Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 17,033 Gratitude: On Creative Inspiration

Today I am so grateful ...

To show up for all that I need to do and hold right now, yet always remember that my creativity is always there for me.  Ceaselessly flowing like a river that I can jump into and out of at will.  Immediately accessible.  Right at my fingertips.  I keep art supplies and books on my desk, which may seem like a tease and temptation, but they serve as inspiration when I am racing against a deadline or flailing amid the mundane.  The promise of fun to come.

For inspiring projects, like Maya Stein's Type Rider.  Although she is passing through Ohio right now, sadly, she is too far north for me to reach her.  My Grandma Krafft had a manual typewriter upon which my sister and I would peck when we spent weekends with her in our childhood.  In high school, we learned how to type on manual typewriters so that we could perfect our keystrokes.  I remember wistful glances out the window as pterodactyls flew by.  (Snort.)  In my previous and painfully lengthy incarnation as a secretary, I was married to an electric typewriter in order to complete the infinite carbon forms my duties demanded.  So what I'm trying to say is that rocking a typewriter is one of my superpowers and it would've been so awesome to rock this one, but, alas, tis not in the cards.  Like the books and supplies at the corner of my desk, inspiration all the same.

For Kickstarter, which truly rocks in supporting creativity, outreach, and helping us to help each other make big dreams come true.  I am backing Cincinnati-based songstress, Kim Taylor, in the making of her new record.  You can too.  Hope you do.  (Despite my best attempts at posting the sweet video on her Kickstarter page, Blogger would not cooperate.  Go watch.  And listen.  The song is soul balm.)

What is inspiring you creatively these days? Do share!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 17,032 Gratitude: A Tree, Tina and Toads

Today I am so grateful ...

For this blessed Sycamore tree. 

People don't normally think of Cincinnati as a magical place.  Overall, it may not seem like such, but as with anywhere and everywhere in this world, there are pocket places of timelessness and portals to other dimensions that choose whether to be seen or remain hidden.  This tree has been waving at me from a distance for the last 10 years as I've passed it on the way to my beloved labyrinth.  It stands regally with magnificent arms outstretched beside an elementary school playground.  When the trees that circle it are fully robed, it is well protected and practically invisible from the road.  In the winter months when it is more exposed, it catches my eye and begs for my attention.  In all of these years of curiousity about it, I've been too shy to stop, draw near and stand before it.  Until last week's eclipse.  After walking the labyrinth.  It was time.  With breath held and goosebumped arms, I could not believe my eyes.  After this encounter, I found my way home and did a bit of research.  Thankfully, this tree is officially registered and, thus, protected.  It's at least 400 years old.  Maybe as many as 200 more.  It makes sense that you can feel that it's full of stories.  A treasured wonder to behold. 

For the woman under it.

Have you ever met someone and thought, "Well, there you are!"  Of course an immediate friendship is forged, because on some level, somehow, you know that you already know them.  You're simply picking up quite easily and comfortably wherever in time you left off.  These are the kind of friends that I've been making over the last couple of years.  I've been pinching myself at such good fortune because these women are so incredibly wise, talented and generous.  No front yard talk here.  No resting on laurels either.  They support, encourage and inspire me to show up creatively, yes, but also (and more importantly) to show up with authenticity and without apology.  Tina and I met for coffee late yesterday afternoon.  I told her about my eclipse-ical introduction to this tree and a blink later we were in the car on the way to take her to it.  She is cooking up a public art installment that may involve a Sycamore tree, so it was serendipitous that I mentioned this one while we were together.  Then again, synchronicity is the name of the game with a friend like her.  The photo for this post is Tina under the tree, snapping photos with full knowing that they would only provide her with a whiff of this tree's immensity and significance.  She, like the tree, is a treasured wonder to behold.

For the toad medicine that came to us.

When we circled the immense base of the tree, I spotted a wee toad.  It was half asleep and half covered by a fallen leaf, seemingly dried into the earth.  When we bid the tree adieu, I drove Tina over to the labyrinth as she hadn't seen it before.  Lo and behold was another little toad to greet us.  Inner strength and luck.  I appreciate this message and medicine at this exciting and transformative time.  I welcome the reminder(s) that magic and support are all and always around me.

What magic has found and even rescued you recently?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 17,031 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for these exciting times ...

Tonight brought the first of three classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati which lead up to my dear friend Amy Bogard's Sketchbook Journaling Workshop in Taos, New Mexico.  Last year, I was a student participant, but this year I have the good fortune of attending and serving as Amy's official helper.  We have a fun and talented group of women preparing to embark on this journey.  About half went on the trip last year and are eager to get back.  The newer half are about to get their socks knocked off by what lies ahead.  Keeping an illuminated journal on a day-to-day basis captures life in a way that a camera and handwritten diary cannot.  Keeping one while traveling has a way of truly tapping one into miracles and magic that must experienced to be understood. 

