Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ode to Havi, and the freedom to be...

So so thankful to have stumbled 
Upon the blog of one Havi Brooks.
Mostly I just lurk in the shadows... 
soaking up the creative encouragement 
that oozes out of every word,
reveling in the deliciousness of her working vocabulary 
(words like destuckification, biggification, gwish...), 
rejoicing in the Aha! moments her blog inevitably leads me to.

Ok, so maybe not a perfect ode... I'm out of practice. But I wanted to tell you all, anyone who reads what I write here, about how great this blog is for finding the encouragement to power through a project, the courage to face your monsters, and the comfort of knowing that you're not the only person who has ever hit the wall you're currently trying to recover from slamming into. Seriously... I have been marking the days in "ducks"... her little sidekick is a rubber duck, who is the icon on the tab next to the title of the current post... and the number of ducks on my tabs = the amount of encouragement I may or may not need from those posts!

"What brought on this sudden gush?" you ask. Well, like I said, I've been lurking on and off around her site for months... and then yesterday, I read the post "Avoidance! Oh, and getting out of it." And I cried... because here she was, telling me that the guilt, pain, and pressure I've been living under (my own little heavy rock)... the one that says that because I can and will do anything I can to avoid writing must mean I am not supposed to do it... that it's normal! What?!!

"There is a perfectly good reason to avoid the thing that means everything to you — whether it is your art, your writing, your secret mission, your own heart, or whatever.

In fact, avoidance of the thing which has meaning and power for you is the most understandable and normal thing I can think of.

Here is this thing — ohmygod the thing! — that has incalculable symbolic weight for you.

You’re avoiding the thing that’s holding all your dreams? Good grief! Of course you are! That symbolic weight? It’s that much potential for hurt and disappointment."

Wow... and here I'd been telling myself I must not care about it at all... and pulverizing myself into dust for not being more committed, more passionate, more motivated... to which she says:

"If you weren’t avoiding it on some level, I’d be worried about you. If you could do the thing easily and painlessly, without having to spend years and years working on your stuff to get there… I’d probably assume that it didn’t mean everything to you.

It’s not this: “Even though I thought this meant everything to me, I’m still avoiding it so clearly I don’t really care about it.”

It’s this: “Wow, this means everything to me… so of course I’m avoiding it.”

Where things get complicated and tangled.

Where it hurts.

Where it gets tangled up is exactly here. The stuck happens inside of the resistance that you place around the question.

Instead of recognizing your pain, you start to question yourself and your commitment.

Instead of treating your avoidance as a natural sign that this thing is so powerful and so important for you that of course you’re going to run away from it, you give this avoidance the power of truth.

You start to think that if you cared about your dream you’d invest in it, when the truth is that when we really care about our dreams we run away from them in panic and terror.

Until we recognize just how legitimate our fear really is.

Because avoidance is fear’s favorite thing to wear."

This is the point at which I started to cry... because she must be talking directly to ME!!! And yep... it hurts and it's more than a little bit scary... the process of recognition, of facing and defeating your (my) fears.

So here's the thing... my whole life I've been worrying that I need to do things right, better... and that for the most part I've been doing things wrong, otherwise my life would look differently than it does (i.e. I'd be successful... never be depressed... etc...) ... and I've been paralyzed by the inability to allow myself to break things or make messes... because one wrong move could mean disaster (i.e. everyone will see that I've made a mistake).

With writing, this is terrible because... the whole point of the process is that your first drafts (yes, there will be multiple) are not supposed to be perfect, but that every successive draft will get better! Except that I haven't been able to get past the first draft... because it's not already perfect... and because I've been so afraid that I'll fail miserably at being a writer of fiction... afraid that I may already HAVE failed at it... I have been fleeing this project... in earnest for the past year, but really since its conception way back when I was in high school.

And all this time... I've been saying that I must not really care... when in fact it's been one of the deepest desires of my heart. How did she KNOW?

Havi doesn't always have all the answers... let's be honest, if she did we'd all need to camp outside her house and accost her for words of wisdom every time she left to take a walk... and I don't think she'd like that AT ALL... but Havi's blog DOES have a wonderful box of creative tools for working OUT the answers for yourself (myself)... including:

"Some of the “useful questions” that I’ve been working with:

What if I’m allowed to be scared of the things that are meaningful and important to me?
What if there’s an easier way of doing things?
What do I need?
What will help me feel safe and supported?"

Thanks to Havi, now I've recognized that avoidance for what it really IS! And it's not magically better, but at least I make more sense to myself now... and can stop with the pulverizing... until the next time I need to be reminded that avoidance is normal... For now it's enough to remind myself that the things I thought I cared about really are the things I care about! I can stop doubting myself and get down to the business of being me... and facing and defeating my fears. (oh, and writing that novel :))

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baby steps

So progress is progress, right? After a couple of months of shirking, I have finally written a few more pages and I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel... meaning I have figured out how I want it to end, this WIP (that's Work In Progress for those of you who don't know) I have had hanging over my head for ... well... years, really. It's a mess and whole sections of it will have to be rewritten... but after a brief conversation with Noah last night, I believe I have found my resolution! And that's what counts right now... just getting it written... and then I can spend the NEXT 20 years editing it :)... Actually, it's probably only 15 years... and if you count how many years I spent NOT working on it... it's not really that long at ALL, right? Sigh...

Now if I can just get through the last pages of the beast...

Summer continues to forge ahead in the heat of its glory. And we have red sunflowers now...
and cucumbers and tomatoes...

 And more wildflowers...

And I'm slowly molding my insecurity into something more manageable, or learning to see it for what it really is... baby steps...

Friday, July 22, 2011


So, I decided I should do some self portraits because I, deep down... like the rest of humanity... am narcissistic and who doesn't like to see pictures of themselves...? Really...

