Creativity

Getting Crafty: Elemental Cookies

Elemental Cookies
Elemental Cookies

Every so often, a witch has to get a little bit crafty.

Now that my smoke allergies have progressed to “walk past a barbecue, use an inhaler” I have to adapt a whole bunch of my regular practices. Not least among those is one in which I call upon the elementals and then promptly release them. I used to use a sheet of paper to etch the symbols etc. and then burn it. I then started converting the paper into flash paper – super smokey and satisfying… with the unfortunate side effect that leads to skin hiving.

I tried a few things that didn’t work so well – a bath biscuit recipe comes to mind as a rather famous fail. I needed to use something that could keep the shapes carved into it and that could then dissolve in water. Then I found this recipe for homemade craft clay: it’s 2 parts baking soda to 1 part corn starch. Heat in 1 1/2 parts water over medium heat and stir until it just refuses to stir at all. It comes out white and goopy but perfect. I stirred in some herbs while I was at it and after it cooled I kneaded in a good chunk of uncrossing oil. While pretty crumbly later on, they served their purpose well.

Craftywitch: #plussize T-shirt surgery

T-shirt surgery, for the uninitiated, involves taking a T-shirt and hacking it down into a different, less basic design. It’s an old punk rocker thing – and since I have a bit of latent punk in me, it’s a natural extension of my shopping life. That’s me – Chanel Coco Mademoiselle on my skin, safety pins on my shirt.

I have to apologize for the crap photos – my tripod camera goes far afield these days for documentation my partner is doing. So I have to deal with a wobbly, crappy Smartphone and I have to leave details out because it’s hard to operate said phone AND move around to show the details.

So yesterday, while shopping at Ross for clothing to wear during 5 Rhythms class, I found these two shirts among the other piles of 2 and 3x that I tried and rejected:

tshirtsurgery_printshirtbefore  tshirtsurgeryhi_before

Neither one was a great fit, but I really liked the print on the one on the left, and the one on the right is just too cheeky to just leave.

So I got out my scissors, chalk, measuring tape, seam gauge, rotary cutter, iron, and ironing board. After some thought, here are the changes – I’m still a fat woman, that’s not going to change at anyone’s aesthetically entitled convenience. But now I’m a fat woman with shirts that fit comfortably – no panels/added material required. In fact I made a better fit by removing material.

 

tshirtsurgeryafter_hitshirtsurgery_printshirtafter

The pink shirt was the easier of the two – I simply slit the sides up about three inches and cut out the neckline two inches so it does the flashdance/off the shoulder thing. A lot of sleeve remains, and it’s a little  awkward – I plan to try my hand at ruching them, or adding some type of drawstring. Definitely a dance-safe shirt.

I need my partner to take the photos of me for the print shirt – in person it looks MUCH better than it does on camera. During the process I had to try this shirt on several times to see where I was at since it took some improvisation. I also cut the sides up about three inches. I then measured to the middle of the neck and cut the cloth down two inches, giving it a small flutter neckline. The arms still fit too snug, and I didn’t like how the fabric lay on me – and here’s where it got tricky – so I measures a five inch isosceles triangle under each arm, and then used safety pins to raise the shirt slightly but not so much it became a crop top. I then split the top of the sleeves for a flutter sleeve.  I’ll see if I can get a friend to take a shot of me in this today…. I might just get out my dark blue lipstick to wear with it!

 

 

 

A letter to my younger self

Years ago, a high school teacher made us write letters to our future selves, warbling about how high school was “the best day of our lives!” Clearly it had been the best days of her life. As many people know, it was anything but the best days of my life and I knew it at the time.

I don’t remember what I wrote, exactly. I do remember a few highlights:

  • Don’t be one of those pathetic people calling high school the days of your life. Any era you want can be the best days of your life. Actually, it may have read “If you think high school was the best days of your life, then I’m ashamed of you.”
  • Don’t dye your hair; nobody’s fooled about your age.
  • Write something. Even if you still aren’t published, just write something.
  • I hope there’s more than something insipid like a big wedding.
  • For God’s sake don’t get married, you know there’s more to your resistance than how it seems like a scam to subjugate  women while convincing them it’s their idea.

