Writing To Quiet The Voice

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While readying myself to pen this post, I couldn’t get Bernice’s voice out of my head.  Bernice is my critic, my fear, my alter-ego and she likes to taunt me whenever I try to share some writing with the world.

Today, I actually heard these words come out of her nagging mouth, “You can’t call yourself a writer.  You have not blogged for months, your book proposals have been rejected, your e-book ideas sit in your notebooks and seriously, you are just plain too afraid of me showing up in your writing.  Give it up, Girly.”

I hadn’t heard these words in a while.  A long while.  When I do put my writing out there for the world on a regular basis, Bernice quiets down.  If I have a severe lapse, she shows up, louder and louder.  Funny that.  I’ve given her space to balk.

So, to show her she’s wrong, I came to one of my blogs today (my other is theliteratemind – just as neglected) to actually get back on track to feel more writerly today. I’ve been here so many times, I could write a book on that.  I’d call it Fear of the Keyboard.  I also need to remind myself that I AM A WRITER because I do put my pen to paper every single day.  Like breathing or brushing my teeth. My purpose for writing, however, on a daily basis is not to always share with the world, it’s to find my way in the world.

So, to inspire myself, I vowed to join along the writing journey of 800+ teachers in Kate Messenger’s Teachers Write Summer Camp.  Today’s lesson was on character sketches by Melonie Crowder, author of several books, Parched, Audacity and A Nearer Moon. I’m anxious to read these books after hearing Melonie’s voice in her writing lesson.

I enjoy creating character sketches.  My favorite ones are of my husband and children because I know them so well and they are interesting to observe and write about when they don’t know you are writing about them.  But, I’ve written a few character sketches sitting in airports and on airplanes that bring me back to that moment in a second when I reread them.  I decided to rummage through the notebooks. Here is one I found from a trip to Ohio a few years past.

When I travel alone, the one thing I’ve started to become apprehensive about is the unknowingness of who has purchased the airplane seat next to me. Before boarding the plane, I scan the waiting room for loners wondering which human it might be.  Once on the plane, I sit with my eyes attentive to the entry, eyeing passengers as they look for their seats.  I wait.  On this particular flight, I sat in my window seat for quite some time, beginning to think I was going to be lucky enough to have both seats to myself.  Just imagining it was bliss.

And then he appeared.

A large man, late 30ish, maybe 40’s, wearing a tattered and tight Harley jacket, carrying an Arby’s bag, began his stagger up the aisle.  “Please.  No,” I heard my insides quiver.  I scolded myself, “Shari, that’s terrible.  Be nice.  He might be a very kind man who could be here to teach you something.”  Ok.  Breathe. Look out the window.

The closer he got to my row, the more anxiety I had.  Sure enough, after looking at the seat row signs, he scrunched himself into the seat right next to me. I hugged the window a little tighter.

“Hi,” I greeted him.

“Hey,” he replied.

After settling in, he fumbled with his Arby’s bag and jumbo pop trying to adjust his seat bucket to accommodate him.  Waves of smells came along with him – tractor grease, a faint smell of farts, (can’t think of a better word here – sorry). I began to wonder if maybe gas of this sort just leaks out of some people all day when you eat the kind of stuff that’s in that Arby’s bag.

Then, he opened the bag.  Good Gloria Lord in Heaven.

This was not your average hamburger and fries kind of stench.  I was gyro-like with strange sauces.  That combined with the tractor grease and farts was enough to make my eyes water.  I turned my head to window wishing I could open it for a whiff of fresh air or of hopes of a lady behind me with strong flowery perfume I could inhale.  Sadly, behind me was another fairly large man with a bad breath issue.  Yes, I could smell it.

I wished for a sedative.

Shut your eyes.  Breathe, Shar, meditate.  Imagine yourself laying in a field of wild flowers or fresh cut hay.  Deep breaths, one – two in, one – two out. Relax.

The Arby’s bag began to rattle.  He’s going in.  My meditation cracks.  I decide not to open my eyes.

