The War of Art

Counting down the hours until Thanksgiving. The only part I still haven’t figured out is how long and at what temperature to roast an eighteen-pound unstuffed turkey. I’ve thrown the question onto my FB page, and hope someone will have good advice.

Meanwhile here is the latest excellent book I’ve read on how to get the heck out of my way and succeed.

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The author, Steven Pressfield, maintains most of us wrestle with resistance when tackling projects that require a long-term commitment.

In my case, there are two endeavors to which I am devoted.
This blog and my new Etsy shop.

So far I only have ten items listed in my store. I’m determined to fill it to the brim over time. This book gave me exactly the kick in the fanny I needed.

Pressfield included a favorite Goethe quotation of mine:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

I have a sterling silver pendant engraved with those words. It was a gift from Cynthia, the lovely woman I used to work for. She gave me a shot at product design when nothing in my set of skills would predict success.

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I have the necklace hanging on the light over my drawing table.  I read it just before I begin working each day.  I also say a prayer to my muse.  Another Pressfield suggestion.

Then I get to work.  Which I am off to do right now.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Other somewhat related blog posts:

I used to ask, “Why me?” Now I say, “Why NOT me!”

Travel to China

Guided Meditation and the Law of Attraction

I’ve been using youtube for my daily meditation. I find it’s easier to relax deeply when listening to a gentle voice, music, and instructions.  I take out one hearing aid and put the computer right next to my other ear.

Lying on our bed and breathing. It’s delicious the state of relaxation I tumble into.

Think positive, Live positive.

My blog posts will be more infrequent because I am busy creating images for my new Etsy shop.  So far I have a pig, kitten, and cow.  They are all decked out in ribbons and straw hats.

I spend my days’ coloring and smiling at the silly critters flowing out of my colored pencils.

My field of dreams.  Build it and they will come.  And when they come 50% of the money I make I plan to donate to causes important to me.  The other 50%?  Who knows.

 

What I Like About Me

I’ve had a song stuck in my head. “What I like about you, you really know how to dance…” Those are the only lyrics I remember.

I began thinking about how infrequently most humanoids consider what they like about themselves. I guess it seems narcissistic to gaze deeply at the wonders of you.

I spent years not liking myself. High School was the worst. I suspect most High Schoolers are insecure.

But now I’m sixty-five, and dammit, I like me. Sure, it took a lot of therapy, but I got there.

I’m diving in and writing my little personal song. The title, “What I like about me.”
Below is a list. These aren’t in any particular order. In fact, upon re-reading, I realize the biggest most important things are kind of far down on the account.

1) I’m courageous. Nope, not in the jumping out of airplanes kind of way. More in the embracing new challenges and growing with change way.  I lived with fear and trepidation for many years.  No more.

2) I have red hair. I didn’t like that as a kid. Being different isn’t fun when you’re a child. I wanted blond. And tan. I had red and white. But now, I love it. My red hair has faded, so I help it along every three months or so. I was reluctant to do that thinking then I’ll be a “fake” redhead. Which friend Richie has called me for years. I’ve threatened to prove it to him. He shudders at the thought.

3) I bake great cookies.

4) I make excellent apologies. I screw up. I’m human. I’ve learned to prostrate myself, beg forgiveness and never add the word “but” when making amends. Everything after the “but” is the truth.

5) I’m a compliant patient. Follow doctor’s orders.

6) I’m an artist. What’s great about being artsy is you get a hall pass on being wacky.

7) I’m a bit nuts. We are all wacky, but I’ve learned to embrace my crazy.

8) I’ve learned how to cook.

9) And this should have been at the top of the list, but I’m unwilling to go back and change all the numbers. I have two children I love with all my heart. They are self-sufficient. They know how to give and receive love. One is a spectacular creative mother. They share things with me. They trust me with their truth.

10) Speaking of kids, I have two smart kind step-children.
One of those step-children brought two sweet step-grandchildren into my life.

11) My husband! What a gift he is. I like and love this man. Again, this should have been top of the list.

12) I am delighted to reinvent myself every few years. Occasionally every few days.

13) I have a stellar son-in-law. He’s a reader. I like readers. He is smart, funny, and kind to his mother-in-law. And along with him comes a terrific extended family.

14) I have rock star buddies. Not one toxic person in the group.

15) We are parents to the best dog in the world. Bronson the wonder-pet.

16) AND–drum roll please–I have Tate. My beloved grandson. He lights up my world. One of these days I will write a picture book for him.

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17) I can do Photoshop.

18) I have a superb extended family.

19) I live in Florida. Fabulous in the winter. Not so much in the summer, but then we take long fascinating road trips and escape the heat.  I like that we travel.

