Posted by m at 2:47 PM
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
One of the problems I find is that I get in a rut. Its very easy to do. Suddenly one realises that you're making the same 4 recipes over and over again. You see the same friends over and over again. You travel the same routes and life seems 'blah'.
I'm deliberately trying to change my habits. Somethings are small change my seat, move around the room. Somethings big - change my thought habits 'maybe it will work out'.
On Friday I got a different buses to and from work. I sat on the top deck - I normally sit at the bottom. I got a totally new perspective on the journey. I was able to look down into the woods, get new vistas. On the journey home I was 'entertained' by a delightful conversation by two young women - one complaining about being thrown out of her flat, consuming some compensation money on drugs, more complaining about being sent back to jail, and finally how she would just get some more money by stealing it. I'm beginning to understand how people become more right wing as they grow older. I'm also remembering while I usually sit on the lower deck! The upper deck used to be the smoking section of the bus. This was stopped in Edinburgh about 10 years ago but still has this residual air of being the undesirable part of the bus with the undesirable inhabitants....
Meanwhile go here Little Birds crafty blog via Andrea Scher.
Arvon Foundation has a new programme out. Fantastic courses for beginner writers also poetry, biography, crime, lit novel, sci fi, cookery, screenwriting (Film, TV , Radio) playwriting, and all in gorgeous places. Generous bursaries for those in need.
HKhandknit a great shop in Bruntsfield Edinburgh for the knitter.
Posted by m at 2:56 PM
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I've realised recenly I've been caught up in language, explaining things, writing things and planning things rather than experincing life.
I had a discussion about a work project where the subject of colour came up and I launched into a description of one of Anne Redpath's paintings of an orange chair - unfortuantly I can't find a reproduction of it but the combination of black/pink/acidy yellow is amazing enough here.
I've got to get out of my head.
Posted by m at 8:41 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Cool to be kind: Spreading a little happiness
Published: 21 February 2007 The Independent
The boy in the hooded top sizes me up. "Wanker!" he says. "Perv!" shouts his mate. "Paedo!" laughs another. I look deep into their adolescent eyes, and deliver my pre-scripted reply: "Are you sure you don't just need a good hug?" Apparently, they don't. The boys disappear into the Oxford Street crowds, and I carry on walking up the pavement, holding a large sign that offers sympathetic hugs to any Monday afternoon shoppers who might "really need it".
To most passers-by in this part of central London, I must look like another lonely oddball going about his daily business. But most passers-by would be wrong. Despite the "hug me" sign and plastic smile, I do not crave love and affection; instead I'm a slightly embarrassed investigative reporter taking part in a serious social experiment.
Today is Ash Wednesday, when western Christians celebrate the start of Lent. In keeping with tradition, millions of Britons will forego one of life's treats (chocolate, alcohol, sweets, etc) for 40 days and 40 nights.
This year though, things are different. Reasoning, rightly, that most resolutions add nothing to the sum of human happiness, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has launched a campaign to rebrand Lent. Its name is, "Love Life, Live Lent".
The principle behind his brainchild is simple. Instead of giving something up, Anglicans are encouraged to spend time each day being "generous to yourself, your neighbours, and the world". Like good boy scouts, followers must do one good deed each day.
To help them, the Church of England has published a book of "simple actions" that followers can perform during Lent, and invited churchgoers to sign up for text message alerts, in which they will be contacted with one act of kindness to perform each day between now and Easter.
It will provide a religious take on an intriguing international trend. In recent years, in different corners of the globe, several movements have sprung up inviting followers to combat the selfishness of modern life by doing nice things to random strangers.
Today, I want in on the act. In one 24-hour period, I shall attempt to carry out all 40 of the church's acts of kindness. With luck, it will make a small difference to the daily life of a handful of complete strangers, and provide me with a warm glow.
Yet it may also help answer some big questions. Are random acts of kindness an enduring human trait? Can we find time to perform them in the hurly-burly of modern life? Will those on the receiving end really care?
First, I must walk up Oxford Street carrying a silly sign. You see, one of the 40 "actions" I must perform is to "hug someone who needs it". A few minutes later, I find my man. Mutu works near Oxford Circus Tube station, holding up a sign pointing towards a golf sale. He's cold, bored, and he earns minimum wage. If anyone needs a hug, it is Mutu. And after a bit of talking, he agrees.
