Ego, Go Home!

DSCN5136I spent the past four days pretending I know how to watercolor. I’m exhausted. I may stay in my jammies all day. Just the pure act of locking my ego in a closet while I engage in the creative process without attachment to end product felt much like a full time job. We had lots of conversation, my ego and I, and not all of it friendly.

So I bravely present you with my first portrait/watercolor picture of my youngest son which I actually focused on for a few days. TahDah. Let’s call it “Jordie” (c.2015). Don’t judge. I received a glowing praise from my youngest: “It’s not that bad. LOL.”

My older son, who understands I cry easily, was even more enthusiastic. “It’s really good!!! And, you even made him look chubby!” (Spoiler alert: He’s definitely not chubby and we spend much time trying to make sure he’s eating. Artistic license, I suppose.)

But here’s the thing. These past four days were so not about that. They involved something much deeper than the end product and I feel compelled to share that with you. I tossed around two ideas all four days and experienced different levels of each depending on where I was in the creative process.

One was ego. I have done many things in my life and excelled at many things I’ve tried. Ergo, when I don’t, I feel embarrassed, or incompetent, or fill in the blank. At that point, I have to make a choice. Do I run the other way and never subject myself to that humiliation again? Or, do I decide to develop my humility muscles and let go of attachment to perfection (and all first cousins thereof)?

I say it’s a choice, but it’s really not. I came to this planet to grow and stretch and evolve. If I’m always playing in the sandbox that I’m comfortable in, how do I do that? I find that my own growth takes place so much faster if I step into someone else’s sandbox and learn how to appreciate their toys. The ego, then, needed to take a long Rumplestiltskinny nap and let me play without interfering.

But my ego was like an unruly toddler in the teething phase…

Ego: Don’t put that color there. You’re going to end up with a bright, red raspberry on your son’s left eyebrow! What kind of mother are you?

Me: Shhhhhh. It’s not about raspberries!

Ego: Oh, wow! Look over there. These painters are like REALLY good painters. Real painters. Not like–eh hem–pretend painters.

Me: (Frozen, paintbrush in hand dripping water on my ridiculously expensive French paper which I’m hoping compensates for my lack of skill) I can’t look! I just have to work on my own creative process.

Ego: Fraidy cat. You’re gonna wanna see this.

You get the gist. At one point, my neighbor painter said I was humming. I wasn’t aware. She said that meant I was relaxing into it. I was happy about that. And that leads me to the second point: the collective.

Writers, like artists, require certain skills along the introverted line to become good writers. You have to be able to sit in your own space and imagination to create a story. You have to be able to sustain that over a period of time. To become good, you have to do it very consistently. Then, after you’ve got that under your belt and you publish a novel, you require a whole different set of skills. You must promote. This involves networking, promoting, public speaking, marketing, and so forth. As you progress and become more widely published (or commissioned, or do art shows, or teach lessons, etc. in the art community), you stagger between both sets of skills, joining them together and an ever so delicate dance.

Artists are a super-sensitive lot who I gather may be easily overwhelmed in a mall with all the various sensory aspects and energies. As a group, they are colorful. They often lead colorful lives and see the world in very specific and detailed ways. They talk in what seems code to a newbie. Negative space is a phrase they love to use. They point at a peach face and say “Do you see how there is blue here and red there and a blend with yellows here?”

“Um, no… Looks like peach to me.”

Yet, when you spend a few days in their company, you hear yourself, “That shadow is blue. Oh, and the tip of the nose. Thalo blue plus permanent rose. That’s exactly what that is.”

It’s fascinating, really. After four days of Jeannie Vodden and a class of 17 artists from around the North State, I see things I have never seen. I will never be able to describe a protagonist with just blue eyes because I’ll be thinking, “Are those cobalt blue eyes, with a violet blend on the ring? Where’s the light source at this moment?”

Jeannie, a divinely talented artist from Jackson (the county seat of Amador County, known as The Heart of the Motherlode), was the motherlode herself. Her technique, which I learned was new to all the artists there, was the signature method she developed to create a glowing effect to the often-duller, pasty watercolor look. Her paintings are nothing short of glorious. Check out “Love at First Sight.” (c2014)vodden.1

When you look at this, you’d think she used all sorts of different paint colors. However, one of the unique aspects of this style, I learned, is she uses only three: red, blue and yellow. Sure, they have fancy names and makers, but basically the 3 primaries.  All this effect is created from years of learning to layer those into this luminescent beauty of many colors.

