Monday, January 30, 2012

Some Thoughts on Storytelling...

I wasn't sure what I'd post for you this week though I've had a lot floating around in my head. However, I can say that storytelling has been coming up in the past week in the most interesting ways...

First, one of my old co-workers sent me a link to this blog post titled "Write What You Don't Know". One of things in this blog post that stood out for me was this quote:

The fact is, if the “real world” were made into a novel or film, it’d be the worst story ever told.

This quote makes me laugh as it is rather true! Real life can be boring in all the mundane details, which is something that is rarely shared on a blog. If I shared with you the boring details of the alterations I've been working on the past few weeks, it wouldn't make for very scintillating reading...

I've accomplished the repairs and alterations on 4 of the 5 items piled on my ironing board, which makes me happy but it doesn't exactly make for thrilling or inspired reading =-\

...and sharing the frustrating details of trying to photograph velvet ribbon or a textured fabric* to get the colors just right, it would probably put you to sleep...

Would you really want to read a blog post titled "The Trials and Tribulations of Photographing Velvet"?!?!? ;)

I am aware of the stories we share on the internet through blogs are self edited to some degree and often to a great degree. I am also aware that many stories we share are stories that may no longer serve us and we are always free to find a new story to tell about our selves.

This was brought home to me this weekend when I was watching a documentary on HBO called "Catfish" and you can find a trailer for it at THIS SITE.

Without giving away too much, I will say that, FOR ME, this documentary was a fascinating and ultimately sad story about how someone will create a story about themselves because they have cut off a necessary need to create art. I highly recommend watching this documentary - it does touch upon internet identity but I saw a deeper story about the need to CREATE in this documentary, and you know I'm all about creativity...and when you do see it, get back to me and we'll talk =-)

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Living so close to "Tinseltown" it might be surprising that I do not talk about movies very often on this blog, though I have meant to. Movies are a wonderful form of storytelling, when done right, and I enjoy going to them, as does my dear boyfriend. I also watch movies incessantly when working at home, as well as watching costume dramas by the BBC. Today, let me share two films that we saw that are (not surprisingly!) up for award nominations...


HUGO
My dear boyfriend and I saw this beautiful film for his birthday and we both loved it. It was magical and moving and it touches upon the early beginnings of film making, which we might not have today if it were not for a gentleman by the name of Georges Melies, who was a pioneer in this amazing form of storytelling. Though Martin Scorsese** is not known for childrens material, I know he is capable of beautiful and lush scenery as evidenced in his film "The Age of Innocence", so I knew I'd be in for a visual feast and I was not disappointed!

This is one film that I will need to add to my collection of period/costume dramas, not to mention part of my collection of 'childrens films'.



THE ARTIST
My dear boyfriend and I saw this adorable film after it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. We had been hearing about this film so we finally ran out to see it. It was a charming film about a time in film history when studios were making the shift from silent films to talkies. It could also be seen as a parable of what happens when one is resistant to change... ;) There are great Art Deco sets and wonderful costumes of a period that is dear to my heart, the 'roaring twenties'. And there is one special "actor" that practically steals the whole movie!

I am not at all surprised that both of these movies are vying for the coveted Academy Award. I have long known that Hollywood loves nothing more than to see itself reflected in the movies and it votes accordingly! Having seen both films, I must say that I want to see "Hugo" win for best picture. For me this film was more about the power of storytelling and how it can connect us through generations. "The Artist" was charming and sweet, a "valentine" to a period of film making history and though it had some lessons to be learned, it was not quite as powerful as "Hugo".

I am someone who is always looking for a good story no matter what form it takes: books, theater, dance, performance art, film, animation. I think this quote from the film "Arabian Nights" (which is a movie that is ALL about storytelling!) really says it best for me:

People need stories, more than bread itself. They teach us how to live and why.

Do you go to the movies to find truths, morals or parables in the stories? If so, which ones are your favorites?? I'd love to hear about them and see them for myself if I haven't already =-)


* - the fabrics I was trying to photograph can now been seen as scarves in my Etsy shop!
** - I love that I share the same birthday as Mr. Scorsese!! Though not the same year! ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Workshop with Orly - More Writings Revealed...