I hold tight, share some love, and ask him to smile for a camera. Then I offer him some fruit. He accepts, which is helpful, because it allows me to "give someone an apple", number 14 on the list. That's two acts of kindness down, 38 to go.
If you put your mind to it, carrying out acts of kindness can start as soon as you wake up. You can be kind to people in different parts of the country, or on the other side of the world, or even be kind to the planet itself, without leaving your home.
So I "turn off the tap when I clean my teeth", drink an ethical coffee (I've been instructed to "buy a Fairtrade product") having only "filled the kettle with the water I need". I forego a bacon sandwich in favour of muesli, since this is an opportunity to "have a meat-free day".
In keeping with the Archbishop of Canterbury's sandal-wearing public image, many of his "simple actions" are aimed at combating climate-change, or otherwise helping the environment. This Lent, he advises Anglicans to "put on a jumper and turn down the heat in your house", and to "buy a low-energy lightbulb". Oh, and "don't leave the TV or hi-fi on standby".
I do all of the above in a jiffy. Yet however helpful or nice, or eco-friendly these small domestic acts are, they are really just a warm-up act for the main event of being randomly kind to strangers.
That very important task involves leaving the house and heading off into our capital city, a journey during which I tick off number seven - "give up my place to someone who is in a rush". Modern commuter-train etiquette is a tricky subject - the comedian Jimmy Carr never gives up his seat since (he says) it's better to see four pregnant women standing than one fat girl sitting down in tears - but we get there in the end.
I hurry to Oxfam on Marylebone High Street, because I'm looking to "give a friend a good book or CD", and quickly get very lucky. They're selling a Kim Wilde cassette for 49p, the greatest Bee Gees album ever (The Very Best of the Bee Gees) for £2.99, and EastEnders' Mike Reid's groundbreaking autobiography T'rific for £4.50.
All told, it's bashed into the till for £7.98. I wince. "Could we do a deal?" I ask. Libam, the volunteer behind the counter, isn't sure. "Since I'm buying three of them, how about we call it £10." He pauses. "OK, OK," I say. "I'll give £12, but that's my final offer."
Libam agrees. "Thank you very much," he says, not handing me any change. "Not at all," I reply. I've just managed to "buy something at the local charity shop, and reverse haggle". Another tick.
Next, it's off to Leicester Square, to "plant some seeds where the flowers will be seen". I also draft a quick note to Westminster council, informing it of what I've just done. I'd been asked to "visit a park and then write to the council to tell them what you think".
Next I manage (illegally) to "feed the birds" in Trafalgar Square. I also visit a phone box to make a call to "find out about blood or organ donation" and "leave a £1 coin where someone will find it", just above the receiver. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Finally, I find some half-price daffodils in Waitrose and give a bunch to a local flower-seller. The recipient of the attempt to "purchase a buy-one-get-one-free and give the free one away" is called Chris and comes from Eastern Europe, so our brief encounter also constitutes "having a conversation with someone from a different culture".
Like most good ideas, the "Love Life, Live Lent" campaign began life in a pub. Five years ago, the comedian Danny Wallace founded an organisation known as the Karma Army, which now boasts several thousand members. Its purpose is to carry out one random act of kindness each Friday.
Wallace chronicled the birth of his movement in the book Join Me!, and has given the CoE permission to use some of his suggested charitable acts - known as "Good Fridays" - in its literature for the current project.
"We tend to brush kindness under the carpet, or lose our nerve, or worry people might think we're odd if we go up to a stranger and do something nice," Wallace tells me. "But everyone wins from kindness. The person being kind gets a buzz from it, as much as the person on the receiving end benefits.
"It's win-win. There's so much cynicism, but what you realise is that there's much more fun to be had in being nice to people."
With this in mind, I walk to Borough Market to "use local shops rather than supermarkets". In Neal's Yard Dairy, I grab some stilton, and ask the assistant to let me pay for the girl behind me, thus managing to "buy something for someone anonymously".
Then, having gazed longingly at butchers' vans being unloaded (meat is still verboten) it's off to nearby Southwark Cathedral, where I can tick off the requirement to "find an open church and pay it a visit", and also to "spend some time in silence".
In the coffee shop, I meet the magnificently named Reverend Tina Turner, the vicar of St Christopher's in Croydon, south London. She takes me back into the cathedral to "light a candle and pray for someone", before agreeing to "read St John's Gospel, chapter 19" to me. It's a harrowing, slightly gory passage covering the trial and persecution of Jesus.
