playing favorites

I was having a late-shower day. Generally speaking, those are not pleasant. Let’s just say if I am cooking dinner and have not yet gotten my shower in, no one wants to be one of my children.

Fortunately for everyone, the clock said 4 and not 5:30 so we were still good. But after the hot water reset me, I seriously wanted to put my pajamas on and call it a day.

Even though the temptation was strong, I withstood. I had a girlie party to go to. Seeing as how I live with a lot of testosterone, I try not to miss ladies nights if I can at all help it.

This was a “favorite things” party. Curious. Bring five of your favorite things costing $5 or under and go home with five of other people’s favorite things. I love it.

Let’s just say it was worth every bit of the inertia required to get there.

I came home with:

  • pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s (already one of my favs – score!)
  • soap from Anthropology (nothing bad comes from that store)
  • insta-dry nail polish that is help-your-4-year-old-put-his-shoes-on dry in like 30 seconds flat (found at Target the wonderstore)
  • thank you notes (always handy)
  • special spices promising the world’s best guacamole (yet to try – I will keep you posted)

So fantastic right? I am totally stealing this idea. Someday.

There was much chocolate given at this party (I mentioned it was a ladies night right?). And almost all of it was the new trend – chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salted.

Call me silly, but everyone has read my potato chips and chocolate post right? I have no need for caramel.

I shared. Lucky boys.

I shared. Lucky boys.

But my friend Katie (who is known by me as always finding the “best” things – ask me later about Philosophy lip gloss) brought Godiva dark chocolate with sea salt. I was not one of the lucky recipients of such perfect sounding bliss, so today I went out and bought some.

Really I was intending to purchase Christmas gifts. But of course I had to get one bar for myself to make sure it tastes as good as it sounds.

Ummmm, yes.

Tastes just like it sounds.

 This shall be added to the arsenal of tools in my box of coping skills. Along with this month’s other discovery: cocoa drizzled kettle corn from Trader Joe’s. A buck ninety-nine for a bag of addictive joy is a good deal in my book.

Picture 042

P.S. Since I know you are dying to know, the favorite thing I brought to the party was a new décor item in my home. Refashioned jam jars filled with split peas (green for Christmas and $0.89/lb at our local whole foods market) topped with a tea light (cheapest best ones found at IKEA). I love refashioned items because they are creative AND good for the environment. And this season makes me want to see candles everywhere I turn. Fabulous.

So what’s your latest favorite thing?

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help

I had no idea the help I was about to uncover. I sat down with my husband’s homemade curry (I know right? I am so lucky – thanks Babe!) and my son’s iPod was sitting right there on the couch.

So I turned it on in an attempt to turn myself off. At least a little. Maybe just set myself on autopilot to detox from the post Thanksgiving shopping I braved earlier in the day.

I checked email.

None of my children were bothering me. No one was asking me questions. Sometimes I love technology. I know it is not always the best thing for my boys’ brains. I may simultaneously feel like a bad mom. I may pay the price later with overly-squirrelly boy energy.

But in the moment I feel a profound amount of relief and gratitude.

And because my children were all plugged in for the moment leaving me alone, I had time to chase some rabbit holes on email that mostly I avoid in an effort not to have hours of my time slip away into nothingness in the blink of an eye.

I read an interview that one of my friends did with another friend on their blogs. Leeana (www.gypsyink.com) is a talented author and Tina (www.winsomewren.blogspot.com) is a lifelong artist.

What I found was inspiration. Just enough to help me actually upload my last post. And then sit down to write some more. Sometimes help comes at just the right time, in just the right way.

What I was reminded of is how contagious creativity is. And while part of the reason my posting here has slowed is that life sped up; there is another element at play.

With the speeding up of life, I have found it harder to read my favorite blogs. I feel like I am just barely making enough time to write on my own blog.

And that is no good. Because creativity breeds creativity. If I want to be creative, write creatively, I have to make space to enjoy the creativity of others.

I was so encouraged by Tina’s “about” side bar. She is an advocate for creativity, and I love it. I need reminders of the importance of taking care of myself. Of nurturing the artist within. Of making space in my schedule and my heart for being creative.

I need reminders that it’s okay. That I am better for who I love when I have time doing what I love. And then I need to remind myself not to beat myself up for not having it all figured out.

