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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Too Many Choices

note: a bit of fixing to this post was needed, and done today:

Today, I cleared off or covered up SEVEN of the NINE white boards in my office area. (Sigh — not a typo.) Why? Great chunks of time are already spoken for during the next few months — some travel, probably cataract surgeries, incoming visitors, a week-long sewing retreat, plus “just life”.

A few years ago, I discovered the KANBAN METHOD of project management, and love it.

I studied my individual boards, decided what is doable, and what I want to spend time on through mid-summer. Those notes and tasks were pulled off their own boards, and incorporated onto the Monthly (or More) Planning Board, described below.

Here’s what I’m surrounded by in my space:

Seven active project boards with task lists, deadlines, things to remember, addenda, ideas, etc., held in place with magnets, Post-It notes, clips, and surrounded by encouraging “You Go, Girl!” sayings.

Health and personal goals and activities fill one board, the Poetic Muselings has its own. A thousand questions I’ve been working through with a wonderful young woman who’s helping me with computer issues filled one large and one smaller board. Two different book projects eat up their own boards.

One is a Backlog/”Broken Windows” board with unfinished little things, from a note to take my allergy test info to my dermatologist, to remind my husband to pick up nobs for my three-year-old file cabinet that drives me nuts with the way to it needs to be opened from the bottom side of the drawers, and to follow up on a letter for a donation last year. I think there are about a hundred little pieces of paper on this one. Every week, I pull a few from this board and on “Frenzied Friday”, handle a batch.

The “Broken Windows” concept says when people stop paying attention to, and don’t fix what’s broken around them, more things fall apart. If I leave clothes lying around in the bedroom, I’m less likely to stop and make the bed, or clear off my sink area. Dirty dishes beget more dirty dishes. And, when I don’t write it down and put it someplace I’m at least possibly likely to look, I remember things in the middle of the night instead of when they are doable. Nagging, deadline-less little stuff lives here

The last two are actual planning boards — for the month (or so), and for the week. Part of what I’ve paid attention to lately is me — how I think, react, respond to various cues, and what happens when I suddenly get up and start doing something instead of thinking about it.

Too many choices, too many options, drown me with inaction because I don’t know what to pick up first. This led me to the monthly and weekly planning boards. I’ve finished several projects that surprised me.

I started meditating over a month ago, with a friend who’s 600 miles away; we connect by phone every morning and spend twenty minutes or more sitting there, like little kids, connected but quiet. When the timer goes off, we both hear it, and then chat.

What’s most important has been bubbling up to the top because of the boards. For the next couple of months, I’m rethinking my resources, energy, time, interest, and gut-feelings about what’s surrounding me.

Right now, covering or clearing has created an uncomfortably not-quite-Zen touch to my writer’s garret. I must live with this for a while to let the stillness, the quiet of the walls, seep into my psyche.

This little ditty came up as I was rehanging a board that didn’t like being treated roughly to get rid of the set-in markers and sticky notes.

Too Many Choices

Too many choices
too much to handle
too much tsuris*
too much to mangle

Can’t believe it’s May —
what happened to the year?
Once again a headache
from the shouting in my ear

Does it ever happen,
will I someday learn
secrets of “adulting”, or is there
more I have to earn?

Shiny things attract me
ideas grab my mind.
All I TRULY need to master is how,
to myself, be kind

MICHELE

*tsuris =  a Yiddish phrase for worries, stress or hassle … less existential than angst … variously defined as troubles, worries, aggravation, woes, suffering, grief or heartache. ( paraphrased from https://www.momentmag.com/jewish-word-tsuris/)

 

 

 

The Ripple Effect of Sharing Poetry

A monthly poetry, performance and literary event —
with featured authors and an open mic
Presented by The Eugene Poetry Foundation in conjunction with
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 3-5 PM @ Eugene Barnes & Noble
Website: http://www.wordsongs.com/burnindownthebarnes
Barnes & Noble Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/258294591266050/

— This is a family friendly event —
Hosted by C. Steven Blue & Charles Castle

 

I’m a Featured Reader at this month’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore /  Eugene Poetry Foundation  “BURNIN’ DOWN THE BARNES !!” event. My co-reader is a brilliant high school freshman I’ve had the pleasure and honor of mentoring a bit over the past couple of years.

Decisions about what poems to read, arranging them in a good flow, balancing the deep and the funny ones, are a bigger task than the actual on-stage time. I’ve taught poetry classes, coached others on how to read aloud, emotion and emoting. Each time I’m involved in an event like this, I go back to Step 1 myself and take a deep breath.