To clear our heads, we "go for a walk with friends in the neighbourhood", allowing me to "pick up litter", and quiz Ms Turner on some of my misgivings about the random acts of kindness the church has suggested.
Is it not dangerous for the church to suggest that "having a TV-free day" (as I am) or giving up meat for 24 hours is always a good thing? Doesn't this suggest that watching telly is immoral? Or that hamburgers are the food of the Devil?
"I don't think it's about moral versus immoral," she responds. "It's about doing something different from what you'd normally do, and asking yourself why don't I do this more often?
"The traditional purpose of giving things up in Lent is to help self-examination and penitence. The idea is to give something up so you can focus on God. But it's become watered-down: you have the self-denial, but not the other side of the coin - self-examination. The kindness campaign is about focusing on the other side of that coin."
As we say our goodbyes, a case in point. Outside a local coffee shop, I spot a man in his fifties enjoying a drink. I ask whether I can sit next to him, explaining that it would be nice to "have a conversation with someone from a different generation". He agrees. His name is John.
John is house-hunting, since bailiffs are attempting to evict him from his current dwelling. The landlord failed to keep up payments on his mortgage. "Fortunately, my wife works at the Belgian embassy so we've been able to claim diplomatic immunity," he says. "They can't turf us out. But I don't want to stay there for ever, so here I am."
John is already a devotee of random acts of kindness. He tries to do one every day, and says it makes him feel great. "Even if it's a miserable old cow in the post office, if you can make her smile when you're paying for a stamp, you've done something worthwhile. I've been doing it for years, but I don't think of it as a random act of kindness. I think of it as being human."
And in a way, he has a point.
Today, British churchgoers will be texted with the first of their 40 instructions, and it will be to "make someone laugh". I begin my search for laughter by ticking off another instruction: "go to a party". John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, has invited friends to the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, to launch an exhibition by Robert Lenkiewicz.
The event offers a chance to "say something nice about someone behind their back" and "make a drink for a friend or colleague" (or at least pour one). It also allows John to share his favourite joke with me: "There's a new Liverpudlian version of Silence of the Lambs coming out... it's called "Shut Up, Youse".
If anyone understands kindness, it ought to be Bird, whose homelessness charity is underpinned by the generosity of Big Issue readers and donors. "An act of kindness is a kind of encapsulation of humanity," he says. "If you are nice to an animal, you are expressing humanity. If you are nice to a person, you are also expressing humanity. When someone asked Plato what the purpose of life is, he replied that it's love. And kindness is just one step removed from love.
"It's a universal thing, too. Even in the darkest days of Rwanda or the Holocaust there's always little acts of kindness. It's funny, but people do these little things. You can never be paid for it. There's never a motive. It's just something you do."
To Bird and other believers, random acts of kindness affirm our existence. Some, like the decision to "ring a loved one" (my mum, on the way home) or "do a chore for someone" (dishes for my flatmate, when I get there) are things we do every day.
Others, like the moth I later liberate in an effort to "help a bug out of the house rather than squash it", or the cream tea I forewent earlier, in order to "miss a meal and pray instead", are things most people would class as a one-off.
Yet doing all of them, and thinking about why (I must "now write to someone [the Rev Tina] and thank them") teach us that modern life doesn't have to be all miserable, unfriendly, and selfish. And it's rather uplifting.
The clock passes 1am before I reach the end of the list of kindness. I have just tried to "bake something and share it" (wrong flour makes it inedible), and now only one task remains: "phone someone to say goodnight".
Feeling a warm glow of self-satisfaction (though I can't tell whether it's from simply finishing the list, or actually helping people), I call Mutu, the billboard man I hugged earlier in the day, and leave a message.
Sadly, he never replies. Kind I may be, but deep down I suspect that he probably thinks I'm completely mad.
Who else is spreading the joy?
Small Kindness Movement
The Small Kindness Movement was born in Japan in the 1960s, "while the Japanese society was undergoing rapid post-war development [and] young people were missing their ideals and purposes of life, their energy [being] poured into student movements". A Professor Kaya instead urged people to be kind, "so that it will become the habit of our society".
