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Creating in Times of Change, Uncertainty and Conflict

You might think, “Everything’s up in the air. I can’t write.”

Or, “I’m so upset, I can’t paint right now.”

Or, “I’m moving and I’ve put all my supplies away. I’m not able to make anything.”

These are the times, during change, when it’s imperative to pick up the pen, the paintbrush, to sew, dance and make music.

In the past year there’s been lots of change in my life. I have a new boyfriend. There’s been a lot of family and friend drama. I’ve considered moving. On the world stage, there’s been a divisive election year followed by an even more chaotic post-election season.

hillary-clinton-donald-trump-drug-policy

I’ve had a hard time creating this year. It seems pointless to write and make things when I’m upset or angry. Is my creative work important during these changing times? I’ve decided it is. In spite of all this chaos, I’ve learned the basics of quilting, started a photography website Anne Westlund Photography and even wrote a few poems.

If nothing ever changes, we become stale and so do the products of our creativity. Rather than decry these “interesting times,” use them as fodder for your creative impulses. Utilize conflict and uncertainty as inspiration, subject matter, and learn to see the world in a new way, with “new eyes.”

That’s what we need, a new vision, not the “same old, same old.” So get creating! Much success to you!

daffodiills-1

2016 NaNoWriMo and PAD Challenge Month

NaNoWriMo &
Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

Time to gear up, stock up on extra Halloween candy, charge all your batteries, and get some sleep while you can.  It’s Lose Your Mind Month for writers and poets.

We have several post here about NaNo and the PAD Challenges we’ve done as a group, as well as individually.

National Novel Writing Month
(NaNoWriMo)

Write a completely NEW 50,000 word novel from scratch between Nov. 1 – 30, and load a gibberish version on the site for word count at the end. If you are a REBEL (me), you can engage in variations on the theme.

This year, I have two projects:

  1. my hubby and I are co-creating a shorter novel (novella length, maybe). His ideas and story design, with me making it into something cool, doing all the writing.
  2. Editing, fleshing out, and completely revamping a NaNo I wrote in 2008. The idea is to see if I can create a novel in verse, or at least extensively in verse.

Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

The Poetic Muselings are going to tackle the PAD Challenge again at Poetic Asides. Our goal is to gather our collected poems from the past few PADs, pick a dozen or so prompts we’ve all done, and come up with another book — with four versions of each prompt we select. Maybe more poems will be added, but we’re aiming to embrace our eclectically creative take on specific prompts.

Anne is posting her poems on her site, so check them out there:
http://anneisstaringatthesun.blogspot.com/

If the rest of us decide to use our own sites as well, I’ll add the links here.

Stay tuned for updates during November and after.

 

Michele

“Of Frogs and Fishing”

Here are three poems I wrote in response to photo prompts for F2k class at Writers Village University.  Writing a poem inspired by a photograph is harder than you think!

picture-prompt-1b

Of Frogs and Fishing

I’ve kissed a few frogs.

In the fourth grade,
warts on my hands
from kissing a boy,
no doubt,
his eyes bulging, croaking
hello in the halls.

The auto mechanic
who told me fish stories,
never kissed him.

Prince or pauper?

The newly divorced,
washed up on the beach,
flopping on the sand.
Yeah, I kissed him.

Plenty of fish in the sea,
or so they say.

The businessman who flashed
a fistful of credit cards,
enough for decent fishing gear.
I never kissed him.

Maybe it was the tin crown
that fooled me, the too shy
toad always just out of reach.
I kissed him.

Does that make me a princess
in a pink tutu, ever hopeful?

I’ve kissed
a few frogs.

picture-prompt-2c

Patriot

I believe in liberty,
justice, peace and plenty.

All that good shit.

The flag for which it stands.

And the Pursuit of Happiness.

You both get out of my way
before you get trampled.

And that guy, carrying that flag
on the beach, like it was yours alone…
and alone to bear.

These red, white and blue tennies
will leave marks on your back.

So get out of my way,
get out of my way.

picture-prompt-1c

Stacks

My bedroom,
shelves of notebooks
and books, both kinds,
hardback and paperback.

They could be the important
kind, history, philosophy,
politics, law.

Instead, fiction-old favorites
and new friends, cookbooks,
Astrology and travel books,
writing books.

The local branch
of the Westlund library.

