Thursday, February 26, 2015

IF I got serious about a notebook/planner...

Inspiring sample pages from one of many planner sites.
It is vast, borderline Byzantine, the world of planners and notebooks.  I feed one of my favorite dawdling inclinations by etsy window shopping for washi tape, nearly microscopic stickers and the irresistible sticky notes which call to my inner 12-year-old like the sirens.

Yesterday I actually presented myself with a compelling reason to keep some sort of record of goings-on, that of being able to know (rather than try and remember) when certain medical appointments and procedures had taken place.  I could find a way to tab pages containing that information for easy retrieval.  This is beginning to look like a plan.  The headline in my imagination shouts, "Senior Citizen Gets Organized."  At least by my definition.
The Hobonichi Techno 2015.
Hobonichi with stickers, from Pinterest, no working link.
Mike Rohde's icon library for bullet journaling.
As you can see, the possibilities are infinite.
Before leaving the meat-and-potatoes part of planners, I want to mention a Pinterest page called Just.the.Filofax by Jodi B. Loves Books.  We're having some fun now.  On to the, ahem, accessories.

Twelve sticky note designs, 15 sheets each.  Many others available here.
Narrow washi tapes, shipped withing the US.
Circle stickers for color coding in your planner.
I thought these "Hello Eva" cartoon stickers were especially charming.
For real shopping or browsing, Google is your new best friend, in case you didn't know that already.  For my searches I added the word etsy to each entry, such as: narrow MT washi tape etsy or cat sticky notes etsy.  I enjoy playing on-line detective shopper, even when I'm not planning to buy.  The looking and finding are what I consider harmless fun, unless you have more important things to do with your time, which I do but still, on occasion, choose to throw all responsible behavior to the wind.  And we haven't even begun to discuss pens or color pencils.

I thank my friend Lisa for luring me down this path, just as she did with the mention of "The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries."  Lisa does the heavy lifting and I just follow along, to my delight.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Word of the Week - 51

Wonderful photo by JR Woodward of a rainy day in LA.
Word of the Week:  SEASONAL

My childhood memory of February skies displays them as cloudy.  After two weeks of sunshine and some record temperatures, Saturday morning arrived with a more expectedly seasonal overcast and Sunday the same.  Rain in the afternoon, rain heavy enough to hear which is not always the case.

Within the past few weeks two friends mentioned keeping notebooks of how they spend their days.  One has maintained this activity since 1984.  I find such consistency admirable, enviable and so far outside my experience that considering it leaves me bewildered.  I think if I kept such a record, assuming I noted the weather for each day, which would be a simple task, a few words, I would know just what the sky was doing on a specific February day.  I even ordered a notebook similar to one a friend described, attracted to her vertical format for listing bullet points.  The book arrived a week ago.  Getting in the habit of using it challenges me and using it with flair and color and creativity, as she does, feels like trying to teach myself Mandarin.
A shared Facebook post from Brain Pickings offered Mary Oliver talking about habit.  It is an article I need to read more than once, allowing time for a good soaking-in.

"What some might call the restrictions of the daily office they find to be an opportunity to foster the inner life. The hours are appointed and named… Life’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers… And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real."

What is habit if not a practice of consistency or a dedication to it, intentional or not.  I think about being consistent, which I equate with being reliable, as one of the hurdles that confronts me.  It has a lot of company.  A daily jotting of words or phrases to preserve time seems an especially worthy habit.  I trust it is one I can learn.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Giants

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To teach imagination is to teach everything

(for my brother Mike on his birthday)

From the blog of Carolina Georgatou.
Even Einstein told us that imagination is more important than knowledge. How do we know where one begins, leaving the other to follow? I know as well as I know anything that without imagination we might still be cave-dwellers or fishermen terrified of the Earth's flatness. In a not very original comparison, imagination feels like flinging open the school doors and letting everyone run free, trusting they will find their place, acquire the information they need to reach their destination, realize there are no walls and no limits.

