Spending Our Days and Our Lives

We have sunshine where I live for the first time in what seems like weeks. I know it hasn’t been that long, but the rain in California has been intense this year and it is nice (and necessary) to have a break. I always feel more energetic when the sun is out, but I wrote out this week’s quote when it was raining because it reminds me to get on with life even when I feel like just curling up and doing nothing.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard

This is both profound and oh, so, simple, right? Our days make up our lives so we better spend our days doing what makes us create the life we want. I mean, that shouldn’t be hard, should it? But it seems like too often we let things get in the way of using our days in a way that is meaningful and productive. I know I’m guilty of fixating on work problems and conflicts or the dozen small tasks that I need to do, instead of focusing on whether I’m moving towards my goals and towards helping anyone in what I’m doing with my day.

So I need the reminder that our days create our lives. I need that reminder whenever I feel that time is going by too quickly and I don’t have enough time for those things that make life worth living for me: family and friends, time to create and to share, giving and laughing, listening to the birds, and walking without constantly looking at my watch.

I hope that you life your days the way you want to spend your life. Reframing my days in that way makes what I do have purpose and meaning, even if sometimes it seems futile. If you have any tips on what you do to make your days meaningful, even in the midst of busy work weeks, I’d love to hear them.

Also, if you have a chance, I highly recommend The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. It is a wonderful read and a reminder of what makes for a good, meaningful life. Plus, who doesn’t want to exist in a place of joy? No one I know. So I wish you a joyful day and a joyful life. Let’s create something wonderful, okay? 🙂

Sharing and Having

Well, it’s February already. Did anyone else feel like January went by in a hazy whirlwind and you’re not quite sure what happened? The world is way too interesting for my taste right now and it is hard to fell like there is time for art when there is so much else to do, so many others to help. So today feels like the right day to share this quote b Leonard Nimoy:

the miracle is this-the more we share, the more we have Leonard Nimoy

It makes me smile and remember that sharing truly does give us more. Not just talking about “stuff” either, but the important things like more compassion, more empathy, more knowledge that we are enough no matter how flawed our attempts to share and to care might be. In doing things to help others, we inevitably help ourselves and that’s a good thing.

The world may seem to be getting harsher and less caring, but there are so many good people in this world sharing and caring and helping. So we need to remember this—I need to remember this—to keep up my energy and to keep caring.

And our art is a part of this sharing. It’s important. I got back to creative writing on my next manuscript a few days ago and it felt wonderful. It felt right. I hope to have more to share soon.

Keep sharing, keep caring, and keep making your art. We need it. We really do.



Opinions and Thinking

Everyone has an opinion about everything, or at least it sure seems like that sometimes. Goodness knows I have opinions on lots of different things and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do agree that one should base opinions in thought. So, it seemed appropriate with all that is going on in the world to share this quote:

An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. Jef Mallett

Thinking, critical thinking, can be difficult. It can take time to sort out fact from fiction from deliberate falsehood. It can make a person’s brain hurt listening to all the swirling, ill-formed opinions racing across all forms of media.

So it is good to remember that we shouldn’t substitute opinion for thought. That perhaps, we should all do a little more research, a little more contemplation, before running head first into whatever argument or onto whatever soapbox we’re gunning for. We need to take time to think–it usually saves time and face in the long run anyway.

So I hope that you feel you have time to contemplate, to think, to reflect and that it helps you in your life and in your art. It’s been a slow start to my own art practices this new year, not least of all because I’ve gotten some touch of that nasty cold that’s been going around. But even a slow start means some progress and I’ve had time to think about what I want to accomplish in the new year and I hope you have to. There’s only eleven and a half months left to do something, and that’s not very long at all.

So here’s to thinking and sharing and creating. Thanks for reading and Saturday Shorts are returning this weekend, too. 🙂

Invincible Summer

Here we are in the midst of winter (or if we aren’t technically in winter yet, it sure feels like it outside) and the end of another year. It has been a surreal year and I’m not really sad to see it go. Winter is often a hard time, a brutal time, one that makes me want to hibernate instead of doing the dozen of things I should be doing. So I rather think it is fitting to share this quote as the last quote of the year. In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus

I love this idea of an invincible summer inside us all. No matter how horrible it gets we have the possibility of tapping this well of warmth and goodness and hope deep inside us. And my goodness, do I believe that we’ll need all the summer-like hope and joy that we can get going forward. Because hope is a good thing (check out this Chuck Wendig post for more on the necessity of hope) and we need it to fuel our actions so we don’t get dragged down by winter’s inevitable chill.

