Detective work

'Holy Water' detail (shirt 1)
‘Holy Water’ detail (shirt 1)

My first and favourite creativity book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, has tasks I go back to once in a while. Checking in with the artist writer creator inside of me.

Where am I right now? What am I thinking about? What am I realizing? What am I letting go? This is what I am asking myself, but these questions sound a bit dull. Julia has questions that are much more fun and go just as deep, deeper if I let them.

Here is where the artist writer creator me is right now. The questions are from ‘Detective Work’ on pages 73 and 74.

  1. My favourite childhood toy was: crayons, skipping rope, roller skates, Spirograph, paper dolls, chemistry set (so many things to love; re the chemistry set, only 2 minor explosions and/or smoke)
  2. My favourite childhood game was: hopscotch, skipping, tree-climbing, chinese skipping (again, so many things to love)
  3. The best movie I ever saw as a child was: Japanese anime movie of Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Herbie the Love Bug (I wonder where someone found a Japanese anime movie in the late 1960’s?)
  4. I don’t do it much but I enjoy: rollerskating (the old 4-wheel skates, not those inline ones), swimming (lake, not ocean, not swimming pool)
  5. If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself: throw out ALL my clocks and never buy new ones, well, maybe a sun dial
  6. If it weren’t too late I’d: live in Europe and be artist-writer all the time (I have the second bit down, now I just need the first bit)
  7. My favourite musical instrument is: piano
  8. The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is: not enough!
  9. If I weren’t so stingy with my artist, I’d buy her: six months living in Amsterdam, Florence, and Venice
  10. Taking time out for myself is: necessary, not always easy
  11. I am afraid that if I start dreaming: I’ll do whatever I want without consulting anyone
  12. I secretly enjoy reading: trashy magazines
  13. If I had a perfect childhood I’d have grown up to be: artist and writer (oh, look, I did)
  14. If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d write or make a: drawing the full length of a roll of Fabriano paper (coooooolllll!)
  15. My parents think artists are: not them
  16. My God thinks artists are: everyone (no exceptions) and essential
  17. What makes me feel weird about recovering my creative self is: my creativity keeps expanding and I am sure it has no outer limit (ooo, interesting, what do I want to create next?)
  18. Learning to trust myself is: perfect and sometimes difficult
  19. My most cheer-me-up music is: 70’s radio rock songs and Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown music
  20. My favourite way to dress is: comfortable, colourful, funky, decorated

Yes, I like where I am and who I am right now (mostly). You just keep goin’, grrl! (Grrl is not a typo.) Go, Cat, Go, XO!

_________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julia Cameron, book The Artist’s Way, http://juliacameronlive.com/

Vince Guaraldi, 1928-1976, awesome jazz musician and composer of music for the Charlie Brown cartoon tv specials (eg A Charlie Brown Christmas)

What do I want to do today?

Coyote Calls to the Protectors-detailIt’s the end of July, the middle of summer. This is how I feel when I write this. Momentarily sad.

It is how I felt as a kid every year in the middle of summer holidays. Then I would plunge into August, and forget. I’d go back to waking every morning, hear the crow family having breakfast, hear the songbird I had never seen. Feel the warm air fall through my open window and across my face. And then my first thought, always–what do I want to do today?

Anticipation. Excitement. Pure pleasure.  What I was really asking?  What do I love today.

There is luxury in waking like this, in love, knowing I have the whole day to play. No demands. No have-to’s.

I am doing this today. A gift to myself, to be in love and play, all day.

I want to write. That’s a given. Haven’t done any writing for the better part of a week and my mind is itching to go.

What else? Sit on the back deck in the shade under the grapevines. Let Edgar the Cat drape himself across my legs. He can nap. I’ll daydream and not do anything else at all. Just be here. Just be.

Maybe, after that, I’ll get one of my puzzle books from my studio and my blue-purple-green-pink pen. Return to my lounge chair in the shade, do crosswords and logic puzzles. More word play. I love it.

I’ll wander inside to make lunch. Sesame bagel and cream cheese and Tuscany ham. Green olives fished from the jar. Cool water from the tap. Oreo cookies, the originals. Each one carefully pulled apart and eaten in layer order. Summer lunch. Satisfying to the stomach and the soul.

What else do I want to do today?

Read. All afternoon. The book recommended by a friend and borrowed from the library. Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. Small book. A gem. Read the obituaries, he says. They’re about life and risk and creating a heart’s desire.

Then, begin rereading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird. This is my fourth reading. My fifth? I’ve forgotten. Parts of Anne’s book live inside me now. There is a reason people talk of devouring a book, of being a voracious reader. That’s me. My body is words from the books I love.