20) There’s lots more. But I’ll end with one biggie–what I like about me is that I’ve learned to like me. I highly recommend it.

Somewhat related blog posts:

These relate to #16–Tate the Great:

Hanging with the Kids

Smelly Molly

A Poem for my Grandson. “Eating Boogers” by Nana

These relate due to #6–being an artist:

Bovine Belly-Aching

Bats in my belfry and Cows in our kitchen

A Hobby!

Coloring for Kelel

A Scary Halloween Image

Ed O’Bradovich, Dan Hampton and a roll of Duct Tape

Textural Triptych

This relates to #7–being wacky:

Possibly my most embarrassing moment ever.

High School Reunions

These relate to #12–reinventing myself:

Romance, mayhap?

Took the plunge and joined a writer’s group.

These relate due to #1–courage:

Our Impulsive Move to Florida

Clinical Depression

Divorce

Dating at Fifty

Moving. You can’t always get what you want. But we got what we needed.

This relates to #13–extended family:

Adoption. A Beautiful Exchange.

These are related to #15–Bronson the wonder dog:

Our Phony Service Dog

The many naughty dogs I’ve trained, and the good one who came from Prison.

There are about a zillion related to #19–living in Florida and travel.  But my fingers are tired.  And we have a field trip planned.  Costco then out for lunch. What’s not to love about that?  I’ll put on my old lady cataract glasses and go forth and frolic.  Life is great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trolling for Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua

Gentle readers,

Jim, my darling husband, tells me if readers in Bolivia, Argentina, Nicaragua respond to this post he will take me out and pay for dinner.  If those countries don’t respond, I pay. Which stinks since I have zero income.  Please, kind readers, respond.  I am bored with daily cooking.  New meal ideas are elusive.  And if I find them they require work.  Work is not fun.  Work is work.

Those of you in Bolivia, Argentina, and Nicaragua, please comment.  Manifest a night out.   Dinner cooked by someone else.  Served by someone else. Dishes cleaned by someone else.  Other readers, if you have friends in Bolivia, Argentina or Nicaragua please have them respond.

Okay….Here we go. Manifesting going out to dinner!  Yay us.  You and me, readers, we are powerful.

UPDATE!!  Since posting this I’ve had three “views” from Nicaragua!  Yay!

 

Touching the Planet

WordPress offers the opportunity to look at your blog statistics. Those include how often people clicked on the blog and in which countries. So far my blog has had views from twenty-eight countries. According to Google, there are 196 countries on this planet. I just stamped the math out with my hoof. According to my calculations, I have 164 countries to go.

I’ve only been blogging for since April. It’s exciting to imagine what countries I’ll have touched by this time next year. My goal is one post each day, Monday through Friday.

Dear Readers, if you know anyone in the countries not listed, please send them a link!

Loving Sixty Five has traveled to:

The United States is the winner with 3694 views. Thanks, Americans.

India  Germany  Kenya  Canada  China

The United Kingdom  Pakistan  Ireland  Philippines

Belize  Australia  Hungary  Czech Republic

Singapore  Italy  South Africa  Belgium

Sweden  Brazil  Costa Rica  Spain  Thailand

Bahamas  Greece  Venezuela  Switzerland  France 

 

Isn’t the internet astonishing?  I’m delighted Al Gore invented it.

 

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Moving. You can’t always get what you want. But we got what we needed.

On my May 11 post, I spoke about Our Impulsive Move to Florida

This month we celebrate our fourth year as Floridians. When our tiny 1870’s home sold in a day, I looked at Jim and asked, “What the hell do we do now?”  Our buyer wanted to close in two short months. We had no clue where we would live.  Jim replied, “We start packing.”

What made our Grove Avenue experience so excellent were the wonderful neighbors.  They became dear close friends over our eight years there.  We, neighbor/friends, shared wine on front porches, dinner’s in our kitchens, afternoons chatting about everything and nothing.  And we helped one another.  If a living room ceiling needed painting, a group of us showed up rollers in hand.  Are you rearranging the furniture?  We’ll lift the sofa. Do you need a ride to the airport or someone to let the dog out?  Not a problem.

Those friends were puzzled by our impetuous decision, and possibly a little unhappy.  We had a great time on Grove Avenue.  It was sad to break up the team.  But as we prepared to move, the team showed up.  Our buddies spent hours up to their knees in newsprint paper, wrapping our belongings and piling our lives into brown cardboard boxes destined for Florida.