Yeah, that’s not intimidating at all.

We spent four days learning how to layer to create new color using this portrait. Here’s “Elle.” (c2014). After Elle, we could move on to one of our own.

Vodden.3

As mentioned, capturing this light comes from using only three colors over and over. The light comes from layers. I started to think about how people are like that. What makes them beautiful is their unique layers, the shadows and the light, and how they all layer together. I think that’s why I have a really tough time with “ego driven surface talk” where we don’t talk about what’s really important in our lives. We just paint the mask we want the world to see. It confuses me because I feel more meaningful layers shining out from underneath the people I meet.  I want to peel back the layers (perhaps too soon and too deep for many) and look in a person’s soul to see what makes them unique and what their purpose is in the world. The mother in me wants to nurture and encourage that. To pay attention to what really matters.

Back to the collective. Sitting with a group of artists, creating, watching the creative process unfold through the layers of each unique being in the room, feeling the support of all those around me expressed in their own unique ways, I really understand much more about what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his fantastic essay “Self-Reliance.” Emerson says that before we can create evolved societies as a group, we must spend the time allowing our Divine uniqueness to unfold. To copy, or imitate, is suicide. We learn, we sift it through our filter, and we make it our own unique experience. That’s where our power lies.

Now, see, if I let my ego boss me into not taking this class, I would have missed all those gems. I’m so grateful I didn’t.

For more information on artist Jeannie Vodden, visit http://www.jeannievodden.com.

Posted in co-creating, conscious living, creativity, healthy living, hobbies, Inspiration, metaphysical, visual arts | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

SoulCollage #11 – Colors

DSCN5135SoulCollage Card, #11 – original artwork done in alcohol inks by Jamie then collaged

Colors

2/26/15, by Jamie Weil

Emeralds crack open and drip

Sapphire across the field

Evergreens shade

Aquamarine streams as

Diamonds glisten in the sunlight

Dancing waters swirl around Jasper stones

Oh! The Colors!

Beauty too deep to name

Wordless perfection

Refuses to be captured by any other

Than the depths within Itself.

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Awakened Dreamer

DSCN5131SoulCollage Card #7 – original art in alcohol inks by Jamie collaged with favorite images from special occasion from BFF, Netters

Awakened Dreamer

By Jamie Weil

On white translucent beach, she sleeps

For this is where her Soul awakes

To angels under golden moon

A realm so pure gold falls in flakes.

Ocean plays her golden harp

Vibrations plucking to and fro

She dreams of places high above

A planet she has come to know.

For in this space she finds more peace

That all is Light and Light is One

From whence she came and where she’ll go

When she awakes, and dreaming’s done.

Posted in conscious living, creativity, dreams, Esalen, Inspiration, metaphysical, nature, SoulTransformation, subconscious | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Change

change2I like talking to strangers. Restaurant servers, homeless people, the Starbucks Barista, the Dutch Bro guy who compares sunrise shots with me, the checkout clerk. I find out the most interesting things.

Take today, for example. I’m in Target hunting for 100% cotton yoga pants. Do you know how hard those are to find right now? Everybody wants to contribute 5% spandex. I really want to trade that 5% spandex in for 5% cotton making it 100% cotton. I don’t get why it’s so hard. Anyway, there I am, checking out with my 95% cotton yoga pants and the checkout clerk and I start chatting.

Me: I don’t get why it’s so hard to find 100% yoga pants in this town. They say it allegedly wicks, but I’m pretty sure that’s code for makes you sweat.

Her: Hunh? That’s weird. Well, think of it this way: they’ll help you lose weight, right?

Me: Well I think that depends more on what I eat and drink more than anything. That’s been my experience.

Her: You know, my sister was in prison.

Me (puzzled by the seeming divergence): Hunh? How’d that go? (I mean, what do you say?)

Her: Do you know what they did in there to lose weight?

Me: Nope.

Her: They wore big green trash bags under their jumpsuits.

Me: ??? Wow. You mean the nasty food wasn’t sufficient?

Her: 100% carbs.

Pause……

Me: So is your sister out now and did she keep the weight off?

Her: For about a minute.

Change is hard. We know sometimes it’s the best thing, it’s what we need to do to grow, but we will leave our claw marks in the thing which we know we need to change from nevertheless. With Passover just around the bend, we’re reminded to ask ourselves, “What keeps us in bondage and not the kind starring Dakota Johnson?”

