A Place to Work and Create

I spent yesterday in my creative studio…the place I have set aside to work and create in. However, as I have shared previously, this room also tends to collect “stuff”. It is possible that every house has that sort of room…the one junk mail, books, papers and odds and ends get tossed into, with the intention of sorting through it later.

Traditionally, I use the holiday season to declutter this room so that I can decorate in it. But this year I had strong motivation to tackle this task early. After months of limping along on a dying laptop, and then finally closing it up for the last time, I purchased a new one. My messy studio is symbolic of the way I’ve been working lately as my phone became my computer…I’m all over the place, and out of place, and I can feel that, energetically. It was time to shift that and get back into my studio.

A Place to Work and Create

Cluttered Space Equals Cluttered Energy

Yesterday’s task was to create a better flow of energy in the room. I know better than to let things pile up. And yet, I get “busy” and let it happen, until the reduced energy flow literally keeps me out of the room. When I start avoiding a room or a space, it’s a strong signal to clear it.

A Place to Work and Create

This side of the studio wasn’t too bad, and look at that gorgeous sunlight streaming in through the windows. I love this small room because it has six windows that overlook the garden. And I have happy associations with this space. Previously it served as my son’s room and then my older daughter’s room when the kids switched bedrooms. I can hear the echoes of their laughter in here.

A Place to Work and Create

But what happened on the other side of the room? Stuff happened. Some of those items are garden related, but most of the clutter is from me dropping something in here and then not finding a place for it. Clutter kills my creativity. That’s not true for everyone. Some people thrive in a messy environment. I know myself well and this does not work for me.

My task yesterday was to DO something with each out of place item: toss it, put it away or drop it into a donation box. I carted out two bags of trash, have a box to go to Goodwill, and the rest was put away or found a new place to occupy. The great surprise from yesterday was uncovering a watercolor my daughter created almost 20 years ago. That beauty is hanging in my bedroom tonight.

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Create

After a satisfying day of decluttering, today I have a beautiful and functional place to work and create in. Gone are the piles of stuff on the floor and the overflowing workspaces are neat and organized. I am surrounded by the things that inspire me: family photos and keepsakes, vintage items repurposed to serve in new ways, maps of my recent trips, art, my coloring supplies, and a bookcase full of favorite books. I have a reading chair. And on my writing table my mascot Absolem the caterpillar, from Alice in Wonderland, perches on his mushroom and watches me. When I talk to him, and trust me, I do, I imagine he answers in Alan Rickman’s voice. (Google that if you wonder why!)

I spent the day in my creative studio. Real estate work occupied my time first. And then….I shifted to creation mode as I work to take both of my blogs to the next level. I do not use the word “work” lightly. Technology can be daunting and if I look at where I want to be, it is overwhelming. However, as I proved to myself today, I can do it…one step at a time.

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Work and Create In

Creating My Reality

In the Star Trek series, the holodeck was introduced during Next Generation. I loved the idea of being able to walk into an empty room and energetically create anything place, any time period, and interact with the environment. My kids used to tease me that it was good I didn’t have access to a holodeck, or I might never leave it.

This space, this creative studio, is my tiny earth bound version of a holodeck. I have the ability to create the life I want here…or at least, set it into motion. The room isn’t empty. It contains the things that I love. However, the flow of energy is full of the potential of creation and it ripples outward from this space. Guided by the Divine, I am creating my reality and happily interacting with it.

The best part is….when I leave this room, my creations don’t all disappear, as they did in Enterprise’s holodeck. They are manifesting, continuously, in my world. Life is good, indeed.

A Place to Work and Create

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Silencing the Voice of Doubt

I have a great appreciation and fondness for artist Vincent van Gogh. When I’ve seen the question that asks, If you could spend time with a historical person, who would you choose? Vincent tops my list. This misunderstood artistic genius created an amazing body of work in a little more than ten years, with most of his art completed in the last two years of his life.

