Month: March 2012

Sound of Paper: 5 Things I Can do for my Art

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

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  1. Declutter my desk area.
  2. Pick some artist’s dates.
  3. Pick some dates-with-artists.
  4. Practice getting up earlier.
  5. Create a mantra to remind myself to stay present, especially when frustrated with how much work is involved in a “little project.”

Filed under: Tasks, The Sound of Paper

#ghoststories UFO Guest Post

I’ve always been interested in Diana’s paranormal encounters, and while I’ve never experienced anything like what she’s seen, heard, or felt involving that “other side,” I do have a little tale of my own. After emailing her to share my odd story, she suggested I share it with her readers. Why not?

I’ve only told this to a select bunch: my family, my husband, my best friend, Diana — and the author of Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls, and Unsolved Mysteries, Joseph Citro, who mentioned Vermont UFOs in his book. Here’s my tale:

I grew up in rural Vermont, and the whole area near my house is kind of spooky, but I never saw anything until I was 17. Then I saw something in the crazy-making territory. An honest-to-goodness UFO!

I was driving home from a friend’s house one night because the electricity went off, and this was before we all had cell phones — I had to get home to set my battery-powered alarm clock. I was driving on a flat stretch when I saw two big door-sized red lights down the road, with some white lights on the top. I figured it was the repair truck and kept driving. I ended up driving right up to the thing and realized that the lights weren’t in front of me…I had just driven under them! I saw the lights from the thing illuminating the trees, and then it slowly went across the corn field (stereotypical) and into the woods.

I’ll never see that thing again, but I won’t even be able to erase it from my memory. If you want to go UFO hunting, maybe you should try Vermont. 

Image: Shoothead

Sound of Paper: Good Husbandry

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

The image is funny to me, and I can talk about why it’s a bad dynamic for women AND men some othertime. (i.e. she can do great things for the world, I must knock her up and lock her up ASAP!!!!)

I’ve done this before, but it merits a revisit for the emerging patterns. 3 small changes to make in each room of my home:

1. I still need those baskets
2. I need a system to get towels rotated out. I also need Mike to cooperate with that system.
3. We need to get on the apartment manager about fixing the grouting.

1.Clean off my bedside table, get better containment for markers, etc.
2.A jewelery armouire or some other type of containment might be good.
3.Clean out and actually DO some of that T-shirt surgery I’ve wanted to for years.

Living Room
1. Still reading off the bookshelves.
2. Getting a storage ottoman to stash my too-read magazines, especially the Stampington mags.
3. A second one for blankets and pillows might also be good – adds seating, comfort and storage.

1. I still want that sponge and soap holder you hang over the faucet.
2. I’ve had that potato latke mix for two years. I need to just make the damn thing. All I need is apples.
3. The garden stand is neat, but inconvenient to use. I need to work some stuff out with that.
4. Bonus: I need to clean out and scrub the inside of the liquor cabinet.

1. Today, I need to take the stuff sitting in the back to the food shelf.
2. Mike uses it more than I do, so I leave most cleaning and maintenance up to him.
3. I would like to start keeping an artist’s date basket in the back, but I think maintenance of it might be tricky.

Wardrobe from shoulders to top of head
I’m good. I own a fedora.

Wardrobe from shoulders to waist
1. Still working out just the right blouse/long sleeved shirt balance.
2. I want a lace blouse that doesn’t suck.
3. Owning one turtleneck might also be good.

Wardrobe from waist to knees
1. Skirt choices could be better, especially as paired with improved blouse choices.
2. Finding reasons and places to wear skirts also good – it’s not practical to wear most around the house.
3. Light colored denim would also be awesome.

Wardrobe from knees to floor
1. I need to get a cobbler to fix the heel on my favorite brown boots.
2. Should replace my Croc loafer things – they’re excellent walking shoes, but they have holes in them from the railroad fiasco last summer.
3. I should brave wearing long socks with skirts more. I bought the garters just for that.