We’ll each have half an hour to present our own work, followed by an hour of “open mic” time, where the audience can read their own poems. I’ve invited several shy poetic friends to attend, and consider reading.

It’s a terrific way to wade into the stream of sharing, and Eugene has one of the most amazing, supportive collection of people who listen well, encourage new poets (of all ages), and appreciate everyone’s efforts.

I love the writing relationship we have as the Poetic Muselings: the synergy, energy, creativity, aha! moments, insights, and fun. As I pull my collection together, I always ask each of my Sister Muselings for a poem to read. Our approaches to life are reflected in the material they contribute.

This year, in addition to her own poem, Anne sent me one that I’m going to lead with — reflecting a universal I wish I’d written.

It’s too good to keep to myself, and I want the world to learn about the poet, read her blog, and laugh at:

An Ode To The Overwhelmed

And as you stand there
Late again
Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow
And you left 10 minutes late to begin with

With your shoes that pinch
And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to
begin with

Let us now praise you.

You, the untidy.
You, the careless.
You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa – Which
reminds you that you meant to send in the
kids’ Unicef money and
Forgot.

And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep
And exercise seems like a word that
magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.

But you are good and brave.
You, flying by the seat of your pants
Making it work
Putting out fires
Saying your prayers
And dancing your dance of now and later and
maybe and
I’ll-have-to-call-you-back-on-that-could-you-
send-me-an-email-to-remind-me-to-call-you-
back-on-that?

As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,
You are a fount of good intentions.
Your good humor is as graceful as a baby
giraffe,
Even if that joke you were trying to make to
the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out
sounding a little…funny.

But you have gifts that no one knows about.

You have the strength to bend in the wind

You have the joyful spirit that loves a good
belly laugh,

You have the wisdom to understand that
everything will all come out all right in the
end and

You have the faith to light a candle rather
than curse the darkness.

That is, if you could find the book of
matches from that romantic restaurant that
you went to for your anniversary but since
you didn’t have a reservation they made you
wait at the bar for half an hour during which
you had two appletinis and the rest of the
night is a bit of a blur.

So much for the overpriced lingerie.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid
You are the one who forgot your wallet
And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners
And forgot your keys which you just set
down five seconds ago, so where could they
possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, “I love you”

And you never forget to give a big smile to
that nice parking guy

And you never fail to show endless patience
when the
Too-tightly wrapped and overly-
conscientious start to offer their
Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you
might feel better if you would just learn to
alphabetize your spice rack.

You are beautiful.

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no
reason.
And why not just refuse to participate in the
bake sale this year?
And give yourself a compliment for
something you did well today.

Because you are the most beautiful person
I’ve ever known.

© 2014 Samantha Bennett
…. excerpted from her remarkably popular book: By The Way, You Look Really Great Today: Selected Poems by Samantha Bennett

Dive, don’t surf, her blog:  TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com.

Caveat: prepare to add your own verse to her poem, because, inevitably, you WILL end up missing something else going on in your life, but you’ll have an ever-so-good-reason-for-why . . .

Michele

 

 

 

 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

It’s almost supper time and I’m hungry, which got me thinking about my father and his ability to pick restaurants.

 Out to Lunch

One of the things about my father that always impressed me was his ability to pick out good restaurants on the fly. He would look around, sniff a few times, take a look at the menu and make a decision. I don’t ever remember having a bad meal when we ate together.

We lived in Manhattan and though we ate out quite a lot on Sunday nights it was always at the same few restaurants. One of them was Tony’s Italian Kitchen on West 79th street. It was owned by the chef and the maitre d’, I learned later, and according to my father this was one of the secrets of its success. In any case, they had one of the best antipastos I have ever eaten in any Italian restaurant. It had marinated peppers, mushrooms, olives, Italian salami and provolone and much more. I was floored when, after coming to Boston for the first time, I ordered antipasto and was served what was basically a large salad.

It was on a summer trip through England and France, however, when this ability came to the fore. We never had a bad meal even in London, which at the time had a reputation for dull food.

But it was in France that he impressed us most. We were in Paris and were walking around Montmartre when supper time rolled around. As we strolled down the hill, my father pointed to a restaurant close to the top of the hill, La Mere Catherine.

“Let’s try that one,” he suggested. I never did find out why he picked it.

