Ten on Tuesday: Favorite Things Edition

Feb 23

bookI do love lists of favorite things–both writing my own and reading yours–so when Carole sent out this week’s Ten on Tuesday prompt, excitement abounded!

  1. Yoga with Adriene. After too many years away from a regular home yoga practice, my friend Sarah suggested I might like these videos. Adriene is generous with free videos and does a really good job explaining poses in a way that means I often don’t have to look at the video. She’s funny, too.
  2. UNM’s Rananim online writing workshop. I’m taking poetry with Sawnie Morris. My original intention was to develop poetry skills to write better prose (the poets always write the prettiest sentences, don’t they?), but here’s what I learned: I love writing poetry! If you’ve been wanting to take an online writing workshop, I recommend Rananim. The next semester starts in April. Join me?
  3. Better Call Saul. Did you love Breaking Bad as much as I did? My vet recommended Better Call Saul, and we tore through it during the deep freeze weekend recently.
  4. Alabama Chanin Host a Party. I’ve gathered together a group of awesome stitchers who are going to sew swing skirts with me. The lovely folks at Alabama Chanin answered about a zillion questions from me and made organizing the party a breeze. I can’t wait for us to start stitching!
  5. Wurm hats in Stonehedge Fiber Mill Crazy. Last week I met up with Gale at Knit New Haven, saw a few Wurms (New Haven’s au courant knitting project) in Crazy and succumbed. You should probably call and order a skein.
  6. Strommen Bruk Hamar sewing box. I bought a small one–probably for a child–on ebay last year. It traveled down from Maine and was in rough shape. Earlier this month Neal made restoring it his project. I nearly swoon every time I open it!
  7. A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman. Even if you’re not into drawing and nature journaling, the book is filled with beautifully written observations and excellent illustrations. My pal Jan recommended it to me, and I am so grateful. Hinchman’s nature journals reflect what I hope to create.
  8. Warmer air. Sure, it has been a mild winter, but it ain’t over yet. We had that snow and deep freeze last week followed by a warmer weekend. Every minute I get to sit on the stoop or porch–no matter how bundled up I am–is a favorite minute!
  9. Craftwork Somerville. I’m taking the Folk Dress workshop with dear, talented Cal, and I can’t wait. It isn’t just the awesome selection of classes, though. Amy Lou’s newsletter is chock full of cool info. You should probably sign up for it.
  10. Textillia. I joined right away as soon as the site launched and am slowly learning my way around it. Picture our beloved Ravelry for the sewing crowd.

How about you? Tell me about your favorite things!

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2016 Year of Creative Habits: The Quotidian Bones Project

Jan 18

Quotidian BonesBoy, oh, boy, do I love a project, especially when I figure out a smart name for it. Late last fall, I signed up for Crystal Moody’s Year of Creative Habits class. Crystal became an important mentor and model to me over the last few years (go look at her work, sign up for her newsletter–you won’t regret it), and I welcomed the chance to continue the momentum I built from the #2015postcardproject.

After freewriting in response to her prompts, I had the “Eureka!” moment–you know how it feels when idea hits and you realize it is a good idea, right? That happened.

See, back in late November, I was catching up on The Moth. I can’t find the podcast episode to link for you, but one of the storytellers talked about his method for finding his stories: at the end of every day, he opened up a spreadsheet and wrote one sentence that would serve as a prompt for the story he might want to tell from that day.

Did that rock my world? You better believe it. Then I got all mournful about missing making visual art every day. I know myself well enough to know the #2015postcardproject habit would slip away if I didn’t give visual art a new project. And I thought about a few ideas for illustrated stories for adults I have. And: Pop! Bang! Bingo! Hot Dog!

I had it. I would build from the postcard project. I wrote about whatever came to mind for that, and the text was not always a story, nor always related to the image. This new project would connect the two.

Here’s the plan:

At the end of each day (typically before I fix dinner), I will decide what story I can pull from the day. I’ll make an illustration and write a sentence (ok, I’ve already got entries with short paragraphs) to remind me of the story. Once a week, I will develop one of the stories either as a narrative poem or a flash prose piece and make a bigger illustration for it.