World Kindness Movement
The Singapore-based WKM, which is funded by the government, was formed in 1997 and established a World Kindness Day (13 November).Activities include a Courtesy Campaign, which suggests good manners for every situation.
Bright Smile Movement
The South Korean BSM's website says: "Korea also have suffered from invasions more than 930 through 5,000 years' history, ruled under Japan, war between same people, division, dictatorship, IMF, etc. Our nation was the one of most unfortunate people in the world. But Korean have overcome tribulations with smile keeping hope. We want to share the power... of creating smile."
Extreme Kindness Crew
Formed in 2001 in the wake of 9/11, this foursome have clocked up 50,180 acts of kindness - from giving out free fruit, to massaging strangers, tiling roofs and breaking in wild horses - and have also staged kindness "protests".
Chloe's Peace Brigade
"Welcome, everyone, to our groovy gravy Peace Brigade booklet sort of thing," begins Chloe's teenage treatise on why we should all smile, pay compliments to our enemies and clean our rooms, first posted online last September. "Just because we're not adults doesn't mean we can't help change the world," she continues, before suggesting a page full of kindness tips for teens.
The Scary Guy, aka 'the new face of love'
The intro on Scary Guy's website announces: "I've got one mission and one mission only, the total elimination of hate, violence and prejudice. Worldwide." This American biker's anti-bullying school tours have been greeted rapturously.
Free Hugs Guy
The Australian known as Juan Mann ("one man") began by holding up a placard offering "free hugs" in Sydney and became a global phenomenon after a friend posted a video of Juan on YouTube. "It's a way to make people smile," he says.
UK Kindness organisations:
The Karma Army (http://www.join-me.co.uk/)
British organisers of Karmageddon, an annual London festival of RaoK (random acts of kindness).
Kindness Scotland (http://www.kindnesscotland.co.uk/)
Scottish members of the WKM. The organisation runs, among other activities, the Kind Kids Scheme.
Campaign for Courtesy (http://www.campaignforcourtesy.org/)
Formerly the Polite Society, it has themed campaigns each year, for example "politeness in sport".
Act Against Bullying (http://www.actagainstbullying.com/)
This member of the UK Kindness Movement has initiated "B Decent for a Day", with the strapline, "it's cool to be kind".
Posted by m at 11:12 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007
I woke up quite early but the morning ran away with me. A long discussion with my flatmate, two pots of coffee and re-reading Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artist Within. I ordered it last week and picked it up from my favourite indpendent bookshop last thursday. I read it on the train to Glasgow and ping ping ping! lots of sudden shifts of opinion (self opinion) about creative projects started to go off in my head. Perhaps I'm just in the right place to be taking it in. But its good - all good. Eric is a very very wise teacher not afraid to tell a student just what they want to hear and don't want to hear. I'm willing to listen now.
In the meanwhile as I go through my to do list written on scrap of orange paper. Please think about TOO MUCH - what is just TOO MUCH?
I had a terrible terrible day last week. A I'm sitting on the bus and I'm nearly crying kind of Day. I rescued the day. Partly by actually picking up Eric's book, having lovely lunch, meeting a friend. Then this weekend I had a whole series of more treats which ameliorated the no good day. Nice soap hunting, stamps to write to people, searching for Green Jasmine Tea at the Chinese supermarket (£1.10!) and luscious trips with a friend to Glasgow and then to see a film last night with another friend. Somewhere along the line a small snarky voice piped up. 'Isn't this too self indugent? Too much Fun?' Yes I may have had TOO MUCH FUN. But I also dug myself out of a hole, got an idea for a creative project ( a fun creative project) and reconnected with a whole section of my life which has been in abeyance (networking but fun). In reality amongst the fun I've done stuff which can be construed as 'work' or 'productive' but in reality I would not have done if I had just rejected the too much activities. Instead of working of course I would have been in a miserable unproductive heap.
What is 'Too Much' for you?
What would really happen if you had 'Too Much' for yourself?
The results might surprise you....
Posted by m at 2:31 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
One of my students Kirsty O'Connor is offering classes in Edinburgh at her studio at Patriothall, Stockbridge in making your own books. Class starts 27th February for the afternoon one and March 1st for the evening one (both 6 weeks long). Contact her on 669 5408 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org In addition there s a one day workshop on sunday 18th March 10-4pm.