A couple of poems about jokes, plus the jokes

Here are  poem, but before you read it, here are the three jokes I mention:

Mathematician, Physicist, and Engineer:

In the high school gym, all the girls in the class were lined up against one wall, and all the boys against the opposite wall. Then, every ten seconds, they walked toward each other until they were half the previous distance apart.

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were asked, “When will the girls and boys meet?”

The mathematician said: “Never.”

The physicist said: “In an infinite amount of time.”

The engineer said: “Well…in about two minutes, they’ll be close enough for all practical purposes.”

Violinist at the pearly gates:

A violin player dies and goes to heaven.  At the pearly gates he is
handed a beautiful new violin and invited to play in the Orchestra of
Heaven, a rehearsal of which is about to begin.  He sits down and
begins warming up.  After a while, a little old man with an unruly
mane of white hair steps up on the podium and begins waving his arms
wildly.  "Who's that?" the new violinist asks his stand partner.  "Oh,"
replies his partner, "that's just God.  He likes to think he's von
Karajan."  

And here is the golf joke:

Jesus and Moses are playing golf in Heaven when they come to the par-three 17th hole, a long carry over water to an island green. Moses tees off with a 3-wood and hits the green. Jesus takes out his 5-iron and says, "I'm going to hit a 5-iron because Arnold Palmer would hit a 5-iron from here." 

 Jesus tees it up and hits a lofted iron shot that finishes 25 yards short of the green and in the water. 



 Jesus shrugs and starts walking on the water to where his ball went in. Just then, a foursome approaching the tee box sees Jesus walking on the water. 

 One of them asks Moses, "Who does that guy think he is, Jesmus Christ?" 

 Moses turns and says, "No, he thinks he's Arnold Palmer!" 

and finally, the poem:

 

Silly Season

 

“Do you remember

any jokes, Mom?”

My six-year-old

stares at me.

 

Violinist at the Pearly Gates?

Jesus golfing?

Mathematician,  physicist,

and  engineer? Nah.

 

Anything we told each other

as kids is politically incorrect.

“Besides lightbulb jokes.”

He’s heard those.

 

“No,”  I say.

“I don’t.”

An explanation, and another poem:

Many years ago, I heard a joke told by a friend (he was German) about a Frenchman, an Englishman, and a German. All three are supposed to be executed by being guillotined. The guillotine malfunctions, and the Frenchman and the Englishman are spared.

The punchline is something like:

 

So the executioner raised his axe, but before he could cut the rope, the German yelled out:

“WAIT! I see what the problem is!”

sandcartoon

Thus the following poem of mine:

 

 

Fixing the Guillotine

Remember the joke

about three men

about to be executed?

 

The Frenchman and Englishman

are spared, but alas,

the German is an engineer.

Never Forget Your Dreams, Revisited

The Poetic Muselings are traveling with famous company!

Tripping around the internet universe recently, I was startled and giddy to discover MY post about Scanner Daybooks (Journals) (and some shots from Anne Westlund’s, in her follow-on post, and some of Mary’s) had made it into Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose collection!

My original post was in 2012, but I’ve written and shouted about Barbara, her books, forum, and classes for many years.  I met Barbara in the early ’80’s and took a WishCraft Class from her through the Learning Annex in San Francisco. A most marvelous adventure.

Read my slightly updated post to see what I’m talking about — I think you’ll have fun. Then, follow the links at the end to see other examples of capturing the elusive creativity of never forgetting your dreams.

 

Several years ago, I found Refuse to Choose, by Barbara Sher, author of WishCraft and other amazing books. This one was directed at “scanners”- those of us who have so many projects and so many ideas that we can’t figure out what to do first and often end up paralyzed into inaction. I come back to this book repeatedly for inspiration and validation that I’m not really crazy.

A major tool in this book is a “Scanner Journal“, a place to track all of the wild things that go on in my head and that I really really want to do, or at least explore a bit. I’m sharing excerpts of my journal in this post. This photo, from my favorite T-Shirt, sums it up, and is on the cover of mine.

I’ve been fascinated for years by the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial project, near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The carving of the mountain has been going on for over 50 years, with no federal or public funds involved. We’ve been there twice and I carry around a piece of mountain* to remind myself to never forget my dreams. (The project and my connection are a story for another time and place.)