To dream BIG is an adventure. If the lands we seek are only in our minds, what of it? The realms of Tolkien or Baum or Bradbury may not exist on any maps, still they are as real to us as the corner drugstore in our hometown, much more real than what we may have had presented to us as the system's version of history - pick an era. If our brains were skyscrapers, imagination would be housed on the top floor. Not difficult to reach - there are express elevators - but easily missed because gravity or the status quo or someone's expectations or fears kept us from venturing that far from what we thought we knew. Mary Chapin Carpenter has a song called "Heroes and Heroines," in which she tells of risk-takers, people who are unfamiliar with the word impossible, and speaks of our American pioneers, choosing "...a life that's never safe and dry..." and I found those words resonated for me as epitomizing reasons why we may wish to stay uninformed, unenlightened. Imagination carries the possibility of risk and reward. Yet staying put has never been a guarantee of that safe, dry life, for I don't believe it exists. Fiction has given us examples that appear in everyday language, like falling down the rabbit hole, finding the entrance to Narnia or the road to Oz. Rod Serling's introduction to "Twilight Zone" episodes mentions imagination, in almost the same breath as he speaks of worlds "...as vast as space and as timeless as infinity."

Two of the three children in our family had imaginary friends and the third sibling lived a vicarious life through a sizable stuffed bear who had a flourishing literary career. I spent years writing dialogue in my head and wondering why, when the people around me spoke, they never used the words I'd prepared for them. Our parents followed creative paths, yet were not wildly outside any norms for their time. I no longer believe in ordinary as an inevitable state; I believe we each possess the capacity for the exceptional. One may choose ordinary but I don't think anyone who wishes to escape can really be stopped. In our minds we discover there are no limits, no walls too high, no thorn hedges too impenetrable, no world which could not exist if we gave it breath and light.

Dream huge. Stare out the window and let your thoughts run everywhere. Let the dam burst, the gargoyles take flight and twin suns rise in the morning. We are so much more than we know, unfettered, unhampered by time. We are the stories and the tellers, we are enormous, we are endless, heart-breakingly beautiful, fierce and wise. We will never be small again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Fellows, flash fiction inspired by "House On A River" - Egon Schiele

House On A River, painting by Egon Schiele.
Oakley and DuBon tossed a coin to see if today might be laundry day.  Heads for yes.  If the answer was yes, they flipped it again to see who had to gather and sort, who had to pin washing to the line.  Since it came up tails, no other answers were needed, once they figured out how to get by for another 24-hours without socks or underwear, or certainly without clean choices.

In their circle where everyone was known and addressed by last names only, Oakley and DuBon were far from the least hygienic members.  That laundry was an issue in their lives marked them as fussy.  They believed it spoke of some higher evolutionary state.  Oakley's room in The Manse was watched over by a poster of Charles Darwin.  All the resident life forms accorded it the status of a sacred object.

Despite what would be called, with some generosity, indifferent habits, all who lived at or hung out around The Manse had collective and individual sartorial conceits.  The hand-worked Sgt. Pepper coat which wondrously appeared atop a neighborhood garbage can one misty morning became community property.  A chart, maintained by Pribble, indicated whose turn it was to wear the coat.  Requests for out-of-sequence special occasion use had to be filed in writing, or what might pass for it, and were pondered with much brow wrinkling.  Pribble put out the word among his associates that a discarded judge's wig would lend appropriate gravitas to his responsible position, but so far none had turned up.

They insisted they were not a gang, this disparate band, collectively known among themselves and around the streets as The Fellows.  Their ways were generally peaceful, little was done in haste, resentments did not fester but flared with a quick yowl and a paw swat.  The group's muttered slogan was, "It's a dogs world, or so they think."  Life was good.  No one expected it to be trouble-free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In the round

Individual mille fiore glass beads.
The circle encloses.  As a design form it appeals to what sense of tidiness I possess.  Unless we consider piles to be tidy.  At those I excel.

