Natalie says, Go!

 

Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)
Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)

I have read all of Natalie Goldberg’s books, several times over. Underlined and highlighted and written in the margins and inside the covers. Sometimes I listen to her audio books while I work in my studio at my easel. Do writing practice, just for fun, to see what appears. Do writing practice, with purpose, my way of getting first drafts down onto the page with my wild words intact.

I love Natalie. She is all about writing and creating, attitude and determination. I’ve read and listened so often, I now have a Natalie voice inside me. She urges me on as I create words and images. Keep your hand moving, I hear, ten minutes, go! And I do.

My Natalie voice is busy today, and here is the result:

Natalie says, six lines, go!

November, 2:03pm, snow, and wind through my window.

My toes are cold.

Hammering next door

and a saw humming two doors farther.

My solar power Japanese lucky cat waves her paw at me.

What to do with the rest of my life.

 

Natalie says, six lines, go!

Thursday afternoon. Snow and cloud.

This summer’s crows calling, feed me mama.

I understand that.

My pen is fat in my fingers, awkward.

I love it anyhow for its four colours of ink.

No place to go where I am not me.

 

Natalie says, ten lines, go!

There’s a space in me where joy moves in and out like the tide.

It tastes of salt and honey

sounds like wind and voice

touches hot and cold like water

looks like deep winter stars

smells of warm slow cedars.

It puddles round my feet.

My heels sink into its softness.

This is who I am.

Nothing left of me to call me.

_____________________________________

In this post:

Natalie Goldberg   http://nataliegoldberg.com

My favourite Natalie books—Writing Down the Bones, Living Color, and Thunder and Lightning

Invaded by Minions

Kevin and Friends
Kevin and Friends

My studio work table has been invaded by Minions. Well, one Minion, to be precise. His name is Kevin. He is eating a banana and smiling, his yellow cheeks bulged out on one side. Evidently it’s a good banana.

Kevin is only two inches tall, but his effect on me is in the exponential multiples. You know, ten to the millionth power plus.

This is why.

Kevin makes me smile. Makes my insides laugh. He gives me joy, every time I look at him, standing there on my projects pile.

His smile is pure smile. There’s nothing behind it and nothing attached to it. No agenda. Very simply, he’s happy and he’s letting me know that.

I love it when I meet someone who is pure smile. Not only their mouth smiles. It’s all over their face and all over their body. They are unabashedly happy and they are radiating that happiness like an August morning sun. Brilliant. Blazing. You can’t not feel it.

Smiles like this, full body smiles, are contagious. I meet someone who is smiling full-on, and next thing I know, I am beaming back at them. No matter how I feel before I meet them, they change me by the time we part.

We don’t even need to stop and talk. I can pass them on the sidewalk, share smiles, and be changed in seconds.

That’s how powerful we are, when we are in full-on, pure smile. We can change the world. Just by smiling.

Go for it, Kevin. Show me your smile. Invade my world.

Happy

Blackbird Dance (family stories)
Blackbird Dance (family stories)

I wake up happy this morning. Love it when this happens. I am warm under my comforter. (Perfect name, that—comforter.) Along with happy I feel deliciously lazy, rested. There is sunlight against my bedroom blinds, and shadows of trees getting pushed and shaken by the wind.

Happy.

It isn’t even a choice this morning. I didn’t have to stop and deliberately, consciously, meaningfully choose happy. Happy just is.

I could be this forever. Right now always.

Peaceful. Settled. Nothing niggling at me. Body and head all comfortable. Heart and spirit peaceful.

I fell into happy this morning, even before I woke up.

Such a gift.

It feels like waking on the first morning of summer vacation. Though my calendar tells me today summer is passed. It is the Fall Equinox, and Yom Kippur, and Mabon. A blessing day today. Balance. Full. Perfect.

I am sitting at my work table now, in my studio. Vince Guaraldi and David Benoit and George Winston playing piano for me, Charlie Brown music. Watching the wind pull and push at the aspens and the firs. The aspens have become gold this past week, brilliant against the blue sky and the dark of the firs. When their leaves fall, we will have Dorothy’s yellow brick roads everywhere through the woods around the house.