I listened to an interesting sermon on this Sunday morning by David Robinson at the Center for Spiritual Living in Redding. Here’s the homework he passed on to his listeners to help them get in touch with what binds them and subsequently release it:change3

1. Notice where you’re feeling bondage – easier said, because 80% of folks live on autopilot. (I refer you to the checkout clerk who stares at your cloth bag and says, “Paper or plastic?”, that is unless you live in a progressive, no-bag kind of town and then this example is irrelevant–maybe.)

Nevertheless, you can do it. Meditate and ask, “Truthfully, where am I in bondage?” (Damn you, 50 shades. Will I ever be able to use that again without an association?)

2. Listen to the voice within to guide you – Trust the journey, knowing that you are loved and supported along the way.

3. Be ruthless with stinkin’ thinkin’ – Watch every thought for you make it friend or foe by your choice of how much attention you give it.

4. Develop consciousness of the promised land (your good) and garner the feeling of what that feels like – This is key. Imagine the feeling you want in the future in the present.  Right now. Pretend time isn’t linear.

I liked this. In this way we can pass over from one consciousness to the next, or at least make movement in that direction. Spring clean our mental house. Emma Curtis Hopkins tells us if you want to change a situation, love where you are right now. Either the people around you will change or you will be lifted out without having to go kicking or screaming.

Hmmmmm. I don’t know. Sounds better than wearing a garbage bag.

Posted in co-creating, healthy living, humor, Inspiration, mental health, metaphysical, mindful | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re-imagining Success

DSCN5121

I’m seeing a movement picking up speed.  People are redefining success. It feels to me like we’re in some evolutionary time machine that’s speeding up. I’m delighted and excited.

Since the Industrialization period, success seems to have donned bright consumeristic and materialistic robes, the more the better. Yet the happiness index has plummeted. A quick Google search or run down the aisle at one of those few book stores still standing shows oodles of work done to procure smiles and bliss while ignoring the underlying state of things. Statistics, for what those are worth, show we’re unhappier than ever as a whole. But even if you don’t buy that, just go to a city mall during the holidays and look at the faces. You’ll get what I mean.

More and more the collective consciousness is realizing we need to level up. Groups are coming together right and left to do this. In Boulder, Colorado great visionaries have gathered at the Success 3.0 Summit in the past days to rethink success. I’ve watched some of these presentations.

John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, says this at the Summit: “Imagine a business that is born out of a dream about how the world could be and should be.”

Michael Bernard Beckwith of Agape International says he can see a time coming where his grandkids say, “You guys used to get jobs just to get money? How 2015! I can’t even believe the world used to be like that.” What would that look like, a world driven by something higher than the almighty dollar?

All these great minds have gathered to look at higher level works that extend beyond chasing that almighty dollar, or not so mighty Euro, or whatever. They are zeroing in on the idea that each of us has a unique purpose (that’s tied into our passions) and job here to do in the world that often becomes blindsided by the need to earn cash and pay the bills. What would the world look like if each person was actually living out that unique purpose? Would our ecological, political, and economical issues solve themselves? Would our happiness meters shoot off the chart?

In another part of the country, Oprah and Deepak are in the middle of their new free 21 Day Meditation called, “Manifesting True Success.” Each day brings a new focus. I love Day 2’s centering thought: I am here to bring more love into the world. Deepak says, “An important aspect of success is to love and to be loved. A successful life extends to the highest spiritual dimensions, but it also must be practical in the here and now. If you can increase the love in the world, if you love yourself on the road to success and if you identify with love as your deepest personal value, then you have grasped what true success is.” (In other words, get your ass off your meditation pillow and go love the world and yourself–then, get back to the pillow!)

I’ve seen a number of documentaries of Hollywood types with private jets and star-studded friends’ lists come to the conclusion that happiness lies elsewhere. In the case of Tom Shadyac, he gave his gazillions to charity, and traded the private jet for a ten speed and a mobile home near Pepperdine University where he teaches.  There, he says in his documentary “I Am,” his happiness meter sky-rocketed higher than it had ever been.

I’ve experienced a degree of this in my own life. In my personal life, my husband and I lived a much different life in Southern California than we do in Northern California now. There, we ate many fancy dinners, had a way-too-big house (though lovely), went regularly to the family box at the Hollywood Bowl, spent the day at the Opera and had lovely play tickets whenever we wanted them. My husband commuted for hours each day to Santa Monica from the South Bay and wouldn’t get home until traffic “had died down.” At that point, he was stressed and tired and need another hour to unwind once he made it home.  This was the best way he believed he could provide financial security to his family at the time.