Breathe.The stench increases three fold.  Oh my heavens – WHAT is that??????  I’m suffocating.  I should go to the biffy.  No.  He will have to move, too.

Stick it out. Breathe.  Sleep.  Breathe.I drift off. . .

I stopped writing after that.  Too traumatic.  But, I think this guy would be a wonderful character in a story about how we learn something from each person we meet. I could have had a conversation happen in real life.  But, I slept.  Wasted an opportunity.  At least there is still an chance to make it happen in my story.

Thank you, Melonie, for having me revisit this character and memory.

But, more than that. . . for helping me safely put my writing out there today.

Shari 🙂

 

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Reflection: Why Should I Blog?

Blogging Messy House

The other day, it took me 3 hours to write/revise/edit/publish a blog post on my Literate Mind blog.  It was only a book review, for Pete’s Sake.   I DID have some internet issues and my typical distraction problems.  Seriously, though.  I’m spending way too much time trying to create some words and put them out there for the world.  I have dishes to wash. Laundry.  Rooms to declutter.

So, I got out my notebook and did some serious reflecting.  I asked myself the question that I have began to ask myself with every blog post.

“Why am I doing this?  Why should I blog? What are the benefits of this?  Am I nuts?”

Boy, did my pen have something to say.  Words began to flood onto the page.

Here are 5 reasons (of the many) of why I blog:

1.  I am a teacher.

Not only do I teach kids how to write, but I work with teachers in guiding them to be teachers of writing.  The first must of a writing teacher is that the writing teacher must be a writer.  A pilot instructor would have to know how to fly planes, right?

I’ve always scribbled words in notebooks, diaries, and journals.  I’ve written in front of kids to model writing workshop lessons.  I wrote.  But, still, I did not call myself a writer.  Only real authors could declare themselves a writer and wear that title. Here I was, a teacher for 20+ years and a literacy coach and still, I could not call myself a writer.  Was I worried this was vain?  Did I fear others would think I was lying?  They would surely ask me what I had written if I said I was a writer. And then, judge it, of course.  Ugh.  All of this was just too risky.

What a hypocrite, I was.

Then, in 2012, I signed up for a free e-course by Jeff Goins, called  YOU ARE A WRITER.  Jeff taught me how to say these words:

 

“You are a writer.”

 

“Say them out loud,” he said.

“Write them down.”

” Tell someone.”

So I did.

And, so I was.

The blog was born as a result of claiming I was a writer.  Jeff said that if you are a writer, you have to start acting like one. This meant sharing your writing and building a community.

I guess I had to follow through if I was going to say I was a writer.

 

2.  More valuable that any writing program, I have curriculum to draw from within my own experiences.

I’m in the trenches with the kids and other teachers of writing when I blog.

Mem Fox, in her book, Radical Reflections, writes:

“Teachers of writing who have been soldiers themselves, engaged in a writing battle, are able to empathize more closely with the comrades in their classrooms than teachers who are merely war correspondents at the hotel bar, as it were, watching the battle from a safe distance, declining to get in there themselves and write.”

I didn’t want to be a teacher who sat at the bar, too afraid to practice what I was preaching.

I now know what kids and teachers go through when they try to write.  The fear.  The frustration.  The battle.  This battle can not come when we keep our writing hidden from others, in a notebook.  Notebook writing is easy, as this is first draft writing or jotting down ideas.  It becomes real when we know we are writing for someone other than ourselves.  Then, we have roll up our sleeves, get dirty and then,  clean it up.

I can teach how I find ideas to write by sharing what I do:   noticing what’s happening around me, the words others’ say, topics I deeply care about.  I can teach how to write that perfect lead, because I wrestle with it and have a few tools for this along with some favorite leads from mentor texts.   I can draw from my toolbox, a lesson that teaches others how to edit for themselves and I can model my methods for this, because I’ve done it myself.