Vincent’s work includes 2,100 pieces of art, 860 of those oil paintings. His style of painting was bold, colorful, and expressive, and became the foundation of modern art. And yet…in his short lifetime his genius went unrecognized, and he did not receive fame or financial gain while he lived. He was considered, by many, to be a madman. Vincent described himself as one in which “madness and creativity converged”.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

I not only love Vincent’s art, I love the way he viewed the world and life. Films such as the incredible animated film, Loving Vincent, and even the Doctor Who episode, Vincent and the Doctor, pierce my heart with their beauty and poignancy. I am drawn to Vincent’s words as well and tonight’s blog post is inspired by this artist.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

Vincent believed in creating and living his dream. If any artist had to learn to overcome self doubt, it was this man. Although his brother Theo supported him and encouraged him, no one else believed in Vincent or appreciated his unique views of reality that he transformed into art. Vincent struggled with depression and poor health, however, he knew what he wanted to accomplish, artistically, and lack of recognition and support didn’t stop him from creating. I’ve thought about his words from the quote above and the deep truth contained within them. We must believe in our abilities to do the things we dream about doing, and silence the voices of doubt, from without and especially from within.

Vincent…this is for you.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot sing’, then by all means sing and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot write’ then by all means write and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot act’ then by all means act and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot cook’ then by all means cook and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot create’ then by all means create and that voice will be silence.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot dance’ then by all means dance and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot travel’ then by all means travel and that voice will be silenced.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot do THAT’ then by all means do THAT and that voice will be silenced.

It is up to me, and up to you, to silence the voice that says ‘you cannot’. Others may cheer me on, and I am grateful for them, but ultimately I am the one who silences doubt by taking action, by doing the very thing that fear soaked doubt hisses is impossible or not for me.

Vincent had excellent words also about the process of moving from doubt to living in dreams that are coming true. He said, “Great things are done by a series of small things that are brought together.” Nowadays we call that baby steps…doing what we can…action steps. So far ahead of his time, was he, and so able to see in a bigger, magical way.

I’d love to give Vincent a hug and then sit quietly out of the way and watch him create. Instead, I’ll say “thank you, Vincent”, and slay doubt with my actions.

Silencing the Voice of Doubt

C is for Cindy…and for Creative

After I shared the Vintage Story a couple of nights ago, featuring the crewel embroidery butterfly and the bean art rooster, I felt inspired by these creative family members to create something new. One of my favorite ways to play and create at the same time is to put together a vignette. Tonight I did just that, creating a fresh vignette in the vintage suitcase in my bedroom.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

There were two items that I knew I wanted to include in this vignette: the Butterfly, embroidered by Leta Moore in 1985, and an old book fashioned into the letter C. The transformed Reader’s Digest Condensed Book, from 1983, was a gift recently from my friends, Jim and Kathy. It’s been displayed in my studio. I was excited to include it tonight in this grouping.

Here is a photographic step by step detailing the creation of this vignette.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

An empty suitcase means a blank canvas to create upon. This battered piece of luggage, inexpensive when it was new, is 80 – 100 years old. Oh, the stories it could tell. I use it now to create fresh artistic stories.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

A beautiful old silk pillowcase, with butterfly appliqués, provides a foundational piece for the vignette. It works for two reasons: it continues the butterfly theme and the blues connect the my letter C.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The butterfly art piece rests in one corner, while a vintage metal tray in the other corner provides an interesting backdrop and contributes to the orange, green and blue color scheme. The dark red topiary in the white crock adds height and balances the left side of the armoire top.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I was ready to add the book, fashioned into the letter C. I looked at the spine, curious which books had been condensed in this volume. I laughed when I saw The Suitcases. This clever item rests now next to a suitcase. I looked at the inside cover page and discovered that the book formerly belonged to a couple named Bill & Judy. My next door neighbors happen to be…Bill and Judy! This letter C was definitely meant for me.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The C and a heavy white ceramic bowl join the topiary, completing the section outside the suitcase. I use the “rule of three” often when creating vignettes or displays, grouping three items together.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Back to the suitcase interior, I wanted another white ceramic piece, to balance the pieces on the armoire top. I used a simple white pitcher, adding light yellow and orange picks with rusty stars. I achieved balance, and the pick colors work well with the other items.