Posted by m at 3:07 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
"We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called 'love.' Love is a choice--not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity--a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or as a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh." --Carter Heyward, Passion for Justice
from Jennifer Louden's Self Care Minder 14th February 2006
Posted by m at 10:10 PM
In the same way we can create objects, things, art we can create the kind of world we want one step at a time. I want a world were we value ourselves and the friendships we have so I created my own 'Day'. Its worth thinking about what you can do to make things the way you would like them to be.
Post from last year - today will make my own chocolate cake...
Promise to marry yourself and never leave yourself.Buy yourself flowers.Buy your own chocolates (perferably truffles from Plasir Du Chocolat)Do what you wanna do don't wait until you have someone to go with whether to the shops, cinema, theatre, or the Trans Siberian Express (and if you do end up with a partner who doesnt want to go on the Trans Siberian Express and you do for heavens sake GO alone if needs be)Write a to do list - burn it make instead a list of your deepest desires and keep it close much worse to forget them than renewing the insurance.Promise yourself to not to agree to social activities you don't want to do. Make inventive excuses if you can't just say no. If you still can't say no investing in an assertiveness training course probably will be more help to you than a box of chocolates anyway.Adorn yourself with clothes that you love not just made do with.Have a massage if you've never had one.Invest in all your relationships, yes phone/email/write your funny cousin, hell send your friends valentines.Take the day off, leave work early, sit in a cafe with a coffee and watch the world go by.add your own in comments please
Posted by m at 9:12 PM
Luxuriate in a hot bath. Add perfumes, bubbles, candles, rose petals, rubber ducks if you like...and then when its time to get out -leave it for someone else to clean.Set yourself a budget. Now go spend it on brand new art supplies. Not the ones that you need.The ones that you want. Buy some frivolous knickers and wear them to dance round the house in.Make a tape. Remember how you did it when you were a teenager? Do it now. Put on every single song that makes you want to dance. Now play it. Constantly.
Treat yourself to a CD by someone that you haven't heard before -Buy a cake from a very posh cake shop. ( Heart shaped if possible ! - Plaisir du Chocolat can oblige with this one too )Plan a little trip for sometime soon and enjoying deciding where you'll go and what you'll do.Write little notes and leave them under people's windscreen wipers/ plant pots .Smile at everyone today. You'll feel good and people will wonder what your secret is .Oh ,and if your thing is the transiberian railway, take supplies of EVERYTHING. Siberians think that this is a crazy thing to do for fun !
I thought the soft class of Siberian Railway had a standard baboska (sp) in the corner of carriage to take care of that stuff?
Posted by m at 11:03 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I just did 3/4 of my washing up, cleaned my bathroom sink and scrubbed the dimples on my shower floor with cream cleanser and an old toothbrush and put my shower curtain into the washing machine.
Pretty dull huh?
Actually when I started I felt very overwhelmed by the state of the house so I did a flylady and promised to do it just 15 mins at a time. 45 mins later the place is looking like less of a wreck. I read somewhere that action is better than hope. And certainly contemplating and hoping that my flat would get in order wasn't getting me anywhere and in fact hoping I'd do something about it 'tomorrow' wasn't doing me any good and in fact the mess was bringing me down.
So I just did it.
I didn't wait for the prefect moment to do housework.
I didn't wait to be inspired to do it.
I didn't go out and buy any special 'tools' to do it.
I didn't buy a manual.
I just did it.
Then I did it a bit more.
And surprised myself - after 15 mins more than half of the washing up was done. And when the timer went off while I was scrubbing the shower dimples I carried on to 'finish the job'.
I think that people don't want to know that a lot of creative work depends on doggedness. A stick with it ness. It is more important to keep putting ones foot forward and keeping going rather than relying on 'inspiration' or 'the perfect moment'.
For example when I made my first film my producer and I were turned down by the first choice of camera person I had in mind. It took us 6 months to find a replacement. Yes 6 months. For 6 months I would turn up at his flat and we phoned every contact we had and didn't have until we got a break. Imagine if I'd only put in a month of phoning and then had stopped? I would not have a film.
Posted by m at 11:16 AM
Monday, February 12, 2007
from Christine Kane's blog - well worth exploring
"Creativity isn’t a big deal. It’s like our breath. It’s just a part of who we are. Some of us don’t realize this. People who say, “Oh, I’m not creative,” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” sound to me like they’re trying to convince themselves of something, rather than telling themselves the truth. They make the idea of creativity a BIG DEAL because then it will stay safely at arm’s length out of reach and require nothing of them.