Dinner now. Easy. Rice and sweet-and-sour pork leftover from last night. A two-night dinner, I call it.

Finally, a game with my husband and son. Klondike, or a few rounds of Sorry, or Scrabble (more words). We played Scrabble last night. A close game all the way, the best kind of game. Long and short words, all over the board. Corner to corner. We make up our own rules, and they change each time we play.

This is my day, in the middle of summer, the end of July. A day to play, to please myself. A gift. No demands. No have-to’s.

I wish you such days in your life, such gifts. What do you want to do today?

Enjoy.

______________________

Mentioned in this post:

Austin Kleon, book Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, Workman Publishing Co., 2014   http://austinkleon.com

Anne Lamott, book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1995   www.salon.com/writer/anne_lamott

 

One hundred and four magic crayons

banfftable.1.blogI’m writing outside today, sitting on the beach.  Wednesday. Sun and wind. The ocean waves have whitecaps on them, and the seagulls are flying cartwheels. Everything right now is shades of blue, white, grey. Ocean. Sky. Birds. The mountains across the strait.

I love colour. It is what I notice first in anything I see. Maybe this is why my favourite birthday or Christmas or anytime gift is a new box of crayons and a colouring book. This has been my favourite gift since I was old enough to grasp and move a crayon across the page.

Right now I have a Hello Kitty colouring book with a red cover, and a pack of 24 Crayola crayons. The points on the crayons are all rubbed down, except for black and white. I have used each of those exactly three times. The rest of the colours are well-loved. When I use them I have to peel off some of their paper covering, a thin strip round and round until enough of the crayon is exposed. I don’t like having the wrapper rub and shred on the page of my colouring book. It feels gritty and rough. It interrupts my crayon-colouring-book reverie.

The purple-pink-cerise and the blue-cerulean crayons, my favourites this week, are broken. Sad accidents, each time. Pressing too hard against the page, trying to make the colour completely solid.

I am always sad when I break a crayon. The funny thing about this–I am exactly the opposite with my pastels. When I pick up a new pastel, the first thing I do is break it in half and pull off its wrapper. I remember someone gasping out loud as I did this during an art show demo.banfftable.4detail

I have never done this with my crayons. I like them whole.

I love my crayons and I love the possibilities in my colouring book. Black lines on white paper waiting for me to give them life. Rainbow on the page with at least a hundred more than six colours by the time I have finished blending and mixing and layering.

I remember in August each year, in my brand new school supplies, there was a cardboard box of twelve Sargent hexagon crayons. I loved my Sargent crayons. It was the smell of them as I opened the box, and the shape of them in my hand. I remember one of my girlfriends did not like her Sargent crayons. The edges felt sharp against her hand and left lines pressed into the skin of her fingers.

That never bothered me. I loved my Sargent crayons because they were faithful. I never worried about them. I could put them down anywhere on my desk, and they never rolled off and broke on the linoleum floor. They stayed where I left them as I went from one colour to another. Each would be waiting when I put my hand out to pick it up again.

This was necessary, this faithfulness. By the time my colouring was done, I had all twelve crayons out of their box and scattered over my desk top. I used all my colours on every drawing I made.

Continue reading “One hundred and four magic crayons”

Knowing

laid to rest east detailI am six years old.  I know I am a writer and an artist.  I know I am a creator.  I translate the world into image and word.  It makes me happy, gives me joy.  I am in love with writing, drawing, the world, me.

I don’t choose it.  I just do it.  I look at the beauty of the world.  I feel it.  I write it.  I draw it.  Whatever comes to me goes onto the paper.

This is play.  Easy, fun, exciting.  New all the time.

I know who I am, my true heart.

Fifty years later.  Here.  Now.  Who am I?

I am Cat, recreating herself in her true image.

Shedding old patterns.  Shedding all the things other people told me I was and was not.  Shaking off what no longer helps me on my path.  Refusing to accept what I know is not true for me.cathy.img447 Dec 66

I am moving back in, this place, this heart, true to myself.  True to the six year old who knew without doubt.

Draw.  Write.  Play.  Love.

Monday’s gifts from Source

nancydrew.bellI had errands to do yesterday morning.  Insurance renewed for the car.  Property tax paid for the year.  Books and dvds returned to the library.  A Monday morning beginning-of-the-week list.

What I did not know.  Source had a Monday morning list for me as well.

Five gifts.  Unexpected.  All ease and joy.

No line-up at the insurance office.  Amazing.  Not the usual.  In.  Done.  Out.  Easy.

A line-up at the municipal hall, eleven people deep.  Everyone waiting to pay their taxes before the Thursday deadline.  I settle to wait.  Except.  Wow.  The staff are zipping people through.  Zip.  Zoom.  I’m done.  Four minutes including waiting in line.  I’m impressed.  I do this every year.  Usually it’s twenty minutes, at least.  I tell the woman at the counter.  She laughs, says thank you.  She is smiling and so am I.