Finally, I added a cream colored three wick candle. It’s important to me that my vignettes include a light source, and candles are my favorite way to bring the light.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I am happy with this new vignette. This is a totally unique arrangement of items, with the butterfly art, the metal tray, the topiary and the letter C being used in this artistic way for the first time. This is fun for me, creative playing at its finest. I’ll enjoy this vignette until the season changes and it’s time for fall décor.

I’ve glanced at the new vignette repetitively tonight, warmed by the sight, delighted with the way it looks. The letter C reminds me of Cindy, of course, and it also makes me think of Creative. I am both.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Hand Décor

If you Google the words “hand décor” you get images of hands…in different poses, made from various materials. They are artistic, for sure. However, years ago the words were used to designate that an art piece was made “by hand”. Often those very words were written across the backing board on a framed work of art or a pottery base, along with the artist’s name and a date.

My feature items tonight, for a Vintage Story, are two hand décor pieces that I have hanging together, although they are very different styles of art. These pieces came from the home of Greg’s parents, after Bob passed away and the house was being readied to sell. I call them the Butterfly and the Rooster.

Hand Décor

Because they came from the Moore’s home in Arkansas, I thought both pieces were made by Greg’s mother, Leta. This sweet and endearing woman possessed a very artistic soul. She was always creating something. Having watched her complete many needlework or crochet projects over the years, it has been my honor and my privilege to bring Leta’s art into my home.

Hand Décor

I witnessed the creation of the crewel embroidery butterfly. The date written on the back is 1985, well after I joined the family. I have several embroidery pieces made by Leta. She seemed to enjoy this kind of detailed, intricate work. Crewel embroidery uses a heavier wool thread, creating a nice textured look. This type of needlework has been around for at least 1,000 years.

I love the butterfly. It was my symbol several years ago and I feel a connection to this piece. The colors are still bright and I’ve lately cycled back around to appreciating warm vivid colors.

The rooster is a fun piece, made from a variety of seeds and beans. I believe my mom made something similar to this when I was a child, so I knew this art piece was older. Dried beans and seeds, some painted, are arranged on a board and glued down. The finished work of art is then coated with shellac to protect the beans. I estimated she made this fine rooster in the 1960s.

Hand Décor

I could easily read the name and date on the butterfly. However, age had faded the writing on the back of the rooster bean art work. Standing near the window to catch the evening light didn’t help however a powerful flashlight did. I realized the name on the back was Ruby Moore, not Leta Moore. Ruby was Greg’s grandmother, and Leta’s mother-in-law. The date was barely legible: January 1964. More words were written next to Ruby’s name. Frame handmade by Bill Moore. Bill…Greg’s grandfather, Ruby’s husband.

Although I was surprised to discover the rooster wasn’t made by Leta, I love the unwritten story that this vintage piece tells. I believe the bean art must have been a gift to Leta, who collected chickens and roosters. Because both the artwork and the frame were hand crafted, it speaks to me of love and affection expressed to a daughter-in-law.

Hand Décor

I like being the keeper of these art pieces. They remind me of the artists…two strong women with very different personalities, who held in common a love for art and creating. I’m glad that I had the opportunities to watch them as artists. Ruby Moore was still making things and stripping furniture up until her death in the early 90s. Sadly, Leta Moore had Alzheimer’s the last nine years of her life. As her world shifted, she created less and less.

Clearing her house I found projects that she started and was never able to complete. I have unfinished embroidery and needlepoint pieces that still have the threaded needle slipped into the fabric, mid stitch. Although I feel sad when I hold these hand décor pieces, there is a stark beauty and a poignancy contained in the art that bears witness to the passing of time.

I felt inspired tonight, holding the Butterfly and the Rooster in my hands. I could imagine the two Moore women, one standing on either side of me, smiling and expressing joy that I delight in their hand décor. I could feel their enduring love and those twin sparks of creativity that burn brightly and never die.

I think it’s time for me to create something new.