Over the five previous winters, while visiting Florida, Jim and I had explored different cities and towns.  We had fallen in love with Dunedin–pronounced Done Eden– a town that reminded us of our Village of Barrington.  Dunedin regularly has public activities in the center of town.  Art shows, Farmer’s Markets, Vintage furniture sales.  There lots of fun restaurants, antique stores, and interesting shops.  It is on the Gulf of Mexico and oozes old Florida charm.

The Pinellas Trail runs through the heart of town.  The Trail stretches thirty-eight miles from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs, connecting several county parks, coastal areas, and communities and is a popular destination for bikers and walkers.

So we drew a circle around Dunedin and went to work finding a VRBO to stay in while we hunted for a house.  Our belongings were destined for a Uhaul storage unit.  The day we actually climbed into our cars to leave Grove Avenue was bittersweet.  I wept hugging Brookie and Earl, Judy and Chuck, Doug and Charki.

Jim drove my little green car, Maude the Mini-Cooper.  Bronson and I followed in Jim’s silver SUV.  Several days later we arrived at our temporary home on Rowena Drive, Dunedin.  It was raining.

Actually, it was a deluge.  Think Noah and the arc. That’s how it pours during Florida’s long hot, humid, wet summers.

We spent two miserable months in that rabbit warren of a funky old home. The Rowena house must have started out as a tiny one bedroom, one bath.  But over many years it had been added onto willy-nilly, with no thought for flow.  For the first week, I was constantly getting lost.  Where is the kitchen again?

Every day the skies turned black, thunder shook the glass in windows, lighting streaked through the heavens and rain pelted the house in never-ending sheets.  There was no covered outdoor seating area.  We were trapped in a dark, dank, confusing home.  Living without our belongings, not knowing a soul except Cyndee, our realtor.

Plus it quickly became clear we were not going to find a home within walking distance to downtown.  I wanted to be on Scotland or Aberdeen Streets.  But nothing with our desired specifications was available in our price range.  It would have meant buying another little old fixer upper.  Neither of us was up for that again.

As tropical storms splashed down on Rowena, I spent sleepless nights on the computer hunting for a house.  I cried a lot.  I worried incessantly.  I wanted my old life back.  I became more and more convinced moving had been a horrible mistake. I tried to buck up, telling myself, “Alice, if you cut your hair, you can’t wear braids. Move forward.”  But it broke my heart that my beloved braids were no longer an option.

Our search needed to be widened.  Giving up the dream of downtown Dunedin was a painful pill to swallow. Previously, I’d spent too many years tethered to a car.  I had loved the freedom of our village, walking to the library, Cook Street Coffee Shop, Wool Street Restaurant.  We were two blocks from the train to Chicago.  What now?  So many long rainy days were spent in regret.

Jim, my mellow fellow, met my moans and tears with patience, repeating his mantra, “Don’t churn, we’ll get there.”

Ultimately we found a home with everything on our wish list except walks to town.  After our closing, when the house was ours, we drove from the rabbit warren on Rowena to Palm Harbor.  We sat on the back patio, under wide covered roof,  rocking in white wicker chairs left by former owners.  We watched the never-ending rain.  We marveled, “This is our home.  This is where we’ll build our lives.”

I’ve realized God didn’t intend for me to be in downtown Dunedin, he intended for me to be in a suburban neighborhood in East Lake, Palm Harbor.

So here we are, and here we’ve been for four happy years.  We’ve made fabulous new friends.  Across the street, neighbors have invited us to be part of their loving family.  Another fun couple takes us out of our comfort zone by initiating interesting activities.  Jim has numerous golf buddies.  A new friend and I formed a book club. We meet monthly and have interesting conversation fueled by good novels, good food, good wine.  I am a regular member of a Bunko group.  I was honored to be invited since Bunko is a  game of true skill!

We still see Brookie and Earl when they winter here, plus we visit on our trips north.   Charki and Doug retired and bought a home forty-five minutes away in downtown St. Petersburg.  Judy and Chuck visit every winter and we make sure to see them in August when we are in Chicago.

Our impulsive move to Dunedin didn’t pan out as I assumed it would.  And that’s good because our lives are even richer than expected.

 

 

Meditation on my Horse

 

In March I began to meditate regularly.  I sit in one of two places.  The big red chair on the patio, or the tan swivel chair in the family room.  I glance at the clock before taking a long deep breath and closing my eyes. There are no hard and fast rules how long I will stay put.  But it’s interesting to note that as months have passed I’m able to empty my mind far more easily and remain sitting breathing for greater periods of time.

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Natalie Goldberg in her terrific book Writing Down the Bones refers to the crazy that wants to usurp serenity as “monkey mind.”  Mine is “small-brown-hamster-on-the-wheel” mind.  When I first began the practice of mediation that rodent on the wheel inside my skull stubbornly refused to stop running.  Now she is readily lulled to sleep as I gently inhale and exhale.