I stand on the shoulders of writing teachers; Donald Murray, Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins and Katie Wood Ray.  They are my guides. Basically, nothing I teach is my own idea – these methods came from someone before me.

I’ve used their methods, tried them out and have internalized them as my own methods now.  Will they work for every writer?  No.  I read, listen to other writers and to the kids of how they write and their methods get thrown in my toolbox, as well.

My own toolbox is more valuable that any writing curriculum.  No writing curriculum is perfect as it leaves out the most important factor:  the kids.  If it’s all you have to follow in the teaching of writing, you will be frustrated.   And, I can draw from my own toolbox at anytime, anywhere.  If one tool doesn’t work, I try another.  I’ve tried them all, so they are etched in who I am as a writer.

3.  I’m starting to live my life differently because of my blog.

I notice things with meaning and get it down.  I take time to reflect on, not only events, but on my response to them.  I nudge myself to reflect deeper, to get to the other side, to allow new learning to bubble up, something of significance and to make it clear for me to understand.  I do this for me, but more so, for my audience (even if it is only my mother – thanks, Mom).

A car trip, a walk in the woods, shopping at the grocery store, sitting at the lake, and visiting with people are all free fodder for writing. I find myself thinking not only, “I’ve got to write this down,” but also, “Oh my, I need to write this for ______.”

If I need to write clearly for an audience to understand my thinking, I’d better be pretty clear of it myself.

I could not have done this without a blog.

4.  Blogging has been an avenue in which to use the tool of writing to serve my higher purpose.

I don’t think that writing is a  purpose or a calling.  It’s just a tool to use.  If you are called to teach?  Write.  Called to heal?  Write.  Called to inspire?  Write.  Called to serve, help others, beautify the world, create, coach, energize, collaborate?  Then, write, write, write.  There is no better tool that can reach more people than writing.  But, only if you put it out there for the world.

5.  It just feels good.

There is a sense of accomplishment and surge of satisfaction I feel every time I hit publish.  I am jolted with a little shot of dopamine upon seeing those words,   “Your post has been published.”

And, then, I do a little happy dance.

Getting it down is the easy part.  Revision and editing is hard work.  Never, would I revise and edit in my notebooks.  Blogging makes you do this.

I’ve had to learn to choose timely topics and ones that matter.  I’ve had to figure out how to stick to a topic and focus.  I tend to stray in my notebooks, but I can’t do that on a blog.

I strive to find ways to improve in my craft by reading books about writing, joining some writing groups online and taking classes about writing.  I know what I struggle with in my writing and have learned to appreciate criticism.  Always, I can get better at this.

When we know more, we do better and we gain confidence.

And, this just feels good.

 

Okay ~ I guess the rewards are worth the battle.  Whew.

The only drawbacks are that my house is a mess.  But, it was a mess before I started blogging, so I guess I can’t use that as an excuse.

Maybe I should blog about that.

What are the reasons you blog?  Please, let me know.

 

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

 

Listening Lesson #1: Pay Attention

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Earlier this week, I was reading a thought provoking post by A.J. Juliani titled the Power of Writing Every Day, and some of his words stuck with me that I could not shake loose, so I had to write about them.

He wrote:

Instead of focusing my blog as only a place for reflection (which it sometimes is) I’ve tried to make my posts as useful and helpful for other teachers, writers, and learners as possible. Really, I try to teach with my blog as much as possible.

Thinking about my own blog posts, I began analyzing how many were reflection posts and how many were teaching.  There are probably too many reflection posts, as I use my writing for reflection, although, we also learn from these reflections, so sometimes, reflection and learning go hand in hand.

The voice of self-doubt then started to creep in and by the time I’d spent a more than adequate time thinking about it, I’d convinced myself that I spend too much time thinking about what to blog about and then actually choosing a topic for my blog to blog about and then wrestling with the content of the blog, revising, editing, etc. . . that by the time I’d finally spent a half a day with a post and hit publish, was the whole mess even worth it?  I mean, reflection or teaching ~ what’s it matter if no one reads the dang thing anyway?  Seriously, the only one who benefits is me, because maybe I learned from it.