National Creativity Day

As I moved through my day, I stayed open to what I would be writing about this evening. I had a couple of ideas. And I wanted to create a new vignette on the little entryway table, so that was a possibility too. I realized my ideas all centered around creativity, actually. As I settled in at home, late in the afternoon, I starting getting the nudge to check online to see what unique holidays were being celebrated today. There are more than 1,500 unusual holidays throughout the year. I occasionally find a fun one to celebrate and write about.

After being repeatedly drawn to look, I finally gave in and and checked to see what special holidays were on this date. And there it was, my story inspiration for the day.

National Creativity Day

Hal Croasmun and ScreenwritingU founded National Creativity Day in 2018 to celebrate imaginative spirits everywhere and to encourage them to keep creating. The Registrar at National Day Calendar declared that National Creativity Day will be observed annually on May 30.

This is the first National Creativity Day, ever, and I was drawn to participate in the inaugural celebration. Creativity is my thing. I focused on it last year as a theme. The creative urges I experienced throughout the day were guiding me to a fun way to unleash my artistic side.

Creativity can be expressed in many ways…through music, gardening, drawing, sewing, photography, film, poetry, writing, painting, decorating, coloring, fashion design, storytelling…the possibilities are as varied as the people who create.

I chose to celebrate National Creativity Day in these ways:

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Creating vignettes – I reset this little chippy table by the front door with items that make me think of summer. The rustic wooden box, made by Greg, holds a watercolor painting by Ray Moore, who passed away in 2002, a blue ceramic cup with a beach theme, and an assortment of seashells.

The bottom shelf features a butterfly painting, green glass bottle and a large shell. All of these items came from Greg’s mother, Leta. I added a couple of tea lights and moved on to the next creative project.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Plant Based Cooking – I am loving my plant based journey, and the rewards of cooking nutritious and delicious meals and snacks at home. Several years ago I expressed a desire to be more creative in the kitchen, and this shift in my diet has provided that opportunity.

I have at last perfected a non-dairy, gluten free, no refined sugar blueberry scone! I found a recipe on Pinterest that I adapted with great success. I’ll share the recipe soon. I don’t indulge in this treat often, however I made a batch of scones this afternoon, in honor of the day.

For a simple but colorful and healthy dinner, I added fresh organic cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini and yellow squash to my pressure pot and steamed everything together for 4 minutes. This is my favorite way to prepare a quick, wholesome meal. I seasoned the veggies with a few sprinkles of sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before steaming. Yum! I purchased tomatoes at the Webb City Farmer’s Market yesterday, and sliced the first one today.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Sketching/Coloring – My favorite creative project tonight was working in my book that I’ve repurposed into an art journal. When I saw the page that included a scene from Lord of the Rings, my heart beat faster. I knew Arwen…the brave, compassionate Elven Princess who rode swiftly and battled the evil wraiths so that Frodo could be saved….would be the perfect illustration for this page. But could I capture her likeness? I decided to be brave myself, and go for it.

And you know what? I did it. I am very happy with my Arwen sketch. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing her and then using my colored pencils to lift her from the page. My manga lessons helped me tremendously. I started with Arwen’s head and face…and the three quarters view!

How grateful I am, that I followed Divine promptings and discovered National Creativity Day. What fun I had, expressing myself in these artistic ways. I even did a little playing in the garden, after washing up after dinner. My heart is centered and full and overflowing with joy, which is the perfect way to end a day of celebration.

National Creativity Day

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

When I began this year of stories, one of my intentions was to occasionally feature one of the vintage items that I own. I wanted to share the stories behind those special pieces. I began recently with the story of my mom’s wooden shoes from Holland. Tonight’s vintage story features beautiful floral needlepoint pieces, from Greg’s grandmother, Ruby Moore.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

Even though she was not my biological grandmother, this matriarch of the Moore family was always Grandma Ruby to me. She insisted. Our families actually had connections that went back generations. The first time I met Grandma Ruby, Greg and I had barely begun dating, and had not considered marriage at all. Grandma greeted me enthusiastically and told me immediately that she hosted a baby shower for my grandmother, when she was pregnant with my mother, back in the “hollow”. “And now look,” she announced, “you are part of the family!”

I was both amused…and embarrassed!

