The Power of Music

On my drive back from my latest trip to New England, I heard a song played on one of the many radio stations I scanned through when my smartphone didn’t have a strong enough signal to stream Spotify. It was new to me, but probably not new to the radio and I instantly loved it. It reminded me of the late 80’s and early 90’s pop music I grew up with and it was upbeat and perky, just like me!

After listening to the song a few times on different stations, I finally learned that it was Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon. I’d never heard of Walk the Moon, but then there’s a lot of current artists I don’t know because I rarely listen to actual radio stations. When I went on YouTube to watch the video for the song I was extremely happy to see that it went along perfectly with the song. So many music videos these days are weird or totally ruin the meaning of the song, but the video for Shut Up and Dance was spot on with a very 80’s look and feel. Having grown up during that era, it’s rather odd to see it all coming back, but odd in a good way.

I finally remembered to get the Walk the Moon album with the song I liked on it yesterday and I’ve been listening to a handful of the songs on repeat ever since. Overall, there’s only 3-4 songs off the album that mesh with my tastes, but the ones I do like, I REALLY like! How can you tell when I really like a new song? Well, it makes me dance in my car, dance around my kitchen while cleaning it and dance while painting.

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I hadn’t painted a new picture in several months but the new music was exactly what I needed to kick my inspiration into gear. It felt so wonderful putting brush to canvas and smearing acrylic colors all over the place! Painting is a very freeing experience for me and I always listen to upbeat music while doing it. As I already said, I dance to the music when I paint and I also have my living room curtains open so anyone driving by can see me if they look in. I don’t particularly care though as I imagine I’m already known as the “peculiar single woman who walks her yellow dog a lot” by most of the people in my neighborhood.

All that matters to me is that the power of music can lift my spirit and my feet and spark my creativity in the best way!

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Why do beads excite me so?

For tonight’s blog, I decided to post the very first assignment I received during last term’s Intro to Creative Writing class. The prompt was to write a poem that addressed a burning why question and after quite a bit of thought, this is what I came up with. Poetry is not my strong point, but I did my best and received a decent grade for my efforts. Enjoy!

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3 cut beads

Why do beads excite me so?

The sight of beads excites me
Because their myriad of colors
Ignite the fire of creativity in my spirit
The way writing used to do
Long ago before my muse departed.

Within those small, round
And perfectly polished pieces
Of colored glass
I see the potential to create
Artwork, jewelry, embellishments
That glimmer with life in sunlight.

Opening the latest delivery
Filled with shiny bead bags, hanks, and tubes
Of new unique hues, tiny sizes, and sparkling finishes
Sends feelings of warmth and eagerness
Through my entire body
As my mind begins to turn.

Shall I create a new pattern?
A beaded picture captured
In a bracelet, barrette, pendant, or earrings
Where each colored bead
Works like paint on a palette.

Or shall I just choose colors?
Cool blues, fiery reds, refreshing yellows
Calming greens, regal purples, earthy browns
Start weaving with needle and thread
Through suede or felt
Until what I see in my mind
Appears in my hands.

The smooth feel of beads relax me
The tiny percussive sound of beads energize me
The spills that send them
Scattering across table and floor
Excite me in undesirable ways
As I’m certain I’ll never find them all.

Beading is my meditation
My Zen garden in a world of chaos
A way to regain focus and calm
Shut out the frantic fears
Of a writer who lives in doubt
That my patterns of words
Will never again be as beautiful
As my beaded creations.

Those who can’t teach, do

blue and red abstract painting

My final painting of the night. Not my usual style.

Recently I’ve been sucked into a game called Trivia Crack thanks to my fellow SNHU students. It was mentioned on the online student social media platform and now many of the connections I have on there are playing it. Well, I suppose they could have been playing it for years, but I only just learned about it.

While I enjoyed Trivial Pursuit to a degree, eventually everyone would get tired of playing it and we’d name a winner before all the pie pieces were won. I often surprised myself with the random bits of information I’d know that helped me answer questions. Thankfully, Trivia Crack doesn’t take nearly as long as Trivial Pursuit, though I’m finding it just as mentally challenging…and frustrating.