I sat there. Defeated.

Suddenly, a pillow of smoke arose in front of my eyes at my desk.

My candle had decided to go out.

This was strange because there was plenty of wax in there to keep that candle going.  But, at that precise moment, it died.

As I looked at the candle, the “Message from My Angel” card sitting next to the candle hooked my attention.  It’s message:

You have an important life purpose involving communication and the arts.  Please don’t allow insecurities to hold you back.  I will help you.

Archangel Gabrielle ~ the angel of communication sits at my side.  She is a constant reminder to keep going.

And the candle? It’s message:

Don’t let your dream die out and go up in smoke.

It’s this kind of listening that guides me in the direction to go each day. This stillness of the mind that allows me to pay attention to the quiet whispers God is sending me is a constant conscious effort every moment of my life.  I often let my mind do all the thinking and get lost down the wrong path.  On days that I allow to unfold naturally, these messages appear constantly. They uplift my spirit and give me inspiration and courage.

Paying attention takes practice.  Most of us are rarely paying attention because we have so much on our minds and when we don’t, we reach for technology to occupy it.  These are distractions that keep us from the signs we are meant to notice.

Today, I challenge you to be still and pay attention.  You don’t need your phone with you in the bathroom.  Quit checking facebook. How many email messages do you expect to receive in an hour – do you really need to check every five minute?  Just unplug for awhile and breathe.  Your listening skills will improve and before you know it, you won’t be searching online for the answers to your questions, you’ll just be sitting still to hear them.

Shari 🙂

How Dreams Speak To Us

I had the most bizarre dream last night.

Actually, it was this morning, as I woke up at 5 a.m. and told myself to go back to sleep.  It’s those morning dreams that really shake you up.

Sporty (my hubby) and our dog, Sandy were in a duck hunting/retrieving contest.  Somehow, I became apart of this endeavor by being the one to remain on shore in order to canoe out into the water to fetch Sandy if she was in trouble and bring her to land.  Now, mind you, I don’t hunt or do these outdoorsman-ish things.  So, why I was a part of this whole scheme, I have no idea.  Just the fact that I agreed to it affirms that it was a dream.

Well, the blessed hunters and dogs took off in their duck boats.  Us “dog-savers” patiently awaited by the edge of the shore.  For some odd reason, we were all to stay lined up facing the water with one knee kneeling.  I don’t know. . . maybe so no one got a head start?  Fer dum.  My knee was getting wet.

As I eye-balled the twenty or so other participants to see what I was up against, I noticed that they were all men.  Young men.  Fit.  With muscles.  Well, there was one other woman way down the line yonder, but she was also army-fit.  And, she was decked out in the proper attire.  I’m sure she had the latest most updated Eddie Bauer or Filson hunting gear and it adorned her sculpted physique.  Me?  I had on jeans, my mud boots and this oversized jacket that I was being swallowed in.

What the hell was I doing here?

We sat there for what seems like hours.  All of us quiet and intent on being focused for this task.  My knee was getting sore.

Eventually, one lone dog came in sight of us all.  Binoculars thrust to our eyes.  As this dog paddled and gulped water attempting to drag a well fed duck (it WAS a big duck), it’s owner harnessed his canoe and oared out to greet and guide his faithful dog into the shore safely.  Once on shore and the duck dropped, he ordered the dog to hop back into the canoe and the “dog-saver” ferociously oared back out to the open water to join the dog back to the hunter.  Oars were moving at a vicious pace, strong and steady.  The muscles in his arms and shoulders tense enough to see through his jacket.  The dog rested in the boat awaiting his next fetching.

“WHAT????” I fareaked. “Sporty never told me that I was going to need to paddle BACK out into the water with the dog!!!  I can’t do that!!  I’ll be lucky if I can lift that damn oar, let alone paddle way out yonder!  Dang it!  Double Dang it!”