Meanwhile, I had quit my teaching job when my youngest son was born and was able to stay home with my baby and my teenager and raise them. I was able to do the mommy and me day classes, have the whole beach for my baby and me during the week, take my kids to all their things and just be with them, while not being distracted by working full time as I had when my oldest son was young and I was a single parent.

To us, this looked like success…until it didn’t.

We moved out of the city and settled in a smaller house (perfect size!) in our rural environment. We quickly re-imagined what success looks like. Now, we are both here when our youngest son gets up, eats breakfast, goes to school, gets home, and goes to sleep. My mom lives less than a mile down the street, and our son’s public high school is a quick five minutes away. My husband and I are able to sit with each other in our jammies in the morning after he leaves, drink coffee and talk about the world—our ideas, our epistemologies, how it’s all tying together, our personal experiences each day. We’re able to go out in the afternoons and walk without worrying about hurrying to the next thing. There are days the cars never leave the garage. And we are both able to do the work we are meant to do on this planet, as well as remain open to what emerging work lays waiting.

This is my reimagined success today.  It manifested this week in a Lilac bush.paintme2

 

It’s showing off this year like you wouldn’t believe. My mom bought it for my birthday 5 years ago and this year was the first year it really came into its own. The butterflies just love it, and spend most the day darting in and out through lavender puffs. I sat on a bench near the bush a few days ago and just watched. What kept running through my mind was This is all there is and how grateful I was to have this present moment with nature and the Divine that lives there.

The key, in my mind, is staying sensitive to the shifts. Success is not a static thing. As we evolve globally, especially when that speeds up, we may be called in other directions, depending on what the world needs. We must listen, and respond accordingly. It’s not all about us. Our happiness and our world depend on it.

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Gratitude is Good Medicine

DSCN5098I actually started another blog today then had to switch over to this one. Sometimes things just keep pounding on my heart until I get it. I’m grateful I got it.

This past few weeks gratitude has been growing in my life. I always feel grateful in a passive sense, but it has actively been budding out and springing forth like all the red bud, lilacs, oaks and wildflowers around our house.

This springing forth started taking form in my journal. I’ve always been an erratic journaler, but as I’m taking a class that has a daily journaling component, I’ve become a daily long hand writer over the past 6 weeks. The prompting starts with readings from Emma Curtis Hopkins, but mine has evolved into several sections over the course of the past month and a half. One of those sections has become a part I love which I’ve named Gre-attitudes. In this, I name ten specific things from that day I’m grateful for and really try and make them specific. It could be a butterfly I watched on the lilac, or the snotty store clerk who gave me an opportunity to practice kindness on a not-so-easy crowd.

To be clear, this wasn’t part of the original journal assignment. It just evolved naturally. After the first few weeks, I talked about in class. I told my fellow classmates how I’d started to notice that the more I paid attention and named what I was grateful for, the more grateful I was.  I’m a happy person in general (my teen says it’s annoying I’m so happy), but I noticed this amped up far beyond normal.

Liking that, I started adding more techniques. One of these was my top ten thoughts at the end of the day. As I lay in my bed having turned the light off and snuggling into my ridiculously comfy bed, I’d come up with ten things from the day (different from the morning Gre-attitude List) and take those with me to Dreamland. (I usually fall asleep around # 7.)

So there I was, enjoying my Gratitude Party, and liking being in the world like this. Then, as if to cement it in, today I heard a podcast interview of Robert Emmons discussing his book Gratitude Works! Here’s a description of that book:

Recent dramatic advances in our understanding of gratitude have changed the question from “does gratitude work?” to “how do we get more of it?” This book explores evidence-based practices in a compelling and accessible way and provides a step-by-step guide to cultivating gratitude in their lives. Gratitude Works! also shows how religious, philosophical, and spiritual traditions validate the greatest insights of science about gratitude.

Ha! How about that? In a funny anecdote, Emmons said the way he ended up choosing that topic to write on was because nobody wanted it. He went to a conference where everybody had to become an expert on a subject. He didn’t get to choose until last and the only thing left was gratitude. Little did he know how awesome his pick would turn out to be.

