Entries Tagged as: Books

Standing at Water’s Edge: An Interview with Anne Paris

November 3rd, 2009, Comments (3)


I'm so pleased to be sharing this interview I recorded last week with Anne Paris, author of Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion.

I read the book a few months ago, and as I told Anne, it's just filled with underlines, notes in the margin, and dog-eared pages - signs of a well-loved book. There's great discussion on how even the introverted among us, reach out for connection in our own ways. I could relate to that considering how much work I do to reach out and connect others here on this blog!

I hope this interview will provide some extra inspiration for those going through the Art Every Day Month process. (I love to listen to podcasts while I work!)

The conversation is about 20 minutes long. You can listen to it here, by clicking on the link below or you can save it to your computer to listen to later by right-clicking (or ctrl-click on a Mac) on the link.

Click here to listen.


Trick or Treats

October 31st, 2009, Comments (12)


This week in The Joy Diet, which I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's book group, the focus is on treats or how you reward yourself. When I thought about it at first, I felt like I've been fairly good at treating myself. But when I looked more closely this week, I realized I'm good at treating myself in some ways more than others.

For example, I'm good at treating myself through distasteful tasks and finding small ways to make my day more enjoyable. For example, I love saving the Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me Podcast for when I clean the kitchen. I've been using enjoyable listening to make chores more fun since I was a teenager when I listened to musicals on my headphones (back when we used tape cassettes.) I still do this sort of thing with music, podcasts, or audiobooks while doing un-fun things like cleaning the litter and also with very fun things like making art. I love hearing a good story.

Earlier this week I upped the treat factor by asking some folks on Twitter for podcast recommendations. It was suggested I check out The Moth, Radiolab, Speaking of Faith, and some others, which I downloaded episodes of and scattered them throughout my day to make various tasks more fun.

Yesterday, I treated myself to some beautiful hydrangeas (see above), a bribe for going to the grocery store. Ok, so I seem to bribe myself a lot. A trick and a treat? But what I'm not always great at doing is treating myself as a celebration or just because. Thinking about little ways to treat myself well throughout the week was a great reminder though and I was grateful for that. I've got to keep that up as I dive into the busy month of Art Every Day which starts up tomorrow. Wee! Super excited!

As we wind up, this month of connection, I'm noticing how much I love to connect with folks online through places like Twitter, this blog, and the many challenges that pop up throughout the blogopshere. It's a beautiful thing. I'll be talking more about connections in an interview with Anne Paris, author of Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion, which will be posted later this week.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Connecting with Your Creativity

October 18th, 2009, Comments (17)

butterfly tree

This week's chapter of The Joy Diet, which I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's book group, was about creativity. Creativity! Yes, you think I'd be all over this like fudge on a sundae, right? Well, yes, I do love me some creativity talk, but his was a fairly quiet week for me.

It's interesting, but a lot of people reading the book are having strong reactions to it. While this has not been my favorite Martha Beck book, I'm still getting things out of it. I think for a lot of people, the book is going too fast, there's too much information, it's asking too much. And I do hear that. It is a lot to process and a lot to consider doing each and every day. I think part of the reason, I'm not having an adverse reaction to the book is because I'm holding it very lightly.

Perhaps I'll get less out of the process by doing this, but I've got a lot going on at the moment, and the only way I can do this book right now is to take on what's helpful and leave the rest. I play with the suggestions, incorporating them into my days as I see fit. If I don't do it perfectly, I'm not going to worry about it. Stress-free-book-clubbing.

There are books I've read where I've done every exercise and followed along with nearly every suggestion, as I've done in past readings of The Artist's Way, for example. And there are others that I've read without doing any of the exercises. This book is somewhere in the middle for me. I'm doing some exercises, leaving others behind without a second thought. It feels just right for me right now.

This week I've used the creativity prompts in small and subtle ways. Whenever I'd remember, I'd check in with myself about what I was desiring in that moment and then I'd think up a few creative ways to move in the direction of what I wanted. What I liked about doing this, was that it helped me to get playful with how I can get what I want and it helped me move from desire into action.