Again. .  . what the hell am I doing here?????  I don’t belong with these people.

More dogs appear.  All colors.  I  frantically scramble for my foggy binoculars and search for Sandy. I have to wipe off my binoculars as I can’t see through them, the piece of crap it is.  I notice what others are using and again, reassurance of my knowing I am outta my league.

As I scan from shore to shore, I notice a light-colored lab.  I gather my stuff and hop into my canoe, making sure no one is watching me for fear they will judge my ineptness and this business.  I try to look unnoticeable as I creep in between a few other canoers.

I reach Sandy and find her to be repeatedly diving down deep into the water as if she released the duck from her jaw and it sank to the bottom of the lake floor.  (Do ducks sink?  I don’t know. . . it’s a stupid dream.)  Regardless, she painstakingly dives down deep for this dead creature.  I’m thinking she is going to drown herself attempting to retrieve something her instinct tells her she must have.  Animals are like that.

No Fear.  Not.  A.  Bit.

Unlike Me.

I call to her and she ignores me.  As I yell louder for her to obey, she finally paddles over to me and I grab her and yank her into the canoe.  She falls limp to the canoe floor and pants relentlessly.  I have never seen her so exhausted.  Like her heart might jump out of her skin.  I’m kinda scared.

I oar to shore and pull her out of the canoe, easing her up high on the shore.  I wipe her off and wrap her with a towel and we just rest.  She needs rest.  This poor dog.  I’ll be darned if I’m taking her back out there to that, that, whatever they do out there.  There, there, poor Sandy.

Then, I see the collar.  It’s a thin yellow collar.

This is not Sandy.

Sandy has a wide camo collar.

Oh my God.  Where is Sandy?  Where is she then?????  Almost all of the other dogs have arrived by now.  Dog-savers have rushed them back out to the waters and here I sit with some strange dog.  I think I am sick.

Had I been so side tracked paying all my attention to THIS dog that I missed my own when she came near?  Did I miss her struggling and diving underwater and neglect the signs to get out there and save her?

Whose dog is this?  And, why isn’t anyone looking for her?

I fail.

Yes.  I fail.

Then, I woke up.

I shake my head and think, “Geez, what the heck was THAT all about?”

As I’m drinking my coffee, I share my dream with Gracie, my 19-year-old daughter.  “What is the significance of this dream, do you think?”  I ask her.

“It’s telling you that you really love Sandy!”  she beams.  She goes to let Sandy in, her tail wagging and she licks Gracie’s face giving her dog kisses.

“Don’t we Sandy!” she says, “we just LOVE you, hunny bun!” in her cutie pie voice.

But, that’s not it.  I know I love Sandy.  I don’t need a dream to tell me that.

I have a dream journal of which I attempt to record my dreams.  It’s necessary for me to look for the patterns in my subconscious mind in order to unlock these blocks and to hear the messages from God that he wants me to know.

I’ve learned to look for the symbolic meanings in dreams and think about where I am in my own personal growth process.  I first always look for the main emotion and actions I take in dreams.

In this dream, I feel one dominant emotion throughout the entire dream.

Fear.

Fear that the others in this contest all deserve to be there.  They are better than me.  They’ve had training and practice.  They all probably have even won contests and have award-winning dogs.  I’m not up to their standard.  By far.

Fear that I have lost Sandy forever and let her die.  Because of my negligence and attention to other things I did not focus on what identified her as Sandy.  I did not pay attention.  This dog of whom my family adores is gone.  I must face this now.

Fear of my husband.  How will I tell him?  Again, I attempted something and could not do it.  Could not complete the task.  Disappointment will cover his face.  His eyes will be disgusted and he won’t say a word.  But, there will be a veil of resentment that will tarnish his actions and words.  All of this will be piled up on the already smoldering mountain of resentments.  Add another log to the fire.