I checked in with a few people to see what questions they had about the project…here they are, with my answers:

  1. What’s the deal with that notebook you’re using? It’s a Hobonichi Techno planner. I bought it thinking it would replace my moleskine bullet journal, but I can’t quit my grid. The Hobonichi’s paper is Tomoe River paper, which is super thin yet stands up to a lot–so far, my crow quill pen and india ink, walnut ink, and watercolor.
  2. What do you hope to get out of a daily project, beyond the product? Maintaining the habit of making visual art every day is important to me as is developing the skills and “visual voice” to create the illustrated stories I have in mind. I have a little piece hanging next to my desk that reads “Great Creator, I’ll take care of the quantity, you take care of the quality.” I made it when I worked through The Artist’s Way back in 2001. The project is one way I’m committing to taking care of the quantity.
  3. Do you have the idea when you wake up in the morning? Nope. I let the day unfold and see what might make a good piece for the day. Since much of my life is routine (by my choice!), I have to be more observant than usual some days to find a story.
  4. What’s with that name? On New Year’s Day, after our hike and the after-party were done, I asked Neal to help me brainstorm ideas for what to call the project. I wanted “daily” something, but I didn’t want to use “daily”. I thought the word quotidian, which not only means daily (but fancier! With a “q”–my favorite letter after “z”!) (yes, I have favorite letters, don’t you?) but also “ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane“. Since my daily life is generally (by my choice!) a bit on the mundane side, this seemed perfect. We talked about the purpose of the project, how I planned for it to work, what I hoped to get from it. “Skeletons,” Neal said. “You’re building skeletons of stories.” I loved that, but didn’t like the mouthful of “Quotidian Skeletons.” A little more brainstorming, and we hit on “bones.”

I’d love for you to follow along with not only my project, but the super cool projects of my peers–follow hashtag #yoch2016 on Instagram to see the work we’re all doing. Daily.

Let me know if you have any questions about the Quotidian Bones Project or tell me about your own habit building projects for 2016!

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#2015PostcardProject: a review of daily creative habits

Jan 15

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 3.34.12 PM

The Final Card

I’ve had a little time to reflect on my #2015PostcardProject, and here’s what I have to say about it:

  1. I did it! I made and mailed 366 postcards–I messed up the numbering at some point, so I made two on the last day.
  2. I experimented with a lot of techniques and media, from watercolors to acrylic ink to bic pens. My favorite technique is an ink drawing with watercolor details added.
  3. I developed a style. What started as a need for a model who would always be available when I was ready to draw (many a selfie card went out into the world), along with facing my fear of drawing faces, grew into a love of making my illustration people.
  4. I forgave myself. A few times, I missed a day and made it up later. The first time it happened, I almost quit the project. And then I didn’t quit. A few times, I made a card so lame that I was embarrassed to send it, but I sent it. And then I tried to make a less lame card the next day.
  5. I like working in series. I had a calligraphy series, a doodle series, a very lengthy famous faces series…whenever I had a series going on, I felt a little more excited about sitting down to make my card.
  6. I made some folks happy. People like mail! I sent to total strangers who later wrote beautiful notes about how much getting a piece of friendly mail meant on that day. Perhaps most exciting, my mom–known for being no-nonsense about clutter–framed the card I sent her. And I even got a few postcards back in return!
  7. I did not dig documenting the project. Originally I intended to post a gallery at the end of each month like I did in January. I did take a picture of all the cards, and a lot of them are posted on Instagram.
  8. I fulfilled my goal of not dropping out of drawing (or painting) once my semesters got busy.
  9. I had fun. I enjoyed trying out new skills as well as imagining my cards wending their way around the world.

If you have any questions about the project, leave a comment. I am happy to share whatever information might be helpful to you!

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Ten on Tuesday: More and Less Edition

Jan 05

Hike 2016Carole’s prompt this week is, of course, perfect for the early days of a freshly minted year: list five things you want to do more of and five things you want to do less of this year.