It was sharp-tongued, to the point…and for the most part, right. My tongue has softened, my vanity increased as I’ve come to like myself more/reject myself before others do less, and many choices I’ve made would horrify my younger self. While unpacking, I came across this letter of response I don’t recall jotting down. It must have been at least seven years, because my hair has remained virgin parchment for at least that long.

 

Dear Teenage Self –

Things turned out nothing like you hoped. Your career at best, unstable, your weight yo-yos like a weeble-wobble next to the elephant cages at a circus. Oh, you dye your hair all right.

Red.

Fire engine red, like Bucza’s henna, but identifiable from space.

Although right now it has blonde tips

I’m waiting to henna it mahogany.

Your breasts still droop – no deeper than they ever did, though. It turns out that that failed pencil test is a genetic thing, not a fat thing. Your belly still bulges.

You have only just figured out the Law of Availability as it applies to the dating arena. This is good, since you’re in a relationship. Yes, you. The drooping breasts and belly are really only ever obstacles in your own head – they are not enemies, they’re allies, honey.

No surprise his name is Mike – that first Mike, that one you loved that got put in the ground, he’s gonna haunt you and take care of you until you are not you anymore. He stops, once in awhile, when you beg him – but he always shows up in some form, and he tends to fill up your phone with guys named Mike.

Don’t freak but … you did get married. To a guy named N —
it didn’t last.

Right now, you already know that Alan won’t last. Tears come as he kisses you.
Don’t bother protecting yourself. The hurt will come, it will almost kill you, just as you want to beg any god that listens for death, it will pass, swept away in the next nightmare your family launches upon you.

Continue to avoid dating advice from Mom. It only gets more destructive and out of touch every five years, like some sort of inner downgrade program. Remember, always – Dad doesn’t know how to use a gun.

You keep chasing those romantic milestone moments out of external pressure. Someday we’ll both figure that out. But because of that belief in “should” senior prom will result in a sloppy grope in the car, and then going home by 9 pm.

For all those future disappointments, I can promise you – absolutely – it’s better where you are now. It’s not as good as it could be; too many injuries not to limp here. But it’s still so much better.

You get your voice back.
You get your hope back.
You find where your soul was hidden.
You recognize your own value.

You don’t have your pick of men – and it has nothing to do with what makes you matter, anyway. You don’t want your pick of men – you are still often unsure if you have standards or if you just politely reject for them. Leave that to me to work out; it’s some advanced stuff and you’re just trying to keep your head together. Friendships remain difficult roads, men and women alike; at least now, usually, you speak the same language. ((another indicator I’ve progressed since I wrote this.))

Pain will always be part of your life. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you it gets better. All the little mysteries of your now are never resolved, little harijaan. You’ll never know why he does what he does or says what he says, or why she tried to keep you from progressing at that dinky teapot of a private school. Every time you get a chance to find out, you sabotage it. There’s only one I really want to kick you for – most of the time your self-sabotage comes to good. All I can tell you is that years later, you’ll have one regret you hold from the stack of regrets that life builds. His name was Peter – and he will probably be horrified to know how much he contributed to who you eventually become. You will think he is too good to be true.

You have one gift that will stay with you: your phenomenal inner strength. Your strength is your gift, and what divides you from the world. Keep cultivating that strength, no matter how people object to it. That core knows your strength and can guide you.

You will be free.

Much love,

Your future self

I’m guessing I wrote that at around age 29-30. For reference, I’m 39 now. Probably a good idea to write a letter to that old self, too.

All this Artist’s Way stuff: here’s the payoff

So I started the Artist’s Way in 2008, mostly as a sort of me-too with Xiane and Cassidy and Angelique, two being women in the Etsy beauty products guild I was in. It’s one of those situations where life definitely has a purpose – the beauty stuff was a huge diversion from what I knew I was supposed to be doing.  This 12 week series turned into exactly the kind of guidance I needed because it made me pause and look not just at my creative habits but at my entire life.

The Artist’s Way proved so helpful I moved on to Finding Water. Then on to Walking in This World. Then I just kept going…and only this year have I sort of caught up, with the Artist’s Way for Parents sitting on my Kindle despite my not having children.

The small steps, the daily work, the wisdom – for me, it helped. Because now I have my first published book to show for it:

darw_book_cover

At last, it’s out – and it would never be finished without my adherence to the Artist’s Way path. You can get your own copy at Amazon or any other bookstore your heart desires. You may want to ask your favorite indie bookseller to order a copy.