The thing is, I haven't prepared for a project like that... and really I should be more creative about it... I just pointed  the camera at myself and this is what I ended up with...

Scary, really... the pores on my face are so ... obvious... and I have so many skin blemishes! Hmmmm... I think the object of a self portrait project (besides narcissism) will have to be learning to love myself the way that I am... because while I look at those blemishes and think "God! I should wear make-up!" the thing is that I won't... and I shouldn't have to hide my imperfections... Isn't the dog cute? :)

But it could also be fun to REALLY make myself up... to be wildly fanciful... to tap that part of me that wishes I had wings or was a tree sprite... so maybe this project will evolve... I need to find a way to release the creative spirit that is trapped within me... and hopefully she will start to write again soon.

"My soul
It's dying to be freed
You see.. I can't live the rest of my life
So guarded
It's dying to be freed
It's up to me to choose
What kind of life I'd lead" Marie Digby

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The end of an era

It is the end of an era, and I would be remiss if I didn't post something about Harry Potter today, given the special place those books, movies, and characters have in my heart.

I find myself tearing up a bit as I read other posts on the passing of a great age of anticipation... posts in which people talk about growing up with Harry Potter, the books and the movies, about what sadness they feel at this being the last film, or how the story never really ends...

I was a late comer to Harry Potter... Books 1-4 were already in paperback by the time I picked up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," but I was immediately hooked. J.K. Rowling's clever plot and emotionally compelling characters stole my heart and my imagination. I found myself wishing that a secret world of wizards really did exist... and hoping that if it did, I was not a muggle! I cried when Dumbledore died... all throughout the 7th book, and also when Rowling shows Neville at St. Mungos with his mentally impaired mother... the deep feeling Rowling conveyed there touched me in a way that not many authors manage to do.

In the past 10 years, I have eagerly awaited the release of each movie and book, gobbled them up with equal relish, wondered what would happen next, grumbled when Hollywood altered details... Harry Potter has been, and will likely continue to be, great fodder for conversations. But we will truly lose that atmosphere of anticipation... we have to learn how to grow up out of that... to look forward to each day because it is a new day... to let anticipation evolve into something more meaningful.

I am a re-reader. I have already re-read the Potter books this year, as I have done in years past and will likely continue to do. Now is the time for a world fixated on anticipation to return and find the rest of the riches that come out of a deeper understanding of the story.

I am sad that after today there will be no new adventures in the world of Harry Potter to look forward to... but I am glad that the story and its characters remain, familiar friends to revisit and enjoy.

A firework fountain on the end of our dock at July 4

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crafty Crafty :)

I have spent the past week being super crafty! I taught myself a few new knit stitches... and taught myself not to put wool in the dryer (oops)... and I brought the sewing machine out again in an effort to organize my knitting supplies a little more.

My awesome "Stitch 'n' Bitch" book (bottom left corner of the first photo) has patterns for a few organizational implements that I put together and put straight to use! First, the needle holder:

interior view (ignore my clutter...)

The red flap holds the needles in their pockets... exterior view.
Then I made a hanging pocket for my circular needles. I still need to iron on labels to indicate size/length of the needles...

And I made a bag...
I know it's a little dark, but I just love this fabric!
Ok, ok, so those aren't the best photos I've ever taken, but they illustrate the point adequately.

As I spent time in front of the sewing machine and knitting needles, I decided I'd re-watch the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. Dad was a Trek fan. I remember watching old Star Trek reruns when I was a kid, and we kept up with TNG pretty regularly, as well. I was looking forward to revisiting the series.

Sadly, I've made it well into season two, and I just can't bring myself to like it... It seems cheesy, affected... the acting is terrible... the story lines wrap up all too neatly in a forty minute period.. I can't connect to the characters... and sadly I feel like I'm being preached to most of the time. Sigh. The concepts they touch on are imaginative, for sure... and I know that those concepts inspired a generation of creative thinkers and scientists to push the boundaries of reality... but I was hoping for better than I found re: the story/character interaction/etc. Obviously memory doesn't serve very well here.

It probably doesn't help that in the evenings I'm watching Dr. Who with Noah. There are certain things I don't care for in Dr. Who, either (i.e. the Doctor's need to rescue a helpless female in every episode.), but the characters are much more personable/affecting than the NG characters and if the plots resolve unrealistically quickly, at least there is a good reason for it. I mean, he is after all a 900 year old Time Lord for crying out loud, he's bound to have amassed a supernatural amount of knowledge about the universe in that time.

Anyhow... I digress... I have another post coming as soon as I can get myself around to writing it... and I hope you'll hang with me 'til I get there. I still haven't written any more on the novel(s) yet... but I think I'm approaching a breakthrough in the psychological block. We'll see. Fingers crossed!

Here are some nicer photos to part with... the backyard is abloom, the tomatoes are ripening, the cucumbers are swelling, and the pumpkins have sprouted (a little late I realize...). Summer!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Procrastination part 2

My awesome friend Aya (sister to my awesome friend Emi) just shared this video on procrastination with me and I had to post it to share with YOU!

Evolution of a quilt square

Oh the ways I can devise to distract myself from my writing goals...

This was a project request I got from my aunt, though. Make an 8x8 inch quilt square that represents "us" (Noah and me). I've never made a quilt square before this one... so after some thought on the design, this is what I came up with...

Then, because she liked it so much, she asked me to make one with a strawberry on it (the quilt is for my grandmother who loves strawberries).

I had far too much fun with this project :) It got me scheming... and COMPLETELY off the writing track. I'll have to work my way back quickly or I'm going to lose all my summer time! But at least I'm having fun.

Oh, and here's the original photo I used for inspiration: