What I Read on My Summer Holiday

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

I love books.  I love reading, and I am always curious about what other people are reading.  So, of course, I enjoy reading people’s book lists, especially those from writers and artists.

Here is what I read during July and August while I was on holiday.

The Owl Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey – Mercedes is one of my favourite writers.  She dives deep and at length into what her characters are thinking and I find this inner monologue fascinating.  Some might read this and say ‘get on with the story’.  Not me.  These inner monologues are part of the story, developing the character, connecting with me-the-reader and my personal inner talk experience.

End of Watch by Stephen King – As a teenager, my introduction to Stephen’s writing was ‘Carrie’.  The story totally creeped me out, and I loved it.  Later I left off reading horror.  I came back to him with ‘Lisey’s Story’, and I’ve kept up with his writing ever since.

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George – A friend introduced me to Elizabeth and her intricate, very human mysteries.  I read the one lent to me, then promptly hit the used bookstore for all Elizabeth had written up to that point.  Now I wait with anticipation when I hear a new book is coming, and get my order in at my local bookstore.  If you are a writer, check out her book on writing fiction ‘Write Away’.  I borrowed it from the public library three times and then ordered my own copy.

Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown – Pure fun.

The King’s Man Trilogy by Pauline Gedge – Pauline makes me feel I am right there in ancient Egypt.  Heat.  The smell of dust.  Cool water poured over my bare feet.  Linen brushing against my skin.  I read her books in the summer to heighten the feeling of being there.

Raiders of the Nile by Steven Saylor – Steven’s writing has the same effect on me as Pauline’s.  In his books, I am in ancient Rome.  This one happens in the Nile delta, not his usual setting.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling – I admit it.  I am a Harry Potter/J. K. Rowling fan.  I read this slowly, right after a week of watching all the Harry Potter movies in sequence.  I let my inner vision create the movie for me as I read.  Fun!  Then I discovered the website Pottermore, got myself sorted for Hogwarts by the Sorting Hat, and claimed my wand.  (For my fellow Potter fans, I am a Hufflepuff–totally suits me– and my wand is sycamore with dragon heartstring core.  Cool.) Continue reading “What I Read on My Summer Holiday”

List for Living My Creative Life

Old Coyote Trick (standing out)pinkdetail2
Old Coyote Trick-standing out (detail)

Begin where I am.

Open my heart and feel all my feelings.  They tell me where I am and where I need to go.

Daydream.

Be a child and do what I love.  Imagine.  Play.  No rules, no expectations, no schedule.

Be curious.  Experiment.  Explore.

Ask questions.  Be okay with not knowing.  It gives me a big space in which to be.

Be okay with the new and different.  Be okay with change and transformation.  That’s what creativity is all about.

Let go of control.  Let go of judging.  Let go of using other’s truths, and find my own.

Be okay with not being perfect.

Use everything, including mistakes (they lead somewhere different).  Allow and accept.  Trust what shows up.

Be in my body.  Notice what my senses notice, right here, right now.

Move between creation and rest.  Do.  Be.  Do.  Be.

Laugh.  Enjoy.  Let happy happen.  Even better, choose happy.

Be with those I love who love me back.

Find friends who love to create too, and inspire each other.

Love my creativity.  Let creativity love me back.

Love my life.  Let life love me back.

Let my life be a playground, a petting zoo, a test kitchen.

What I am saying here in every line—Choose Love.

_______________________

In this post:

‘Do.  Be.  Do.  Be.  Do.’  This comes from Amit Goswami, in his book Quantum Creativity.  http://www.amitgoswami.org/

The Happiness Formula

laid to rest 80,000 obstructing spirits (north)--detailWhat makes me happy?  What gives me joy?

Here is today’s list:

Writing (of course).

Today’s polka-dotted weather.  Sun.  Cloud.  Hail.  Rain.  Sun.  Thunder.  Wind.  Repeat.  A smorgasbord.  I am leaving my studio lights on, even when it is the sun’s turn, because in five minutes the clouds will be sailing in and taking over.

Jazz, piano and violin playing off each other, a conversation, harmony and counterpoint.

Raisin bran and milk and demerara sugar for breakfast in my Blue Willow cereal bowl.  Raisins sweet and chewy.  Milk cold.  Flakes getting progressively soggier as I go.  I eat them, when they are soggy, only to get to the raisins.

My pen with its sky blue ink.

Water from our well, poured into my Shrek the Third glass.  Hard water with a lot of minerals and iron in it.  I think of the cartoon I watched as a child.  Popeye the Sailor who ate his spinach to get strong.  All I do is drink my water.

Reading a new novel.  Death in Florence by Marco Vichi.  Chief Inspector Bordelli who drives a noisy Volkswagen Beetle and smokes too much.

Discovering a new-to-me author who’s writing I love.  Thank you, Marco Vichi, for offering me a new treasure chest of words and ideas and story.  All translated from Italian.

Yes, a satisfying list.  Perfect things that happen every day for me.  That give me happiness and joy.

A few months ago I watched a documentary about happiness.  Someone had come up with a Happiness Formula.  My happiness equals my brain’s happiness set point (didn’t know I had one), plus my life conditions, plus my choices.  According to this formula, my life conditions only make up 7 to 12 percent of my happiness.  My choices make up 40 to 50 percent.

