When I Can’t Think Of Anything To Write

1.'Laid to Rest 80,000...Spirits (east)'--halfsize
‘Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (east)’

I’m stuck.

Usually when I write my morning pages, words show up for the blog post.  But not today.

Luckily, I know what to do.  Okay, I say to myself, start where I am.  This is advice taken to heart, from both Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron.  Wise words born of their years of creating, and generously shared with all.

Start where I am.

The last three days my creative energy has been focused on the sketchbook I’m doing (halfway through!) for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2018.  I’ve been happily playing with ideas and art materials, choosing what speaks to me, and creating it in the sketchbook.

Today I need to change gears, from image to word, and I feel stuck.

I go through fallow periods, both long and short, when the artist and writer in me rests.  This used to terrify me.  Panic.  Maybe I’ve stopped being an artist, stopped being a writer.  Maybe I’ve used up all my ideas.  I’ll never draw, never write again.

I have to have patience.

Patience is not my strong suit.

To soothe myself, I pull favourite books from my studio library and read about other artists and writers.  I experience their work, drawings, paintings, essays, and musings.  I notice how this colour shocks the colour next to it, how this phrase stops me breathless in its beauty.  I borrow other people’s creativity, while I wait for mine to rise again.  Their creativity gives me joy, and shifts me from fear into appreciation and possibility.

Creativity thrives in possibility.  Ideas show up, triggered by images and words that shine beauty into my heart.  Sooner or later, I am creating again.

Today the fallow period lasts a whole thirty minutes.  Hardly a test to my patience.  Definitely not enough time to go into panicked drama queen mode, thank goodness.

Thank you, Natalie and Julia, for your advice.  Thank you, every artist and writer who have lent me your creativity through the power of your images and words.  Thank you for sharing.  I am blessed to know you.

_______________________

In this post:

When soothing my patience through a fallow period, I especially love:

The Sound of Paper: starting from scratch by Julia Cameron, Penguin Publishing Group, 2005.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Living Color: painting, writing, and the bones of seeing by Natalie Goldberg, Abrams, 2014.  http://nataliegoldberg.com/

Find the Brooklyn Art Library and The Sketchbook Project at  https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/

Words Between Love and Grief

feb3.2014 006I asked for breathing room.

Grief said, no.

_________________________

Grief folds my heart,

abandons it on the kitchen table.

I do not recognize this different kind of love.

_________________________

My heart is sad.  I love it anyways.

_________________________

My heart moved next door.

It says it’s not coming back.

_________________________

I thought there was no cost to loving so well and completely.

I stand corrected.

_________________________

Let my heart rest.

It’s been trying so hard to stay in love.

Let my heart rest.

_________________________

 

 

 

Resisting Resistance

Cat Fink--'Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones)'
Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones) — Cat Fink

I wake up in an I-don’t-want-to-do-anything mood this morning.

I push through my morning routine.  I do my set of shoulder and neck stretches.  There is a flash of “that feels good” when I finish my last stretch, but it’s not enough to crack my mood.

I feel, as I eat breakfast, the desire to remain here at the table, reading.  The book is good, Closer To The Heart by my favourite fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey.  I do not want to put the book down, but this is more than desire to read a good book.  I am resisting moving into my studio and beginning my creative day.

I love drawing and writing.  Yesterday I played in the small sketchbook I received from the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2018.  No resistance showed up.

Today, though, there is a brick wall, ten feet high with “I don’t want to” stamped all over it.  I’m on this side.  My drawing and writing are on the other.

I know the trick.  Find the door in the wall.  If no door, then a ladder.  Maybe a bulldozer (I like that).  Or maybe I need help.

Asking for help is never my first choice.  Sometimes it should be.  Okay, help it is.

I reluctantly drop my book mark at page 148 of Mercedes’ book, leave the kitchen table, and move to my studio. I take my morning pages book from the pile of papers just to the right of me.  I pull a Mickey Mouse pencil from the collection sitting in the Starbucks grande frappaccino cup.  Morning pages are my first and biggest help.  I’m ready.

I start where I am.  Kicking my toes against this brick wall of resistance.  Leaning my back against it and muttering, “This feels crappy.”  And then adding, “You’re in my way.”

I built this wall.  I’m in my own way.

I begin wondering what it is I don’t want to do, that has put me in this mood. Continue reading “Resisting Resistance”

Creation Space: An Ode To Library Magic

1.'Containers for the Soul'--Cat Fink
‘Containers For The Soul’

Today the sun is out.  Fresh air and a change of view feel terribly appealing.  I have a book on hold at the public library.  I’ll go pick it up.

I walk into the library and head for the circulation desk.  As I walk, I hear in my mind the words ‘creation space’.

Oho.  I get it.  There is library magic arising.  Picking up the book on hold was only an excuse to get me here.  The real reason I am here—to write a blog post about libraries and creation space.  I borrow my book, join the librarian in praising the sunny day, then look for one of my favourite reading-writing-imagining spots.

And now here I am, writing.  I have a round table all to myself.  Books, Ipod, my canvas pencil case with the words ‘I like big books’ stencilled on it, pencils, and paper are scattered around me.  Total happiness.

I love libraries.  Libraries are home to me.  My favourite place in school and university was always the library.  The public library saw me, my sister, and my brother every Saturday, trading our piles of borrowed books for new piles of borrowed books.  Even through summer holidays, I never missed my weekly exchange of old words for new.

