Here is a list of things that either foster a creative environment, help me do my work or are a great source of recreation when I step away from making.
- Fairy Lights. I have them in the bedroom, library, kitchen, side room I just cleaned out and solar powered ones in the gazebo. They give a magical glow to any room.
2. Canasta Card Game. I learned how to play in early September when Alan’s parents came to visit. The past few weeks we’ve been teaching my son to play and he’s caught on so fast he’s beating me already!
3. My sewing machine. This one was a piece of cake to thread up and start using right out of the box.
4. OnBeing.org has conversations the like of which you won’t hear anywhere else. As I was sewing this afternoon, I listened to part of Krista’s interview with Ruby Sales. Deeply spiritual, intellectual without ever being stuffy, and so human you will find commonality with just about every person she converses with. This is a website and podcast for everyone, but I like to listen while I’m working.
5. Jen Hatmaker’s podcast For the Love was shared with me recently by my friend who told me about the episode with Dr. Brené Brown. I think Jen is fantastic and she earned even more respect for this episode. Go to jenhatmaker.com to find all things Jen and to subscribe to her podcast.
6. Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water is what I use on my sensitive face instead of toner. It’s refreshing and gentle and the large spray bottle lasts me nearly a year.
7. Do you ever get restless legs or just have trouble settling down at night? Magnesium lotion might work for you like it does for me. It calms me down and takes away that jumpy crawly feeling in my legs. Check it out!
8. If you bullet journal, this is the journal I recommend. It’s a part of my everyday life.
9. My diffuser. When I’ve had trouble with anxiety the past year and a half, the diffuser helped. Just add some distilled water and few drops of essential oils or a blend. It changes the atmosphere and can help relieve tension. I put it on for a pleasant vibe while I work.
10. My hammock swing. I have one in the corner of the library. I just climb in and chill whenever I want to. Sometimes I practice ukulele or write in it. Yesterday I climbed in, stretched out and took a nap while Judah was practicing his bass.
Today I spent time cooking, baking and being with my son. My goal-setting nature wanted me to put everything aside except my preparations for the craft show on Saturday. That part of me reminded me of the number of days until the show and how much I need to accomplish, but my heart told me otherwise.
I needed to spend time with my son. I needed to see his face, hear his voice, listen to how he’s been, watch him practice his bass, just catch up with him and what’s happening in his world. It’s been a while since I gave him a ride anywhere, but his own car needs brakes and he’s driving it as little as possible.
So I picked him up, drove him to my house and he helped me bake chocolate chip cookies–his favorite. Then we ate dinner together with Alan. They ate slow cooker chicken pot pie and I ate a vegetarian, gluten free version. After we cleaned up dinner, we picked up our Canasta game where we left it last week. We played for an hour, with Judah winding up in the lead. Hopefully, next week we can finish it.
On the way home, we talked about relationships in an honest, grown-up way and I was amazed and proud of this young man sharing his heart and being so full of understanding and love. After I said goodnight, I drove home without the sad emptiness that usually accompanies parting from my kids. It was the kind of day that held beauty and grace in it and I am thankful for the opportunity to live it.
It’s nearly noon and I’m still in my pajamas. The gym is calling me and I hope I’ll be able to go, or at least do some yoga and Pilates here at home. This morning has been full of preparation and planning. I feel like I’ve been unproductive because I have so much on my To-Do List, but all I’ve done has been necessary.
At breakfast, I sat at the kitchen table and caught up in my Bullet Journal. Honestly, after using it the past year and a half, I feel quite lost when a few days have gone by without me opening it up. It’s a great way for me to connect with all the pieces of my life, to review what I’ve set out to accomplish, my ideas, little incidentals from my days and where I’ve wandered and what I’ve forgotten. I felt very centered when I went through the past few weeks, made a list of upcoming tasks I need to complete and crossed off what I have completed already. That boosted my outlook. If you’d like to learn more about Bullet Journaling, here is a link to The Lazy Genius Collective’s in-depth blog post about it.
I went on to my Morning Pages and let my thoughts scrawl through my three pages.
An then it was time to do social media posts for Alan and me because we have a gig tonight at Ithaca Bakery between 6-8pm. Plus, I updated The Inner Crazy website with some of our upcoming shows and I printed out the song list for tonight.