In my last post I shared a peek at the second journal spread I completed in Orly's workshop during the past weekend but I had not photographed how the spread actually turned out by the end of class so I will share some images with you today...

Here is the last picture I shot of my second journal spread:


And this is how it looked by the end of the workshop:

My second journal spread from Orly's workshop...

One of the exercises Orly lead us through was using the patterns in our own hands to create an "alphabet", by finding symbols in the swirls from our hand and fingerprints...

Charting a new alphabet of meaning for myself...


For some time now I've had an idea to create an alphabet of my own and I was lucky to begin exploring ways I can do it in Orly's workshop. Creating an original alphabet and using it to 'communicate' can be a unique but challenging project that I will continue to ponder in the future...

What could these symbols ('letters') mean if YOU could translate them??


I plan on adding more symbols to this page and I will be sure to share them here with you, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Workshop with Orly - Writings on the Wall...

I had the opportunity to participate in Orly's first workshop for the new year and it was another great experience. This workshop was titled "The Writings on the Wall" but it was not like graffiti as we did last year in June...

This workshop explored words and language and the roles they play in our lives. Sometimes the words are pictographs, such as those from the ancient Mayan culture and sometimes the language may be a foreign one that we do not know, which poses the question "How do we communicate if we do not understand the language?" Since many of us in Orly's workshops are artists, we know we can communicate through the language of ART and so we did.

Here are images from my first journal spread for you to decipher the way I speak ART...

From blank page to background in 15 minutes!

Another layer is added...


At this point in the workshop Orly read to us in Hebrew as we followed the text with our eyes. Some of us had heard this language before, some of us had not, some of us could understand her reading, some of us could not. Orly asked us to share what we thought we heard from her reading and some students had 'translated' whole paragraphs. I chose to write my impressions of what she was conveying to us...

Heartfelt * Meaningful * Thoughtful * Connection * Love
Ancient Wisdom * Lessons * Blessings * Caring * Poetry


We each found a way to "understand" what Orly was conveying to us through a different language, though it may not have been a language we were familiar with. Orly then had us choose three words that she read to us and we worked with those words in our journal spread...


We also worked with Mayan pictographs in this journal spread to add a meaningful phrase important to us all who participate in art journaling...though the face I created is my own, not one made by Mayan scribes.

I will be adding more pictograph images to this page and share the meaning soon...

Before too long it was time for lunch which included one of my favorite foods of all time: TAMALES!! I think it's fair to say we all understand the language of FOOD ;)

The tamales were as big as a burrito and packed with tasty goodness =-)

And before too long, we worked through a second journal spread and it was time to go home...

My second journal spread photographed mid-stream - I will share pictures of this spread later in the week...

This workshop was eye-opening and intriguing as we delved into the intricacies of languages - what we say and how we say it can convey more meaning than knowing the words that are spoken. It was also a great confirmation of how important it can be to have an amazing community of like minded people to work with as we work toward greater understanding of the Human Experience by sharing stories and food, laughter and wisdom...and favorite art suppliers! ;)

On a related note, I spent some time last week working in my art journal to fill in some of the 'gifts' given to me by my fellow classmates and journalers in the last workshop in December. I'll share some of the work I've added, but here is the journal spread from December, as we last saw it...


Stay tuned to see what I've added to this spread as well as seeing the second spread in Orly's workshop!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blackout Today...

If I could figure out how to black out my blog in solidarity with Google and Wikipedia today I would do so, but I'll share some links on what is happening:


I signed the petitions at Google and through a Typepad blog that was blacked out today*

On a somewhat related note, I missed World Fair Use Day last week but it will be back in May - read more about Fair Use at the website HERE. We can celebrate it together when it returns on May 4th!

* - Thanks Brian for generating awareness on your blog!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keeping Focused...

