What I Should Be Doing

from the Joy Diary Sketchbook by Cat Fink, held in the Brooklyn Art Library Collection

I think I broke my Writer.

I’m so focused on the book draft lately, I’m not giving time to the things that feed my imagination, aka my Writer.  Big mistake, because here I am ready to write a blog post, and the idea cupboard is bare. 

When I’m empty of ideas, I make lists.  Today’s list is everything I’m not doing to keep my Writer happy and brim full of things to write.

I’m not reading enough.  I haven’t stopped reading, but I’m shorting myself on how often and how long.  My stack of unread books is lonely; it might even be whimpering quietly like a sad puppy.

I’m not playing enough.  I need to go out to play every day, get a change of scenery, have long, loving, occasionally silly conversations with friends and family and kind strangers, play a board game or card game.

I’m not laughing enough.  Self-explanatory, as my book is a tough topic.  Balancing it out, choosing to experience its opposite when I’m not writing would be a happy idea.

I’m not wasting enough time daydreaming and doing nothing.

A short list, and it’s given me a plan to repair my Writer.

Today I’m going for a long, lazy dinner with my husband and son.  No special occasion.  Just because.  If the weather is good, we’ll go for a walk as well, and if the weather is lousy, we’ll play board games.

Tomorrow my sister and I are going to a matinee movie, and our lunch will be popcorn and pop. Then, I’ll read all evening as long as I wish, and go to bed late.

Saturday there’s a family birthday party for my nephew, who is now thirteen and terrorizing his parents via the adolescent emotion roller-coaster.  Very very glad my son is far beyond those years.

Sunday I’ll visit my Mom.  We’ll eat cookies straight from the package and forget to count how many. When I come home, I’ll sit on the porch swing and day dream, or sit on the couch and and do nothing but look out the window.

And next weekend I’m visiting with friends for the entire weekend.  A sleepover, with wine and chocolate, walks along the beach, and talking way past midnight.

There.  Play time all set.  My Writer feels better already.

The Library In My Home

I’ve heard it said the kitchen is the heart of the home.

I understand that.  When my family gathers, no matter how inviting and comfortable the living room couches and chairs, we always gravitate to the kitchen.  Here we find nourishment for both body and heart.

However, my home has a secret.  It has a second heart, a library.  In my home, these two places feed us whole—body, heart, mind, and spirit.

I am in love with libraries, and having one of my very own tickles me completely.  I take great delight in saying, “I have a library in my home.”

My library is a small room, no more than ten feet by ten feet square.  Three walls of books and a window in the fourth wall.  The light coming in is gold and green, the result of summer sun filtering through layers of grape leaves.  It’s cool in here right now, despite the noon heat outside.

Besides books, my library holds an old couch, extra pillows, and an afghan.  There’s a narrow, wood table with two leaves that fold out if you need more space for important things like mugs of tea and a teapot, paper to write on, and pencils. 

My library might be small but, like all libraries, it contains worlds, immense and uncountable, in each book that stands on the shelves around me.  Here is treasure, beyond abundant, as endless as every imagination of every writer whose name shines on these beloved books.

My heart thrives in my library, just as surely as it thrives in my family kitchen.  If home is where the heart is, I am doubly blessed and doubly home.

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In this post:

The image at the top of this post is from the accordion fold sketchbook I created for the Brooklyn Art Library. The sketchbook is a secret garden, rather like my library, and if you’re curious about it you can find all the images at my art site. https://www.walkingowlstudio.ca/gallery/the_sketchbook_project_the_secre/

Receiving Everything Most Loved

April was a writing month for me. I pushed myself. Pushing was the right thing to do, because now I am exactly where I wish to be, deep into my book draft.

Today I am changing my creative routine, receiving rather than giving. It’s a reward for all the creative work, and it’s one of the things I love most. I’m having a reading weekend, beginning today.

Julia Cameron would say I am replenishing my creative well. Yes, I am and with great pleasure.

My book list contains one mystery novel and three non-fiction. The non-fiction include one on energy work, one on creativity, and one a melding of memoir and creative writing. Here is my list:

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear. This is a murder mystery set in 1930’s London, and the detective is Maisie Dobbs. She searches and solves with both heart and head.

The Answer Is Energy by Jarrad Hewett. Everything is energy, including thought, belief, and emotion. Jarrad’s work helped me to heal fibromyalgia.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon. This is Austin’s new book. Yayyyyyyy!

Tomorrow I’m adding one more book to the weekend reading pile. The staff are saving it for me at the local bookstore–Where The Past Begins: Memory And Imagination by Amy Tan. I read her previous book on writing, The Opposite Of Fate: Memories Of A Writing Life, and completely enjoyed it. There is fourteen years between these books, so I am curious to see what Amy has to say now.

I haven’t decided if I will read through one book before moving on to the next, or if I will hop back and forth. The choice is mine, whatever I feel like in the moment.

A stack of books. Hot milky coffee. Background music by George Winston and Joe Hisaishi. My comfy studio couch. Four days of receiving something I love most–good writing.

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In this post:

Jacqueline Winspear http://jacquelinewinspear.com/

Jarrad Hewett https://jarradhewett.com/

Austin Kleon https://austinkleon.com/

Amy Tan http://www.amytan.net/

How Far Can I See?

I had a favourite climbing tree when I was growing up.  It was a West Coast hemlock, three times the height of our house and brilliant with branches perfectly spaced for my reach.  I stretched for the first branch at the base, but from there up it was a ladder, easy and welcoming.

How high can I climb?  How far can I see?

I didn’t ask myself these questions, but I could feel them in my body.  The feeling pushed me, made reaching for each next branch as natural as walking.

