Tag Archives: creativity

Food Network and “bright” lemons

Yesterday marked my 101st post.  I’ll get around to details eventually, but in the 3 months since I last posted, I’ve spent the past two living in my grandmother’s house.  Due to Grandma and Deda (what I call my grandfather)–and now Grandma since Deda passed away– needing some extra help, Mom and I have decided to stay here.

I mention this because the biggest creative longing in my heart lately– something I’ve blogged about here before– is: cooking!

Grandma loves the food network, so although we’d normally gravitate to HGTV, we watch a lot of food now.  I’ve come to love it, actually.  Food allergies and all, I’ve come to be excited about the different ingredients.  To wonder about all the tastes I’ve never experienced.

We watch “Chopped” and I’m excited to figure out what all the mystery basket ingredients are. “Is that a fruit? A meat?”  I’ve learned about geoduck and buddha’s hand.  And, slowly, I’d like to think I’m learning about things I don’t usually cook– like fish or new and different meats.

The most exciting thing so far, was last night I realized I’m gaining vocabulary.  There are words and phrases we associate with art.  We talk about light, brightness, contrast, texture.  I can use all these visual words easily to talk about music.  I can easily tell you (or sing to show you) what’s a bright sound.  It’s not really a pitch thing, but a timbre thing– and vocal brightness can often be controlled by the shape of your mouth when you pronounce your vowels.  One of the judges on “Chopped” talked about citrus fruits like lemon adding a “brightness” to the food– and suddenly, it clicked.  I understood something about it I hadn’t before.  I’m moving from fingerpainting to learning technique!

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Prodigal Daughter

Sometime after writing my last post here, things got busy.  Life appeared to be changing rapidly.  Much has occurred in the past few months.  In some ways, it’s probably safe to say I’m a different person.

Shortly after my last post, I thought perhaps blogging was “getting in the way.”  I was feeling pressure to post.  To keep up my stats.  Even to achieve– to become “freshly pressed.”  That was not why I started blogging.  I thought maybe I was done.

And now, I realize that maybe it’s time to talk a bit.  To share some of the huge, life-altering things that have been going on.  And to get creative again.  I’ve had music on my mind and no outlet for it to run wild.  I’ve found myself dancing lately, just around the house.  Maybe I was trying to escape it all for a while– by escaping the blog– escaping the responsibility of creating, of exploring these things.  Maybe I even thought it was silly– that I could explore on my own, and maybe my exploration was waning.  My dance class long over, my garden harvested.  But perhaps that was just the beginning.  So at least for now, I’m back.  A creative prodigal daughter.

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The R-word.

An innocent question this weekend (ie, “what are your plans for today?”) brought on a full-on rant to an unsuspecting friend of mine.  As this is a creative blog, I try not to blog about my personal life here… but there’s also some necessity when personal thoughts begin “blocking” your creative flow.  For more on this, I strongly recommend The Artist’s Way.  Seriously, at least check out the book from your local library.  It’s worth it to try even if you don’t finish it.  I return to this book, and its ideas, pretty often when I reach a turning point or plateau.  Or when parts of my life obviously start feeling a bit stale or “bleh.”

I bring this up because, in the book, Cameron instructs readers to write “morning pages.”  The idea is that by hand-writing three stream-of-consciousness pages first thing each day, you get all the “blech” and “yech” thoughts out.

She describes it this way:
“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity.  Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye– this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days.” (page 11, The Artist’s Way)

I had a moment like this when my friend asked that question and got a rant-of-sorts about the people I hold dearest.  And, as I apologized for said semi-rant, I heard myself say, “I didn’t know that was upsetting me…”

Because, in truth, I’m not upset with my friends.  But I am adjusting to the changes we’re experiencing.  It is the hard thing about having good, dear, old friends.  Life keeps happening.  And we are not in grade school anymore to see each other every day and witness the changes.  The changes often come now via text message or random phone call.  Announcing engagements, jobs, grad school acceptances, babies, and moving days to places far enough away to warrant airline tickets– or passports.

