The Importance of Art

Link

The Importance of Art

I met this artist at Planet Comicon. Absolutely fell in love with his art – amazingly detailed with rich, deep colors. My favorites were, of course, his Star Trek oil paintings, but I was also drawn to his images of astronauts finding bits of the Marvel Universe on the moon. If you have a moment, check Rick’s site out. He has some amazing stuff.

Drawing Inspiration

Image

I always assumed that the writers I look up to (Stephen King, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Lea Wait, Jennifer Crusie, and many others) are surrounded by inspiration. That is, until I decided to start taking my writing seriously. One of the first affirmations I chose for myself was “I do not wait for inspiration to write, I am inspired by writing.” If I wait to be inspired, I won’t touch a keyboard for weeks, even months, because life gets in the way. There are so many demands on our time, that we don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. One of the young writers I work with years ago told me the blank page staring at her freaks her out, and asked how I can sit down and just start typing. “What inspires you?” she asked.

The answer for me is competition. In order for me to be successful, I have to be accountable to someone other than myself. It’s way to easy to lie to myself and bargain with myself. I believe me and fall for it every time. At this point, I have eight completed novels (one published, one in the editing stages and the remainder in rough draft stage). I would never have gotten there if it were not for four very important things – in no particular order: Book-in-a-Week (BIC HOK TAM!!!), National Novel Writing Month, my critique group (this is a talented group: Colleen Donnelly, Ericca Thornhill, Carolyn Branch and Jennifer Bondurant – pay attention to those names. You’ll see them on the best seller list someday), and my friend Lynn.

I need that push, that drive, that accountability, which is currently offered by my critique group. And there used to be NaNo (this is only the 2nd year I haven’t competed). All of my completed novels started as NaNo novels (by the way, our little region frequently finaled in the top 10 for the average production per writer list!! Kudos to us!!). And that’s how I got hooked up with my writers’ group. I really like these people, and even though I only see them occasionally, we share a unique bond. I joined up as a Nano’er and stuck with them throughout the year. It is well worth it to have a face-to-face meeting with other writers. We writers are a different breed. By our very nature, many of us have tendencies towards introversion. This gives us a chance to talk to others that understand our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our frustrations.

So, that’s what does it for me. Accountability and competition.

And the chance to meet some fantabulous women for breakfast every other Saturday!

I encourage you to give serious thought to what inspires you. Do not wait for inspiration to hit. It doesn’t knock on your door and ask if now is a convenient time. Surround yourself with inspiration. Think about what fires you up and makes you productive. It may be something like a support group, or it may be something completely different, such as having a ritual before you begin writing. Once you find something that inspires you, incorporate it into your life, and start making your dreams become realities, bit by bit.

Make Yourself a Priority

Image

 

For years, I put my daughter first. She has now flown the coop. For the first time in my life, as an empty nester, I do not feel guilty putting myself first. But what does that mean? How do I make myself a priority? Today is a perfect example. I took the day off. A whole, entire day to myself, by myself. Feels decadent. And it is. But it is also work. I have a LOT that I want to accomplish today, because my time is precious. And by extension, by recognizing that my time is precious, I am recognizing that I am precious. I am editing, critiquing, drafting. I’m having so much fun! :o)

Over the past several months, I have done a few things for me and allowed my wants and needs to be a priority:

  • Went to a Star Trek convention. If you haven’t and you enjoy sci-fi at all, go. The con was an absolute hoot.
  • Went to ORACon 2013. Whatever you want to do with your life, whatever your goals, you must invest time and effort into achieving your goals. If you want to write, go to a conference. You will make connections and you will be inspired.
  • Went to Michigan with my husband and stepdaughter. That time was invaluable. It allowed us to reconnect and make memories.
  • Went to Gulf Shores with a good friend and her mother. The trip was amazing. I got to know myself a little better, allowed myself time to heal recent wounds, and spent time focusing on the craft of writing.

Hmmm. Looking over this list, I note a trend. Went. Travel and experiences are important to me. By experiencing new things, I grow. I learn. What have you done for you lately? How are you making yourself a priority?

 

Family, Surprises and Growing Older

Eula's 90th Birthday

Eula’s 90th Birthday

I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person, but I write, scrapbook and papercraft. Though I usually share writing, I thought I’d share a layout with you today.

This is a layout about my great-aunt Eula. This was when my mom and her brother (Joe, in the photo with Eula) surprised Eula with a cake for her 90th birthday. When she walked into the room, her face registered disbelief, surprise and happiness. It was a fun weekend, and I was glad we got to help her celebrate her birthday.

This year, I turned 45. It has been a tumultuous year so far. After I turned 45, we had the whirlwind of my daughter’s senior year, culminating with Prom and Graduation. Then she moved out, which has been a struggle for me. But as I look at this photo of Eula, I realize that this year is but a blip. It is the way of life – we raise our children, then they leave. That’s the way it should be. And now that she has moved out, it is my turn. I can explore my creative pursuits and get to know me again.

What have you let take a back seat over the past few years? Are you ready to explore?

Creating my Path

My life is in transition now. I thought I was doing a good job of preparing for the Empty Nest, but when my daughter moved out unexpectedly, I was forced to transition sooner. That got me to thinking about the Path each of us takes during our lifetimes. It’s not about forging a path. “Forge” isn’t really the right word. Forge indicates a forceful manufacture – I picture a blacksmith holding a blazing red chunk of iron in a roaring fire, then pounding that metal into shape with every swing of his heavy hammer. Clang-clink! Clang-clink!