I had coq au vin for supper. It is now many, many years later and I still remember the meal and the savory flavor of the chicken in red wine. I later looked the restaurant up in the famous Guide Michelin and discovered that it had an impressive one star. Trust me, one star is an amazing achievement. The thing is, though, that my father picked it out without consulting the guide book

Later that same trip I stumbled across what I remember as one of my first experiences of culture shock. We were in a restaurant in the French countryside ordering lunch, in French, which we all spoke. I was ordering a croque monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The conversation, which for convenience I’ll render mostly in English, went something like this:

“And what kind of cheese would you like?” the waitress asked.

“Fromage Suisse” (Swiss cheese) I replied.

“And what kind of Swiss cheese?” she responded.

I was floored. I never knew there was more than one. Ever on the ball, however, I came back with “what kinds do you have?” They had emmental and gruyere. I picked gruyere, mostly because it sounded familiar.

In case you ever face this dilemma, however, I’ll add that our imported Swiss cheese is in fact emmental. Gruyere is more like domestic Swiss.

Though I never figured out all of how my father did it, I did learn at least one of his secrets one day when I met him for dinner. He had spent the day at the courthouse in lower Manhattan, so we decided to go to Chinatown for dinner.

We were standing in line at the place he picked out when I asked rather plaintively, “Why not that place over there? There’s no line.”

Exactly,” he replied.

Dinner was delicious.

 

A Purse Full of Poems

img_2658

Julia Cameron — author of The Artist’s Way, and other books about finding your way in this world — was right.  Among her brilliant yet often simple ideas, she stated that sometimes “mending” clothes can mend the mind.

The context was about letting go of whatever is driving you nuts, and engage in activity that can free your synapses to help resolve the issue. A variation on great ideas that occur in the shower.

 

 

(Did you know that someone’s invented a water- and steam-proof board and pen so you can capture your priceless mind mutterings without trailing water all over the house? . . . and as soon as I can remember to look for one when I’m not in the shower, I intend to buy one.)

img_2685

mirror knows my face / shadows who’s inside / beckons me to live

The Poetic Muselings made a pact early last summer to NOT write, take on any new projects, work on our backload, etc.

In other words, we decided to do what we’d been doing (not much), but do it without guilt or nagging. Just let life be what it was for the duration.

By letting go of the struggle, we hoped to enjoy the time and see what it felt like to dump the pressure. It worked: we were eager to “do something!” shortly after.

 

img_2686

time smothers and numbs / we forget our fragile truth / pain, horror, and tears

 

I’m a belt-and-suspenders person, frantically trying to be prepared for almost any catastrophe. Usually I worry about the wrong thing.

One of my “medical advisors” told me that unless I stopped lugging my heavy purse, we’d continue to patch my shoulder pain, but not resolve it. At a bunch of dollars (not covered by Medicare), it worried me, but made sense to try something different.

I went to exercise classes several times a week, ate somewhat better, tried to get more sleep, and read light mysteries. I did some small decluttering bits, and knew I needed to deal with my lug-everything purse NOW.

I spent an entire day
trying to figure out
exactly what I need with me,
what can stay in the car, and
what needs to simply be tossed or left behind.
The whole day!

img_2687I tried out several purses I have, including an impulse buy in July, and came back to one I’ve had for at least a dozen years.

It’s small, has a lot of organizing sections that can be moved around (a Freedom Bag, which is temporarily closed for business while they relocate).

I keep going away from this purse because it’s black inside and out, and hard to see and find things.

 

Once I knew what to carry, on a whim I took out some metallic markers, and started writing haiku on the organizers and anything else black. After my very low output number of months, I wrote eight poems, right in a row.

img_2657

haiku seeps thru me / longs to flow onto paper / and flow further still

Yes, sometimes “mending” other bits of life can mend the mind.

Michele

 

 

 

Playing Around: me and Gertrude Stein

Playing Around: me and Gertrude Stein

gertrude_stein_by_alvin_langdon_coburn

I am taking an online poetry class, and one of the poets we’re studying is Gertrude Stein, an American novelist, poet, and playwright: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Stein

The last time I took this class, three or four years ago, Stein kind of slipped by me. This time, I am enchanted with her language play. My particular favorite at the moment is her verbal portrait of Picasso, a kind of cubism in words rather than a straightforward description of the artist.