Ridiculously enough, my worst category is Art, followed closely by Sports which isn’t a big shocker. My best topic is Entertainment which makes sense because I know all sorts of random movie and television trivia. Nonetheless, my lack of “knowledge” in the Art category perturbed me. I do consider myself an artist but no, I don’t know a whole lot about art history and such. According to the game Leonardo, Michelangelo and Picasso were all left-handed, but I’ve found some websites that dispute that. Either way, I refused to let a trivia game get me down so I decided that since I could never teach Art or Art History, I’d paint some art in the art present. There’s that saying “Those who can’t do, teach” so I just reversed it to “Those who can’t teach, do.” I’m clever like that…

starry night

My first creation of the night.

I haven’t created any new paintings in many months but tonight felt like a good time. I cranked up my music, got out my paints, prepped three canvases, chose the colors, selected several brushes, and went to town. I’m reasonably satisfied with my creations, especially since I’m rusty, and it was a very enjoyable experience. Painting reassured me that I still have that creativity inside me even if I don’t know the name of Picasso’s second cousin’s best friend’s cat. 😉

seal painting

My second painting of the night.

Creating beyond words

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I’ve been swamped with freelance writing work this week and that’s a very good thing! By the end of the day, I’m mentally exhausted and my ability with words nearly depleted. That’s when I busy my fingers with enjoyable endeavors beyond the keyboard and start playing with clay. Eventually my creative experimentation will evolve into more polished pieces but for now, it’s just a meditative process and a constructive way to recharge my imaginative energy.

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A Creative Spirit

Jordan unwrapping her birthday cupcake

Jordan unwrapping her birthday cupcake

Today is my oldest daughter’s eleventh birthday. As difficult as it was to comprehend my youngest turning seven, it’s even harder to accept that Jordan is now eleven! She’s starting sixth grade in September which really doesn’t seem possible.

I remember the day Jordan was born. We hadn’t wanted to find out the gender but I really wanted a girl so when the doctor said I had a girl, I was ecstatic! She had a full head of soft, dark hair and looked like a little me. As she’s grown up, she resembles me both in appearance and personality. She and I are very similar and can butt heads now and then. I have the final say as the mother though. I want her to also see me as a friend but being her mother always comes first.

Jordan has more artistic talent than I did at her age, than I do now in fact. She’s able to draw people far better than I can. She’s a writer too and she’s really good at putting humor into some of her stories. I read her stuff and it makes me laugh and as that was her intention, she smiles. She is an amazing older sister to Jaycie and the two play wonderfully together!

Jordan reading her new pony book and Jaycie listening intently

Jordan reading her new pony book and Jaycie listening intently

Jordan can be rather shy just like I was and still am at times. It takes her a while to come out of her shell but once she does, she shines brighter than morning sunlight. She’s doing exceptionally well in school and her teachers love her, she’s even tutored other students on occasion. I know she will achieve whatever she puts her mind to!

Jordan working on one of her stories

Jordan working on one of her stories

Being the mother of such an intelligent and beautiful girl is an amazing gift. It also brings with it a lot of motherly worries. I know how mean boys and other girls can be when they reach a certain age and I hate the idea of her being picked on like I was. I feel I am better equipped to deal with any problems that arise now that I’m working from home. The school is less than five minutes from my house so if something is amiss, I’ll be down there so fast heads will spin!

Jordan with some of her artwork on display at school

Jordan with some of her artwork on display at school

I have faith that Jordan will choose a new and amazing path for herself and explore her full potential. I try very hard to be a good role model. I hope that seeing me own and maintain my own home and solve my problems on my own shows her that women are capable of anything! My baby Jordan is meant to stand confidently on her own two feet and make her own way in this world. Her loving mama will always have her back though.

Below is a gallery of drawings Jordan created using my pen and tablet in Paint. They’re her “anime” interpretations of the three of us.

Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

Snapshot 1 (5-31-2013 6-18 AM)

I often joke with my best friend that I could write a book about my life and sell it as fiction because no one would believe it all happened to one person. I haven’t climbed to the top of Mount Everest or formulated the cure for the common cold, I’ve just lived my life and done my best to roll with what comes. I think we all have an amazing and unique story to tell when we escape the mundane of daily existence and see life for what it really is: an endless adventure!

My beloved English teacher and friend, Derek Hulse told me when I was 16 that I should write my autobiography. I found the idea silly because I was only 16 and felt I hadn’t experienced anything that justified an autobiography. Apparently he saw great things in my past and future that were worthy of being told and I’ve been telling them for the past few years in my blogs. I am certain that numerous people live far more interesting lives than I do and I don’t profess to be an incredibly amazing, crocodile-wrestling, swashbuckling woman of the world. I’m just a girl who wakes up every day grateful for another dawn.

