now get up and walk out of the room like you're headed to the bathroom. But go to the lab so they can get you outfitted."

The moon trip was a one way ticket, an extended experiment on the effects of extreme isolation. I was excited to go. I mean, who wouldn't want a chance to see what the moon is really like?! But I was upset because it was sort of top secret and I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone. Once there, I wasn't allowed or able to communicate with earth in anyway. It was just me and the moon and the deafening quiet...

... and the deep sadness that came with knowing this was all there was for me for the rest of my life.

The sadness is what woke me up. Woke me up and weighted me down. I've had a difficult time swimming to the surface this morning, despite the bean. Usually I can shake dreams to the periphery, but not today. This one wants to be noticed, demands attention. This one is saying, "Take time to appreciate how loved you are and the connections you have, because the alternative is cold. The alternative is a silence that screams in the dark."

I am loved. I am loved. I am loved.

Rocket (wo)man out.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Isn't It A Pity

I have friends who complain that they're not creative. I have friends who think they might be creative, but who complain that they just don't have enough time in the day for creativity. All of this complaining is done online, either via email or facebook... all of which makes me yell, "Bullshit!"

Everyone is creative in some way. Even monkeys and crows and otters are creative. I think some of these people feel as though they're not allowed to paint unless they create great works of art. Ridiculous. They don't write because they're "not good" at it. Ludicrous. They don't arrange flowers, or play musical instruments, or carve wood, or bake, or.... agh! do anything, because they feel it has to be genius or nothing. Absurd.

Who put it into our heads that we can't simply dabble at something without excelling at it?! Who gave us the notion that doing a thing that pleases us without an audience is a waste of time?! There was a time when people were taught to be creative, to dabble in many things. Creativity was the only entertainment before the invention of the radio. Learning about the arts was part of a well-rounded education. Sadly, none of it is seen that way now. We have any manner of electronic objects to occupy our minds and our time and to entertain us.

This leads me to the aforementioned complaint, "I don't have time in my life for creativity." No? Really? You want to go there with me, do you? How many times have I seen someone post on facebook, "I'm bored." That makes me want to grab the person by the ears and scream into their face, "Step away from the computer for fuck's sake and go DO something!" Worse yet is when they comment that they're bored and that "there's nothing good on tv." The only thing that keeps me from going completely ballistic is that I feel genuine pity for them. How sad that they have nothing in their little bag o' tricks but tv and the internet.

How very profoundly sad. Somehow, somewhere along the way, we as a society, have completely failed. We have taught our sons and daughters that it's okay if they don't ever come up with an original thought, that it's okay if they rely on outside sources for all their entertainment needs, that it's okay if they don't use their minds for anything but a 40 hour dead end work week. Quel dommage. What. A. Fucking. Pity.

But you know what? It can be reversed. We can change it. Pick a creative thing, anything. Take a tiny step toward doing it. Don't worry about it being the next great invention to come along. It probably won't be. Do it just for the sake of enjoyment. Do it just because it makes you feel happy to do it. If you find you don't like it, try something else. But, please, do something, do anything besides spending all of your waking hours in front of one screen or another. Don't you see? You are dying inside. And I am tired of mourning you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Life as a Construction Project

Last weekend I went to Steve's job site with him. He's been supervising construction on a million dollar remodel in West Seattle. Until Saturday, I had only seen pictures - pictures of the old structure that was there, and lots of pictures of all the bits and pieces that have gone into the rebuild thus far. I was impressed with the pictures. To see the place up close and personal, I was blown away. My man knows his shit. As my friend Jen says, "Watching your man work is HOT!" Whew. Yeah.

But that's not what I came here to talk about. Sort of not. Let's just stick with construction.

As I sat there at the top of the unfinished steps on the third floor, watching ferries go back and forth on Puget Sound, waiting for Steve to finish whatever magical construction thing he was doing, I had plenty of time to look around and ponder. The house has floors, walls and a roof, but it's all roughed in with lumber. None of the finish work has been started yet.

I looked at all the bits and pieces that had already gone into making the structure. Even to my untrained eye, it was obvious the job was being done well. The steps felt solid. The walls didn't shudder in the wind. As Steve's mate, I've been regaled with process and progress of the work it takes to build such a thing, with each nail, hinge and board it has taken to get this far. I've been privy to challenges and successes. As happy as he will be when the project is done, it's obvious that his greatest pleasure is in the doing of the thing, in each accomplishment that happens on the way to completion.

We would do well to look at our lives that way. We are construction projects. It's easy to look at ourselves as something unfinished and completely miss the quality workmanship that's happening along the way. We forget to give ourselves a nod for having a sturdy foundation, or for having enough fortification in place that we aren't blown off course with each little storm. We get so focused on goals and end results that we don't stop to appreciate the work that we do on ourselves every single day, or see every step as an achievement.

Stop and look around. Look at your life. It's not perfect (nothing is), but it's not finished yet either. Take some pride in the work you've done that has gotten you this far. I'll bet the view isn't so bad at all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hear Me

Did you hear that? That was me breathing a huge sigh of relief. The River of Small Stones month is done! Ahhhhhhhh... I think I can understand how caged lions feel. After a month of reigning in my writing, of wrestling words down to mere essence of meaning, I feel restless and ready to spring. I feel as though I've been stuck in a cage and I'm finally allowed to roam free. Now that the savanna is all mine, where to go and what to do first? Go all ravenous on a wildebeest, I think.

I did learn from participating in the Small Stones adventure. It helped me focus. It helped me cull one moment out of my day and (hopefully) get that moment across to my reading audience like a little bouillon cube of flavor from my life. It made me reassess words and how I use them when I write. To go from paragraphs to a couple of sentences and still make it meaningful is nearly daunting. There were days I slaved over those few sentences longer than I've slaved over an eight paragraph post.

Being the sort of artist that kind of runs at creative endeavors completely unrestrained, I learned that controlling my art is not necessarily equal to limiting my art. Even so, after a month of meting out my writing, and two months of creating nothing but cards, I am feeling pent up. I am ready to unfuckingleash! Let me out of the zoo; let me run wild; let me rip the wildebeest to shreds; let me roar long and deep into the night.

If this were a small stone, I would say:
I am writer. I am artist. Hear me.