Does all of this make a difference? I believe so. If I don’t stay current, I’ll lose what ground we’ve gained. I have a goal of two gigs a week eventually. To get there will take many hours of posting, updating, photos, songwriting, recording, and doing it over and over again. I willingly accept the challenge and will work toward my goal.
What behind the scenes preparation have you worked at this week?
Today we performed at Bandwagon Brewery in Interlaken. As it was a Sunday and the Bills were playing, it was a pretty quiet afternoon.
However, four people from Ithaca came out and stayed for two-thirds of the show. They were so supportive and fun and said they’re our new groupies.
Then EJ and her husband came and cheered for us. She was a trip, jumping up and clapping after every song. The high point of the afternoon was that my son and daughter came to hear us play for a few songs. I proudly introduced them to people, thrilled they showed up. Will gave them ginger beer and EJ chatted to them. It felt like a small family affair. And right before close, we had a surprise visit from Jason and Rose Hazlitt.
When we got back home and unpacked the car, we discovered that Judah had the pizzas started. We ate, talked and played Canasta. All in all, it was a happy, satisfying day.
The ukulele is a pop thing over the past few years. Since I don’t listen to enough pop to know if one particular song or star launched the current craze, I will just talk about the ones I am aware of. Twenty One Pilots has a cute little ukulele video of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You“, plus they feature ukulele in several of their own songs, like “House of Gold” and “Judge“. Meghan Trainor sang “Better When I’m Dancing” and “Just a Friend to You” and most recently she teamed up with Michael Buble to sing “Someday“. All include ukulele. My favorite is probably the late Brother Iz singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow“. That’s what really decided me on learning to play uke myself.
Last Christmas, Alan surprised me with my very own. I was thrilled but scared at the same time. What if I couldn’t actually play? As I do often when I’m afraid or intimidated, I procrastinated. Anyone else? But by July I knew I needed to open the case and begin learning the chords. I shut my library door not wanting Alan to overhear and laugh at my pathetic attempts at strumming and forming chords. When he did hear me, he was super encouraging and said he couldn’t believe how quickly I was catching on. He found me a few tutorials on youtube and that helped me learn better than simply going through a list of chords. I practiced “Just a Friend to You”, “House of Gold”, “Someday” and it felt great, even with mistakes. Then I decided to use the chords I could play to write a little love song, which we will eventually record and release. And now I’m learning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and getting ready to take on more challenging chords. Being able to strum with Alan is lots of fun. I had to purchase another ukulele with a pickup so that I can plug into our sound system. And now we are getting ready to debut these ukulele songs at our next performances.
We’ll be at:
Bandwagon Brewery (Interlaken) on Sunday October 8 from 2-5pm and
Ithaca Bakery on Friday October 13 from 6-8pm.
Are you learning to play a new instrument this year? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.
I am looking out at a sun dappled afternoon with evergreens shimmering in the clear light, branches swaying in the slight breeze. I listen to Haydn in an attempt to block out the sounds of football in the next room and rap over my head. And I’m thinking about the book on writing by Natalie Goldberg that I finished last week. Her books always push me, like a parent or mentor might push a reluctant child or student to try something new or work harder.
She stresses writing practice–write and keep on writing! She actually suggests two years of constant writing practice before attempting a book. Probably sound advice. In the book, Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft, she gives different writing practice scenarios: on one’s own at home, in a cafe, with a friend, at a retreat or other group, for a short time or for a day or longer.
She addresses the fears and voices that nag at writers to give up, that no one will ever read their work, that they are no good, that there are much better ways to use one’s time, etc. The only antidote, it seems, is to simply keep writing through it.
The chapter that I took away with me, that stood out from the rest, was “She Had To Love Chocolate”. As Natalie describes writing her first novel, she said, “Now it was demanding courage of me. I couldn’t hide behind my tintype characters, I had to give them muscle. I had to hand over my life force to them, show my real raw self, not just the self I’d like everyone to believe in.” (p. 59) She had been writing while trying to hide the truth, to make sure she would never offend a reader with what she wrote. Everything was stiff and unrealistic. She had to release her characters to become all they were supposed to be, to let them have experiences and say what they needed to, without worrying what readers would think. This is how her novel came to life and then gradually took on a life of its own. This resonated with me, as I know how often I censor my writing out of fear of offending.
What books on writing have inspired you lately? What is one thing you learned?