I love reading and writing and daydreaming in the library, but a library is more than a physical creation space.  A library gives me heart and mind space.  For me, a library is an entire universe of thought and imagination.  Every book on the shelves is a star, a planet, a solar system all its own where I can live if I choose.  I and my imagination have joyous permission and example from every writer whose books live on these shelves.  Their ideas and words whisper to me, “Come and play.”

I never say no to this invitation.  I know magic arises every time I say yes.

Sometimes I need a creation space wider than my studio and my single imagination.  Sometimes I need to connect with other imaginations.  A library is a space of all possibility.  Wandering along the shelves in the public library, I introduce myself to new-to-me writers and new-to-me ideas.  We connect, and my world expands.  What I thought was possible becomes infinite.

Yes, libraries, I love you.  Thank you for your gifts of infinite creation space and magic.

 

 

Threads of Joy (Upsy-Daisy Part Two)

letmemendheart
Let Me Mend Your Broken Heart

I learned to sew in High School, Grade Eight.

The first thing I learned was the basting stitch, an easy up and down of needle and thread through two layers of sky blue gingham cloth that would eventually become an apron.

The basting stitch was simple.  All it required was attention to keeping the stitches balanced in length so the layers of cloth held firmly to each other.  The thread I used was a vivid red, deliberate contrast to the colour of the gingham.  It was easy to see what had already been stitched, and what now needed my needle, thread, and attentive eyes.

I am thinking of my Dad, and how he taught me to find threads of joy and use them to stitch my days together.

It was my heart and all my senses he taught me to use, rather than needle and thread.

Every day, as I grew up, I stitched firm the colours of morning clouds and wild sunsets.

Every summer I stitched the feel of my bare feet on wet sand as the tide went out.  I stitched the smell of thick earth under the trees when August afternoons were hottest and I found the deepest shade.

I stitched into my life the smooth, cold taste of chocolate ice cream for dessert after supper.  Two round scoops each for me and my sister, one scoop for our brother who was much younger than us and still sat in the high chair next to Mom.

Every night I stitched the quiet sounds of my Mom and Dad talking in the kitchen after we three were in bed, stories read, blankets and teddy bears tucked around us, kisses on our cheeks.

Here in my life now, I stitch each day together against the grey grief that threatens to pull me apart.  I stitch, with careful attention, the threads of joy my Dad taught me to find and choose.  Vivid colours, lengths of joy and love sewn to balance sadness, to hold me firm.

Upsy-Daisy

laid to rest 80,000 obstructing spirits (north)600ppi
Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (North)

There’s something my Dad would say to me when I was very young and I had fallen.

“Upsy-daisy.”  And then he’d pick me up.  Set me on my small feet, brush off my knees, make sure I was okay.

Dad, I’m not okay right now.  I need to hear you say to me, “Upsy-daisy.”  And pick me up and set me on my feet again.

My Dad died exactly two weeks ago.

I miss the sound of his voice the most.

I miss talking with him.  I miss sitting together, saying nothing at all, watching the cedars move in the summer wind and the clouds chase each other across the sky.  I miss finding the perfect, smooth, grey stone, and passing it to him as we walk.

There are no words for these feelings, though I make the attempt.  Trying to capture and still the king tide as it pulls and pushes.

Impossible.

I hear my Dad saying impossible has never stopped me yet.  So true.

Upsy-daisy.

My New Year’s Un-Resolution

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 24 2016 (learning to be me)'
‘What Gives Me Joy Nov 24 2016 (learning to be me)’

There is a scene in ‘Aladdin’, one of my favourite Disney movies, that frequently rises in my mind.

Genie, in the shape of a large bee, is buzzing in Aladdin’s ear, “Be-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e yourself!”  Aladdin is preparing to definitely not be himself as he talks with Princess Jasmine.  In his mind, being himself is not good enough.

I understand this.

Much of my life I have been sure I am not good enough.  I no longer believe this.  Thus, my New Year’s Un-Resolution.

Be Myself.

That’s it.  Two words.

This is not the usual New Year’s resolution.  I am not looking to improve myself.  What I am doing is uncovering my authentic self.

Be Myself.  All day long I ask, is this my choice or someone else’s?  Is this my belief, expectation, value, judgment, idea, or someone else’s?  What is true for me?

I use words to ask myself the question.  I look for the answer in how I feel.

My heart tells me yes, this is me, this is mine.  This feels right and true to me.  Or no, not mine.  This feels wrong and false to me.

I learn from everything and everyone around me.

Sometimes in the learning, I take on things that are not true for me.

Sometimes, it takes time for me to understand that a belief, expectation, value, judgment, or idea does not fit me.  That is okay.  Trying things out and experiencing what happens may be what I need.  Sometimes I must know what I don’t want in order to know what I do want.

So here I am, eleven days into 2018, paying attention to who I really am and discovering what feels true to me.  So far, mostly what I have discovered is that I have un-learning and un-choosing to do.

The ‘un’ in front of ‘resolution’ was a clue.  Yeah, missed that.

No worries.  Being Myself is a work in progress.  I have all year long.

____________________________

In this post:

Animated movie Aladdin, 1992, Disney.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aladdin_(1992_Disney_film)

 

Prayer For The New Year

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 16 2016 (celebration)'

Wide and still I hold my heart.

Let spirit write her path in me.

Let love breathe her breath in me.

Let need call forth to serve in me.

Let grace be every step for me.

Let joy become the song in me.

Let connection open space for me.

Let creation be all play in me.

Let action be the choice for me.

Still and wide

I hold my heart.

Let all life find its home in me.