Again, creativity isn’t a big deal. It’s not an event. It doesn’t so much happen, as it is allowed. It comes out slowly.
When I found my dog, she had been badly abused. I was walking in the countryside, and she was watching me from a mound of dirt in an old church yard where she had been dumped. She started to follow me. If I turned around, she’d stop. If I tried to walk towards her, she’d tuck her tail under her butt and walk away from me. But if I moved along on my own way, she’d follow me. She eventually got closer and closer, and ultimately she followed me home.
This is how I experience creativity. Anytime I try to turn around and catch it, it turns away. It’s not about willing it. It rarely takes to announcements like, “Today I’m going to be creative! I’m going to write a whole song!”
In my experience, it’s a process. It is slow. Creativity is a way of being, and though it can’t be forced, it can be cultivated and allowed. It happens when I’m already open and my mind is receptive and quiet. There’s almost a joyful laziness to it. Kind of a “Hmm, well, what if I tried this?Ķ?”
There is definitely a happiness to it. A deep happiness and peace. My theory is that when we cling to our vices, when we do unhealthy things that we adamantly say we deserve, what we’re really trying to do is give ourselves what we keep denying ourselves - a fully creative and artful life. Once we start allowing more creativity in, we might find some of those old habits and “vices” just fall away. After all, they are not a substitute for the real thing.
So, if you’re opening up to a more artful and creative life, know that it’s not something to push. It’s something to allow and live. Here are 21 Ways to be more creative, and subsequently, more happy!
1 - Stop watching television
Or better yet, get rid of the damn thing. Any time I teach writing or creativity, this is one of the biggies. TV is a mind-killer. It numbs you. It fills you with emotionally-charged images and over-simplified solutions. It dulls you. Turn it off. Even if this idea scares you, turn it off.
2 - Take a 20-minute walk everyday
It’s easy to become driven about exercise. You go to the Y. You go running. You think that a 20-minute walk isn’t productive or worth much. Take a 20-minute walk and allow the world to just be. Watch things. Stop and smell things. Notice birds. Let the world unfold and show itself to you.
3 - Write with pen & paper (or pencil and paper)
Keep a journal. Do morning pages. Write in long-hand. Typing on a keypad into a computer doesn’t always open up that tactile sense-loving part of us that loves to create.
I can sometimes get weirdly happy just hearing the sound the pen makes scribbling on paper. I also love it when the paper is thin, and my pen makes indents so it feels sort of Braille-y, and the paper makes a snappy sound when I turn the page.
4 - Write songs to your pets
At the first women’s retreat I ever facilitated, (at a college campus in St. Louis) a group of women sat on the floor one night in the dorm and sang each other the songs we’d written to our various pets. It was hysterical. The more we sat there, the more women came and sat down with us.
I’ve written many songs to my dog. Greatest hits include “Mom’s Little Girl,” “She Is Going to Be a Very Clean Girl,” (a bathtub song) and “She is Unbelievably Cute.” Of course, there’s also the “Good Morning Song.” My cats each have their own songs too. I actually make myself laugh as I’m creating them because my animals look so truly unimpressed with me.
It’s easy to do because you can do it anywhere - while you drive to work, while you make dinner, while you lie on the couch with them?Ķ
5 - Dance around the House
Put on old disco (Earth, Wind, and Fire, baby!), or new Madonna, or swing. Put it on loud. Dance around your house while you make dinner. Or start the day shakin’ your groove thang.
6 - Walk in the rain
I haven’t owned an umbrella in about 10 years. I love the rain. I love walking in it. I wrote the song Everything Green after I hiked in the mountains in the pouring rain. I was journaling about how alive everything was, and I wrote “It was all just rain and mud and wild and green.” That’s how I got my CD title. Walking in the rain can be a happy thing. (Use an umbrella if you want. Rain on umbrellas makes a good sound.)
7 - Make a collage
Magazines. Some Yes Paste. A scrapbook page and lots of crayons and paints and stickers. (And thou.) This isn’t a vision board. It doesn’t have a purpose. It’s just for fun and beauty and making something. I love collaging. I’m not great at it. But I’ve gotten better and better at laying out the page and learning what colors and shapes I love. I always feel more alive when I do one.