This dream signifies my fears.  Fear of writing.  Fear of creating.  Fear of reaching out to others who are like me in order to find connections and like-minded souls.  Fear that I don’t deserve to be there.  Fear of failing.  Fear of professing who I think I really am.  Fear of doing what I really want to do.

Fear is resistance.  Resistance is evil.

Steven Pressfield tells us this in his book The War of Art.  “Resistance prevents us from achieving the life God intended when he endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”  We are all a genius at something.  God made sure of this.  He blessed us with this.  It is our gift back to him to use this gift and to share it with the world.

The kicker is this pesky and sometimes debilitating fear.  This resistance.  I must recognize the resistance first as fear.  This is tricky because resistance can be disguised as many other things:  alcoholism, drug abuse, over eating, internet compulsiveness, ummm. . . too much Facebook, too much Pinterest, gossip, shopping and even excessive reading to find answers to your resistance and fears.

Yikes.  (I’m looking away here.  You can’t see me.)

I am Sandy in this dream.

My job is to keep this adored being, this creative and spirited soul alive.

If I neglect her and get sidetracked with those other resistance tricks, she may die.

I just can’t let that happen.

Shari 🙂

Being A Stuffer Doesn’t Help

I’m a stuffer.  Yup.  First Class.  Deep to my core.

Not a stuffer in that I stuff myself with food (well. . . I have done that on occasion, too) or stuff junk in my closet (my closet is a mess though).

I am a stuffer of my emotions.

I’m not sure how I came to be this way.  As the oldest sibling in my family, I think I felt a responsibility to always know what to do,  to model behavior and certainly not to get angry at my younger siblings if I was being responsible for taking care of them.

As I grew into my teenage years and adulthood, “being nice” was of the utmost importance to me.  Frustration, anger, sadness, or jealousy were emotions you did not display for I feared others would not like me.  And, I desperately needed people to like me.

Well, it continued into adulthood and I still battle “stuffing” as a wife, mother and teacher. Being known as a nag, squeaky wheel, difficult or flat out “drama mama” has never been very attractive to me, and again, people might not like me then.  And, I thought I was just having patience.

Stuffing can be disguised as patience.

So, I’m curious how this affects my inner organs.  We have outer toxins and these inner toxins. And, frankly, I’m a little bit more concerned about my ability to feel, show and release my toxic emotions than I am of the dirt on the cucumbers right now.

Through lots of reading and research I learned some interesting stuff.

I discovered that when we are angry, jealous or resentful, we are putting our liver under stress.  Yes, our liver.

The liver ensures that energy and blood flow smoothly throughout the body.  Liver is considered as the seat of anger; it stores not only your anger but the anger from others as well and the toxic energy stored will eventually affect the organ’s function. When this happens, one can have a liver imbalance and you may notice symptoms such as menstrual pain, headache, irritability, inappropriate anger, dizziness, dry, red eyes and other eye conditions, and tendonitis.

This summer,  I released a lot of built up stress, anxieties and resentments when I disappeared to the cabin, of which I will continue to write about.  Since arriving home, I have a revived sense of inner peace and love and I have been able to maintain that through meditation, creativity and spending time on myself.  Through this Reset, I know I am releasing even more, deeply embedded toxins that have maybe been there longer.

I anticipate feeling miraculously amazing when the Reset is complete.  However, fall is in the air and the leaves are already turning yellow, which means my profession will be calling my name.

Autumn signals school to start.

I fear the stuffing will begin to compile again.  I need a game plan.  I deeply care about my health and I also know that when I feel good physically, mentally and spiritually, I can more easily love those I am surrounded by.  And, that is what’s important to me.

I’m going to work on writing a disciplined plan for myself and eventually share it here.  First, I need to do a bit more research.  If it’s going to be long term, it also has to be realistic.  It’s easy to find a bunch of ideas online and make a long list here, but, that’s not going to help me if I don’t live it.

I will, however, share one method of releasing emotions that worked for me  yesterday.

Spend time with a pet.