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

When I did eventually become a part of the Moore Clan, I was a bit intimidated by Grandma Ruby. She was a strong woman, with strong values and equally strong opinions, about everything. I was afraid to speak up to her, and certainly never wanted to cross her or cause her disappointment. In her strength, she could appear severe, or even harsh. And yet, I sometimes caught glimpses of her tender heart.

The first family Christmas gathering I attended, prior to my marriage, was at Grandma and Grandpa Moore’s house. They were not expecting me, and I was not expecting a gift. Grandma Ruby slipped away to her bedroom and returned moments later with a gift she had hastily wrapped. She gave me one of her own bottles of perfume.

My relationship with Grandma Ruby shifted while I was expecting my first child. At least one afternoon a week, she would drive to my house, while Greg was at work, pick me up and take me home with her. There was always a plate of food waiting for me. I’d watch as Grandma Ruby worked on the old cradle that held her sons when they were infants. We sat together for hours as she stripped layers of paint, applied fresh stain and waxed the wood to a soft finish. The cradle would hold my baby when she was born, and as I sat watching her restoration progress, I felt the love that Grandma Ruby poured into that project.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby Ruby Moore, about 1915.

The best part of those afternoons with the Moores was listening to their stories. Grandma Ruby would haul out an old battered suitcase, full of photos, and tell me story after story from their youth. I heard about their early lives, their fun escapades, and their hardships. Their faces softened into smiles and Grandpa Bill would shake his head and chuckle as he remembered the young man he once was. I loved these glimpses into their pasts, and into their hearts.

Some of their stories were quite shocking. Perhaps because I had not grown up with them as my grandparents, or perhaps because freedom is won in advanced age, they felt comfortable telling me things that their own grandchildren had not heard. Whatever their reasons, I treasured those stories. I came to love and appreciate Grandma Ruby very much.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby Ruby & Bill Moore, March 2, 1916, ages 17 and 18, respectively.

Later, when Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Bill were gone, and their house with all its contents had sold, I was allowed to run in and grab one item. I am grateful that Grandma Ruby showed me the suitcase full of photos. That’s what I grabbed. I rescued those old photos, with those young smiling faces and sparkling eyes. As a bonus, we discovered bundles of letters and postcards within the suitcase, correspondence between Ruby and Bill before their marriage. He is polite and friendly as he writes. She is playful and flirtatious and sometimes downright naughty! I love that about her.

I have more than those photos and letters and that vintage suitcase that I create vignettes in. Through Greg’s parents several pieces of exquisite needlepoint came to me, crafted by Grandma Ruby in the 1960s and early 70s. Those pieces have places of honor in my home. The footrest shares my studio with me, parked near my thinking chair. I often tuck it beneath my writing table and prop my feet on it, if I’m going to be working for a long period of time.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

The other two pieces hang on a wall in my bedroom. They are both florals as well. The bell pull has a working bell that does indeed ring merrily when the pull is tugged on. My granddaughter has a fondness for that pull, and uses it to announce her trips to the bathroom. Ironically, the cat that shares Aubrey’s middle name also rings the bell, if she wants to go outside and I’m ignoring her.

I think of Grandma Ruby every time I look at the footrest, the bell pull and the framed flower needlepoint. I remember her great heart and how generously she shared it. I look at photos of her near the end of her life and now I can see beyond the serious expression on her face and the somber demeanor. In her face I can see the young woman there, eyes crinkled up with a mischievous glint, a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth.

Thank you, Grandma Ruby, for the flowers that will not fade. Thank you for the gifts of your time, your presence and your stories. And thank you for loving me as one of your own.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

Manga Teen Boy Profile

I made the decision early this morning to get into my manga workbook this evening and continue my sketching lessons. That proved to be a good decision, as I had a busy day. I have a story I want to tell, by way of drawings in a cartoon panel format. Manga is is preparing me for that project.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

This practice has been valuable for me. My skills are increasing. I am much more at ease as I sketch and I’m finding the sessions fun and even relaxing.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Here is tonight’s lesson.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

In contrast to the teen girl profile, the boy’s features are more angular. The eye is smaller and set back a bit more from the edge of the head.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

I drew guidelines to help me correctly place the eye, nose, lips and ear.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The jaw is more squared off. The mouth is suggested with a simple line. The lips protrude slightly.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The eye gets a highlight and definition is added to the ear. The hair flops over the forehead and eye and closely follows the contours of the skull.