But… it’s out. I did it.

And after I post this I’m going to work on the next two books I have contracted.

Filed under: Struggles

Supplies: the complex thing about Mikey

Women taking a course in car care, maintenance, and operation in Tallahassee, Florida

from Florida Memory Flickr Commons Archive

The complicated thing about Mikey is that I did have sounding boards who kept warning me to get out. But they were other types of crazymakers, other types of blockers. They wanted this predator cleared so they could get a better crack at me.

Mikey did make it clear to me exactly how bad the women I called my “best friend” for years was actually for me – how bad her intents towards me almost always were. She liked the idea of Mikey and me together. She thought his calling me at 6 am when he knew I needed the sleep was romantic, not the abusive that it actually was. She figured I would eventually relent to his constant demands I take care of him.

There were others, of course, but most just sort of rolled their eyes. They didn’t recognize what was going on. One girl who had a thing for Mikey was relentlessly jealous of me – I can only imagine how bad he would have messed her life up if I hadn’t presented a distraction. While I have no liking for her as a human being, she is a human being and deserved to be treated as one. That’s not how this  guy would have treated her.

My sudden onset illness, as frustrating as it can be, probably saved me from what would have been one of the most abusive relationship of my life and also ended a female friendship that I have only come to recognize as abusive.  The constant hiving and allergies forced me to be reclusive.

It’s normal to have these patterns when you come from a dysfunctional home. You have to recognize dysfunction at home before the rest of the alphabet falls into place and you get the correct read on things. It took me awhile to see the source of it. Now I see all of it.

Now I have friends who would spot that kind of madness and tell me so right quick.

Filed under: Supplies

Supplies: the Creative Desert

Orange mallow, showy desert flower, 05/1972.

from US National Archives Flickr Commons Collection

The creative desert is that uncharted territory. It’s the idea that just might work that people think are absurd. I’ve spent most of my life there, long enough to see rather a lot of vindication.

In high school, I went through a phase where I wrote letters to the editor all the time. Most of them were published – to the annoyance of adults who wanted that space for their own sounding board. In one of them, focused on the environment, I proposed that we mine landfills for recyclable material. At the time, landfill mining was unheard of.

My uncle read some of these missives of mine and had an absolute fucking fit. The landfill mining really sent him over the edge – it was just “absurd.” It’s far from the only thing he’s disagreed with me on where time has taken my side. Really, most of his attitude just had to do with me being female and his least favorite sibling’s least favorite daughter. I have to wonder, if one of his children had proposed it, if he would have taken offense to it the way he did with me.

Of course, now we have landfill mining.

Around 2003, the mass transit system in the Twin Cities was under heavy discussion. There was talk of building yet another highway that looped around the Cities. Thankfully people decided to move towards building mass transit inside the cities instead, helping to reduce car ownership and thus not just pollution but cost of living for city residents as they can. (It’s still necessary to own a car because of winter around here. However, using a car less is still pretty good.) I had posted on the Star Tribune suggesting they look into the old trolley system – there are still tracks and cars languishing in a corner of Dinkytown. Someone immediately posted a tirade about “pipe dreams” and “craziness” directed at me for daring repropose it.

Yet two years later the city had a feasibility study.

Last year, the mayoral election had installing a street car line down Central Ave. as one of its major platforms.

As I paraphrased before, new looks like crazy to dumb people. There are a lot of people who have tried to make me out to be completely nuts when not only am I quite sane, I’ve got a good sense for solutions.

Filed under: Supplies

Supplies: My True North

GOODS Chandra Deep Field-North: The Secret Lives Of Galaxies Unveiled In Deep Survey

from Smithsonian Institute’s Flickr Commons Page

True North is difficult for me because I made a conscious choice to operate without a navigation system when I was about 19. Before then, I was under a great deal of pressure to “plan my life.” My parents informed me I needed to pick a major, stick with it, stay at the same college if I could, should take no breaks from school ever … you get the idea.

My parents were setting me up to fail. They were using their map, one that went obsolete in 1969. When I pointed out that they had an obsolete map I got a lot of abuse and denial heaped on me. It was my mother’s “advice” that got me to pick the wrong school in the first place. She thought I’d “be able to study there, with few distractions.” Looking back I realize that she was insulting my work ethic and slut shaming me simultaneously. This conception of me was so outer-space and inaccurate that it took me years to process that that’s what she was doing.