There was a natural stopping point, too, about three-quarters up, a set of branches grown for sitting.  Here, this exact spot, I’d have nested if I’d been a bird.  Lived my life in the sky.

Here I always sat and hugged my tree with one arm. I rubbed the flat needles between my fingers and smelled their green perfume. I felt the wind push us gently back and forth, and I watched the clouds.

My climbing tree was a different world, and here I was a different person.  The worries and anxieties (there were many) that nailed me to the earth vanished.  I looked out and saw all the world.  I saw possibilities.  From my nest in the tree I saw myself in forever, and I knew who I was.

No one except my tree and the wind knew I was there.  No one saw me when I left the earth.  I made sure of it.  And no one saw me return.

Freedom was my secret.

My climbing tree has come back to me as I work on my book.  The feeling of the questions that loosed me and pushed me into a forever world has returned.

I look at what I have created so far, and I feel the push. I feel the reach, as natural as walking, for the next branch.

How high can I climb?  How far can I see?

Possibilities.

This feeling is joy.  The memory of my climbing tree pulls up the nails that hold me to the ground.  Nails etched with ‘too hard’, ‘be afraid’, and ‘wrong’ are no more than thin smoke as my feet leave the earth.

I see the whole of my book from up here.  I know this view and I know myself, here, in my climbing tree.

I’ve made a note, to post above my studio table where I write.

All the note says is ‘my climbing tree’.  Enough to remind me.  Close my eyes, become still, feel my hands and feet on the branches, smell the green needles, feel the wind rock me, know who I am and the world I see.  Now open my eyes and write from here.

Wide and still

feb3.2014 006


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.


A joyous and blessed New Year to everyone.  Let love breathe her breath through all the world.

Creating Light

Go ahead. Risk it. Love yourself exactly as you are right now. I already see the beauty in you, and others do too.

Go ahead. Risk it. Create loads of joy in your life. When you think you’ve created things bright enough, don’t stop. Be the light for someone else, too.

This world needs all the light and love, joy, compassion, kindness, play, and peace we can be. Now there is a gift worth sharing.

Wishing you a light-filled Winter Solstice, and a loving and joyful Holiday Season.

Giving, Receiving, Thanking

joydiary17.page28and29.2018It’s Thanksgiving today in the United States.  Family and friends, plus food.  My favourite kind of holiday.  My cup is filled and overflowing, and so is my heart.

The holiday has me thinking about my relationship with giving, receiving, and thanking.  These actions should be simple and easy.  Give.  Receive.  Thank.  Happy.  Done.

Yes, it’s simple and easy when I do it with my open heart.  And no, it’s not easy or simple when I do it from my head instead.

My head is amazing at logic and details, learning and organizing, but for me, too much thinking complicates things.  In thinking are beliefs and patterns of reaction, many running under my radar, creating expectations and judgments around myself, others, and the situation.  My head likes to be in control, ensuring I get what I want and don’t get what I don’t want.

This thinking is all about my personal comfort and little about the comfort of the person standing here in front of me.  My head worries only for me.  It doesn’t understand other people’s emotions, and truly it can’t understand.  It’s not made for that.  Emotions, mine and others’, are the job of my heart.

My heart has a different kind of wisdom.  It knows love, and it is only and wholly made of love.

My heart knows intimately how I feel, and when it reaches out, it feels how others feel as well.  Although the knowing-feeling is sometimes painful, I know this ability to connect is a miraculous gift.

Our hearts know love is a diamond.  Each facet holds emotions whose roots are love.  Kindness, care, compassion.  Generosity, forgiveness, understanding.  Appreciation, gratitude.  Sharing, giving, receiving, thanking.  Peace.  In every language, every word we have created which falls into love for self and other shines bright on this diamond.

Here today we celebrate three faces of love.  Let me give my heart to you, let me receive your heart, and let me say thank you with heart full and brimming over.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your day be loving, joyful, and fulfilling.

____________________

I dreamed.

I was water

Cupped in your hands

Running down your arms

Pooled in your heart

Flooded

Overwhelmed

Tears washing your feet

Returned to the earth

Fulfilled.

Making Stuff With Friends, or, One Plus One Plus One Equals Cookie

banners.DancingTheGhosts.small300ppiYesterday I was with friends, beginning a new group art project.  We are each filling a sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2019.

The time spent was perfect fun, relaxing, inspiring, and energizing.

Mostly I work and play alone in my studio, and I choose this.  I need and love my quiet alone time, in order to see and hear the ideas coming through, in order to draw and write.  I also need and love time with friends and fellow creators.

Here is what I love about creating with my friends.

The conversation and ideas and actions that flow are always unexpected.  We don’t create in a straight line.  Instead, our ideas are starbursts.  One of us offers a comment or question, and off we go in every direction.

We are not one plus one plus one equals three, although we can be, and have been, if needed.  No, we are one plus one plus one equals cookie.

Laughter is frequent, as is opening our hearts and learning the shape of our souls.

What always fascinates me is this.  We begin at the exact same point, but the flow from each of us is unique in theme and look and final destination.  It does not matter that we all hear the same conversation, begin with similar art materials, play together in the same room.

It is our individual histories and life experiences, our separate needs and wants and focus that shape the vision each of us sees.  This is what sparks the curiosity that arises to follow a specific path in creating.  This is also what creates such fertile ground when we are together.

Together we are a garden, wild and joyful with growth, weeds fully included.  Watered with tea (double chai yesterday) and lattes, nourished by sandwiches and soup and goodies.  Held close in the sunny heat of friendship and shared creativity.

Nothing better than one plus one plus one equals cookie.

__________________________________

In this post:

The Brooklyn Art Library.   https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/