I truly am enjoying these creative sessions. I have been able to draw a face looking straight ahead or at a slight angle. Profiles, looking up or looking down were more challenging. These easy to follow lessons are helping me tremendously with perspective and placement.

I was impatient to move to the next section of the workbook, but the additional practice has been great for me. I have a couple more lessons featuring the teen boy and then it’s on to drawing the body. I’m looking forward to sketching a whole person!

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Relax…and Create

This is an amusing story, that provides a little peek into my magical life. I realized last night that I still had Easter decorations out, even though that holiday was last Sunday. I decided this afternoon to remedy that, even though I had a full day scheduled well into the evening.

Before starting dinner, and trying out a new recipe, I packed away the items that were definitely related to Easter. That didn’t take long. The vintage wooden sieve on the dining room table was now completely empty, so creating a fresh vignette there became my focus.

Relax...and Create

Pulling together fresh vignettes are fun for me. I like to change things up and move things around, trying out a piece here or grouping items together for the first time. No two vignettes ever look exactly the same, even when I am creating in the same space. I typically come up with a focal piece and then build the vignette around it, hunting through the house and rummaging through closets and drawers as I look for the right items. As often as possible, I like to use what I already have on hand.

The problem today was, I didn’t have a focal piece. I was wandering around aimlessly, not sure what I was looking for, which is a bit unusual for me. Where was my inspired download? Because, I feel like these vignettes are inspired. I usually receive at least a partial mental image of what the finished vignette will look like…a theme, a color palette, the focal piece. This form of creativity is play between me and the Divine. I love it.

Except today…I had nothing. I considered moving on to dinner prep and trying again tomorrow. Perhaps inspiration would appear later. As I tidied up, I kept getting the word “relax” in my mind.

Relax. Oh, I thought, I just need to relax, and allow myself to receive.

Relax. Yes, I thought, relax and create. Relax and go with the flow.

Relax. Oh! Relax!

I literally held the word in my hands several times this afternoon. I have a charming, colorful wooden sign that spells out R E L A X. The sign usually goes out on the front porch, but I am moving things around. The sign had been lying on top of my big plastic tote full of spring decor. It fell off. I picked it up and moved it several times as I packed Easter items away. Relax.

Curious, I popped the sign into the round wooden sieve and it fit perfectly, without needing a stand. I had my focal point! In a few minutes I had gathered the rest of the items and completed a simple vignette that was totally different from any that rested before in the sieve. I like it.

And I had to smack my forehead and laugh. Relax. It wasn’t a command to go with the flow. It was a creative suggestion…an actual sign. The only thing more obvious would have been if the sign had fallen on my foot to get my attention.

I grinned while I turned my creativity toward dinner. Relax, Cindy…

Relax... and Create

Finding Julia

As I listed people in my last blog post, who have had an impact on my life, I almost included Julia Cameron, bestselling author of The Artist’s Way. That book, about accessing and developing higher creativity, was influential to me in 2016. I had been aware of The Artist’s Way and the author for years, but I had not purchased the book. Elizabeth Gilbert shared, during the speaking event I attended, that she worked through this twelve week creativity course before she began each new project. I consider Liz a mentor. I bought the book immediately.

Today I happened to be in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, with some time to kill. The book I hoped to purchase wasn’t available. Julia Cameron came to mind. I have benefitted tremendously from working through her first two books. I knew she had a third one in the series. I wandered into the self help section.

Finding Water was not on the shelf. However, high above me I spied a book that had the characteristic look of a Julia Cameron workbook. Pulling it down, I was thrilled to discover a fourth book in The Artist’s Way series, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

The subtitle for this book is Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. This books arrives in my life at the perfect time. I am not a retiree, but at age 60, I am most definitely at the “midlife and beyond” point of my life. Intrigued, and feeling guided to this book today, I purchased it.