In the interview (and in the book), Emmons talks about how biomarkers have been correlated with gratitude in recent scientific studies. For example, a control group practicing gratitude (starting with keeping a gratitude journal) showed participants exercised better, ate better, were healthier and happier across the board. He uses the acronym AIM to remember to (1) draw Attention to what you are grateful for, (2) create Intention around that and (3) put it in Memory. By thinking about it intentionally and writing it down, we impress our conscious and subconscious minds.  (I think of it like those hand prints we used to make in the patio when our parents poured the cement!)

Emmons does warn about becoming a Gratitude perfectionist (uh-oh) and getting “Gratitude Fatigue.” His practical advice is to keep it fresh. Don’t feel like a gratitude failure if you miss a day in your journal. Write a letter to someone detailing what about them makes you grateful, then make a date with them to share time and read it to them. Find an app. Record gratitude thoughts. Or, just let your own process evolve organically like mine did. Once you open up to the Universe on a topic, it brings you all sorts of intel en masse if you listen.

I predict gratitude will be the next sweetheart of the Positive Psychology movement, knocking “mindfulness” down to second chair. Or, maybe they’ll tie. They are after all inexorably tied, and for that, I’m grateful.

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Name Your Good

goodSaturday night, my husband and I hit local restaurant Club Paradisio in Redding. We’ve been trying to get there since last October when I first discovered it and ate there one cold, October night. I found this treasure after the hospital cafeteria closed during my mom’s late night emergency surgery. There are not very many places to eat in old town past 6:00, and I was out prowling much later than that. A charming chef in a white hat and apron named Steven greeted me at the door, then made me the best Chicken Marsala and Creamy Asparagus soup I wouldn’t soon forget.

I had been bragging to my husband about it for months. I spoke of the ability the chef had with mixing ingredients. We had made an attempt over Thanksgiving weekend to dine, but the cafe was closed. So for something different (and in my mind a pre-birthday celebration for me), we went and ate full course. We enjoyed a nice Cab from Horse Haven in Washington. We didn’t dare pass up the clam chowder, as the asparagus soup made such an impression. (Steven had actually mentioned he has a special list of people he calls when he makes creamy asparagus. That’s how good it is!)

The wine and soup were both delicious. We ate and discussed our date night movie, “The Kingsman,” a spy flick with Colin Firth I liked more than I thought I would. The walls of Club Paradisio are filled with featured artists which creates an intimate feel. Art on the tables, art on the walls kinda thing. As we finished our soup, the main course came. My husband ordered the Chicken Marsala with pasta shells. I chose the special, lamb chops with fresh asparagus and roasted red potatoes. Mike took one of my potatoes.

“How are they?” I asked.

“Pretty spicy. Be warned,” he said, taking a sip of water. Since he can take more spice than me, I was a little worried.

I had a bite of lamb (perfect) then tasted the potato. My lips started to burn. Hunh, I thought. Strange choice. My water was gone in about 60 seconds flat and the Cab wasn’t cutting the spice. I started looking around for the water lady.

Meanwhile, a lady two tables over called out to Steven as walked around the room. “Steven, these are fabulous. Very tasty.” She was talking about the potatoes.

As the water lady filled my glass, I said something like, “Thanks. The potatoes are pretty spicy! Don’t go far.” She smiled and walked away. A few minutes later Steven’s wife appeared at our table.

“The potatoes too spicy?” she asked.

“Well, yes…ummmm…they’re okay… I,” Maybe I was missing something that would kick in a a few minutes…

“There is a reason,” she said, coming clean. “One of the guys in the kitchen grabbed the cayenne instead of the paprika! Would you like another side order?”

We laughed. Well, that explains that. “No thanks,” I said. “I only wanted a few anyway.”

Steven came by later and I told him the funniest part was that I had been bragging to my husband about the mixing of ingredients and how perfect they were. Then we got these really spicy potatoes. He thought the funniest part was how another patron found them absolutely delicious.

One man’s flower is another man’s weeds. (In So California, we used to argue with our gardeners about Cosmos because in Mexico they were weeds. Even though we told them we wanted them, had in fact planted them, they insisted on pulling them up.) And here we were again with one woman’s too-spicy potatoes being another woman’s perfect side dish.

It reminded me of Emma Curtis Hopkins, famous philosopher and metaphysician, who spoke to the importance of “naming your good.” Don’t hesitate. Be specific. Don’t compare–your good may be wholly different than someone else’s good. Because each person is unique, it completely follows that it would be. The important part is to name your good and know your good is there for you. That’s no small potatoes. What better place to be reminded of this then in a place named paradise.