Tools I use for my art
1. I want (don’t need) a new color printer. Mike wants to just consolidate to one, but for some reason I can’t pinpoint I don’t feel good about that.
2. Right now I want more training – to learn to sew, to crochet, to make origami. I was always left feeling klutzy and incompetent when I tried to do these things as a kid, and I’m realizing that was the result of bad teaching, not bad learning. It was absolutely not reasonable to expect me to do things perfectly the first several times I tried something. I just have to remind myself of what happened in PE every time someone bothered to teach me the proper form for a sport.
3. The chair helps with the butt in front of computer time. I’m thinking perhaps some organization, formatting or scheduling tools might help the writing process along, especially as I need to be contributing more to anthologies and local articles.
3. 78

Filed under: Tasks, The Sound of Paper

Notes from Paganicon’s Inner Critic Corral

This year’s Paganicon was an extension of my Artist’s Way class last year. The intended focus of last year’s workshop was about how the overall Artist’s Way can improve magical practice by helping a practitioner find his/her own voice and truth while using Western thought practices to clear the mind to hear that truth. The topic was very broad and I don’t think it got across as well as it could, so I decided to try something tiny, common, and threaded throughout almost any person’s daily practice. I decided to focus on corralling and retraining the inner critic.

The inner critic is part of that subconscious voice that tries to distract you from meditating, encourages you to procrastinate instead of doing creative work (magical work included in that) and that is extremely helpful in giving you excuses to not do just about anything.

The above is a sample board of common things that the inner critic says, or blurts, when you really are trying to improve your concentration skills or hit that deadline or knit that scarf. I’m pretty sure what people in the class said came through a filter – my own inner critic is incredibly foul-mouthed for someone that dresses like a cartoon granny.

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have such a beast within. But the beast is part of ourselves – part of the shadow work we have to do to advance spiritually – and once understood, the inner critic becomes not the insidious boss of us, but our creative employee. The being whose job it is to handle the unpleasant things like spelling checks and grammar checks after we’re done with the paroxysmic joy of creating.

Part of that involves the job description. Once we know what the inner critic is actually for, we can reassign it more easily to its intended task. Then, with that defined, we can start to reassign it.

A major step in capturing and re-educating the critic? Personify it. I didn’t get a shot myself, but I did have everyone take the crayons and tablets I provided and draw a picture of their inner critic. I don’t think I asked to see anyone’s – it’s a private relationship, and seeing what lives inside people’s heads is often a matter of building enormous trust.

Next, I had them sit down and talk to their critics. Write down the wacky things it says. Then, I had each person address the points made by the critic.

The following points, all often used as ethical checklists, were added in this work:

  • Who would be hurt with this? In what way?
  • Will anyone with hurt feelings as a result cause greater pain in the long run? (Writers are the priests of saying uncomfortable things that need saying. The question comes up a lot.)
  • Will this lead to jail time or financial ruin?
  • Will this cause illness or endanger health in any significant way?

These were some mantras that emerged from the activity:

The majority of criticisms/concerns were eliminated by members using these phrases. One person even found she had nothing left except the “optimist” outline of the things she wished to pursue.

If one of these responses did not fit the situation – for example, if “so what” was followed by an already-determined consequences, such as injury if NOT death being the result of falling off a cliff, then it was marked as a valid criticism, and the idea is that those are to be revisited after a given project or meditation has had its structure laid down.

For example, if a meditator believes he/she will “only fall asleep” then the correct response to the voice is: “You can’t predict the future,” followed by “if I fall asleep, then I needed sleep.” “So what?” is also acceptable in that circumstance – natter about spiritual failure is impossible to assess, after all. As an add in, “How would you measure that?” often silences an inner critic – or proposes a new train of creative pursuit in refining research measures.

For those where doing morning pages – the 3 pages of intellectual dump prescribed by Julia Cameron as part of the Artist’s Way – I recommended a mind-map capture. Draw circles and write down the little distractions as they come to you. “I need to wash the dishes,” or “Did he call me back?” are valid, just not important right in that moment. The end product and use should be the same as any morning pages written: you can see where your head is at, see what your mood is and whether you can do anything about it, and you can pinpoint those little things that are nagging at you and address those that genuinely need address.

I daresay I did a much better job this year than I did last year – despite forgetting my notes.

My to done list from Sunday

By 4:25 pm on Sunday I had:

  • Cleared the dishwasher
  • Listened to half of a Pagan podcast
  • Written first drafts on 2 book reviews for Facing North
  • Written two blog posts for this blog (not including this one)
  • Discovered a guest post on the blog that’s been there since October
  • Sent an apology to the blog author
  • Did a drive-by review of a possible theater for the Doctor Who 5 year anniversary marathon (haven’t ruled out theater altogether yet, but tailgate is possible still, too)
  • Got in a yoga workout
  • Updated my site (not the overhaul that’s coming, Mike’s on that project)

I’ve still got energy, a mess in my office, a massive stack in my desk, but right now, I feel like this:



Obligatory Ostara post: the value of time

Note: all the photography on this post is my own.