My breathing gives way to talking to God.  I have had different versions of God in my mind.  In March I described God as a “benevolent force.”  Now my God is a horse.  A tall shiny chestnut with a white star between her eyes.  I ride in an easy chair saddle with wide armrests and a soft back.  The fabric feels like velveteen.  Very sensual my saddle.  Sometimes there is a sunshade attached to the chair.

Occasionally God Horse pauses to graze or drink from streams.  That’s when I reach into the magic side saddle that comes up with daily cream cheese sandwiches on gluten free bread.  Plus single serving size bottles of Pinot Noir.  God Horse and I happily relax and fuel ourselves.

God Horse has no bridle or reins.  She rambles at will.  When she stops, looks over her shoulder and nickers a bit, I know I’m supposed to dismount.  There is something here God Horse intends me to do.

Curiously my easy chair saddle disappears when I get down.  Dismounts are done from a bareback God Horse.  I slide down her wide flanks, land lightly, lean into her neck and smell her fine horsey scent.  What I do in each place varies.  I do what she intends until she signals it’s time to move on.  She paws the ground with her right hoof and gives a little whinny.  Our work here is done, she’s telling me.  I mount again, my chair is back.  Off we go.  Today she wandered through a small clear mountain stream.

Once we ended up in a rushing river.  I had to hold tightly to her mane and trust she would get us both safely to dry land.  I talk to her.  She never speaks back, she simply keeps wandering.  It feels random to me.  I suspect she knows exactly where she is headed. I love giving the power over to God Horse.  It frees me up to look around, take in the details.  I notice squirrels bustling in oak trees, sun reflecting off rippling water, the scent of distant rain.

When at last I bend over and wrap my arms around her neck, I know it’s time to leave her, stop my meditation, open my eyes and start my day.  All this happens without ever leaving my red or tan chairs. Once I open my eyes it takes a moment for me to orient myself.  My limbs are heavy, my mind at peace.

Oddly enough, even after the meditation ends, God Horse seems present for the rest of the day.  Since beginning the wonderful meditation journey my former habit of worrying has ceased to exist.  I have absolute faith all will go as it is intended to go.  Lovely to drop the reins, ride along and enjoy the abundance that is my life.

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The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Today is Saturday.  On the weekends I let other bloggers do my talking so I can sit on my wide backside and read books.  I like what this blogger had to say about Positive Thinking.  Enough outta’ me.  Time to go back to my current read “Bird by Bird.”

Positive thoughts are empowering. They make you feel good. Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done. Negative thoughts have a nasty habit of sinking their teeth into our brains and it can be challenging to fight them. Negative cycles It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. If you are unhappy […]

via The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Passion for Words

My positive thinking reading reveals that what we are most passionate about, is our true purpose.  When we are truly absorbed, unable to “put-it-down”, we are experiencing the life our higher power intended.

I’ve been absorbed by writing since childhood.  However, I wavered and therefore became an artist.  The reason I abandoned my dream can be found on this former blog post At sixty-five I’ve embraced the power of positive thinking.

Instead of writing, I created two-dimensional art.  I peddled my art for money.

My first art-for-money-peddling experience was when my son Matt was an infant.  I wished to buy my then husband a gift.  I wanted that gift not to be bought with “his” money.  My goal was to earn enough, on my own, to purchase something he might relish.

I drew black and white pencil and ink sketches of wildlife.  With my baby on my back, I headed out to hawk my drawings.  I found several places willing to buy my work.  Then I found one gallery owner willing to barter. I traded several drawings for a large print of two duck decoys.  My then husband loved duck paintings.

Later I was able to gift him a set of golf clubs by bartering with a Wilson representative. I traded a large watercolor painting of Lafayette’s Headquarters in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania for those irons, wedges, and woods.

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I painted on pretty much every possible surface simply to make money. I painted on glassware for my store Whimsical Rose.  I painted on walls, I painted a portrait (Ed O’Bradovich, Dan Hampton and a roll of Duct Tape).  But painting was never my passion.  Painting never sucked me in, inducing me to lose whole days enthralled by brushing color on canvas.

Long ago God lit a fire under me to write.  I’m unsure exactly what he wants me to say.  But I’ll just keep writing.  Posting my posts.  Dreaming my dreams and manifesting a life as a writer.

I just ordered Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  I read it years ago.  It was extremely inspiring.  Back then, however, I was a painter.  Not now.  Now I’m a writer.  And this writer intends to reread and be inspired once again.

Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary

In 2007, after my naughty black Lab Riley died, Jim and I made the decision to adopt another dog. This would be the first pet we chose together. I came to the marriage with Riley and Puck, the adorable but messy Cockatiel.  Jim brought Missy, the gray and white cat into the mix.

My sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Rob, had recently adopted a little black poodle named Marcel. They got him through the Colorado Prison System canine program. Dogs are placed with inmates for obedience training. Marcel was schooled in the women’s penitentiary. Marilyn and Rob didn’t hear that animal bark for nearly a year. Barking is extinguished in the prison by squirting the offender with a mixture of vinegar and water.

The program is amazing.  The animals live in crates with their inmate trainers.  Prison cells are small.  Beds of inmates training large dogs are raised high enough to accommodate crates underneath.  The animals go to class all morning long, in the afternoon they play and socialize with other dogs.

After learning about the program I immediately went to the CCI Colorado Prison Dog  website and began the process of falling in love with every dog on the list. Except for Chihuahuas. My high school friend Nora had a wee teeny evil ankle biting Chihuahua named Cha Cha. Getting past Cha Cha without being nipped was darn near impossible.

I ear-marked all the prison dogs as potential pets.   Jim fell for only one.  A small, sad-looking, slumped over brown lab mix named Bronson. We were told Bronson was rescued from an abusive situation. He was being trained in the men’s penitentiary by inmate Terrance. We coordinated with the program to meet Bronson, and secure my very first well-trained dog.

Very early one cold March morning we flew to Colorado. Marilyn, Rob, and Marcel met us at the airport and drove us to the parking lot outside the nearby women’s penitentiary.  Animals trained in the men’s penitentiary were brought there because the men’s prison is far from the airport.

We arrived to find scads of dogs and oceans of prospective owners.  Again, I fell for each and every animal.  Jim still had eyes only for Bronson.  However, another family was circling Bronson as their prospective pet.  My marvelous cunning sister sidled up to the mother and stated, “Oh my goodness!  It looks like your little boy is afraid of that dog.”  The mother, “What?  Really?  I didn’t notice….”  Marilyn, “Well you know your child better than I do.  But I’m pretty sure he is frightened by that animal.”

The family moved on to another dog, Serena.  Serena had the legs of a corgi, snout of a shepherd, body of a dachshund.  She sprouted long white stiff whiskers all over her chin.   Jim said she looked like a science experiment gone wrong.

We happily adopted Bronson.  After an animal was chosen the new owners were directed into the penitentiary.  We were ushered past concertina-wired fences, relinquished our belongings, and were led to an enormous chamber.  Seated in folding chairs we watched the dogs perform perfect obedience skills.

Before we left Bronson was bathed.  We then took him to a local veterinarian to certify his health.  Finally, after a long day, we were back to the airport.  Bronson, in a crate formerly used by M and R’s Aussie, was housed under the plane

Late that night we arrived at O’Hare.  We stumbled around baggage claim unable to find our sad little prison puppy.  When we finally located him, far from the area we were told to look, he was trembling and frothing at the mouth.  Poor puppy.  Ever since that experience Bronson loathes being cooped up.  Anywhere. At all.  Up to and including hotel rooms.  More on that in a future post.

Bronson is the light of our lives.  He and I play football daily.  I am quarterback and commentator. Bronson is the wide receiver.  Jim is the fan.  I whisper the play into Bronson’s floppy ear and toss the ball into our kitchen.  Bronson snatches the ball, races to the dining room, around the dining table.  If he zooms past the small green living room bench it’s a TOUCHDOWN!  Another run past the leopard upholstered dining chair and he gets the two point conversion.

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Yes, that’s me in the huge mirror.  No, I haven’t combed my hair.  No, I don’t have make-up on. Yes, I’m letting myself go.  So just shut up.

 

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One spin past that leopard chair, following a run around the green bench, and the kid scores two extra points.  He really is Super Bowl awesome.

He’s an old boy now.  He goes to bed early and sleeps late.  His breakfast is a concoction of bran cereal, kibble and psyllium husk powder.  Plus a bowl of ice water.  At five thirty each evening Jim takes him around the block while I fix his dinner–a repeat of breakfast.

About five doors down the street Jim calls me to let me know Bronson is on the way.  He then sends wonder dog to sprint home.  I open the front door and wait for him to rush by me straight to his dinner bowl and ice water.

This is our last dog.  I know we would forever compare others to Bronson.  We tell him he’s only four years old in hopes he believes and lives for decades.

It’s 9:15 in the morning. Bronson woke up long enough to do his morning business.  Then he toddled back to the bedroom where he and Jim are still deep in the feathers.

They are both good at retirement.

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