I never know what my day is going to bring. Even the smallest tasks turn into large undertakings sometimes. My quest to find a more fuel efficient-and yet still standard transmission-car involves renting an automatic car for the weekend when the first auto deal falls apart. I set out to dig up thistles and the handle on my garden spade snaps like a twig. I go to mow my lawn and the neighbors chicken decide to hold a parade through my lilac bushes. A weekend trip to Boston leads to a whole new direction and purpose in my life that continues to motivate me onward. These are the adventures I’ve lived and continue to live.

So I created a photo montage set to music and uploaded my video to Vimeo for your viewing pleasure…or to at least take up three minutes of your day. You can watch it by clicking on the photo above or the link at the end of this entry. In it I’ve featured several photos from my blogs and others I’ve taken just to document the mind-boggling little mishaps that occur in my life. Stars include my darling daughters, adorable dog, samples of my baking, creatures from the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, my mower, the Massachusetts locations of Boston, Newburyport and Amesbury, some of my artwork and everything in between. I believe it tells an interesting story about the everyday adventures in this extraordinary life that belongs to a simple woman just making her way in the world.

Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

What Makes a Writer

writing spirals and character sketches

What makes a writer? What makes me a writer? Good question. My answer? There are all these amazing ideas that pop into my head at all hours of the day and night that demand to be written. It’s been happening since I was 12 years old. I’d just finished reading A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony and I felt inspired to create my own fantasy world. So I did just that. I created a magical world called Zindar which I later renamed to Aindar and for the next 15 years I wrote books that took place in that world.

When I say wrote books, I literally mean I hand wrote books. I started out writing cursive pencil in five subject college-ruled spiral notebooks. Eventually I graduated to pen and printing. Then I took a keyboarding class in 9th grade and my parents bought me a Hewlett-Packard word processor and I began typing away at last! The first book I ever typed out was Spark of Beginnings which is now Dawn of Allies. I’ve rewritten that book at least three times since its creation and I’m still not satisfied with it. My first and still my biggest fan is my best friend Crystal and she will get a signed, gold-embossed, personally engraved first editions of every book I ever publish.

As I continued to write in my Aindar books, my Hands of Magic series, my characters aged and had children and I realized I had a lot to keep track of. I needed to remember what they looked like, the magic they possessed, what age they would be in each book, where they came from, who they married, etc. I knew there was no way I could track that all in my head so I started using Excel to create spreadsheets. I would also trace Marvel comic books and transform those heroes into the characters in my book. Those were my favorite visual references to work on. I’ve also traced models in fashion catalogues and from pictures printed off the internet. It’s not exactly fancy or high-tech but it works for me. I can’t freehand draw recognizable things like humans and animals no matter how vivid they are in my mind.

I used to sketch my castle and building layouts on paper but then I discovered a 3D home design program that allowed me to build my locations in a wonderfully interactive way. I built everything from small homes to a sprawling castle to an entire city. I could literally walk through the 3D renderings of my locations and get a feel for my surroundings. I spent countless hours creating visual representations of my world and loved every minute of it!

Layout of one of my buildings

Layout of one of my buildings

3D view inside that building

3D view inside that building

I’m not just writing, I’m creating whole worlds with the words I type out. I’m sure every writer knows what it feels like to breathe life and emotions into their characters. I remember being asked as a teenager what my chosen career was and when I’d say “I’m a writer” I’d usually receive a rather pitying look. What a silly notion to believe that I could make a worthwhile living as a writer. I imagine all artists experience this whether they’re writers, painters, dancers, actors or musicians. Non-creative people looking at us as though we’re insane while they hope that we have some sort of “backup plan” that will actually make us money. It’s understandable I suppose, but not entirely fair. We’re all entitled to our dreams and we all have the right to pursue our bliss.

My oldest daughter Jordan has inherited my talent for writing and she’s far better at it at 10 years old than I was at 12. She’s currently reading A Spell for Chameleon. She’s a very talented artist, flute-player and all around smart, clever little girl. I will never discourage her from writing, drawing, making music, painting and whatever else creative she wants to do. My goal is to show her that yes, it’s possible to make it as an artist. While it takes hard work, it’s the best kind of work because it brings fulfillment to your soul, spirit and heart. Never stop creating!

P.S. – I added more to the Unbroken Flames excerpt on Corbin Creations. The ideas never stop coming…