Creativity and Crafts

Vacuums

From the desk of: Erin

It turns out that my brain must need a specific quantity of goop to mull over. Now that my super huge work project is done and I have have outsourced a percentage of my childcare, I have a continuous stream of thoughts about experiments and projects that immediately filled the void and took residence in my brain.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to writing about or exploring the rest of the year:

1. Essential oils- beneficial or bogus?
2. 30-day “ab challenge” – Will I keep up with it? Will I see results? Are 30-day challenges really a good idea?
3. How possible would it be to truly cut out processed foods? Explorations in cheese, bread, and pasta making…
4. I started working on my 7 “art” projects requested by others. This is also turning out to be a way of reading/ re-reading classic books.
5. Poetry – reading various genres/ authors, responding, contemplating…
6. Anything else that excites me along the way.

What new or old projects are you excited about? If you ever feel like sharing, join us in writing or just comment below!

MAY: Meditate!

Well, I declare! It’s already MAY! This year, like so many of its predecessors, is passing by much more quickly than it seems it should be. I’m managing to keep up … barely. I hope you’re faring well in the maelstrom, too.

So, April’s resolution was to do something creative every week. I was to make artist dates with myself ala The Artist’s Way, and have some kind of finished project to show for my efforts at the end of this (and every subsequent) month. How’d I do? Well … I did okay.

I am sad to report that I did not do so well at making my artist dates. I am happy to report, however, that I did do some creating this month, and I do have a finished product to show for my efforts. Unfortunately, I am unable to show that project here in this blog entry. I made a present for my mom, and I don’t want her to see it before she opens it on Mothers’ Day. I feel pleased with the end product, though, and I hope she will, too.

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Aside from my mum’s present, I have also been creating a new website for my [professional] self. I’m almost done with the preliminary version. I am only awaiting photos to make it live. That will, hopefully, be May’s project: my photo shoot. I’m in the process of setting it up with my friend who happens to be a brilliant photographer. (I actually have several friends who are brilliant photographers. How lucky am I?) So, I will be getting creative putting together a number of general poses, scenarios, ‘looks’ and such and then my friend will work her magic and … voila! … I will have photos for my new site. Hooray!

 

May’s resolution is to cultivate a meditation practice. I was already working with this one earlier in the year, but my motivation petered out as the year got busier. This really is the perfect goal for me to be working with right now. And, of course, since it’s something I am in desperate need of in my life, I am already feeling absolutely resistant to it. Argh! Why do we so often resist the things that are most beneficial for us? (I know I’m not the only one who does that!) I’m going to give it my best effort and hopefully I will be able to make some good progress. It’s all about getting on the mat (or the zafu, or the floor, …), the rest is easy. I can do this!

If any of you want to join me for a month of meditation, you are most welcome! You can make a public declaration in the comments section below, or make a private commitment to yourself. Either way, I’ll be sending you support, and hope you’ll do the same for me.

 

How are your resolutions progressing? How are they changing? How are YOU changing because of them? I’d love to hear your stories! Share your progress below, if you’re so inclined.

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(Some bonus photos for you.)

 

I’m sending you all love and light and solidarity!

Namaste,

melanie

APRIL: Cultivate Creativity!

April is here, and with it a new resolution to add to the mix. This month’s resolution is all about cultivating creativity. Seems appropriate, too, as Spring – the season of creativity and rebirth – is getting into full swing. But before we explore this month’s theme, let’s take a moment to recap the previous resolutions’ progress.

 

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January was about getting organized. Much progress was made as I was moving into my new loft apartment during that month. (Read this post for more details.) And I’m still making progress in the organization arena. In fact, I finally got the rest of my office/craft room furniture last weekend. I’m currently working with getting that space organized and made efficient in preparation for this month’s resolution. These monthly resolutions are like gifts that keep giving. And each one benefits the others. It’s a beautiful synergy that’s happening here. Yeah!

 

February was about experimenting with healing my body through diet/nutrition. This has proven to be an amazing and ongoing adventure that is changing my life and my health in ways I never imagined. I worked a fairly restrictive elimination diet for two months. You can read about that experience here, here, here and here. This month I’m making even more changes to my diet with a new experiment in nutrition. You can read about it soon on my personal blog: Experiments In Bliss.