I have five friends who I would say are my closest.  Of the six of us (myself included), we now stand on a relational continuum:

Married (2 years, with 1 year old daughter)
Engaged
Serious Relationship
Relationship (unofficial):not-sure-where-this-is-going-but-hopeful
Single:getting-over-someone-waiting-for-really-good-guy
Single:I-don’t-wanna-talk-about-it

Now, those last three (again, myself included) were hard to write, mostly because I wish them to not be taken the wrong way.  I’ll put in the disclaimer that I have been in both of these places and love these girls as sisters.

I am not bitter or jealous.  I am thrilled and contented (and occasionally temporarily worried) by each new announcement.  When you truly love someone, their victories feel like your own.  However, there is a give-and-take in all of this.  Buying your closest girlfriend a toaster.  Learning to talk to her as though she were a couple– because the amount of one-on-one time you have has significantly decreased.  Learning that friendships survive in balance; and that you do still need to find alone time to talk.  The challenge of finding that time that is not taken up by jobs, significant others, children, parents, chores.  And, in the midst of your changing lives, finding out what common ground you still share.  What you can still commiserate– and laugh about– together.

newly in college or heading off-to-college

First Wedding

First Baby's First Christmas


my graduation party, and our expanding circle of friendship

Our lives are clogged with relationships.
My coming challenge:  to (wo)man up and put in the effort mine need to continue to blossom.  And to create using this love, rather than letting the changes in my life keep me blocked, ineffective, and irritable.


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Breakfast.

Apologies for coming back to blogging more frequently only to leave this page alone for most of the week!! I had a big meeting on Wednesday in which I got to choose and hash out details of my upcoming research project!  Prep consisted of a lot of reading, so I had less time for writing.

But the creativity has been churning!!

In the midst of a busy week and intellectual-creative thinking, I’ve also had time to take in the little things– my corn almost ready for harvest (pictures by the weekend, I promise), planning for mom’s birthday tomorrow, spending time with my grandparents (which has been emotional in all aspects lately– another post to come about this as well.  It has been a time of both division and healing in my relationships with my family).  I’ve also gotten to spend time with my favorite boy.  We got to meet up twice a week this week for breakfast before he had to leave for work– which consisted of toast with butter and grape jelly outside while checking out my garden and watching the comings and goings of the bees and the ants and these tiny little parasol-like mushrooms that appear only in the mornings and wilt into the heat of the day.  I’ve been wanting to capture a picture of these, but have not been able to yet.  They are so delicate looking and it’s nice to sit outside in the morning, before the day is underway, and enjoy the sunshine and my garden and the little microcosm that is the world around us– all around and underneath our normal lives of work and school and stores and business.  So no matter what I do today, I had sunshine and scurrying ants and big hugs this morning.   It is simplicity and warmth at its finest and it feeds my soul.

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Hands and Mouths

So one of the things I’m thinking about today is how we can be creative with so many parts of ourselves– it is, in fact, part of our very essence.

We dance with our feet, our legs.  We cook, paint, draw, or sculpt with our hands.  We sing and speak with our mouths.  And that’s if we don’t count every other system that’s involved in these actions.  Muscles, bones, skin.  All of our senses and sense organs– eyes, ears, noses, tongues.  And, perhaps, most of all, our powerful and awesome brains.  And, of course, I’m leaving out a slew of other creative activities and bodily parts.

I’m thinking of this because I want to focus on my singing for a bit, but I also need another outlet to replace my dance class.  And I’m thinking the combination of cooking and singing is a good one.  When I first thought of this today, I thought– oh, I’ll be doing two creative things with my mouth.  And then I realized that I wasn’t thinking about cooking– I was thinking about eating.  🙂  But how cool that I can use this summer to try to be more creative– all over!  (I’m even looking to see if I can find a bellydancing class nearby. I’ve been dying to at least give it a try).