There is the key.  What am I choosing?  And what am I choosing to notice?  Where am I placing my attention?

Well, today my attention is on writing, weather, music, the raisins in my cereal, sky blue ink, cold water, the novel I started reading at breakfast, and appreciating the author I have discovered.

My life contains so much every-day happiness.  All I need do is be here, right now, present to the gifts I am being offered.  Choosing to notice.  Choosing to let the cereal in my bowl catch my attention, the taste of water from my well, the colour of the ink on this piece of paper.  Things on today’s happiness list.  This is my Happiness Formula.

____________________

In this post:

Death in Florence by Marco Vichi, published by Hodder and Stoughton, 2013.  http://www.marcovichi.it/

The Happiness Formula  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/leadership_b_3379150.html

 

Celebrate

Nana and Papa's house, January 1966
Nana and Papa’s house, January 1966

December. It’s snowing on my blog pages. Love it. Bless the person who came up with snow for the blogs.

We had snow here for real, a week ago, and more forecasted for today. No sight of it yet. I’m waiting, impatiently. Snow boots by the door. Coat and snow pants, hat, mittens from my mom, scarf, all at the ready.

I love the snow and December. They fill me up with joy and play. The child in me has free rein to laugh, enjoy, be happy. No purpose, no goal. Be happy and let it grow as big as it wants to be. I swear that brand new snowflakes on my tongue are good for my health. Also snowballs and snow angels.

My faithful iPod is permanently on its Christmas playlist. Four hundred and seventy-seven songs, if you want to know. Twenty-six hours, nine minutes, and twelve seconds. Every year I add new music. This year it is the Eric Byrd Trio’s version of the Charlie Brown Christmas music, and George Winston’s album December. His ‘Minstrels’ song haunts me in its beauty.

I scan the television listings for my favourite Christmas shows. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 1966 original cartoon) was on last night. Yay!  A Christmas Carol, the 1951 movie with Alastair Sim. A Christmas Story. A Muppet Family Christmas, the Muppets in their fuzzy joy. My husband groans when I switch the channel, then watches the show anyways.

Gifts I am creating and giving. Cookies and treats to be baked. Love is such a secret ingredient (shhh, don’t tell) it’s not even listed on the recipe. All for sharing.

December. This is the month my heart sings. I know we are days away yet. I say the words anyways. Happy Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Diwali (last month, in all its light and colour). Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Solstice.  Happy Happy All.

I make these my December gifts. I choose Happiness. Love. Kindness. Play. Laughter. Sharing. Forgiveness. Joy.

I choose Celebrate.

________________________

In this post:

The Eric Byrd Trio, music, A Charlie Brown Christmas, http://ericbyrd.com/videos/charlie-brown-christmas

George Winston, music, December, http://www.georgewinston.com/recordings/december-11/

A Charlie Brown Christmas, animation, 1965, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Charlie_Brown_Christmas

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, animation, 1964, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_(TV_special)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, animation, 1966, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss%27_How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas!_(TV_special)

A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge), movie, 1951, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrooge_(1951_film)

A Christmas Story, 1983, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Story

A Muppet Family Christmas, 1987, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Muppet_Family_Christmas

 

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.

This is not a test

 rainbow.alexiscreek

Start here. This is not a test.

I discovered a few days ago that I live my life as if it’s a test I have to pass. Something in me decided this, a long time ago.

The test never ends. I never know if I have aced it or failed it. I don’t know who the tester is, or if there are more than one. I don’t know what the questions are and whether I’ve been asked one, and if I answered correctly or not.

Wow.

This explains a lot. Why I am keyed up and have to consciously work at relaxing my body and mind. Why I sometimes look at others and feel I can’t stand equal with them. Why I always feel I am being judged. Why I don’t play enough and feel vaguely guilty when I do. Why everything I do has to have a purpose. Why I am frequently not satisfied. Why I pass by my successes, barely giving them and me any acknowledgment. Why I do things, love what I’ve created, then it’s bang—onto the next thing right away because I have no time to waste.

How sad.

I can say, and mean it and know it, that I am happy most of the time in my life. This is true. My heart is open and present and connected and creating. Loving. Joyful. True. I can feel it. Most of the time.

Yet there is this low-level background tension running the other stuff that I listed three paragraphs back. Stuff I have been ignoring, that creeps in between the love and joy and happiness.

Time to let this go.

I choose. There is no test. No Test. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

There is just my life and what I want to create in it. And no test.

I am letting this sink in. This feels GOOD.

My shoulders just dropped two inches. I can breathe. I can enjoy what I am doing. I can play.

Tigger and Totoro--Go Play!
Tigger and Totoro–Go Play!

Yes. I can play. I can wander out of that stuffy Life Classroom I caged myself in, give the door a slam on the way out, and watch the whole place collapse in a heap. Better yet, invite Wile E. Coyote to blow it sky high with one of his Acme missiles. Right on target. Ka-boom! Wile E. takes a bow. The Road Runner and I applaud. Then we all go play. Dibs on the slide!

Yes. Life is not a test. Go play.