 

March’s resolution was to get my body moving. I had already been working with regular physical exercise, and am continuing to do so on an almost daily schedule. I’m doing strength/toning work an average of five days a week. I don’t have a car, so I walk almost daily, and my pace is a fairly brisk one. I’m trying to keep up some cardio work, too, though since my rebounder died a couple weeks ago, my cardio routine has been on a brief hiatus. (I did just get a temporary rebounder this weekend that I am hoping will last me until I can afford the very fancy (read: expensive) one that I am coveting.) I am cultivating my home yoga practice as well, and teaching two classes a week to boot. So, I feel like I’m working this resolution pretty well. I do hope to build on it even more as the weather warms up and I can get outside in the sunshine more. You’re absolutely invited to join me!

 

During this month I have become increasingly aware of how one can learn a lot about a person by the way they approach their fitness program. I have noticed that despite the increased physical difficulty of my Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis workouts, I continue to work diligently on the mat to perfect my form. In the past I would often speed up my movements using momentum to get the thing finished and to be able to say I did my workout. Of course, that negated at least some of the benefits of working out in the first place. I have noticed that I no longer do that. When I work out now, I actually try to slow myself down and work my body with the very best form possible for each movement in the series. I don’t beat myself up if I need to take breaks, but before I break I ask my body for five more repetitions. Sometimes that is all I need to continue through the discomfort. If not, then I take a break without guilt or shame knowing that I am doing the very best I can do. As a result my body is becoming steadily stronger with more endurance. This is being reflected in other areas of my life, as well. When I feel challenged by my work or by life, in general, I feel more capable of gracefully and agilely mastering those challenges. And that is a great feeling. Thank you, exercise!

 

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So that brings us up to date. April, as I mentioned, is about cultivating creativity. And I have been celebrating the ultimate creative endeavour all weekend: my birthday! This was a nice, big, round birthday. A birthday that carried me through the gates of a new decade of living. I am 40 now. That’s right … 4-0. As a child I had very definite ideas of what forty was, and the gist was that it was old. But, I’d like to send a message to my younger self:

 

Forty is not old. Forty is freakin’ awesome! I feel better than I ever have. I am comfortable in my skin and in control of my life … well, as much as I care to be. I have long been aware of the fact that I am a late bloomer, and I am embracing that fact wholeheartedly this birthday. I’m only just getting started. My mojo is just starting to rev. And I’m not going to let a number slow me down. Got it? Good.

 

Ahem .. so we were talking about creativity. This month’s resolution is to do something creative every week. Make actual artist dates a la The Artist’s Way. Have some kind of finished project to show for my efforts at least once a month. This couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’ve been feeling very removed from my creative spark, but also very nostalgic for it. This is one of those times of year when I start feeling the rush of the Busyness of Everyday beginning to snowball into an avalanche of Too Much To Do that bears down on me in a most uncomfortable way. So, it will be a good challenge to make some time for a little creative play amid all the work of living. I’ll be posting my finished projects either here or on Experiments In Bliss, so stay tuned for updates. However, if any of you have any suggestions for creative experiments, I’m absolutely open to hearing them.

 

How do you express your creativity? How do you carve creative playtime out of your busy schedules? How are you doing with your own resolutions? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line in the comments below to share your experiences.

 

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I hope you’re all having a beautiful Spring full of showers and flowers.

 

xoxo,

melanie

Damn! That’s Seven.

by Erin

  • Explore
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (4 of 12)

Capture

 

 

Okay, so I haven’t really been consistently writing my six word stories since I proposed the project last month. It is always in the back of my mind, but it is harder than I thought. Six words is nothing. Nothing. I have come up with some great haikus while contemplating my six word stories. Of course, I’m never anywhere where I can write those down. That would help me fulfill my poetry resolution that is still pending. Ah, well.

Anyway, here is the last month of six word stories.

          She no longer rejects opened doors.

          She doesn’t mind being the pacifier.