Hello dear blog readers! I'm here to report on how my first week of working toward completing old projects and defining work and play has gone...

In my last post I made the decision to blog once a week instead of making frequent drives to my dear boyfriends place to check emails, Etsy orders and blog. Now that I have stopped the frequent driving, I've been able to utilize my time a bit more efficiently.

One thing I knew I would need was a regular weekly schedule and my general outline was to keep certain tasks to certain days. So far, Thursday was one of the most productive sewing days I've had in quite awhile...

All the alterations and repairs I've been needing to do lined up and ready to be worked on...

I also had a productive day of photographing items to be listed in my Etsy shops...though, not all the photographs were going to be usable! Here is the ONE shot of some velvet ribbons I plan on selling, if I can just get a few more pictures to capture the color accurately...

These purple/lavender colors are not so easy to photograph - the blue undertones show more in certain light, instead of the red tones they really have

It felt great to have and keep to a schedule since it kept me on track to accomplish different tasks, whether for myself personally or for tasks that move me toward self-sustaining self-employment. As I was working on my new schedule it also helped me to think about the division of work and play.

I've been thinking that everything I do can be attributed to work or play depending upon how I choose to look at it. I had been dividing my projects into what could be considered "work" which was anything that would forward my goals as an artist, and projects that were considered "fun" because they were things I was doing for my own enjoyment or amusement, but CREATING is always fun for me and I like to share those things here on my blog, such as this revised t-shirt...

I began this revised t-shirt at the end of 2011 and posted a picture in this blog post. On my scheduled sewing day I added a ruffled edge along the hem, which you can see better in the detail shot below...


I still think something needs to be added to the neckline, so I'll be pondering what to add in the days to come...


As I watched the Golden Globe Awards the other evening and listened to Morgan Freeman's acceptance speech upon receiving the Cecil B. De Mille award I was struck by one of the things he said...

"It's been said that if you do what you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life"

And he is right about that. It was similar to something a dance teacher had said to me many years ago, that we have to find the fun in things or we'll always be wondering when we're going to have any fun! So I am focusing not only on getting projects accomplished, but on seeing the fun in everything I do and then I'll never have to 'work' another day in my life ;)

In the meantime, I'll be attending Orly's upcoming workshop and I'm finally returning to a project I'd been teasing you all with in these two posts and you'll see what the project is shaping up to become, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Easing into 2012...

I've had a lovely week of easing into this new year by taking two whole days to complete the worksheets by Susannah Conway and finishing it up with a completion ritual sent my way from Louise Gale in one of her newsletters. I have to say it felt SO GOOD to burn up slips of paper containing all the things I was ready to let go of and say goodbye to - very FINAL and very cleansing!

Burning out the old unnecessary people, places, things and feelings of 2011 on my stovetop

I also spent a few minutes during the past weekend creating a weekly schedule that I hope will keep me on track moving forward in 2012. Looking back on 2011, I realized that I spent a lot of time recuperating from the horrible workplace that I was laid off from, but I also realized that I needed that recuperation time very much...

I have always been a hard worker, but sometimes it leads to too much work as it did in my previous job, which inevitably lead to my burn-out. I've been doing a lot of thinking of what is work and what is play and realizing that I need to redefine both. My current mind-set of separating the two may not serve me in the new year, just as thinking that I need to have a fully stocked Etsy shop did not serve me and changing that mind-set has been freeing to say the least. I'm hoping that redefining work and play will help me to move forward in the future and keep me from resisting anything that feels like "work", which is something I've found myself doing in the past few months, so much so that it took me some time to actually do the worksheets to close out 2011 and hone my word for 2012!

And yet, for some reason, I've been feeling an urgency to get these tasks of closing out the old year and defining the new one, but I don't know why I felt that urgency. After I completed the worksheets and did the completion ritual I now see why I felt that urgency - 2011 was a hard year and I needed to really close it out so I can move into 2012 with a clear mind and a free heart. I may still need a little more recuperation time as I define work and play, but I do feel that the old year is VERY MUCH behind me.