Because life is often a dance. And when things like this happen – so serendipitous and perfectly timed – I am reminded to trust the dance of life even if I need help remembering the steps. 

lost

red flower

I lost myself that day. I had been shoving aside my creative time week after week making room for the urgent. Life’s urgency can be that way from time to time, can linger longer than I intend.

lost

There was a school carnival to plan. Then there was the unforeseen enormity of a school carnival wrap up. Then there was Halloween costumes to put together and celebrations to be had. And of course trick or treating with The Grim Reaper, Robin Hood, and Bumblebee the transformer. That cannot be missed.

Then there was a sinus infection to recover from.

And after all of that, I came back to a precious Tuesday. Tuesdays are preschool days. Three hours doesn’t sound like much, but compared to nothing it can be the world.

the world

That morning my oldest complained that he didn’t feel good and maybe he should stay home. Back off buddy. I have been waiting for this Tuesday for a long time. You don’t have a fever. You’re not throwing up. You are going to school.

I landed at Balboa Park with my camera. I chuckled to myself as the compliments people have given me about the pictures on the blog floated through my mind.

Never in a million years have I thought myself a photographer. I just want readers to have an image with each post as a way to connect. So I try to capture one. Emphasis on try.

white flower stone wall

And because I don’t think of my self as a photographer, taking pictures is an easy way for me to let go of the results and immerse myself in the process of being creative. That and the ease and affordability of digital images.

So immerse I did.

bathe

Little did I know my soul was so dehydrated. My logic turned off and I listened to that little intuitive voice I talked about last post.

Go this way. Move in. Try. Try again. Move on. Over here.

Before I knew it, I was lost. Having an experience completely away from my normal life, my normal self. Being satisfied by something I cannot explain.

As I drove back to preschool I realized I was still sort of there, in the creative world. And I loved how it stuck to me and refused to be shaken off.

What was your last experience in the creative world? 

discipline and creativity

For much of my life, I thought creativity didn’t apply to me. Some people are given those beautiful creative juices, like my friend Julie. But others like myself are left trying to squeeze juice from a dried fruit. And even though I have grown to love the creative process, I still don’t think of myself as someone with juicy, squirting, I-need-a-napkin-to-slop-this-up creativity. But now I am starting to wonder about the element of discipline in creativity.

The two seem mutually exclusive to me. Creativity is something that bends and blows, driven unpredictably by the wind. It is whimsical and free-spirited and completely non-linear. Discipline is rigid and strict and completely uncompromising. Discipline has a linear plan that follows the expected path. The elements of performance and end result are inherent in discipline, yet they thwart the creative process. Aren’t these two things like oil and water?

So, like most things in my life, I have thought discipline and creativity mutually exclusive. And, like most things in my life, I am learning they co-exist in quite a mysterious way.

Take this blog, for example. The main reason I started this blog was to force myself to write…to add an element of discipline to my creative process and creative expression. And I am learning that, like the rest of my experience in writing, not everything produced am I 100% pleased with. Not every post is what I would consider a “success”. But I am practicing, so to speak. I am forcing myself to write something on a regular basis, and I am forcing myself to put it out there to anyone in that big, wide world who is willing to read it, no matter what they might think of it.

And what I have found so far in adding discipline to creativity is that sometimes I try to tackle bigger projects than I might have otherwise, simply because I am making myself do something, and that is the thing that comes to my mind. It may not go anywhere, I may end up scrapping that post and writing about something else instead, but I attempted something I otherwise would have left untouched. And that, in and of itself, seems like a success to me. All because of a discipline to engage in creativity – no matter where it takes me.

And in this process, I think of my friend Julie. She is a true artist – creative juices squirt out of her like a fountain. She even gets paid for her art. She is full of ideas and loves to go to her studio and see what the wind blows in that day. But I have to believe there are some days she doesn’t feel creative before she goes to the studio but she goes anyway. And I bet some of those days she comes back full and energized and amazed by what came out of her. And there are probably other days she isn’t perfectly satisfied with what blows in and leaves a little frustrated. But in and through all of those days, some very beautiful art is created.

So I love this picture because I took it in my friend Julie’s studio. My son was having an art-birthday party so I had my camera and took pictures of more than just the kiddos. Not every picture was what I wanted it to be, but out of them all, I ended up with this one – a picture I love and find deeply satisfying to look at. It wallpapers my laptop. The tools of an artist that look like creativity waiting to happen inspire me. And I am simultaneously reminded of the discipline of the attempt followed by the freedom to go where the wind blows.