My intention was to start into this new twelve week course on creativity on March 1, or perhaps next Monday. Because don’t we tend to begin new programs on Mondays? I dropped the book onto my writing table in my studio and left it there. But it kept calling to me. I realized I had used my other two Julia Cameron books in my Creativity Vignette. Before preparing a healthy dinner, I read through the introduction of It’s Never Too Late.

Julia writes, “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again is a twelve week course for anyone who wishes to expand his or her creativity. It is not meant only for ‘declared’ artists. It is aimed at those transitioning into the second act of life – leaving one life behind and heading into one yet to be created.” Those words so resonated with me.

Each week I will work through a chapter and complete the tasks within. In addition, there are four basic tools.

Morning Pages – three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. These pages are for “my eyes only”.

Artist Dates – a once weekly solo expedition to explore something fun.

Walking – a twenty minute solo walk, twice weekly, without a pet, friend, family member or cell phone.

Memoir – a weekly, guided process of triggering memories and revisiting my life in five year increments.

I am so excited to begin this twelve week journey that I am beginning right away. Not March 1. Not next Monday. Tomorrow morning. I am familiar with the Morning Pages. I love the free-style flow of words onto paper. The purpose is to energetically clear the mind and heart so that there is room for new experiences in the day ahead. The Artist Dates are incredibly fun for me, as I do things that my inner artist, my inner child, enjoys.

I have felt ready to get back into a walking routine. This course presents the perfect opportunity. And I had no idea there was a Memoir writing task included weekly as part of the course. With my word for 2018 being Story, this book seems absolutely right for this time in my life. I was moved by these words in the introduction, under the Memoir section: “Everyone’s memoir will be different. You may choose simply to answer the questions and list the memories they evoke in standard prose form. Alternately, you may sometimes find your answers coming out as poems, drawings or songs.” Way before discovering this book today, I have felt drawn to sketching out portions of my life story.

I am grateful for all the seemingly random events that led me to finding Julia today. I know that truly there weren’t any coincidences. I was led. I followed a trail of bread crumbs, moving forward step by step until the trail ended and I looked up to find my prize. I am ready to let this journey unfold.

You can order It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again or The Artist’s Way by clicking on the links below.

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Dreamer of Dreams

I have been in creative mode today, which lent itself perfectly to creating a vignette. I have been participating in Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days program, which includes expansive daily exercises. One activity was to create visual representations for each of five areas in my life that I am focused on growing in.

I chose to put together five new vignettes…a fun activity for me. So far I have created a Travel vignette, and an Abundance one. Tonight, it was time to assemble a Creativity vignette.

The creativity vignette seemed to belong in my studio. And the ideal spot in my studio for this new work was the vintage ironing board, serving as a table.

Here’s how the vignette came together, and the story around its creation.

I knew I wanted to use this framed quote as one of the pieces. It is meaningful to me. As I gathered other items, I realized the tray I had set aside for the vignette was not going to be big enough to contain my idea. So the vignette outgrew its “box”, spreading across the wooden surface of the ironing board. This is very like the way creativity can start from a small seed of an idea and expand.

Next to the framed quote I added a stack of coloring books. Their covers connected together beautifully, through colors of cream, gold, silver and copper, which led me to plop the similarly toned candle holder atop of them. Mason jars held bouquets of colorful pencils.

The tray at the other end of the ironing board holds a collection of creative items.

The bright fabric balls reflect the colors of the pencils. The ceramic jar was made by my younger daughter, Adriel, when she was a child. It holds folded slips of paper for when I play the Inspiration Game.

I created the flower print, using a page from a vintage encyclopedia as the background, and colored pencils to fill in my sketch. And the canvas print has one of my favorite quotes on it, about being creative.

Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.

I placed a wooden candlestick outside the tray…and lit the candles. It is important to me that each of the five vignettes has a light source. Light represents inspiration to me, which flows through all areas of my life.

I am pleased with the Creativity vignette. It will inspire me every time I walk into the room, and send forth my desire to live intentionally in creativity, beauty and art.

The vignette reminds me that I am a dreamer of dreams. And, I am blessed.