I acknowledge that I get weird about aligning blog posts with holidays. Even when I know it’s not always the case, I get stubborn about it, thinking that it’s inauthentic and markety not to post with the flow of thought.

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Says the woman who has written posts as far as a year and a half in advance. To be fair, it is in flow with my consciousness at the time I write, in any case.

Although I am Wiccan, or at least identify Wiccan as the “closest-to” my spiritual outlook, I don’t always feel the need to flow with the Sabbat wheel. First, most Pagan traditions don’t observe all 8, usually picking about 4, and second, between the Sabbat days and the Esbats, it all gets a little time consuming. This is especially true for a person like me who is fighting to integrate being Pagan as part of my overall life, rather than having it as my overall identity. I am a Pagan member of the over culture. Yes, I’m knowingly drinking one of the lesser-known flavors of that Kool-Aid. Just watch, and if you can, trust me. There’s somewhere I’m going with my whole cultural legitimacy schtick.

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As much as I love celebrating a holiday, all that celebration is a lot of time. And while I have thoughts on time as the greatest thing we can sacrifice to the gods right now, I need my time to sustain me. Which is what makes Equinoxes and Solstices interesting to me when I feel them: they’re all about balance, about swinging between the dark and the light.  The equinoxes, more so than anything else that falls on the Sabbat wheel, are very much about time. The time we have, the time we long for, the things it is time to do, and time to end. While we talk about the ebb and flow of the seasons, rarely do we talk about time itself – and it’s time we did. In a culture as prosperous as the United States, for those of us gifted with positions of relative security – a roof over our heads, food on our tables, whatever the quality of it – what we cherish most of all is time. Time is our treasure, more so than money, status symbols or food. It is time that we hoard, refuse to give up, hand over to activities and addictions even before our money is depleted.

It is time we value most in this culture, and time that we pay the least attention to. Oh, we see the seasons, the heat and the cold passing through; some of us even scrapbook our memories with as much care as any Book of Shadows (and sometimes even combine them.)

Somewhere out there, someone has an altar to time itself. Maybe it’s an antique clock,  or a digital reader, even an hourglass. I’d love to see it.


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A snipped from my Ostara invocation and prayer:

In this time of balance, I call

for balance – and for justice.

The debts owed me, I ask they be paid in apology and in coin.

The sorrows and illnesses in body and soul be washed away

under rain and flowing river;

that ill words spoken of me, by me, be confronted

with right words in their path.

I ask to enjoy

good health

good love

good work

and good abundance.

Sound of Paper: 5 Areas I’m Procrastinating On

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

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I’m actually not much of a procrastinator. I’m naturally too anxious to let stuff totally slide. This is not to say that there isn’t stuff that lingers a LONG time. Especially lately, as I’ve had the whole back/chair/hamstring debacle to deal with.

  1. Right this instant, I’m procrastinating on doing the yoga I know damn well I need to do if I want to keep working in general.
  2. I haven’t gotten too far into my annual declutter. This is partly because, thanks to previous years, there’s less to do than before. Also, the early spring combined with my closet collapse has made heavy closet-editing throughout the year necessary. Still, there’s stuff I should get out of here by July.
  3. My office could use a serious cleanup. Now that I’ve more or less shut down the perfumery for the time being, I’m essentially hoarding. I really don’t have the time to do the product photos, etc. Not right now.
  4. I need to suck it up and do a home show/clearance sale. I know I could just donate a lot of the stuff that I’ve made to other causes, but part of me stubbornly wants to recoup at least some of the loss.
  5. I also need to update my author’s website, and my static pages on my personal blog. Just one of those to-dos that gets lost in the shuffle once in awhile.

Filed under: Tasks, The Sound of Paper

Sound of Paper: 10 small kindnesses to do for myself

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

Rose Garden August 2009

10 Small things to do when feeling creatively dried up: (for me, changing scenery seems to be the most effective thing to do.)