8 - Make a list of things you love
My song Loving Hands (on my first CD) was born out of a journal exercise I did where I just wrote a long list of all the things I love. That song remains one of my most requested songs. I had so much fun thinking of things that delight me in the world. Finding feathers, finding pennies, the sound of big flags flapping in the wind, the smell of my cat’s fur when she’s been out in the snow (she smells like a big box of wool mittens). I remember reading it to a friend of mine who just sat there smiling and nodding his head. Even though this was years ago, I still remember how much fun I had making that list.
9 - Write 10 postcards
Go pick out some really cool postcards, and then go to a cafe? somewhere, and order your Genmaicha Tea (Okay, get yourself a Latte if you want) and write postcards to friends and family.
10 - Get up early and watch the sun rise
11 - Listen to music you’ve never listened to before.
After I saw the movie Tortilla Soup, I downloaded a bunch of Latin music from iTunes. One of my favorite nights in my memory this year was a hot rainy night thick with humidity. My husband and I opened up all the windows and doors. We pressure cooked (I love our pressure cooker) some black beans, shared a froo-froo mixed drink and made a fantastic dinner while all of my new Latin and Tejano music was cranked up. It was one of those really happy nights, partly because I loved discovering new music.
12 - Eat with your hands
Be a kid again. Make a meal and put the silverware back into the drawers. Eat with your hands. Have some friends over for a silverwareless dinner.
13 - Be quiet
Light a few candles after dark and just sit. Don’t meditate if you don’t want to. Just sit quietly and listen. Watch the candles. Allow for more silence in your life.
We are a noisy people. I hear people say they can’t stand silence. But it is in silence where we can hear the voice of our creativity. Maybe not at first. But it will come.
Drive with no music on. Make dinner in silence. Pay attention to your hands as you slice the veggies. Just be quiet.
14 - Take a nap
15 - Take photos. Real photos. Not digital photos.
My favorite camera is a Pentax K1000. It’s completely manual, and it’s how I learned to take pictures. I’m not very good. When I first moved to Asheville, I used to walk around town on Sundays (the whole town was closed up then) and take pictures of all the buildings. These photos are now a treasure to me because nothing is the same anymore. (Every building has been bought, remodeled and now is filled with stores that sell trickly fountains, Buddahs, and things that smell grassy.)
Take pictures of anything. And have fun in the old method of actually getting your film developed and the excitement of flipping through photos you haven’t seen yet.
16 - Make an event out of watching the full moon come up
One of the things I love about my husband is that he’s always looking for the perfect place to watch the full moon come up. He’ll make an event out of it. We pile in the car and go to this one field or to a bench on the college campus and sit and watch the moon rise.
17 - Read poetry aloud
Poetry is meant to be read aloud. The words and phrases will tilt your brain and open doors like you never thought they would. My favorites: Mary Oliver, e.e. cummings, Rumi, Pablo Neruda, Sharon Olds, Barbara Brooks, and Alicia Suskin Ostriker. There are lots of collections of poetry if you don’t want to pick just one.
18 - Go see a play or live music or live anything
Get out of the house and experience creativity. Avoid mega-blockbuster-Hollywood movies whose trailers begin with the deep gravelly voice saying, “IN A WORLD?” (And then bombs go off and Mel Gibson appears)
Live performance is an exchange. As an audience member you get to participate. I know this because I perform. Every night is different. Everything is about the audience. You receive so much more energy from live shows. Go see the symphony, even the small local symphony. See a play. See some improv. There is so much life on a stage, so many improvisational moments, so much about authenticity. You can’t help but take it in.
19 - Visit a gallery
See another artist’s creation. The downtown of any city is bound to have some great galleries. You don’t have to buy anything. Just experience the artistry of someone gifted in glass blowing or pottery or woodwork.
20 - Write a letter
When was the last time you wrote a letter? I just got a long letter from one of the women who participated in my last retreat. It was funny. And it was fun to read. And I kept thinking, “Damn. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced this.” Every time I write a letter, I feel clearer and happier. Not only is it more fun to make something for someone else, it’s also just a way to get out of yourself.
21 - Stop watching television
This is an important one. It bears repeating. There are so many better things you can do than watch American Idol?"
Posted by m at 1:44 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Thank god for coffee and buns. Am having both at the moment - the greyness of the day is getting to me.
£1.15 for real coffee at Lidles and apparently £1 at Ikea...