I was frustrated yesterday over an event that happened and I spent five minutes with Sandy, our yellow lab, and her love, her attentiveness, her presence and her silliness helped me to shift into a completely different emotion.  My anger lifted and soon, I felt joy seep into my being.   A loving pet can do that.

What about you?  What do you do to lift and release your anger/resentments?

Please share. It helps us all when we share what works. 🙂

Shari 🙂

She Loves to Run. . . That Sandy

A weird thing happened today.  After reading Jeff Goins post on writing about topics that we fear to deeply touch readers enough to shatter their frozen seas, I spent most of my morning looking for the perfect frozen sea breaking topic.  I’ve got gazillions of topics of what I’d like to write about, but I’m bent on finding this perfect one.

I decided to take a  break and go throw some balls for Sandy to fetch.

Our lab, Sandy, is insanely  fast.  I’m not bragging either.  Seriously, why would I brag about something like this?  When you throw her a stick, or a ball or a frisbee, she actually leaves “dog divots”  when she takes off to fetch it.  Yup, divots of grass and dirt right up into your lap.

When Sandy treks over to the neighbors (when we aren’t around and she hears voices over there because she’s such a people dog), our neighbor, Linda, likes to throw things for her and their two labs to race to.  Linda confesses that she often has to fake Sandy out first and give the other dogs a head start to give them a chance.

Sandy still wins.

She is unbeatable in dog running.

“We should enter her in races!” my kids say.

She has this gift, this uncanny freakish speed talent. . . and nothing to do with it but chase balls and hunt in the fall.

Here’s the crazy thing.  I really don’t think she gives a rip if she’s fast or not.  She just loves to run.  She doesn’t care if she’s winning contests or competing with any other dog.  She is just so dang happy to be running.

And then. . . my message sang to me.

Like writing should be, Shari.

I was the frozen sea today.  Stuck in finding perfect writing instead of just writing.

Julia Cameron writes,

“I love when good writing comes out – but mostly, I just love writing.”

And we shouldn’t do it for fame or be “be published” or to get lots of followers or likes. We should do it because it’s like breathing.  It’s being true to our essence and it’s who we are.

Like Sandy has to run.

Shari 🙂

Remembering My Childhood

I’ve been working on some art for Mindy Lacefield’s Neat Stuff E-Workshop and having sooooooooo much fun exploring my creative experiences from my childhood.  Neat Stuff is an art journaling class in which Mindy is taking us on  nostalgic adventures into our past.  We are exploring those creative nuggets that have maybe been laying dormant for awhile and then bring that into our art.

I used to love to draw as a child.  I spent hours replicating other drawings, especially the Peanuts gang.  I had forgotten about this and have not drawn Snoopy for probably 30 years.  I got out my journal and pens and whipped the above Peanuts characters out in about 15 minutes.  It was still there.  How cool is that?  (I think I always loved drawing Pig Pen the most because there was so much room for error.)

Another drawing that made it’s way into my memory was Winky.

I remember painstakingly drawing these little creatures from advertisements.  First, I’d trace, then I’d do my own, over and over again.  It had to be perfect as the ad said that winners would get scholarships to art school.  Well, I never made it in.  But, at least I could draw Winky.

I don’t think I drew much creatively of my own.  The images always came from elsewhere, cartoons, photos and other’s work. This made me think about my need for perfectionism and fear.

One of our writing journal prompts for Neat Stuff was “When I was little, I was never afraid to. . . ”  I had trouble with this prompt.  Not because I couldn’t not think of anything to write, but because I think I was afraid of everything! (maybe not afraid of climbing trees – I could use that.)

I will keep digging into “fear” later on, but my hope through some of the online art courses I’m taking, is to develop my own creative style.  I don’t think I’ve discovered this yet.  I know every artist takes a bit from here and a bit from here and makes it their own.  No one wants to be a “copy” of another artist.  I know I don’t.

We’ll see what evolves.