I think I’ve got “Cheek to Cheek” mostly down, completing Song 1 of my 52 Songs in 52 Weeks challenge.  My song for this week, although it was not on my song list, is Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.” Now, technically, this is the song for this past week, but I plan on making up the time I lost due to icky stomach feelings.  I already know this song fairly well, so it’ll just be an issue of remembering which verse is which and where it sits in my voice.  Hopefully by next week I’ll get a video or audio clip up.

As for cooking, I bought some packages of yeast last week.  And I’ve been wanting to make something bready– mostly because I feel like I want to work with some kind of dough and bread products seem like, first, a really good way to get your hands dirty, and two, such a simple pleasure– such a basic staple of human existence.  I’ve got in mind something hearty and crusty, maybe something to make a nice sandwich on.

So the question really is:  bagels, pasta, or bread?  I’m leaning towards a simple bread first, then bagels, then pasta— but I’m open to opinions on which you think I should try first.  Or if you have any good recipes– hook me up!  copy and paste, link, or even comment right here!

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Quieting the Critics

This blog is inspired by a recent event or two and also some of my blog-reading lately which led me to The Re-Picturing Women Project .

While my title echoes her 6/1 post, my ideas really match more with her most recent (6/16) post.  While I’m trying to focus my blog on creativity, I feel that often I wind up talking about my life.  I’ve stopped thinking this is incongruent.  I tend to take a creative approach to things, so maybe I’m blogging from example.  My best hope would be to create a forum for discussion here, lead people to other great blogs, and help people maybe see their world a little differently.  That said, part of being creative is being able to quiet the critics and live without fear.  This is not about me quieting an inner critic to my art– but to my person.  However, I think the process is much the same.  Also, for me, the critics take very similar shape.

I find that when certain things happen, old voices creep up and cause me to be afraid.  I think I’ve mentioned before here that my mother and I were sick and had to miss going upstate for my cousin’s fiance’s bridal shower.  This caused a great deal of anxiety for me.  While I was truly sick– and miserable not to go, old fears crept in.

In my junior year of high school, I got very sick.  Around October, I came down with a virus that mimicked chronic fatigue syndrome.  Already having an autoimmune disorder, my body didn’t bounce back easily.  By January, I was so exhausted, I was taking half days at school– I’d take the bus in the morning and my mom would pick me up at lunchtime.  Then the next day she’d drop me at lunchtime and I’d take the bus home– so as if not to miss the same classes two days in a row.  I kept up on all my work, including getting a math tutor as I was having trouble making up the precal work (essentially teaching it to myself).  I eventually went back to school more full-time, but continued to miss days here and there, though the worst was certainly over.

By Springtime, one of my teachers remarked, at my honors society induction, that I looked so good because I had lost so much weight.  She seemed to want to know what I’d done.  Perhaps she’d not noticed that I’d been ill for months… Or perhaps it was the fact that she did not believe that I’d been ill for months.

The rumor going around school was that I was cutting, apparently.  While some of my teachers were sympathetic, many were not.  My parents received a letter that– despite my straight A average– I could be left back due to absences.  After a long discussion with my mother, who put up quite a fight, including calling the public school system (I was in private school at this time) and even the state department of education, it was decided that I would move along to 12th grade just fine.  But not without comments, being given no help or compassion, and being expected to make up my work quickly.  I also, despite having the second highest average in my grade, received no awards at the end of the year assembly.  I was later told by a kind teacher that I “shouldn’t feel bad” because, essentially, the teachers were told to disregard my GPA as I would not be allowed to receive any awards at the assembly.

I was given a hard time every step of the way.  Few believed I was actually sick, aside from my closest friends and perhaps 2 teachers.  The rumor was that I was cutting and, not only that, was cutting to do schoolwork! Apparently, this was my sick attempt to put extra work in and get better grades.  The rumor was badly flawed– although I did keep my A average, this would have been a heck of a lot easier to do while having the benefit of going to class and being taught.