Ok, this is a super small example, but small is good too. I checked in with myself at one point this week about what I was desiring in that moment. What instantly came to mind was that I was super cold and I really wanted to be warmer. The funny thing is, that if I hadn't checked in, I might not have done much about the fact that I was cold. I might have just blown it off and kept going. Just checking in was a good thing for me. So then I thought, "Ok, I want to be warm. What are some creative ways I could get warm?" And I started to list off ideas in my head: I could put on fuzzy socks, I could put on an extra layer, I could do jumping jacks, I could drink hot chocolate, I could do some work around the house to get myself moving and feel warmer, I could take a hot shower, I could make soup or tea or hot cider, I could cuddle up with kitties under the blankets, I could turn up the heat, I could fly back to Florida, I could put on leg warmers and dance to 80's music, etc...

Beyond the fact that making this list was kinda fun and a bit silly at times, it did get me to to come up with some solid ideas to get warm and I acted on a few and felt much better. Was this desire a deep one? No. But it was great practice and I used the process later in the week to figure out how to take action on a deeper desire to work on a writing project that I was procrastinating on. By coming up with creative ways to get started, I found a fun way to get moving on it again.

How do you connect with your creativity? What creative ways can you move towards your desires, both small and large?

Connecting to Your Longing

October 8th, 2009, Comments (39)

connect pondsky

I have these pictures from a nature walk I took the other day and when I was thinking about posting them, I thought, "Oh, but you already did a post about connecting with nature for the connect theme! Write about something different!" But sometimes you've just gotta go with where your heart is tugging you.

It's kind of funny because of all the Joy Diet chapters (the book I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's book group), the one on Desire has been the most difficult for me. I'm not sure if it's because it gets harder as one chapter builds upon the next, if the exercises themselves are getting more difficult, if I'm losing steam, or if I have some kind of resistance to looking at what it is that I desire. I have a feeling it's the latter.

I've continued to get in my nothing time (mainly in the form of walks), I've done the truth exercises, but by the time I get to the desire piece, I've "run out of time" or "forgotten" or brushed it off. Hmm. And this is something I've been working on too, speaking up and saying what I want instead of being so easy-going to a fault all the time. Perhaps there's a fear underneath it all that something I want is too big, too grand, and the disappointment would be too great. Or perhaps I feel like I have enough and who am I to want more?

connect pondtrees

For now, I'm going to continue to practice Martha Beck's method of "picking a pebble" of any small desire and follow it where it leads. On my walks, I've been so thrilled with colors and shapes and have been so glad to have my iphone with me to capture snapshots of it all. I've been especially excited by reflections of sky in water and the shapes of leaves. Color and texture and beauty, oh my!

connect bushsky

I feel like I've been successful in following my desires in terms of inspiration. It's something I'm more familiar with, allowing myself to be pulled by the inner nudges that lead me to mediums, subjects, and experiments in art. And perhaps this is enough for now and maybe if I continue to practice this, my desire skills will expand into other areas of my life.

I guess I did end up writing about a different sort of connection here. And in reality I could write about connecting with nature and all the things that come up from doing that all month long! (Although I doubt I will.) But isn't it interesting to see where following desire can lead?

Where are your inner nudges leading you in your art? Are you following them despite what you may "think" about it? What are you longing to do creatively? And if you don't know yet, how could you connect with that part of yourself?

Connecting with Nature & with Myself

October 1st, 2009, Comments (30)

connect pondfeet2

It is the month of connect for the Creative Every Day Challenge, which has me thinking of all the ways I connect in my world. One of the things I've been loving about the home I've moved to, is that it's close to nature trails. Since I'm reading The Joy Diet with Jamie Ridler's book group, I've been using my walks in the woods as a time to do nothing. It's a great practice in staying in the present moment, letting my thoughts march by as if they were in a parade, returning and returning and returning again to my breath, forward movement, step, step, step.

There's a lovely resting point at the end of a wooden pathway that trails right into a pond, filled with frogs. I'm already enjoying the ways the trees are changing all around it and the way they reflect in the water. So peaceful.

This week in The Joy Diet, the focus was on truth. At the end of your nothing practice, you ask yourself what you're feeling, what story you're telling yourself about it, and whether another story might work better. I've used this sort of practice before (it's similar to Byron Katie's The Work), but having the reminder to do it every day has been helpful. And I love the practice of asking these questions after the meditative time.

Although winter will make it hard to take these long walks, I plan to continue them as long as I can. When I'm out connecting with nature, I feel like I'm connecting with myself and my spirituality. And that fills me in a wonderful way.