At least I’m in bliss when I’m trying to get there. 🙂

Shari

Our Art in Public

We attended my husband’s grandmother’s funeral on Wednesday.  Grandma Fuller lived a full and rich life to the age of 101.  It was not until her last few years that she needed to live in a nursing home.  She golfed, hunted, fished. . . and painted.  She was an artist.

My sister-in-law, Julie, gave the ulegy.  Julie spoke of Grandma’s ability to create. She voiced how Grandma taught her to “see”.  Grandma was always looking for the beauty in things and then she would paint them.  Julie talked about some of her paintings and how she would collect odd bits of nature and display them in the house.  Conversations revolved around all of her art.  Paintings adorn the walls of most of her children and grandchildren’s homes.  She had this gift.

I listened and pondered about this and I became fearful.

As a young girl, I drew and made books.  As a young mother, I made quilts, sewed clothes for my children, hand-stitched stitcheries for wall art, created hand-stitched and painted dolls, and even built bird houses and decorative shelves. These items were mostly given to friends and family as gifts or I sold them in craft shows or gift shops.  I shared my art this way.

When I started teaching full time, and especially, when I trained and became a literacy coach, all my creative juices came to a halt.  Except for some writings in my writers’ notebooks, of which I mostly used in my trainings and kept private.  For the most part, my art was occasional and certainly not made public.  Even the art journals that I create in, I rarely share.

So, why am I fearful?

All of a sudden, I realized that if I don’t begin to go public with my art somehow, I will eventually die with my art inside me.  Even more frightening would be the thought of having no one know who I really was.  How sad for them to discover all my work in boxes and boxes of notebooks after I die.  Even all this writing I do on Penzu.  No one would ever find it.  You need my password to get in.  It’s lost forever.

Jeff Goins had an entry last week about making our art public.  He voiced how important it is to share our art.  Our art connects us with others.  Our art can help others that feel the same things as we do.

So, why was it so easy for me to share my quilts, dolls and stitcheries and it’s so difficult for me to share my writing and my painting/art journal work?  I think there are several reasons of which I need to analyze.

1.  My quilts, stitcheries and dolls were creative, but, not up for criticism as much as perhaps writing or painting.  Quilts and stitcheries have shapes, patterns and letters that are pretty standard.  Kinda difficult to screw them up.  Writing and painting is more personal.  Mostly, I write and create art for me.  I, myself, am critical of much of it.  So, I fear critism.

2.  I don’t like attention.  I don’t want others to think I do this for attention.  I HAVE to do this for my soul.  It feeds me.  It’s like breathing.   I have a hard time even accepting a compliment  when my hair turns out right, let alone praise or any kind of attention over my art.  I get all tense and anxious when someone even comes into my studio because I know they are looking around and my work.  Ughh. . . I just don’t feel ready to show.

3.   My Childhood.  I love my parents more than you can know, however, praise was not handed out for every little thing we did.  This is not a bad thing.  We worked hard, not for outside rewards or verbal praise, but just because we knew we were supposed to work hard.  My mother had a way of allowing us to develop internal gratification for our accomplishments.  I know she did not want us kids to be ones that walked around thinking about how wonderful we were.  She feared too much praise would create arrogant, overconfident children that can’t do anything without outside motivation.  I still believe this.

So, showing my work feels wrong because in my heart, it feels like I am looking for praise.

Geez, I have issues.

How am I going to deal with this?  I don’t want to die a “secret artist”.

1.  Maybe I need to print all my Penzu posts from now on and just put them in my notebook.  That’s a start.

2.  Get the book proposal done for my book on listening. That’s sharing.

3.  Make more of an online presence.  Share my work with other artists and groups.  Not all over facebook.  Maybe have a separate facebook page just for my writing and art?  Hmm. . .

4.  Give some of my work as gifts.

This is a big start for me.  I’m going to have anxiety about it. . . like walking into a room full of people you don’t know.  It will be scary.

But, I’m way more scared of dying with my art inside me.

Shari