This is my daughter's last week of high school.  The significance of these days is not lost on me.  Having only one child, parenting has always been a one-way street.  The line between firsts and lasts has always been blurred.  Her dad and I have taken nothing for granted along the way.  She graduates with honors on Sunday.  Three months from today, we will move her into her college dorm.  This chapter of parenting is deeply bittersweet but all is as it should be.  To everything, turn, turn, turn.

Again, exciting times.  There is so much to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead ... and yet I find myself perfectly content in each moment with so much to bask in and savor along the way.  My heart and calendar are full.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Color It Out

It's been a little over a year since I posted the last mandala to download for coloring.  That's entirely too long, if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, I can't commit to posting a new one weekly as I did in the Mandala Monday days, but I would love to create and post them for you to download when I can ... with love from me to you.  Because crayons, colored pencils, paints and pens, they heal.  Especially when applied to a mandala.  A few moments of rest.  A break in the day.  Color it out, friends.  Color it out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 17,024: Thank Goodness

It's been a day spent trying to register my daughter for college orientation
And gathering documents to pare down a 30-year mortgage to 15
Add a lunch hour appointment with a mighty thorough dental hygienist
And in between the usual work to which I must attend each day
The bright spot toward the end of it, my reward, was this place
A grande soy latte and a couple of sweet, peaceful hours spent
At a weathered table under the outstretched arms of the softest fir tree
With a wise friend who makes me laugh, relax and wonder
Thank goodness for priorities and connections such as these
To help me keep my perspective and my train on its tracks

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 17,017: An Old Blogger's Tale

I've been blogging on and off for about a dozen years.  Lately I've found myself sorely missing the early days.  In retrospect, things were pretty simple then.  There was an innocence to the process.  Those were the Blogroll years with links in the sidebar to favorite sites.  Posts were about day-to-day life ... what was being read, cooked, discovered, and mostly thought, be it meaningful or mundane.  Long before Facebook and other social networking sites, blogging was a new platform for connection.  Comments felt a lot like corresponding with a pen pal and far-flung friendships were forged. 

Back in 2001 and for many years thereafter, there were no e-courses, sponsorships, affiliate programs or advertisements.  Blogging wasn't a business nor intended to support one.  There was no marketing, per se, at least not in the straightforward approach taken today.  There was no concern about search engine optimization and such.  No one was getting discovered for publishing or licensing deals.  Please don't hold my old school-ness against me if I confess that it feels like something precious got lost when the bar got raised.  Blogging hasn't been the same to and for me since.

My original blog, Jul of the Day, is long gone.  I've had this one for several years, but continue to seek the right fit for me in this new-ish (to me) and flux-tastic (again, to me) age of blogging.  I've been trying to conjure the essence of those early days.  Trust me, I know that there's no going back.  Now I have the matter of my own wares to share.  But here's the thing ... I want to do so in a way that doesn't make you feel like I'm reaching for your wallet whenever you stop by.  Yeah.  It's circle-turning, head-scratching tricky because I can't know the sensitivity of your ick meter.  But I do know the sensitivity of my own and, no judgment intended, of course, but most of the approaches that work effectively for others don't feel like a good fit for me.  And so I sit and ponder.  And I give thanks for the handful of treasured blogs that appear to have cracked the code to the ideal balance between personal and professional, warmly sharing the heart and soul of the offerer as well as the offerings.  But it is admittedly a work in progress around here.  Just like me.  Always will be.

Would love your thoughts, if you'd care to share ... 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 17,015: A New View

When I turned 40 several years ago, I gave myself the gift of a full week at feng shui school deep in the gentle woods of Brown County, Indiana.  I learned so much from that experience and have never viewed space or place the same way again.  I have been working from home for eleven years.  Although I have a dedicated office, you will rarely find me working in there.  I need to roam.  Hence, I've learned to keep everything I need inside a laptop bag, so that I can stay mobile.  All that's left to find is a place to land.  For a long time, our dining table room served as such.  Nice view outside.  Room to spread out.  It worked out great ... until it didn't.  I have been longingly eyeing this corner of our living room ever since I added my friend Tina's amazing artwork around my collection of suns.  I have a perfect view of our beer garden which will soon have its fountain flowing and flowers planted.  My journal is handy as are some books and art supplies.  And, yes, I use the ball as a chair.  Try it.  I may work here for a week, a month, a year, who knows.  Everything is in a luscious state of flux.  I wisely go where I am beckoned.