What are some ways that you connect with yourself?

connect pond

Inspired by Rumi

September 30th, 2009, Comments (15)

a crowd of sorrows, mixed media on panel, 12"x12"

I'm often inspired to create a painting when I read a poem, sometimes an image so powerfully hits me when I read a line that I just have to make it real. That happened this week with a poem by Rumi called "The Guest House."

I've read this poem many times before. I think I've even posted it here in the past, but sometimes a new reading will bring out new things. This time around, I read the poem in Martha Beck's The Joy Diet (which I'm reading with Jamie Ridler's book group.) I was sitting outside by a lake, reading the chapter on truth, when I read the poem again and I was struck by the line "a crowd of sorrows" which I immediately saw as a group of three black birds swirling in a red house.

As I wrote about yesterday, I rode the inspiration train to do some late night collaging one evening and then some late night painting after that. I felt so compelled to bring this piece to life and loved the whole process. So nice when things flow like that. The collage elements you see in the previous post are mostly covered up. I never know exactly what's going to stick around when I do a mixed-media piece, but you can see bits of it in the ground and up close the layers are lovely.

Have you been inspired by any poems lately? Have a grouping of words ever pulled you to create something tangible?

Here's the Rumi poem for your enjoyment. It's a beautiful poem that has touched me in many ways. Perhaps it will spark some creativity for you as well.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks


p.s. The original of this piece sold, but there are prints available here.

The Joy Diet – Do Nothing

September 27th, 2009, Comments (16)


I'm currently reading Martha Beck's The Joy Diet along with Jamie Ridler's online book group. I love Martha Beck's writing, particularly her books Steering by Starlight and Expecting Adam (if you enjoy audio books, I highly recommend listening to Steering by Starlight, which Beck reads), so I was super excited to hear about this choice for Jamie's book group.

The book talks about different daily practices for living a joy-filled life, each one building upon the next. The first one is to do fifteen minutes of nothing every day, which could be done through traditional sitting meditation or moving meditation, anything where you focus on stillness of the mind. Surprisingly hard to do for someone whose mind works a million miles a minute like mine does. I did a mix of sitting meditation and walking meditation throughout the week and was so glad I did. No matter what method you choose, anything that stills the mind is a good practice.

I've found that in many cases, art making is a great way to still the mind, especially when I focus on creating intuitively. So, it made total sense to collage the cover of my newest sketchbook with images of joy. I pulled images intuitively with the intention of selecting colors, textures, and pictures that spoke of joy to me. I added a little bit of glitter and paint  and voila, a joyful sketchbook to write in throughout the process of reading this book!

Sometimes just being still is fabulous, but I tend to prefer something that gets me moving physically too, like walking in nature or painting intuitively, but I'm going to keep playing with different methods and see what comes up.

What’s Inspiring You Lately?

September 3rd, 2009, Comments (15)

Yes, I'm curious. What's inspiring you at the moment? Are there any books or tunes or artists that are lighting your inner fire?

I'm constantly adding to the list of what juices me up and I plan on sharing some of those things throughout the month. I'm super excited about and inspired by the wonderful guest posters who will be sharing stories of inspiration here throughout the month. Jen's post yesterday was fabulous!

I've had a fairly quiet day today for the first time in a solid week and so I thought it'd be a great moment to share a few things that are inspiring me and ask you about your current inspiration!

Nature: I'm feeling inspired by and grateful for the gorgeous weather. I took a walk down to a nearby river where I ate my lunch and wrote for an hour. It was lovely. I'm always inspired by sitting in nature and near moving water.

Books: I'm currently reading: The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler and absolutely loving it.

Music: Somehow I missed out on the music of Arcade Fire, but the song "Wake Up" in the trailer of Where the Wild Things Are (also very inspiring, check it out below) was haunting me, so I got the album the song came from and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

Inspiration Journal: I keep a nifty inspiration journal by my bed. It's one of those thick, red, canvas-covered, blank journals you can get in book stores. I keep it to do very light, low-pressure, playful collages and doodles in whenever I feel like it. It's fun sometimes to tear through catalogs and magazines, ripping out images of whatever catches my eye. I glue them in in a pleasing fashion and sometimes write words alongside them. Looking back through it today, it felt like I had been writing a visual love letter to our first home. Sadie helped me flip to this page today. I like all the muted colors and textures here.