Happy. I accept this gift of happy.  Thank you.

Perfect Delicious Joy

Containers For The Soul
Containers For The Soul

It is just past noon. I’m at the beach. Sun, blue sky, a diamond ocean. A perfect breeze. The smell of kelp and sea grass and hot beach stones. At the horizon, three boats at full sail.

Perfection and delicious joy.

There are others here too, sharing this beauty. Someone eating a slow lunch. Another reading. A quiet conversation carrying on the breeze. Two bike riders pausing on the road above the beach, and a bike that squeaks with each turn of the wheels as they leave.

I am an ocean baby, born in July as the summer began. My first beach day at a few weeks old, and every summer since.

I am home here. I feel it in the way my body relaxes and becomes present to all my senses. I feel it, my mind quieting, the river of thoughts slowing, stopping. Rest here, my heart says, be open. And I do, I am.

There are places that open me. Places that are physical or spirit or imagination. That open me to my biggest self, the one that has no lines, boundaries, walls, fences. The self that is connected to all, easily and gracefully, through joy, love, just being

I keep watch for the places in my life that open me. I know in these places my grandest ideas and creations come to me. The sparks that flash into sight, then stay and grow if I let them. They live here, waiting, in these places of connection.

And what is the spark that flashes into view today? Exactly these words I send to me and to you, about the perfect delicious joy of being here. Present, open, connected, and writing.

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”

Happy Birthday, Baby Crow!

keepingmydemonsatbayIt is 4:38 a.m.  The sky is daylight, enough to see by.  Our resident crow family is awake.  Baby Crow is singing.  Feed me, mama.  His needs and wants begin at daybreak.  I hear him all day.  He is big enough to feed himself, but he loves the attention that mom and dad and older sibling offer.  Connection.  Care.

Today, and every day, I am Baby Crow.  Feed me, I call to Source.  Words.  Ideas.  My writer’s heart is hungry.

I am always wanting to make something.  The creative heart that is me is always eager, excited, anticipating.  ‘’Yes!’’ is her answer to the ideas and the words that Source offers.

It is more than want.  It is the need to create, each day bring something new into being.  Feel energy and promise.  Feel idea that whispers ‘’I am love, let me play.  Let me be born.  I choose you, I choose your creative heart to receive and cradle me, give me form, give me beauty, and let me fly.’’

This is creation energy meeting and matching the energy in my heart.  This is potential felt, accepted and loved, formed through attention and grace to become alive here in this world.

You might say I am writing this.  I am the artist, writer, creator.  True.  But I do this in always-partnership with Source who is also Artist, Writer, Creator.  We meet and match each other, and spark life.

This is my gift on this day.  To hear Source whisper to me, ‘’Let’s play.  I choose you.’’  And my creative heart shouts back, ‘’Yes!’’  A gift to me.  A gift to you who reads this, and feels the words and the love that moves within them.

Happy Birthday, Baby Crow!  Let’s play!

Did. Saw. Heard. Drawn.

lyndabarry3I have made my way through Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor.  Slow reading.  Taking in the content and structure of the pages, the balance and play of image, word, idea, question.  Seeing how her mind moves, and in turn noticing what my mind touches on.

On pages 61 to 63 Lynda talks about ‘Your Daily Diary’, an assignment she gives her students.  I’ve decided to do this for my blog post, and feel what this recording process feels like.

This is how I do it:  Today.  Seven things I did.  Seven things I saw.  Something I overheard someone say.  Draw a picture of something I saw.  All recorded on a single page divided into a grid of four spaces.  Do it fast.  Five minutes total time used to record my day.  I like the speed of this.  My internal critic can’t handle speedy creating, panics about getting run over, and hides somewhere out of the way.  Excellent.

Because I am doing this as my blog post, I’ll use a list rather than the grid.  A list of the sorts of things I notice in my life, what my mind touches.  Moments of being present in my day.  Here goes.

Continue reading “Did. Saw. Heard. Drawn.”