 

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FEAR: Feeling Excited And Ready (Thank you, Neale Donald Walsch and Denise Kerbs!)

eyeNeale Donald Walsch is one of those people I feel like I need to listen to very closely.  I listen to each word with that deep listening, the ear behind the ear kind. He’s soft-spoken, both in tone and ego factor. When I think of modern motivational speakers that are humble and wise, I think of Neale. Homeless at one point in his life, he approaches each moment as if that moment is the most important one. Such a great paradigm for living.

So when I was watching the documentary “Infinity” last week and it was Neale’s turn to talk about his experiences, I listened. One thing caught my ear. “Fear,” he said, “had come to be known to him as feeling excited and ready.”

What a great acronym! It reminded of the book by Susan Jeffers I read so long ago, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. It reminded me of the liberation I felt in Berkeley last year in the middle of Hot Topics when I held the boa constrictor despite my long time fear of snakes. It spoke to me about the growth and experiences that come when we refuse to let the Wall of Fear block our path.

In this vein, I signed up for a full weekend sketch class. Now, perhaps this may not seem scary to the average Josie, but I’ve never had a sketch class in my entire life.042 I never remember taking art in school (surely we must have had some) and my real visual art expression was through music and dance. I had no idea if the people taking this class would be completely new like me, or if they had been drawing for years and were just fine-tuning. Would I be the kid who just didn’t get it? I decided that was not the point at all and it didn’t matter. Nobody cared. This was about pushing my own boundaries. I didn’t have to become a professional sketch artist or anything. I just had to be a student and be open.

When I got the supply list I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. There were about 20 things listed, some of which I’ve never heard of. Do you know how awkward it is to wander around Joanne’s or Michael’s in search of esoteric supplies? As I soon learned, most supplies weren’t even available there. I needed to get them online. (And, on that, I now know that nobody in all of Redding has a Stylus in stock so have my $2.99 Stylus on order. Thank you, Ellis Art!)

It occurred to me that drawing was way more complicated than I’d thought. I needed B pencils and H pencils and three different kinds of erasers. And smooth paper and sketch paper and paper with “teeth” in it. No wonder I hadn’t been able to make good horses in my second grade class. Obviously, I was too limited in my tools of a white board and dry erase markers.

Snark aside, I came to learn that tools are key to producing certain results. Also, learning tricks and techniques is a cumulative process. You learn new ideas from each teacher and from other students. By the end of the first day I was feeling pretty good about my first non-traced drawing, Dude Sitting on Chair.  Granted, his head looks like he could be an maninchairalien and his fingers look like they were in the garbage disposal when it was turned on, but I completed it and an onlooker (pretty sure) can sort of tell what it is. Progress, right?

Denise Kerbs was a brilliant instructor with great exercises that engaged our right brains and by the end of Day 1 I was feeling like I could draw something. She’s an extremely talented artist (that’s her sketch of the cougar’s eye up in the corner). I was determined to soak up as much as I could from her 40 years of experience and resolve to just enjoying the process without too much invested in the end game.

Then came Day 2. She told us we’d be spending much of that day drawing Cougar. So much for enjoying the process. If you know me at all you know I’m not exactly a cat person. Staring at a big wild one all day would be challenging, especially one that looked like this.

cougar

Nevertheless, I went through the steps, learning at every turn which pencil to use and not use. I also learned to look more closely to detail than I usually do. I had hoped that developing my artistic brain would help develop my writing. I felt that happening over the course of drawing Cougar. When I returned to a manuscript on Monday following the class, I saw my scenes in much clearer detail. Fascinating.

By the end of the second day I was drained. My cougar looked more like a wolf and less like a cougar. Maybe it was just me. I came home and held up my drawing board to show my husband.

“Looks like a wolf,” he said.

Nope. Not just me. Oh, well. It’s not a competition. Besides, I like dogs better anyway.

Feeling excited and ready for my next adventure: watercolors! What’s yours?

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The Oak at Dusk

Nature, on an ordinary day, is anything but ordinary. It mesmerizes me, when I stop long enough to breathe it in. Last night was one of those moments.