Here is a link to Stein reading the poem, “Would he like it if I told him, a completed portrait of Picasso”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJEIAGULmPQ

Playing Around One: A Sestina

 

Inspired by this, and by a list of words from a poetry challenge, I decided to write a sestina. A sestina, for those who don’t know, is a poem consisting of six six-line stanzas plus a three-line envoy where the end words repeat in a set pattern https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sestina

I wrote a Sestina where I repeated the entire lines and not just the ending words. If you want to try writing one, you might use http://www.renajmosteirin.com/sestina.html to generate the end of line words in the correct pattern. When I wrote mine, I repeated the entire lines of the first stanza instead of merely the final word.

the_djinn_by_maeshanne

The Devil Made Me Do It

 

Write right
Trudge down the road
Leave footprints in the snow
Meander through thick pine forests
until you see apple blossoms
Mending boys is significant

Mending boys is significant
Write right
until you see apple blossoms
Trudge down the road
Meander through thick pine forests
Leave footprints in the snow

Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant
Meander through thick pine forests
Write right
Trudge down the road
until you see apple blossoms

until you see apple blossoms
Leave footprints in the snow
Trudge down the road
Mending boys is significant
Write right
Meander through thick pine forests

Meander through thick pine forests
until you see apple blossoms
Write right
Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant
Trudge down the road

Trudge down the road
Meander through thick pine forests
Mending boys is significant
until you see apple blossoms
Leave footprints in the snow
Write right

Trudge down the road until you see apple blossoms
Meander through thick pine forests Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant Write right


Playing Around two: More Fun

 

Then I put the words through a “cut up” machine

http://www.alepoems.com/poems/generate

 

and edited the result, coming up with the following:

 

Cut Up

Forests Meander right through blossoms

Devil blossoms in leaves

through thick apple, significant

See pine See forests

 

down until

right is pine blossoms

Road is trudge

Write forest roads

You leave

Trudge pine forests

Trudge through snow

is the thick trudge

 

Footprints meander

Write boys, apple

Leave, the see pine thick

Right boys, leave down the snow

 

Meander, leave right

the pine is the boys road

right until trudge

in apple footprints

 

Blossoms until in snow

down through significant footprints

Leave mending in, meander

See until trudge apple

 

Write down thick blossoms

See boys in mending forests footprints

apple significant road

until you meander

 

Footprints see right

Mending thick apple,

you leave footprints

significant is right

 

Loads of fun! Go ahead, try playing around and see what you come up with. Feel free to post your poem(s) in the comments.

Make Visible: Capture Your Ideas, Take 2

Michele’s Note: One of the best parts of working as closely as Anne, Mary, Margaret, and I have done over the past several years, is how much fun it is to see the different interpretations and approaches to a subject.

After I found out that some of our efforts had become part of Barbara Sher’s Scanner Daybook/Journal collection, I decided to update my Never Forget Your Dreams post. My first version inspired Anne, and we decided to bring hers back to show how our ideas create their own reality. Enjoy!

Capture Your Ideas

This post was inspired by Michele’s wonderful post:  Never Forget Your Dreams.

If you capture your ideas you’ll actually have more of them.  For one thing, you will have a record of the ideas you do have! This applies to writing, art and even things like organizing your garage.

I use a Scanner Daybook (from Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose) for my craft, organization, school, and other ideas.  Some pages below:

100 Dreams

Click on photo to enlarge.

For writing ideas I have a small notebook in my purse, but any piece of scratch paper will do.  Then I transfer the writing ideas to 4 x 6 notecards that I keep in a “recipe” box.

I also keep notes on my computer desktop using Stickies (a computerized version of yellow sticky notes).

Other methods of capturing your ideas include leaving pens and notepads around the house, using voice-activated software for computer, voice recorders or saving notes on your phone or blackberry.

img_16631

Embroidery Ideas

 

 

Why capture your ideas?

Not only will you have a record of ideas that you can refer to later for inspiration or planning;  you will free your brain up from trying to remember them.

This leaves you space to use your imagination and bring your ideas to fruition in the form of a story, artwork or clean garage.  🙂

                                                       
 “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director
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My Bliss: a list poem

My Bliss

Willow trees, birch and aspen, smell of fresh-cut grass
Keys, butterflies, bears, dragonflies
Cherry blossoms, lilacs
Blue-berry muffins, apple crisp, crumb donuts, apple cider
Celtic music, movie soundtracks
Rain – its touch, smell, and sound
Fairies, dragons, fairy-tales
Sunsets, trains, dance
Milk chocolate, chocolate milk, pistachios, strawberry lemonade
Petting and cuddling with a cat

sparks

 

mary-sig2 (1)

 

 

 

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