I wrote my earlier post while recuperating from hand surgery and limited to typing with one finger on my left hand, and struggled to communicate with my Dragon voice recognition program.  Way out of my comfort zone.  I usually handwrite my poetry and notes for articles, novel ideas and whatever else is kicking around in my head. I wasn’t used to writing aloud, but hoped it would  create interesting new synaptic brain links. (Not a huge success for poetry, for me.)

Mary’s post about the Bliss Box (and here) really started me thinking about all those ideas I’d shelved during the prior year and half since my car accident and assorted other distractions. Several items in the opening shot of this post live conceptually in my Bliss Box, which once held tea; I bought it because I wanted the box, and gave away most of the contents.

Scanners are not only permitted but actually encouraged to follow their wild tangents, capturing them in a semi-organized fashion in their Scanner Journal. Here’s a sample page, plus perhaps the wisest statements I ever came up with and which is posted all over my house:

I looked through my Scanner Journal to see how my dreams were faring –  what I’d forgotten or at least misplaced, who were still nagging me (yes, they are real life critters to me), and the ones that danced with joy because they were getting attention.

I was surprised:

Our poetry anthology was out there in the universe. We adopted a wonderful dog. My office and workspace are even better than I imagined when I created them in my head. I began practicing tai chi on a fairly regular basis and participated on stage with my class in a martial arts program.

NaNo novel I pitched was well received at a writers conference before my car accident, etc., pulled me away. Perhaps this was the most fragile of my projects: a cross between Catch 22 and Terms of Endearment, which an important person wanted to see. I hadn’t — and still haven’t — done anything with it.

But it was all the poetry that clamored to be put on paper with purple fountain pen ink that shouted the loudest. My answer to dealing with all of those critters who must  be fed is what I called my Red Bag of Courage:  a large zipped binder with sections for portions of several projects. Sometimes you’ve just gotta hand-write a note instead of typing onto the iPad. After I could carry it . . it was going to include new poetry I’d written, blog ideas, etc. I was inspired again.

If you look back at the opening photo here’s where you’ll find:

~Ganesch, to keep me on track. When I’m following my right path, Ganesch removes obstacles in my way. When I’m not heading where I should, he throws boulders and icky things on the road to get my attention.

~A monkey I need to watch diligently to keep off my back.

~A slinky to remind me there are many ways of getting from Point A to Point B, and to have fun while I’m doing it.

~My rock from of the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial. Korczak gave this answer to the question of how one goes about carving an image out of a mountain: “Study and observe, then remove what is not the horse.” (* from above: people can buy chunks of not-horse, with the money going to continued work on the monument.)

~A zebra, because I think zebras are cool, and I like to color them brightly when I have the chance.

~The open book and everything on it are all reverse images created in Picasa when I was playing around today. That’s why the paper is black, and the monkey is white.

Sometimes I just have to create my own reality. Enjoy creating yours.

NOW FOR SOME COOL LINKS:

Barbara Sher’s official site:  Barbara Sher’s Official Site ( http://www.barbarasher.com)

Refuse to Choose! and other Barbara-Sher books: (http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Sher/e/B000APWZC6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1457739259&sr=1-1)

Barbara’s “Refuse to Choose: the Forum for Scanners: (http://boards.barbarasher.com/viewforum.php?f=30)

A google search for examples gave me this, including our contributions. Note that some have “road writer.net” as location; these were temporarily housed at my other site when we had major blog gremlins. I don’t know how to correct the link within the Daybook Tangents site.:

daybook tangents barbara sher —

 800 × 555 – poetic-muselings.net 

 800 × 477 – poetic-muselings.net 

 1024 × 768 – poetic-muselings.net 

 2448 × 3264 – poetic-muselings.net 

 800 × 745 – roadwriter.net 

 800 × 600 – roadwriter.net 

 825 × 891 – roadwriter.net 

 655 × 800 – roadwriter.net 

 401 × 449 – poetic-muselings.net 

 714 × 800 – roadwriter.net 

 300 × 226 – poetic-muselings.net 

 

 

 

WHO IS DAVID SEAH, AND WHY IS HE HERE?

A version of this post was published in April, 2015, before the gremlins devoured and destroyed portions of our blog. After you read this, go spend time exploring davidseah.com.  Lots of time. Read other interviews he’s done — no two cover the same territory.
Then, come back here later for Parts 2 and 3 for more.  Michele

Meet Dave, a talented, whimsical storyteller who uses computer technology to bring his stories and creations to life. His serious side is always looking for a better way to organize, systematize, code, and simplify tasks —  these products are spare, beautifully balanced, color coordinated, and do their job well.