inspiration journal sadie

Interview: I loved this video interview of Dirty Footprints Studio's Connie on Darrah's blog, artcetera. Connie is too cute! I loved when she said, searching for your artistic voice is like searching for your own nose, it's already there, you don't need to find it!! Ok, she said it better than that, so go over and listen for yourself. And if you'd like to hear more of Connie (and me!), tune into Connie's blogtalk radio show this Sunday, September 6th at 6pm EST when she'll be interviewing Jennifer Lee and I about our Creative Play workshop in Boston this month and lots of ways to add creative play to your everyday life. You can even call in and say hello!

Writing: I love Eileen's writing. This post about the times between our creative pushing and the meanings behind our obsession with Buffy (or whatever it is you're obsessed with) is saying about you, is a great example!

Podcasts: I love to listen to podcasts, so I'm super excited that the fabulous Jamie Ridler has started her own all about creative living! Check out her very first podcast here.

And the list could go on and on and on...But for now, I bid you adieu.

p.s. Please send some good kitty vibes to my kitty Sadie who is having an itty bitty lump removed tomorrow. Thank you!!

Deep Rest

August 23rd, 2009, Comments (17)


It's funny, but all the themes get me thinking about their opposites. I'm just contrary like that. :-)

So with this being the month of movement for the Creative Every Day Challenge, I've been doing a lot of thinking about rest. And I'm not talking about any old rest here...I mean deep rest. The soul-nourishing, replenishing, much needed kind. 

Do you give yourself time for this kind of rest? For more than 5 minutes? What does deep rest mean to you?

Giving yourself the time and space to rest is so important for creativity. When you're better rested, you'll have more energy to create, to make connections, to do the things you love, and to be there for the people you love. And yet, it can be hard to give ourselves permission to slow down.

When I slow down, I often feel this sense of, "Oh, there's something I should be doing!" It's even harder to do when I really do have a lot to do. But when I give myself permission to stop and relax, it's amazing how much better I feel. And all that stuff gets done much more easily.

Deep rest for me, might include a nap, or turning off the computer and reading a book purely for pleasure, or spending the day in my pajamas, or taking a bubble bath, or getting a massage, or rubbing lotion on my feet. Maybe you can just squeeze in five minutes of lying still or maybe you can schedule in an hour, a day, or a weekend. Try playing with adding some deep rest to your life and see how it impacts your creativity.

Looking for some more ideas? Check out Jennifer Louden's The Woman's Retreat Book or check out her blog, Comfort Queen.

Wreck This Journal with Fire!

July 24th, 2009, Comments (20)

We're nearly done wrecking Keri Smith's Wreck this Journal for Jamie Ridler's fabulous book group. It's been a total blast! I've had so much fun wrecking, meeting other wreckers, and making my first vlogs! How cool! I was saving this bit of wrecking for close to the end. I think I was both looking forward to burning a page and a little bit scared of it (I'm more of a water girl than a fire girl.)

I set up with my laptop on the porch (you get to see me in my post-workout glory...sorry, I didn't dress up for you guys. hehe) and set out to burn a page. And I had some problems. You can check out the video to see how hard it was for me to burn the darn page. But I made up for it by dancing and singing with my journal, talking to it, and wearing it in a special way at the end. :-) Yeah, I'm just a teeny-tiny bit nutty.


I'm headed off for a brief trip to the Cape to visit with family this weekend. I hope your weekend is a wonderfully creative one!

Other good stuffs:

-If you know of anyone in the Boston area, be sure to tell them about the Creative Play workshop I'm teaching with the fabulous, Jennifer Lee on September 19th! There's going to be art-making, giggling, and loads of creative goodness! You can get all the details and sign up here.

-The super sweet, Jess Gonacha is looking for submissions for pecannoot. Go on over and share your art about abundance with the world!

-I love Andrea Scher's work (her jewelry, photography and writing) and she's just teamed up with Jen Lemen to create the Mondo Beyondo e-course. It sounds fabulous.

-On Monday (2 pm EST) Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio will be interviewing Chris Zydel of Creative Juices Arts on her blogtalk radio show. I adore both of these creative powerhouses! You can listen in to the interview over here on Monday or head on over now to check out Connie's past interviews (there's one with me from March in the archives!)