I headed out to the hot tub around 5:00 and watched day give way to night. I popped open a SeaSmoke Pinot, poured a glass, and sunk into the silky hot water to watch the show. The geese, the frogs, the shifting colors of the sky. Transfixed, I couldn’t turn away. I closed my eyes and thought, “Show me the first star and I will get out and make dinner.” I opened my eyes, and there she was–a gorgeous, twinkling star which whispered back, “All you had to do was ask.”

The Oak at Dusk, by Jamie Weil

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Have you seen the oak at dusk

As the sun hits from the East?

This is the hour when Majesty claims Her throne.

The smell of freshly mowed grass wafts through the evening air

The first spring lilac buds listen

To frogs in the nearby bog

They see the magic.

Have you seen the oak at dusk?

Backlit , sturdy, strong, grounded.

Reaching toward ducks that fly over head.

The blue gives way to pink, gives way to purple, gives way to orange.

Colors smeared together by Omnipotent strokes.

In the distance,

a dog barks, a bird cheeps, frogs sing in unison.

They know.

For they have seen the oak at dusk.

 

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The Passionate Procrastinator

procrastinator2I’m not usually a procrastinator, but this week I decided to act like one.  I wasn’t sure why at the time, though it’s clear to me now. Still, I wanted to commit.  If I’m going to choose to be a procrastinator, I thought, I’m going to do it passionately.

This passion taught me much. I know some of you out there may at times procrastinate, too, so I share with you many tips on how to maximize your procrastination skills so that you, too, may be a passionate procrastinator. (My particular project had to do with editing a manuscript from various editors’ comments, but you can apply these tips to almost any other project you might find yourself avoiding.)

Here goes:

  • Write blog on procrastination tips
  • Update Cozi calendar grocery list
    • Reorganize said calendar’s main lists
  • Clean phone contacts that were screwed up in last software update
  • Clean ALL notifications off home screen, especially Words With Friends (for extra delay)
  • Check Facebook Feed
    • Facebook status on ideas for procrastinating steaming pile of edits
    • Get good ideas from Lois, dear friend and fellow writing superstar whose debut middle grade novel Paper Wishes, out next year by Margaret Ferguson Books (imprint of Farrar, Straus & Giroux), is sure to be an award winner:  call your mom, organize kid’s closet, meditative walk in the country, another cup of coffee, investigate the uses of coconut oil…
    • Get good ideas from friend and writer Jennifer Uhles: Um start the american horror story series. If u take this advice I promise no editing…not to mention parenting or personal hygiene…will occur for days.
    • And, noting a pattern that writers like to binge watch visual stories on TV, this one from Margaret Speaker Yuan: Binge watching Downton Abby listening to the rain on the roof.
  • Eat
  • Choose exercise documentary to watch off GAIAM TV while on Cross trainer
  • Crosstrain while watching documentary on what happens to you after you die (Spirit Space. Really good!)
  • Eat
  • Join friend and blogging expert Nathan’s annual family Weight Challenge
  • Read chapter on Emma Curtis Hopkins’ metaphysical perspective for new philosophy class starting next week
  • Write supportive card for friend
  • List all the TV shows I know (in my defense, technically research for said project)
  • DO EDITS (fill in your project) for negotiated amount of time with butt in chair
  • Check Facebook responses
  • Celebrate accomplishment by floating in hot tub in rain
    • calculate time it takes for drop to fall from above lattice to forehead
    • calculate amount of time for Smart Water bottle to float in circle around hot tub with bubbles on
    • calculate speed at which gray clouds meld into each other in the sky
  • Call Mom (thanks, Lois)
  • Add Almond Milk to Cozi grocery list since somebody used the last drop and did not add to list (eh hem)
  • Make list of ideas for procrastination
  • Shower
    • Add Moroccan Oil to Cozi list
      • Make Specialty List entitled “Things to Buy When I Have Extra Cash”
  • Start at channel one on TV guide and scan to 1,000 to check out shows while calling it research
  • Clear all phone notifications
  • Laundry! Why did it take so long to think about laundry!
  • Scratch out Novel #3 outline (preferably on grody envelope for future speech when Novel becomes award-winning bestseller.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it should get you started. Remember when I said I knew there was some reason I was doing this other than just pure insanity? Here it is. At the end of the day I received a note from my editor saying the stated word count was actually less than we had originally thought and needed to be cut. Now, had I done that work, I would have had to redo it, right? See that? Procrastination paying off right there.

The Universe is just one step ahead of me, thank God. And I may have just gotten it out of my system so that I may now become passionate about editing.

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