That is not what we do. Instead, it is a more organic process. We create a path. It zigs this way and that, occasionally backtracking. The Path may be fast and swift, through a clearing, but more often it is slow-going, over and around obstacles.

DSCF2719

Creating my own Path has been difficult at times, and as I look back over the years, I realize that there were many, many crossroads where I had a decision to make. According to string theory, each of those crossroads created a new universe. In another universe, I may well exist as a canoe-paddling explorer out to chart new waters in the Boundary Waters along the US-Canadian border (trivia: I took a bunch of Girl Scouts on a 3-day backpacking trip in the BW area. It was an exercise in patience and survival.). In another, I may be an Olympian guiding my hunter-jumper over spine-tingling jumps. But in this world, I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, paralegal, writer, animal lover.

What was an important crossroad for me? Going to the World Affairs Seminar comes to mind. At that seminar (thank you, Centralia Rotary Club, for sending me!), I suddenly realized that there was a whole world beyond my little hometown. Talking to students from all over the world was an eye-opener. My weekly thoughts were “What movie am I going to see with my boyfriend?” and “What color should I paint my nails?” It was mind-boggling to talk to other kids the same age as me, who were thinking things like “Is Mutual Assured Destruction really a smart foreign policy?” and “Should the US government be aiding rebels in Central America?” After listening to folks from the State Department and talking to other teenagers who actually cared about more than themselves, I decided my own future deserved a little more attention. Although I was tired of school, I went to college determined to earn my degree and do something worthwhile with my life (which is why I decided to go into education).

Creating your Path is an individual thing. When you reach a crossroads moment, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do I want to end up?
  • What are the directions I can take?
  • What will it cost me to take each direction (“opportunity cost” will be discussed in a future post)?
  • Which path will take me towards my desired destination?

Please share below the crossroads that have had an impact on your Path.

Empty Nest: Is this really happening?

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Although there’s a ton of information out there for Empty Nesters, there’s very little info about Sudden Onset Empty Nest (more commonly known as What-the-Hell-Just-Happened). For those of us who had a teenager leave home with no warning – and, really, if you were planning to move out, wouldn’t you take clean undies? – it’s not all happy and cheery and cause for celebration. It’s horrible. Like your heart was ripped out, suddenly and with no drugs. Really, drugs should be involved in this. At least a good dose of happy gas.  Your first thought will be, no way, is this really happening?

Yes, it’s happening.

And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. Unless your kid is young enough that you can drag him/her home.

So, how do you cope?

You get through it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Keep Kleenexes handy. Eat well (peanut butter ice cream is a mood enhancer). Exercise (nothing beats doing lunges until your thighs are on fire to get your mind off things). Take care of yourself. After all, you can’t control what your of-age child does, but you can control your response.

There aren’t many resources out there for those whose teenagers move out unexpectedly. I found an interesting blog post, which you can read here. Not the same situation, but similar in ways. And like this mom, I’m not going to go into the details. Suffice it to say, I thought my kiddo and I had a great relationship. <SHRUG> Obviously, I was wrong. I have the same fears this mom did. Will she be okay? Have I prepared her for life on her own? Yeah, yeah . . . I know. I did the best I could for the past 18 years.  And I was kinda looking forward to the Empty Nest. Just expected it to be coupled with happiness instead of grief. Maybe it would help to have a name. Sudden Onset Empty Nest? Acute Empty Nest Syndrome? Abandoned Nest Syndrome? Flown the Coop? I’ll have to think on that for a bit.

Your turn. What do you call it when Empty Nest Syndrome doesn’t fit the bill? Any tips for coping?

TURNING DREAMS INTO REALITY: What if you couldn’t fail?

Image

Like most writers, I am fairly introspective. I spend time thinking about who I am, what made me this way, and where I’m heading. I have learned that we need to spend time thinking about our dreams, and finding ways to make them a reality. If you find yourself not pursuing your dreams, I encourage you to try working your way through “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It is a revealing journey. It taught me that I can make my dreams a reality, and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

One thought I have pondered recently is this – What three things would I do if I knew I could not fail?  1) I would quit my job and I would spend more time writing. 2) I would open a scrapbook store (my favorite stores are the Scrapbook Store & More in Mexico, Missouri and Soul Sentiments in Millersburg, Missouri). 3) I would get my pilot’s license.

I am interested in hearing YOUR three things. Email me or post a comment and tell me your three things. I’ll discuss your responses in a future post. But first . . .  now that you’ve decided what three things you would do, it’s time to take action. Take a moment to consider these things. What can you do to incorporate these things into the coming week? You have 7 days, and 24 hours in each day. Surely you can devote one or two hours to one of these things. For instance, I plan to spend an hour today scrapbooking. Sure, I need to bless my house (for those of you who know Flylady, you know exactly what I’m talking about).  And laundry needs to be done. And I need . . . well, you know how it goes. But I can spare one hour to pursue my dream. That’s all I’m asking. One hour. Are you seriously going to tell me that you are so busy this week that you can’t spend ONE measly hour on your dreams?

I didn’t think so. :o)

Plan your week. Make time for your dreams. They deserve your time and attention.