  1. 1. More community. Since 1992, I’ve started most years with a New Year’s hike. The location and people change, yet it remains one of my favorite activities of the year. What I love about it is the chance to get to know a variety of people, to share an adventure with them. And more of that sounds good to me!
  2. Less anxiety. Is it age? Is it circumstance? What ever the reason, more often than I like, I find myself frozen, heart pounding, palms sweating, breath short, unhelpful thoughts circling in my head. A whole lot less of that will make me happier.
  3. More spirituality. My divorce from religion left me at sea about how to embrace my inherent spirituality. The yoga and meditation practice I mentioned last week helps. A lot. Noticing helps, too, especially when I’m noticing interesting trees or patterns or creatures on my daily hike. And increasing my attention to my spirituality and beliefs makes a big difference in breaking the anxiety.
  4. Less negativity. From swearing over inconveniences that do not warrant such language to letting news headlines spiral in my head, I want to learn to reframe the negatives. Because, face it, avoiding them altogether may not be realistic.
  5. More indulging my curiosity. Curiosity is one of the core driving forces of my life, and I plan to embrace it even more. Instead of just wondering about everything from what birds are at my feeder to why language develops the way does, and then letting the thoughts pass, I’ll investigate the most interesting ones, at least a little bit.
  6. Less carelessness. Know what I spent time doing yesterday and will do again today? Pulling back ribbing from the cast-on edge of a sweater. Know why? Because I was careless and made the back ribbing longer than the two fronts and sleeves. Enough of that!
  7. Less eating sweets. Oh, boy, do I love me a cookie! Or a sliver of pie. Or…whatever it is hanging around in the treat drawer. I don’t overindulge, but I indulge with little tastes often, which I fear adds up to something close to overindulgence.
  8. More green smoothies. I started drinking green smoothies over the summer, inspired by mysmoothie lovely colleague Leah. Not regularly, though. Which is silly since they are so good and good for me. So more of them to come. Like, daily more.
  9. Less procrastination. I first wrote that as “less planning” because what I mean to say is I do a lot of thinking and dreaming about a task or project when I more often should simply start it. Sooner started, sooner done, right?
  10. More making. Last year I started along the path of a me-made wardrobe. This year I plan to make more of my clothes (and don’t worry: that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning my minimalist wardrobe, but that I’m replacing worn or no-longer-used items with those I make. And it also means that I want to make more items for our home, from potholders to curtains. And that I want to make more meals instead of ordering take out when I’m tired. Making makes me happy, so why not embrace more of it!

How about you? What do you want more and less of in 2016?

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Ten on Tuesday: 2015 Review Edition

Dec 29

in knittingToday Carole invited me to reflect on Ten Things I did in 2015 That Made Me Feel Proud:

  1. Launched MotherShould? with my friend and colleague Catherine. I’m proud of the writing I’ve done for the site and of the content we’re getting from other writers.
  2. Revised my novel and worked with generous, smart Cari Luna to determine what to do next with it.
  3. Sent out my first agent queries. While I have no problem creating, I often fail at finding homes for my work.
  4. Took excellent care of my dogs. Losing Tilly in April was rough, but I feel proud of the care she received, right until the end. And I continue to feel proud of the almost-daily hikes I take with Oskar and Coco.
  5. Celebrated my tenth blogging anniversary–extra credit to you if you remember when I blogged at Wearing Black in New Mexico. I feel proud that I’ve kept blogging for a decade, and I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made through blogging.
  6. Got serious about sewing garments. I took two pattern drafting classes with my dear Cal (who is an amazing teacher, in person AND online!), and I made several garments. I feel proud of this new dimension to my Ethical Elegance project.
  7. Started a daily yoga and meditation practice. Okay, so this is a brand new thing that I feel proud about. And it all started because Allegra posted a picture of a mala she made. I asked her to make one for me to help me with challenges I face, and she sent me a beautiful mala, which has lit the fire for this practice in me.
  8. Developed my calligraphy skills. I have a lot to learn still, but I made a good start taking a Copperplate and an Uncial class this year. I have a multi-media poetry project in the works, and lettering is a key part of it. selfie
  9. Purged excess craft supplies. Oh, don’t you worry about my being snowed in without a new knitting project possible. This year’s birthday gift from Neal was a transformation of my office to a studio. I wanted a space not dedicated to work, but dedicated to creative play. That meant clearing out a lot of unused yarn and fabric and donating a ton (that might be literal) of books. It feels amazing to pare down my supplies and really know what I have.
  10. Maintained a daily creativity habit through my #2015 Postcard Project. I have loved making and sending the postcards all around the world, and I’ve learned a lot about techniques and media I enjoy using. Stay tuned for an entire post about all that!

Your turn. What did you do in 2015 that makes you feel proud?

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