  1. Go sit in a local cathedral. The energy is really strong and healing, in spite of the priests and humanity.
  2. Visit the rose garden.
  3. Get a massage – preferably at the one place where I know the masseuse won’t chat me up, ask me for advice, or end up asking for my services – in the past three years, this has only not happened at ONE massage. ONE.
  4. Do my time-out facial thing, and insist it be a regular appointment. I only wish Netflix on demand hadn’t lost so many of the decent romantic comedies.
  5. See a movie by myself.
  6. Go dancing, by myself. (I did it! I can do it again! Western purdah be damned!)
  7. Pull up that yoga video that has simple moves that work so dramatically.
  8. Pick a small area to declutter.
  9. Pick a shop, or park, or restaurant I’ve never been to to visit.
  10. Get out my crayons and literally scribble.

Filed under: Tasks, The Sound of Paper

Sound of Paper: 10 adventures I’d like to have

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

Burning Man 2011: The Man Burns!

I swear I’m getting less adventurous, and that’s got to be a bad thing, right? Or maybe I’m being inappropriately self-critical.
The adventures I’d like to have at the moment are:

  1. Taking that knife class at Kitchen Window. I really want to learn how to cut things properly.
  2. Starting a corporation – I’ve had some major visions of late. It’s major, and terrifying.
  3. Trying out a water slide. I have never done that.
  4. As much as I hate camping, I do actually want to camp under the stars in a desert, ONCE. If it raises the water table, well, at least I’ll be expecting it. I acknowledge between scorpions in shoes and my own negligible survival skills, this could really suck.
  5. I actually regret never going to Burning Man when friends invited me in my twenties. I’d love to try it now, even if I am one of the freaks in an RV.
  6. Actually, I’ve never camped in an RV. I don’t want to own one – the insurance plus gas would be a nightmare – but I’d like to try one, once.
  7. I have often threatened to run for office. I might, someday.
  8. I would like to learn how to hunt – yes, I read the Hunger Games, but I wanted to learn before that.
  9. Burlesque. Still want to try it.
  10. I rarely explore outside the Twin Cities, and I’m not familiar with that much of Minnesota. Perhaps pick a small town and drive to it on a weekend.

Filed under: Tasks, The Sound of Paper

Back from Paganicon

My workshop at Paganicon on corralling your inner critic went well, and right now I’m leaning towards a workshop next year focused on crazymakers – i.e. not letting the haters get ya down.  This is not really prompted by anything serious this year – given the crazy-ass phone call I got in October paired with some highly selective silences, the rumor mill has been going… in a sector of the community that I don’t really see doing anything I would qualify as “moving forward.”   ((I sure got a lot of bitchface from one woman I’ve never had more than a casual conversation with. I mean out and out, impossible to misinterpret glares. This did not scare me into silence, as I’ve decided the approval of the willfully outdated matters little to me.))

Which suggests that I am.


They’ve got their greatest hits to play, and play them they do. I’m still working out some new areas to try. If they want to catch up, or try honest communication free of hostility, I’ll play ball – it’s not like anyone holding a grudge has ever done anything for me.

As to the proposed workshop:

Although that’s really a small subset of crazymakers, and those crazymakers, if earned the right way or honest-to-gods badges of honors. You know you’re getting somewhere when you haven’t hurt anybody, you’ve just changed something or made people aware of something – and they hate you for it. Committed artists face this sooner or later, because the number one way to avoid creating – create drama. This way you can keep everybody in connection with you from creating.

This would actually be more  the friends that go “no don’t stop!” whenever you propose a project you want to pursue, or the ones that call you when they know you’re writing, or the ones that tell you how everything you do will turn out terribly despite no clairvoyance skills whatsoever. The workshop focuses on how to handle them, when to jettison them, and why the gods allowed us to evolve enough to use voicemail. I’ve already recommended Crystal Blanton’s works on coven and community dynamics, and Riding the Dragon/The Artist’s Way at Work has some great exercises for interpersonal politics that I wish I’d had a decade ago. Honestly, if I had to do it all over again and happened to have people around me that actually cared that I had graduated from college,  I would want someone to gift me the Artist’s Way. As it is, it’s still an incredible boon to me.

Yes, I am an evangelist for the program – even if I do break some rules by doing morning pages before bed sometimes, or typing them, or crossing things out. It’s a program that works for me and that I use religiously – but I know quite well it is most certainly NOT a religion, and I’ve met many people who have valid reasons for not being able to do the morning pages. For them, I’m hoping to be inspired with some alternatives.