I hope that you feel there is an invincible summer inside you, too, and that it powers you to do great and good things in your art, your craft, and your life.

This is the last post for the year. I’m taking a bit of a break and will be back with more calligraphy quotes and Saturday Shorts in the new year. Until then, I hope you make these last days of 2016 and first days of 2017 as wonderful and joyful as you can. I hope you have a mug of delicious tea or coffee or cocoa and time to relax. I hope you have time to create something special or find a spark of interest to try something new. I hope you find comfort and caring and show the same. I hope you have a very happy new year. 🙂

Analog Ideas

Do you ever feel like you spend too much time in front of some form of computer screen? I do. It’s hard to get away from between work and writing. It seems like so much of my time deals with doing something or other that requires the internet and screentime. And sometimes it’s more draining than fulfilling. So I had to share this quote from Von Glitschka:

Ideas are still best developed in analog form. Von Glitschka

While writing may be faster on a computer, some of my best ideas are developed when I’m handwriting and scribbling notes in one of the many notebooks lying around my house. It seems like handwriting is a sort of magic that allows thoughts to make connections to plug plotholes and problems, find new twists and link random events to make a cohesive narrative. Even though I know that I’ll have to transcribe my words on my laptop, it is worth it to sometimes step away from the screen to write by hand.

The same holds true for my other creative activities, most obviously in calligraphy, but also with drawing and designing. These were the areas that Von Glitschka had in mind when he said that analog beats digital for idea generation. But it works for most forms of creativity, in my experience, too.

So how about you? Do you find stepping away from the screen and working in analog format useful for idea generation? For sparking your creativity in new ways?

I hope, whatever medium you use, that you find something that inspires you this week to create something beautiful to share with the world. We could all use some more beauty and inspiration in our lives. Happy creating. 🙂

Creating and Belonging (and not being Annoying)

Have you read Elizabeth Gilberts, Big Magic? I have and I liked it so much that when I was stuck in an airport fairly recently without any unread books left in my bag (the horror!) that I bought a copy for reading on the plane. It was as great the second time around as the first and I say this because today’s quote is from that book:

The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chose few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. Elizabeth Gilbert

I really love this quote because it makes me smile and keeps me from worrying (too much) about if my work is “art” and if I really have any talent whatsoever. We all worry about this stuff sometimes, right? (If you don’t, I’m both happy for you and slightly envious of your confidence.)

People who try to tell you what you are doing isn’t “art” or that you shouldn’t be creating whatever your work is are totally annoying and it is nice to have someone call them out on it. No one likes to hear about the “chosen few” when they are struggling to get something–anything–published or trying to get their first showing or whatever other goal you are working towards.

I need the reminder that creating doesn’t belong to only a few and that creativity belongs to everyone in whatever way they want to bring forth their art in the world. This quote reminds me to tune out the haters and get back to my work, whether that is at the computer, in my sketchbook, or in the world. As we are constantly reminded, haters gonna hate, but we don’t have to listen to them even if they are self-styled guardians of culture and arts. We can just keep on making art and making the world a little bit better, a little bit more beautiful through our efforts. Creating a place where we belong and reminding ourselves that we’ll never be that annoying, even when we reach our goals.

I hope you have a wonderful week full of inspiration and creating your art. 🙂

Conscience and Creativity

So here we are at the end of another month and, oh my goodness, what a month it has been. It’s been a month of highs and lows and moments of” I just can’t believe what is happening, but I better keep breathing because not breathing won’t make anything better.” So today, for my first calligraphy quote post back after a little break, I share a quote that I did earlier this year and quite liked, but wasn’t quite sure how to articulate a post around it.

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashion." Lillian Hellman

But now I know what I want to write. It’s a good thing to remember that we all have consciences and that we all have a choice on how we will behave and act and think and do in this world. And even when it seems like the world is going crazy and darkness really is overtaking the light, I need to stand firm in my conscience that tells me that it is still important and right to fight for social justice and kindness and empathy when others are spewing hatred. That it is right to take concrete actions to help others, both those who are in my neighborhood and those who are far away. That is is true that art is both frivolous and a necessity. It can be resistance and solidarity.

So this quote from Hellman gives me an extra bit of resolve that cutting my conscience is not only not right, but for me it isn’t possible. And that how I create and share my art must be aligned with my conscience.

I hope you find strength as we head into the last month of the year to be bold and empathetic, kind and just, merciful and strong. We need all these facets in our lives and our art. And I hope you always have someone in your corner to help pick you up when it all gets to be too much.