I've also decided that make things in my life a little easier, I will be blogging once a week. Since I still do not have internet at home, I've decided to focus on completing projects I've started, and continuing the cleaning and clearing in my home and NOT make frequent drives to my dear boyfriends home to check emails - all that driving takes time away from completing the projects! It's time to employ my creative resources to make my life a little simpler, more art-full and to make room for Abundant Support to come into my life in any form it takes. It's long overdue! I hope you'll stay tuned as I check in weekly with my progress and my challenges...

How are YOU easing into 2012? What are you doing to ease yourself into 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Different Review for 2012 - How my Life Looks Today

Since I've been reviewing my Kwanzaa posts of last year, it's got me thinking of other things in my life and how things look now, compared to a year ago or even 6 months ago...

My last day of working in an office was on June 30 2011, and my life looked very different while in that job than it does today. Here are some changes in my life that have been very much for the better since leaving the office workplace:

I no longer work in an isolating environment!
Though I am alone much of the day, as I was in the office, I'm in a far more inviting environment at home and I have lots to keep me busy. I can have favorite movies playing in the background or listen to music I really enjoy instead of settling on music everyone can 'tolerate'. I also eat my lunch in cozier surroundings...

Though this love seat may not be in my home much longer, it is a cozy spot for nibbling, knitting, dreaming of the future and the occasional nap ;)

I can socialize with my friends!
When I was working in the office, I kept my cell phone off during work hours. I'm a bit old fashioned that way - I thought I should be focusing on the work I'm being 'paid' to do, not personal business. But now that my time is my own, I have my cell phone on all day in case friends call while I'm at home or while running errands. It allows me time for 'catch up chats' or planning get-togethers, both of which happen more often now that my time is my own =-)

I eat better!
I used to bring frozen lunches to the office since it was easier to cart a frozen meal for my one hour drive to work than to keep fresh food cool enough in a lunch pack. I would bring packets of oatmeal and trail mix in the winter for breakfast and hard boiled eggs in the summer since they were easy to transport without spoiling. Today, I can make my favorite breakfast of eggs however I want to eat them: scrambled, omlette, or over-easy. I can make Cream of Wheat, which is a favorite breakfast in cold weather, but I couldn't make it at the office and the instant kind is not very tasty. I would also indulge in a daily bag of chips and a soda during my work day, which is not a healthy snack...

A recent breakfast of scrambled eggs with sprinkling of dill and a slice of whole grain toast - YUM!

I love a fresh home-made sandwich, but the time it took make one made it a problem for my morning routine before the morning drive. Now that I no longer have to drive to work, I can make a nice fresh sandwich at home for my lunch and I love it! And I've cut the daily soda and chips to an occasional indulgence and make iced tea to drink instead. OH! I really love preparing my meals at home these days!

I am in better health!
Before the office moved to the remote location, I would take walks in the mornings before getting ready for work. That stopped when my daily commute became an hour long and that was just one way! I would occasionally make some time for a stroll at the office and I would always walk to the local post office to ship my Grandma Betty orders, but I really prefer to start my day with a long walk and now I do. I also walk to my local post office near my home so I often have two walks in my day! It feels great to return to this favorite routine and I have even lost a few pounds from all my walking and eating healthier foods, instead of highly processed ones...

I read more!
Since I am trying to keep from bringing more things into my home, this also goes for books (despite my love for them!), so I've gotten back into the habit of using my local library to read many of the books I've had on my reading list for a few years now. Luckily, my local library is on the same block as my post office so my walks to the post office extend to the library where I also borrow videos and watch movies my dear boyfriend might not be interested in watching with me, like "chick flicks" ;)

I'm free to create whatever I want, whenever I want!
When I was working in an office, I was limited to what I could create - I would sometimes do some collage work, there was my Office Art Book to work in, and of course I could blog, but I couldn't do my sewing at the office. These days I can play with my watercolor paints, sew on new projects or work on garments that need repair, as well as work on the cleaning and organization of my creative play-space. Here is a sewing project I began in the last days of 2011...