          His laugh was hesitant but genuine.

          Three-year-old games are point-less.

          Work meeting: more ughs than ahas.

Perhaps if I had others joining me, I would be more inspired to write more frequently.  Just saying.

Efforts and Intentions

by Erin

After a little over six weeks, I’m semi-back in the land of the living. (It’s a boy, by the way.) I have not abandoned my resolutions entirely, nor have I really taken a break. Some of my resolutions are in progress and may not really have an end. So here is what I am working on and I will update once there has been further progress…

In the “creative” category:

  • I have learned and practiced purling. Combined with my old skill of knitting, I am about four inches high into a bright red knit hat.
  • I have been reading about and rekindling my interest in poetry. Once I feel due diligence has been put in to the “how-to” I will begin writing with intention. I’m interested to see if the process feels different with instruction versus just writing from the gut.

In the “reconnect” category:

  • I have been going out of my way to find little ways to spend extra time with Kid 1 now that baby brother is in the world. I’ll report back with some of our excursions/activities.
  • Oh, yeah and husband and wife time has been a little neglected lately, too. We’re having “date night” in (almost) every Friday. That means media-free and household chores-free. That may still mean time with baby, but at least it gets us face time together.

 

 

Guided Creation

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 3 of 12)

Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do. -Edgar Degas

wine and canvas

Note: the painting is upside down so that I could paint the bottom of the canvas. Daffodils do not grow naturally in such a direction.

My next venture into “selfish creativity” was more selfish than creative. I took a weekday night off from putting Kid down for bed and went to Wine and Canvas for some guided painting.

I used to draw a lot in high school and have dabbled in chalk, pastels, and watercolor. Actual painting kind of intimidated me. Color mixing and brushstrokes seemed foreign to me. That’s not to say that there wasn’t an interest. This year’s resolution seemed like a good excuse to try out this painting thing and Wine and Canvas was a cheap introduction – just an artist walking you through the process of recreating a painting.

I have to say, whether it was the artist’s instruction or the nature of the piece, once I got into the painting, it wasn’t that intimidating. Granted, I know this was not at all the same as art school but for someone looking to simply create and maybe decorate a wall, it would do. It gave me a sense of how overpowering certain colors can be when you mix them into others. It gave me some ideas of how to use brushes in different ways. It built some confidence.

As for creativity…despite many of us following the artist’s directions it is amazing how different each piece turned out. In most cases, I assume that was all happy accident rather than deliberate decision making. I attempted to deviate from the artist a bit: I made my background more green to match my house; I experimented with a really dry brush to make splotchy patches in my background; I used the wood end of a paintbrush to carve in some more background texture.  But as for the flower itself, it is exactly my interpretation of step-by-step instruction.

So am I a painter? No way. Do I feel like I could buy a canvas and paint something aesthetically pleasing? Maybe with more practice and a sense of experimentation without judgement. Perhaps later in the year I will try something on my own.

Have you ever done one of these “paint with a  group” sessions? What did you think? How did it go?

318: The Final Days

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

Reflections on this set of 3:18 activities…

1. There is quite a variety of activity going on in my life and my afternoons show it. There is a balance of time for myself, time with family, and time for work. Balance is good.

2. The end of the month was much more about preparing for baby’s arrival the earlier in the month. I have entered the “nesting and resting” phase.

3. More photos in this set featured less what I was actually seeing when the clock struck 3:18 and were more representations of what I was doing at the time.

March 21.

Curtain: because sometimes it takes you all day to make it into the shower

021

March 22.

Catch-up: e-mail marathon

022

March 23.

Happy Birthday!: How about some homemade “Twinkies”?

023

March 24.

Bleeding: my brackets are sore

024

March 25.

Too pretty to work: snow, puzzle, and mint tea

025(2)

March 26.

Meal planning: time for groceries again

026

March 27.

To do list: paint bathroom

015 (2)

March 28.

Above the drum circle: client meeting

027

March 29.

Visualization: practicing for a calm birth

028 (3)

March 30.

Travel North: family celebration

013

March 31.