Return the books and dvds to the library.  Unexpectedly meet a friend who has been raiding the art book section.  We go to one of our favourite cafes.  Talk art and life for an hour.  Leave feeling inspired, and with a date for next Monday too.

Real, brewed, iced tea with fresh lemon slices, at the café.  Two tall glassfuls for each of us.  Mmmmm.

Back at the library, in the kids section.  On the discard-books-for-sale cart, Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Tolling Bell.  The same edition I received as an eleventh birthday gift during summer vacation.  I loved this book.  My first introduction to mystery stories.  Read it several times that summer.  I pick up this copy that has appeared in front of me.  Pay the librarian her dollar.  Take the book home.  My birthday is next week.  Happy early Birthday, Cat, with love from Source.

___________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew #23 Mystery of the Tolling Bell, Grosset and Dunlap Publishers

Image below from http://romancingthebee.com, post for March 28, 2013, ‘Girl History Month – Carolyn Keene…’  http://romancingthebee.com/2013/03/28/girl-history-month-carolyn-keene-author-of-the-nancy-drew-mysteries/

nancydrew

Lullaby

Practice (detail)
Practice (detail)

The Universe, Source, was nudging me all last week, singing to me.  Ideas, suggestions.  Then it pointed me to Julia Cameron’s book The Vein of Gold, and the task ‘Lullaby’.  ‘For five minutes each day (five private minutes), hum or sing a lullaby to yourself.’  The task is on pages 164 to 166, if you are looking for it.

It is true, you know.  The world is music.  The world is sound.  We are sound.  Vibration.  Nada Brahma.

My Mom sang to me, to herself, and with the radio.  My Dad sang with me, my sister and brother, in his ‘own personal key of music’ as he would say, perfectly off tune.  In the late afternoon heat of July, Dad driving us home after swimming in the lake, singing Jingle Bells all the way.

My chosen lullabies, the songs I sing to myself, might not be what you would expect:

Continue reading “Lullaby”

Home and safe

Family (tied to life)
Family (tied to life)

I am eight years old, sitting in the back seat of my parents’ Volkswagen Beetle.  It’s Friday night, November, and dark.  My sister is curled into the far corner opposite me.  I think she is sleeping.  I am near to sleep as well, that place where thoughts float and my body releases the day.

I can see my parents in the front seats.  Light from the dashboard lines the edges of their faces, Mom turned towards Dad as he drives.  Their voices wrap around me, quiet and warm.

We had dinner out tonight, and then did grocery shopping.  I can smell the bread, packed full in one of the brown paper grocery bags behind my seat.  Ten loaves for a dollar.

The car tires hum against the road, and the engine chugs.  Steady and sure.  I know Dad is watching for the deer who sometimes step from the trees onto the road and into the light, and then stand, blinded.  They and we are blessed.  We always pass each other with space to spare.

In this memory, time and place, this is how I feel.  Warm.  Safe.  Comforted and comfortable.  Cared for.  Loved.  Belonging.  Home.  There is nothing more I need or want.

Here, now, times when my life does not feel warm or safe, not comfortable or comforted.  When I don’t feel I belong, not loved, not home.  When I only hear and see wants and needs demanding a piece of me, clamouring and noisy, I stop and let go.

I let go.  I close my eyes.  There, I see the night and my parents’ faces.  I hear their voices and the car, humming.  I smell fresh bread.  I know my sister is near me, asleep on the seat.  I breathe deep.  Let my thoughts float, my body release the day.  Feel just this.

Here, is love.  This place, home, is within me.  Warm, safe, comforted, comfortable.  Cared for, belonging.  All within me and created by me.  I choose this.  My home is within, my place of strength where I stand knowing who I am.  I am love.

I open my eyes, return to the day and my life, carrying this within me.

Carry this into whatever I am doing.  Make this part of my experience.  I choose love, and I am home and safe.

Postcard #7 – Inheritance

Christmas Eve

I am looking at a photograph.  It is Christmas Eve.  I am three years old.  Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins.  There is a brand new tricycle in front of me.  Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal.  Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!

Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts.  My Papa is taking the picture.  Family.

I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle.  I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet.  Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway.  If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.

I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo.  Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle.  I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.

December 61I hear people talk of inheritance—money, objects, house and land.

My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve.  These people, my memories, this is my inheritance.  The remembered feel of hands in hands.  The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter.  What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.

This is my inheritance.  Love.  Connection.  A place to stand.  Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.

Thank you for these gifts.

__________________________

Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.