I sent off another of my Christmas 2007 creations this week and the experience of making it has touched me in ways that are pleasant as well as painful. Not gut-wrentching painful; melancholy and wistful painful. Missing someone you loved, and still love, dearly; remembering what a huge influence that person has had on your life. Emma Brewer, born Anne Marie but everyone called her Emma, was my maternal grandmother. We lived with her until I was eight. She was a very gentle soul and it bothered her greatly when her grandchildren fought, but the harshest words she ever said in scolding us were, “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” When I was deciding on what to use as a different collage example for the workshop I presented for the Women’s National Book Assn earlier this month, I choose to do a woman’s story using a paper doll base rather than the traditional flat sheet of paper. At the top I used Grandma’s smiling face. She was dressed to the 9’s with a smart hat framing her fine permed hairs, and pearls around her neck for she was at a grand family celebration – a wedding in Chicago. I used a Liberty print of small blue flowers for her “dress” because she never wore anything flashy. I scanned a recipe for pop corn balls in her handwiring on a piece of coarse fabric and fashioned an apron with ties of baby blue rick rack. I sewed tiny charms of a spoon, whisk, shaft of wheat, measuring cut and cupcake to the apron’s waistband because she was known for her love of sweets and her breads. Something I think I’ve inherited! Finally, I added tiny clothespins to the apron too as she was always doing laundry for us. Working on this project brought up so many sweet memories of her. I decided to share my unique interpretation of Emma with someone who also had a strong connection to her – Emma’s daughter, my mother Florence. I had such delight in the making of this distinctive collage, I shall be repeating the project in many variations for some time to come. I encourage you to try making a paper collage figure of your own. Perhaps hold a conversation with your figure during the process, or write about it afterwards. I wish you well on your creative journey…
My practice of making distinctive holiday gifts each year adds to the fun of Christmas, but they can also add to the frustration. I had the best of intentions, but the gifts won’t arrive exactly when I had planned. This year I made travel pillowcases for my great neices and nephews. I thought about each of them while choosing the fabrics and colors. The girls pillowcases are the softest fabric in pinks and purples. For the boys I choose flannel in yellows and blues with John Deere tractors, airplanes, cars, trucks and bugs. It’s a small thing, but I do it to stay connected and let them know I’m thinking about them even though we’re many miles apart. My creative spirit seems to go into overdrive at this time of year. I have all these fun ideas, they sound wonderful and I can’t decide what I want to do the most. So, I try to do it all. As a result, not much gets done before Dec. 25. A wise woman once said that despite our most heroic efforts, Dec. 25 will come at the same time every year. So, we should just enjoy the day and forget about all the things we didn’t get done. I’m trying that philosophy on for size. So my gifts will arrive a little behind schedule. After all, presents are appreciated any time!
I’ve been putting away the Christmas decorations and feel a little sad about how empty things look around here. But then, I realized how wonderful all this open space is; how thrilled I am with all the breathing room. Of course, I think that discovery has a great deal to do with my attitude as well. It’s the start of a brand new year and all sorts of delilcious possibilities ahead…what will I create? what will you create? I can’t wait–can you…
Last week a fierce winter storm blew 2008 in with life-altering force. Meetings were canceled, travel was ill advised and Mother Nature rendered man-made power sources useless for hours on end. As I sat amongst the grey shadows of my writing room last Friday pondering how long the power would be out because of the storm, I considered how I might occupy my time. I could continue to write. I certainly had enough light for that. I could practice my presentation for the Creativity & Vitality Workshop the next day. I could sleep; a nap sounded like a perfectly wonderful idea. However snuggling down in bed, where it was nice and toasty, with a book held the best appeal and I decided to do just that. After I’d read a few chapters, my cell phone rang. It was my co-presenter for the workshop.
“Hi,” my friend said, “I left a message on your home phone and was just calling on the cell phone for extra measure.”
“Well,” I replied, “I have no power so I couldn’t hear the home phone ring.It went out at 7 a.m. and they don’t know when we’ll get it back.”
“Oh,don’t worry,” she quipped, “You are a woman of unlimited power, a little storm can’t keep you down.”
“What a day brightener you are,” I said laughing. So we finished our conversation about the workshop and agreed that we wouldn’t fret or speculate on who would be attending the tomorrow.
“Whoever is supposed to show up,” she said with conviction, “will show up and we’ll do our presentation for them!”
After we hung up I went back to waiting for the electricity to come back on. I certainly was in a more compassionate state and accepting of my circumstances. And thanks to my friend, I was no longer confusing my temporary lack of electricity with any lack of power on my part. She reminded me that my physical limitations should not stop me from living a Creative life. I actually enjoyed the day of quiet and solitude. The storm was a hardship on many people and I am sorry for their situations. But for me, that day without any man-made power sources helped me connect with my own power source and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity. I wish you the same opportunity to step out of your ordinary routine and Create a new experience. What will it be?…
A brand new year! I’m feeling goose bumps and chills and it’s not residual from the bubbles I enjoyed on New Year’s Eve–it’s excitement about all the glorious possibilities 2008 holds. Just think of it, each morning a chance to create something brand new–a brand new YOU! And I plan to continue to be a Seeker in search of my Authentic Self. It’s never to late. Won’t you join me?
Long ago, when my prize possessions were a pair of white go-go boots and my transistor radio, I wrote a high school paper about what I wanted to do with my life. My career choices included: dancer, actress and secretary. Although I lived in a small town and my formal training had consisted of Square Dance lessons in the 6th grade, I loved moving to music and thought it would be a wonderful way to spend my life. Of course, it was ridiculous for anyone to consider my acting dream with any confidence as I was always seen as the shy, quiet one. The fact that I’d managed to land a part in the Senior Class play, and pulled it off, was just a fluke. Becoming a secretary was the most likely path for someone who had no particular “realistic” ambitions. All my journals and my humor column for the Adams Tiger Tales did not qualify me as any Serious Writer. I got a One Year Secretarial Certificate, got a job in the Credit Department of the Company in our Company town and resigned to live my life. Along the way I got married, started a family, got a college degree, moved across the country–twice–and survived emotional as well as physical challenges.
My skills as a secretary have served me well in earning a living and allowing me time to follow my heart. I pursued dance lessons as an adult and thoroughly enjoyed them. I performed in a couple of recitals; including one with my 3-year-old daughter! I performed in several productions of the local Community Theatre and had the time of my life. All the while I was writing as a volunteer for my church and through parenting newsletters and writing in my journal. When I reflect on where I am now: writing, presenting workshops, and dancing to the rhythm of life, I am amazed at the synchronicity of it all and grateful that I have been blessed with everything I ever asked for — and more! My wish for you in 2008 is that you realize your childhood wonder every joyous new day to come…
Magic happens at this time of year—be ready
Enjoy the tremendous potential of each moment
Release old hurts and disappointments
Your loving spirit accomplishes great things
Create new beginnings full of beauty and grace
Reflect on dreams
In harmony there is balance and order
Simplicity is the path to serenity
Time is a precious gift
May you always express gratitude
All you have is all you need
Share the magic–