Wandering around craft blogs instead of doing the washing up. Found this MOO - which looks great and might even push me to sign up for flicker. I love the idea of minicards of my photos.
If you want to indulge in craft blog surfing try Loobylu's links.
Posted by m at 4:50 PM
I'm just back from the Science of Sleep a free screening. Not sure quite what I think. I'm just impressed that I got out of the house for 11am.
Yesterday in Glasgow. Its been a long time since I've been through. No more shop at CCA! It rained as usual.
I'm going to warm myself up and then head for the shops.
Posted by m at 2:52 PM
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Yesterday I had breakfast in North London with the friend I was staying with. She left the cafe early due to an appointment with the 'nit nurse' so I stayed on. Two women came to share my table one pushing a pink pram with the cutest baby in a pink jumpsuit. I do wish I'd taken a photo.
Other London highlights include:-
Seeing my best friend's feature film at a press screening in Soho.
Visiting Liberty's and soaking up all the yummy goodness - furry chandaliers being a particular highlight.
A late and slow and yummy lunch with best friend at Mildreds.
Being prevented from seeing the Pet Shop Boys videos at the Portrait Gallery due to two middle aged women crowding around the monitor. My other best friend telling me about an embarrasing encouter with Neil Tennant in the ICA with one British Friend and one German Friend accompanying her. The British Friend hissed 'That's Neil Tennant' and the German Friend said, in a very Loud Voice 'Who is Neil Tennant?' (I can't write in the German accent)
Early lunch at Verde - Jeanette Winterson's shop/cafe in Spitalfields. Its almost perfect but needs a fat cat to sleep in a window.
Foyles bookshop has a very nice Jazz cafe with almost reasonable London prices (Charing Cross Road).
Seeing the Indica Gallery in Soho and seeing a mention of it in this essay about YES.
British Library has wonderfully cheap lockers (£1 returnable) 3 excellent free exhibitions. London in maps, the permanent collection (South Polar Times, Magana Carta anyone?) and one on Migrant magazine.
However loved this quote from the small William Blake exhibit.
"He witnessed visions form an early age - he once saw a tree in Peckham filled with angels 'bespangling every bough like stars' - and in his working life wrestled with new ways to portray his complex ideas about the power of imagination, the nature of religion and the shape of society."
Something else I noticed on this visit to London. Strange moments of care. Often when I come to London I'm struck by anomie, the disconnectedness of it all, but this time I saw French schoolgirls giving up their seat to an elderly woman, people giving directions, and I didn't not feel as pressed and josseled as I normally do.
Train late yesterday - the hail started at Berwick upon Tweed. I could not see it but heard it on the train.
Posted by m at 5:57 PM
Monday, February 05, 2007
I've been taking loads of photos in London. Leaning against walls and loading the Holga with more film. I do do hope that some of them come out. The colours of London are quite different from Edinburgh.
Oooh quick ! Wait! I said to my friend at lunchtime. Deep pink top, orange seat behing and a shocking pink tomato sauce bottle in front of her. I had to take a photo.
Posted by m at 8:03 PM
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I went to see Blackbook tonight but it was sold out, so saw The Queen for a second time instead. Walked down Princes St inbetween the 'friday night people' forgetting that most people are celebrating this night because its the end of the work week. It doesn't quite have the same aura when you are a freelancer.
Hummm beautiful moon. I keep trying to take photos of it and it mostly doesn't work.
Bought rather squandered £30 on film medium format for London trip tomorrow. Long chat in Jessops with the man at the counter. I waved my Lomo at him (I also wanted 'ordinary' film) and he said he'd had one way back when they 'only' cost £25. I countered that way back then £25 was probably worth a lot more!
Back late Wednesday.
Posted by m at 1:01 AM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
When will you arrive at the best possible moment? When will you have the perfect opportunity? When will you know without doubt, that you are doing the right thing for the right reason in the right way? Never! If you ever do experience such confidence, you should mistrust it. It is probably born of euphoria, not wisdom. Always, there will be an argument in favour and an argument against. Always, there will be an element of risk. Today's risk, though, is one that is worth taking.
Jonathan Cainer for Virgoes
Good timing! A work situation may have unravelled. And I'm thinking what bad timing . Perhaps in its badtimingness is its realness and something better will come of it. A risk worth taking.
Posted by m at 10:27 PM