Mille fiore glass paperweight.
They remind me of cells, studied through a high school microscope.  Undersea life, shape within shape.  On some days lines and grids beg my attention, today it is circles, the candy-like elements of Italian glass and, simply, the circle.
Fabric by designer Kaffe Fassett.
Thinking today of poets and poetry, of ways in which we return to the beginnng.  A friend shared this poem by Philip Levine yesterday, with the mention that he died on Valentine's Day.

Let me begin again as a speck
of dust caught in the night winds
sweeping out to sea. Let me begin
this time knowing the world is
salt water and dark clouds, the world
is grinding and sighing all night, and dawn
comes slowly and changes nothing. Let
me go back to land after a lifetime
of going nowhere. This time lodged
in the feathers of some scavenging gull
white above the black ship that docks
and broods upon the oily waters of
your harbor…Tonight I shall enter my life
after being at sea for ages, quietly,
in a hospital named for an automobile.
The one child of millions of children
who has flown alone by the stars
above the black wastes of moonless waters
that stretched forever, who has turned
golden in the full sun of a new day.
A tiny wise child who this time will love
his life because it is like no other.


—from "LET ME BEGIN AGAIN," by Philip Levine

"I got that phrase 'let me begin again' in my head, and the images took me to an emotional field that must have been waiting inside me for some kind of release. I realized that I wanted to enter my life exactly as I had the first time but with one huge difference: this time I wanted to love my life and myself. I was suddenly struck by the fact that in spite of the impossible and unique gift of a life, it took me so long to learn that I and my life were lovable."—former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, Paris Review interview

Survivors of trauma, working with pick-and-shovel, know the circle in another of its guises, the spiral.  When, after years of often exhausting effort in common and unconventional modalities, we raise our eyes to behold places we thought belonged to the past, there is momentary despair until we remember the spiral may have a familiar view but at a different level.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Word of the Week - 50

Hand-knitted socks from Pinterest.
Word of the Week:  MAKERS

Bakers bake, builders build, crafters craft.  We are all makers of something.  We are, in fact, alchemists, taking raw materials and transforming them into something entirely new and different.  It is magic, pure and true.

Every meal cooked is a creative act, as is every sentence written.  Makers are midwives, attendants, facilitators, as one form becomes another.

Because life is serial problem-solving, we may grow away from noticing and claiming our inventiveness.  I love the image of unmatched socks, assuming the knitter had tons of short leftover bits which could not be turned into an identical pair, except perhaps for a newborn, and had to improvise.  With a beautiful result.

We put together, we invent, we make do, make it up, reclaim, repurpose and possibly forget all those resume-worthy acts.  Skills, Napoleon Dynamite said, "Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills."  Do not underestimate yourself in the skills department.  Think: MacGyver.  I rest my case.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Word of the Week - 49

My sister and I remain fans of the pun Valentines from our childhoods.
Word of the Week:  VALENTINE

With or without a traditional sweetheart, I am a fool for Valentine's Day and its message, "Send Love."

The trappings, of course, speak directly to my child and grown-up soul:  paper, red, ribbons, doilies, stickers, handmade cards and envelopes and hearts, miles and miles of hearts.

LOVE stamp by Robert Indiana, 1973.
I have come through the softening effects of time to know that love is the infrastructure of existence.  It is, in the ideal, who we are meant to be, what we are here to do.  While there are so many variations of its expression, I consider sharing to be the top choice.  It is the jolliest potluck we will ever attend, the one at which whatever we have and bring is enough.
Art by Corita Kent. ..
We get to be the chocolate covered marshmallow candy, squishable, thin of shell.  We have the option to reach much more than halfway, to reach ALL the way to connect with anyone, everyone. It is not about what we get but what we give.  Let us listen to what intuition confides and act upon it.  There is infinite space within our human hearts. 

We are asked to be patient with what we see as our shortcomings, asked to love ourselves out of the belief that we are lacking.  We are the raw materials through which change comes into the world, one kind or encouraging or inspiring word at a time.  We are a source of magic, of beauty, of wonder, part of nature, blessed with the gift of language and the power to heal.  We are, oh the impossible luck, the Valentines.
Cut paper heart by Elsa Mora.