Throwing away the navigation system completely was the only way to banish her influence.

My life – my happiness – improved almost immediately. The only true north my mother wanted me to have was her.

That’s not true north. That’s letting a narcissist ruin and run my life.

I knew for sure that leaving my family made my life better. It wasn’t total direction, but it was a start. Without the map, I still worked plenty hard. I still wound up on the dean’s list every semester. I still found a job even in economies with no jobs available.

But making that choice to abandon the map has had its problems. In graduate school I was hopelessly out of the loop on most of the reading. I had done undergrad in journalism. The MFA in writing was lit focused and most of my class had voraciously read all that stuff that just kind of bored me. I’ve missed so many opportunities as a writer I try not to think of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I’d just stuck out that Wal-mart job or applied for that program in Dubai my life would now have a grander, more interesting dimension to it.

The other part of this is that in writing, your True North shifts. I have already been published. I will have three books out by 2015. So what next? Those were my major, elusive goals.

Perhaps I’ll try writing fiction, going down the tougher road of getting that published.  Mostly I want to gather up my wounds and get them healed and then look for direction from there.

All I know for sure is that I want to live a life I truly enjoy.

 

Filed under: Supplies

Supplies: 20 “in a perfect world” statements

Duplex Corset 1/3 ca. 1885

Library Company of Philadelphia Flickr Commons Collection

In a perfect world, I would

1. live somewhere warm

2. travel freely and often

3. dance a lot more

4. be able to see friends often

5. have the perfect social/home life balance

6. be able to write without back pain

7. never miss gym time ever.

8. find a yoga class that is not one of those obnoxious “flow” classes

9. get my herbal certification

10. maybe finish grad school (?) feeling a little weak on that one.

11. go on a writer’s retreat at least once a year

12. have Tae Kwon Do/Aikido training

13. have a housekeeper I trusted to clean my bathrooms

14. live in a place where I could safely walk everywhere

15. live near a major airport

16. find a spiritual group that I work well with (coming to terms with of all things a possible Celtic-inspired role/explanation for myself)

17. be able to see the beach/ocean daily

18. wear pretty, comfortable clothing

19. publish some fiction

20. be cured of my allergies

… I have a pretty damn good life already. It’s just the internal noise I’m trying to correct.

Filed under: Supplies

Supplies: the Goodies

Goody Two Shoes; J. C. Williamson's gorgeous annual pantomime. 1919.

National LIbrary of New Zealand Flickr Commons Collection

I could get attached to…          Because                                                                                             How I could get that feeling myself

1. Travel                                         I want to see everything                                                              it’s travel. Travel is my favorite thing, right next to dancing and writing.
2. Attention                                 Yay, people are finally noticing me!                                       Write a list of my real friends and how we met. Most sought me out.
I must be moderately important!

3. Praise                                         I felt starved for it when I was younger.                               Look at my box of letters from true friends.

4.Money                                        It expands my choices.                                                                 Continue to find frugal/free things to do. I have a rich life that way.

5. The in-crowd feel                 I too have childhood nerd hangups                                          Look to my values. The in-crowd isn’t among them.

Filed under: Supplies

Supplies: the Chorus of Woes: the most ridiculous complaint I’ve heard

Exercising on the Beach

National Media Museum Flickr Commons Collection

What Cameron speaks of here is not the real Greek Chorus coming out to warn the hero (like the hero can even see them, anyway) but the one that we conjure in our heads … sometimes just to have something to complain about.

So, going through the questions – there’s one guy I’m picking on because he does so very much of this crap, and it’s all crap. When you tell him it’s crap and self-created he tends to throw temper tantrums. But gods help you if you try to talk about anything else but him. It’s enough that I avoid events with him at it now unless I am surrounded by people that will help me ignore him.

Most ridiculous complaint:

“Everybody knows who I am everywhere I go!”

Really? The grocery store? The post office? … .wait, aren’t you going to like, the exact same three to five places over and over. That’s not the price of fame. That’s being a regular and lacking imagination.

He’s actually a host of other similar ridiculous complaints/humble brags. I dare not get more specific than that.

Filed under: Supplies