There are still some small details to be added to this top, but it's been great fun to create so far!

I really love having the freedom to create when and where I want in my life and I love how my life looks today compared to year ago.

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I also look forward to doing more creating in the design of how I want my life to look in 2012 and beyond. I plan on using the worksheets provided by Susannah Conway on her blog. My blog buddy Tinniegirl linked to these worksheets and I like the questions and prompts that are provided. Thanks to Tinniegirl for pointing the way to some thoughtful reflection and planning!

I've also got some books from my local library to help me create a great new creative life: Art and Fear (thanks to Gwynnie for pointing out this book!), Creating a Life Worth Living, Fitting In Is Over-rated (many thanks to my Wise Woman for this recommendation!) and one I found at the Montrose Farmer's Market, The Accidental Masterpiece. I'll be sure to share what I've gleaned from these books in future posts...I suspect these books might have to become part of my personal library!

Today was the day of the Pasadena Rose Parade which I ALWAYS watch, each and every year. This year's theme was "Just Imagine" and I think it's a great sign of things to come for 2012.

I'm going to take a few days to imagine how my life will unfold in 2012, but I'll be back soon with updates on my cleaning/clearing at home, sewing projects and other creative endeavors so stay tuned!

What do you IMAGINE for yourself in 2012? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Faith - A Review

Tonight is the last night of Kwanzaa and I've been reviewing the hopes and plans I had made to incorporate the 7 principles of Kwanzaa in my life in 2011. I've been pretty successful with many of the principles, but I can see that there is room for improvement as I begin the new year of 2012. Let's see how I did in the last principle, Faith...

Seventh night of Kwanzaa - Faith
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Seven candles for seven nights...Kwanzaa may be over but the principles will be incorporated as 2012 marches forward!

Then and Now:

I think that what I wrote about this principle still stands today so I'm reposting it here...

"I know the wording of this principle is aimed toward the African American community, but it often feels to me that Artists are under-appreciated in society and it often feels like a struggle to be taken seriously as an Artist...and it takes a great deal of Faith to BE an Artist in the face of that.

My favorite quote about Faith comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, which I think may resonate for many of you:

FAITH is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase
 
It takes Faith to begin a new work of art - we often have an idea in our heads but our materials don't always cooperate with our vision!

It takes Faith to put ourselves and our work out into the world because we don't always know how it will be received and we need to have Faith that it will be well received by those who are open to it...

It takes Faith to live as an Artist and not worry about where our next meal will come from...

It takes Faith to trust that the Universe will provide what we need when we need it, but it always does if we ask for what we need...

It's not always easy to have that Faith when we can't see the outcomes of our efforts right away but I Believe with all my heart in Art and the power of creating with our hands and I Believe with all my heart that Creating is Healing...and I Believe the knowledge of all that can help me to "Keep the Faith*" in the face of the unknown..."


Here is how I think I did with this principle:
I can tell you that it's been quite a challenging year for me this year and some days my Faith was flagging in the face of those challenges. Knowing I would be laid off by June brought joy at my impending freedom from a horrible workplace, but it also brought challenges like my lack of internet at home. I'm very thankful to have a wonderful boyfriend who gives me access to his computer for blogging and for listing goods to sell on Etsy!

Every day I have doubts and fears about how my life will take shape, but I always keep my focus on the fact that everything I need is provided for in one way or another and this helps me to "Keep the Faith" that there is abundance in the world and I deserve to have that abundance in my life.

I think if I can keep the idea of "Abundant Support" firmly in mind, some of my fears can be alleviated as I move forward in 2012. And I also remember that having doubts and fears is a natural reaction to the Unknown! The trick is to be sure those doubts and fears DO NOT take over and I think that is where FAITH comes in ;)


How do you "Keep the Faith" to take steps when you can't see the whole staircase? What or Who do you Believe in with all your HeArt?



* - Once again, many thanks to Tavis Smiley for this wonderful phrase! I may need to start watching his show again to hear this important reminder =-)