There will be a Saturday Short this week because there needs to be one, for me and for you.

Don’t be evil–read!

It’s no secret that I love reading. I love reading all types of books and, as I’ve said before, while some people binge watch TV shows, I binge read book series. I just finished with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and had to share this quote about reading and people.

And in my experience, well-read people are less likely to be evil." Quigley Quagmire

He of course goes on to say that this doesn’t hold true for all people, but for most. This quote makes me smile, even if it isn’t always true. It makes me think of my books as an antidote to evil, a vaccine to ensure I don’t become too cynical, too negative, and too tired to see good in the world and to do good in the world. Plus, it reminds me that I need to read, too.

As we enter the second half of October, it feels like we are running downhill, picking up steam, so we’ll blast through the last box on the calendar into the craziness of November. And, for my readers who are writers, you know it isn’t crazy just because it is the start of the holiday season–NaNoWriMo will be upon us.

But even when the days grow short and the word counts grow large, I will still carve out time in my day to read something not work-related and not the news. Books are a solace, a refuge, a place to think and to dream and to refresh so we can come back to our work with new eyes and open hearts. So, as the post title says, Don’t be evil–Read!

I hope you have something wonderful, something hopeful, something amazing that is capturing your reading attention. If you have book suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m always looking for new authors to binge read. 🙂

Challenging Fate

With the change of seasons, it seems to be a good time to take stock of what we’ve accomplished this year and what remains to be done. I don’t know about you, but it always seems like there are too few hours in the day and too few weeks in the year to get done everything I want to do. And, sometimes, when things seem to not being going so well, it can be a comforting if slippery slope to say that it wasn’t meant to be or it wasn’t my fate or maybe my luck will change. So if you are in that boat, or ever feel that way, today’s quote is for you:

There is much to be said for challenging fate instead of ducking behind it. Diana Trilling

I’m all for challenging fate rather than ducking or believing that I’m at its mercy. There’s so much we don’t control in life, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop working towards our goals and our dreams. It doesn’t mean we stop working towards being better people, being more mindful and thoughtful, being more kind and more creative.

While these words are great for all parts of life, they are especially important to remember for those of us who want to create and share our art–in whatever form it takes. Sometimes it feels like everything is just left up to chance or fate or luck or whatever that we don’t have and it can be discouraging. Like leaving behind the hopefulness of spring, the carefree days of summer, and watching the senescence of autumn. But what we can control is how we work, what we do, and who we help through our work and our art.

Sometimes challenging ourselves to do something other than use fate as an excuse for why we aren’t doing what we want to can be scary. Sometimes it can seem as if we are just being blown around like leaves by forces we can’t see, but that’s why we are stubborn and tough like old oak trees and just keep doing and making and creating what we do. But we do it because we have to, because if we didn’t we wouldn’t create what we feel in our hearts we were meant to do.

So I hope your autumn is full of fate challenging work along with mugs of hot apple cider, and plates full of warm pumpkin bread. 🙂


Being Yourself

Sometimes it seems like every post about life-hacks, self-fulfillment, and finding your passion talks about being yourself, right? That if you are yourself–whatever that actually means–you’ll find yourself falling into luck and success and whatever else you want in life. But, in actuality, being yourself can be hard, lonely, and unproductive sometimes. However, as Oscar Wilde reminds us, there’s not much else we can be.

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde

So I promise this blog post is not all negative and down in the gutters. I love this quote because it reminds me that no matter what, I can only be me. Even if I tried as hard as I could to model myself after someone else or try to copy what they do, in the end I’ll still be me. So why not be a unique me? A me that I’ll want to have a cup of tea with when I’m seventy?

It is hard to be yourself, especially if some of your goals and ideas and aspirations don’t mesh with your closest family members or friends. It can be difficult to keep creating, whether that’s a poem, a novel, a song, a recipe, a new project, without support (or sometimes even in the face of ridicule). But, at the end of it all, what other people think really doesn’t matter in terms of what we create. (I mean, I’m not advocating being mean or spiteful or anything, so don’t take it that way, okay? Okay. Thanks.)

What we create through whatever we do is about expressing who we are, what we believe, and what we want to do in life. I believe it gets both easier in some respects and harder in others as we get older. But I hope it gets easier for you and you like who you are and who you are becoming.

So be bold, be you, and be willing to share your art with the world. And, if you are ever in the gutters, make sure you are looking at the stars (thanks, Oscar Wilde, for being so quotable). 😉