Recharge: rest the body

026 (2)

In case you missed it, here are the previous ten days.

318: The Second Ten Days

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

In case you missed it, here are the first 10 days.

What have I learned during this second third of the project?

1. Late afternoon seems to be becoming my official nap time. I might be on just as much of a nap schedule as my three-year-old. Maybe this is a sign that the baby growing within will easily fall into sleeping on a schedule. One can only hope.

2. …yet I still seem to be balancing my nap time with work. It is so easy to get distracted when one works from home. I’m not the world’s most disciplined self-employee, but I have photographic evidence that I do actually accomplish things.

3. I had fun with some photo filters and touch-ups this time around. Might as well spice it up. Some of my photo subjects have been a bit ordinary.

March 11.

Work Break: descending the basement stairs to switch laundry

020

March 12.

Work Meeting: I need to get gas

012

March 13. (no photo today)

Down for the Count: sleeping off some food poisoning

March 14.

Surprise: actually at my desk

014

March 15.

The Greatest Love: he half-sleepily called my name and that was my cue to go cuddle

015

March 16.

Get Out of Town: a pleasantly warm day on the porch with friends

016

March 17.

Hand Buzzer: Photo-reminder alarm goes off just as I am about to make a call

017

March 18.

3:18 on 3/18: another mundane activity

018

March 19.

Delicious: Some naps can be so

019

March 20.

Research: just kidding I was napping again, but this is what I did as soon as I woke up

001

318: The First Ten Days

   by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

What is this that you are about to see? I explain the project here.

01

March 1.

Afternoon snack: homemade banana chips

02

March 2.

Napping house: pleasure reading

03

March 3.

Indiana landscape: 124 miles from home

04

March 4.

Dinner preparation: quinoa burgers

004 (2)

March 5.

Onsite work: understanding audience at the art museum

06

March 6.

Pregnancy: more procedures, more blood draws

07

March 6.

Megatron: unexpected playtime with the kiddo

08

March 8.

Yard inspection: signs that Winter and Spring have met

March 9.

(I was in a movie theater. I contemplated taking a picture, but though better of it.)

 10

March 10.

Weekend chores: vacuuming

Lessons learned so far:

1. I do, actually, take some time for myself every once in a while. Why doesn’t it feel that way?

2. Although my calendar was a good hint, March is shaping up to be a busy month: appointments, meetings, trips, and visits with friends and family.

3. I don’t snack around this time of day nearly as much as thought I would.

The Next Creative Endeavor: 318

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

Do you have a lucky number? Or  a number that follows you around? Lucky or not, you probably notice it because it has some significance in your life. 318 is that number for me.

I was born at 3:18 a.m. Our first house address, the one where I spent the majority of my childhood, was 318. I seem to find that time on the clock often (although maybe it is because I am just in tune to it now. Who knows? I may more frequently look at the clock at some other time…like 5:56, I just don’t know it.) It also seems odd that my longest relationships happen to be with guys born right around that time: 3/17, 3/19, and 3/21. The latter is my husband … perhaps ripened three days and eighteen minutes longer to suit our longevity needs? (Yeah, I know that was a stretch.) There have been times when the number came up in other ways in my life, but I can’t seem to remember them all right now. That’s not the point anyway.

318

The point is, I am looking for another “selfishly” creative project. While I have a few ideas in the works for the rest of the year, some of them require a little more time or the right time of year to execute. I’ve been looking to be inspired by something recently so that I didn’t get too far off track from a once-a-month creative endeavor. Then I woke up from a nap at 3:18 this afternoon (seriously), and thought, “I wonder what I do every day at 3:18.” So, with March just around the corner it seems fitting that in the month that contains 3/18, why not another photo project?  What am I doing/looking at/thinking about at 3:18 every day for a month?

Do you want to join me in sharing some daily/weekly/theme-ly photos in March? Let me know and we can set something up.

(Dearest Beck or other experimonthers, I fully realize that this seems suspiciously familiar <see also: Eyes of March>.  It is either a product of thought + timing or the sincerest form of flattery. While you decide, if you want to recreate a four-year-old Experimonth, here’s your chance.)