Meanwhile, I was so sick I was having trouble walking.  I’d come home with my lunch half eaten because I was too tired to chew.  I lost weight.  I would nap during the occasional study hall or lunch if I could– especially when I was too tired to eat.  I was so tired that by the time I got home, I could barely focus to work- let alone do make up work.  There were a few occasions I remember my mom reading to me out of my english textbook so I could complete an assignment because I couldn’t focus on the words on the page.  Prom night, three of my best friends slept over.  I woke up in the middle of the night having difficulty breathing and with a rash.  My class had been told that if anyone did not come to school the day after prom (which wound up on a Wednesday), they would be suspended.  My mom literally drove me to school, went to the office, explained the situation and called my doctor to make an appointment in front of the principal.  We then brought the dr’s note back.  I had a virus, a bacterial infection, and a rash.  All at once.

I have never been sicker in my life.  And hardly anyone believed me.  I missed friend’s birthday parties, weeks of church, days and days of school, family events.  Even my extended family often doubted the severity of how sick I was.

So now, when I am sick and need to miss something– whether it’s an outing with friends or a shift at work– I get very nervous because I always assume that people do not believe me and assume I’m faking.  It’s paranoid, perhaps.  But this thought has never left me.  It’s something I hope to work on, though.  I need freedom from this.  It’s time to quiet this voice in my head– a voice which still has a face (despite how many people caused this problem, there is one face that seems to speak louder than them all.  This is also, interestingly enough, the voice of most of my creative blockings as well).

What do you need to say goodbye to?  Is there a memory, inner voice, or even person currently in your life who’s holding back your creativity– or even your very spirit?  Personally, I’m going to be doing some soul-searching and praying to get over this block.  All the best to you who may be doing the same!

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Creative Cleaning

So I won’t mislead you that I’m going to talk about a creative way to clean.  Although if you find or have one, I’d love to hear it!

What I am going to talk about here is how cathartic cleaning has been for me this week.  It’s like the dust has been clogging me up.  I read recently that “clutter” comes from the Latin for “to clot.”  Yes, I’ve clotted my life with stuff– and it blocks me from thinking!  And creating.

I’d love to live more simply.  I’ve come to realize I probably never will.  My mother is a streamlined person who “packs light.”  Her only vice when it comes to stuff is her book collection as she is an avid reader (and a good writer too– she’s planning on joining wordpress soon.  When she does, I’ll post a link!).

I, on the other hand, take after my grandmothers.  I love shoes.  I have many hobbies– most of which require some kind of paraphernalia like crochet hooks, or instruments, or colored pencils.  I’ve tutored.  So I see no reason to get rid of books that are too young for me.  I have flashcards.  I even scrapbook.  Thus seeing a need to keep some magazines or catalogs around.

Now, I’m not a mess.  I’m fairly organized, actually.  Maybe more than most (thanks to the influence of mom).  But in my accepting that I will probably not be able to live more simply by getting rid of things, I’d like to settle for living simpler in that my things will be controlled and confined instead of controlling and confining me.

There is something comforting about shaking the dust off of clothes in the warm sunshine.  Gauzy summer dresses, soft cottons, fuzzy fleece sweaters.  Texture.  Color.  Pattern.  It’s inspiring.

Finding my yarn.  Putting it in a place where I can use it more often as it’s been months again since I’ve crocheted.

Problem-solving and brainstorming new uses of space and storage containers.  Baskets, bins, boxes.  Furniture that does double-duty:  storage ottomans, shelves that are also decorative.

I’d challenge you to pick one thing this summer: your bedroom, your car, your email inbox– whatever.  Envision a new way to use the space.  Clear out the cobwebs and feel the extra space you gain– inside your head!  And feel free to tell me about it.  Cleaning can suck, but the results can be exciting (My trick is to put on a good cd or movie to sing along to or watch while I’m cleaning.  It makes it go so much quicker and even, dare I say, enjoyable?).

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