Then there’s his other side that loves to explore and tweak options, express how he (and we) feel about life. These creations led me to contact Dave. His very generous sharing of time and ideas fill this post, plus two more to follow.

We exchanged over 6,000 words! How to distill his wisdom, humor, eclectic personality, deeply held and expressed views, took a while. Plan time to go get lost in his website. Discover how he works, what he’s created and shared with the universe.  

But first, enjoy Part 1 of the David Seah saga:

 

Just who is Dave Seah?

I don’t really have a succinct answer for that!

Factwise, I’m a 48-yo Taiwanese-American living in New Hampshire about 40 miles north of Boston. It’s a suburban area without good Chinese restaurants, which makes me sad.

Mostly I work as a freelance interactive developer, though I am trying to transition away from that into making products based on my own design work.

I gather that you were always interested in technical issues, trying to figure out how things work, and how to make them work better.

That’s a valid observation, though I think that I’m more interested in “human issues” that have technical aspects that I can solve.

I find technology for the sake of technology pretty boring. The application of technology, though, in the pursuit of “something better” or “something MORE AWESOME” is hugely interesting to me. It’s about empowering and enabling, and sometimes I’m able to muster the ability to work through the technical issues.

Figuring out how things work is an exercise in understanding how to make some aspect of life better. That said, I like digging into the technology and the principles behind it to find the uncommon and non-obvious effects they have, and thinking of ways that they might be useful or perhaps amusing.

What experiments are you most proud of creating/adapting in your growing up days?

I wasn’t a particularly experimental kid, but I did discover computers when I was in the 7th grade, around 1980-1981.

A lot of my formative beliefs about information sharing and team come from that time of learning in a group of three of us, and I spent a lot of time learning the innards of the Apple II computer.

I would say I learned the bulk of my computer knowledge, or perhaps gained the mindset for using computers, before I went to college for computer engineering.

In high school, I was probably most pleased with winning a school bridge building competition with an interesting load-bearing design that no one else had thought of by a 2:1 margin, or 10:1 if you didn’t include the student who cheated.

I also enjoyed writing, and was in-fact thinking of becoming an English major instead of a computer engineering major. I figured I could always write, but would learn more in computer engineering that I didn’t know, to the chagrin of my English teachers.

 Did you write much as a kid? What were your first doodles and writings about?

Yep! I had a mysterious grasp of essay writing at an early age, which I didn’t realize for years. I would just write-out what I was thinking and present it in an order that made sense, each paragraph building on the previous one. I enjoyed using WordStar, the seminal early word processing program, because I could type as fast as I could think

My first memory of a story was for I think was the 7th grade, when I had stayed up late writing an assignment at the last minute (hand-written, as this predates word processor use in my house).

I had put the names of my friends in the class in the story, which was loosely a Star Wars-inspired story, and the teacher reading it aloud made for a lot of interesting reactions from my classmates. I also spent a lot of time drawing spaceships with my friends (this was the late 70s/early 80s after all), which I started in the 4th grade.

I still have all the drawings too! Generally I didn’t write except for class after the 8th grade, but I think what really drew me was making up worlds…that’s what video games were to me, in the early days of that art form.

I grew up as an Army Brat, and experience feeling a “stranger in a strange land”.  You said on your blog that you spent your first years in MA, then moved to Taiwan for another chunk of your youth. How did that affect you?

I was born in New Jersey, where my dad was the minister for the First Presbyterian Church of Monmouth County. This was a rural area, mostly farms, and we were the only Asian family anyone had ever seen in the area.

I don’t speak Taiwanese or Chinese because when I was in pre-school, apparently I was speaking a mixture of Taiwanese and English and the teachers thought I had brain damage or a developmental disorder, so my mom started speaking to me only in English and I lost the language.

At the time, my parents didn’t think they would be returning to Taiwan because of the government (they were blacklisted as human rights activists by the KMT, the losers of the Chinese Civil War in 1949). In 1976 or 1977 our family moved to Taiwan when I was 9.

The result: massive culture shock. It was already easy to feel slightly out-of-place as the only Asian kid where I lived, but at least there was TV and I could read and understand what people were saying. In Taiwan I couldn’t do that. I went to the American school the entire time I was there, not speaking Chinese and being regarded as a weird foreigner.

Then on returning to the US for college, I unexpectedly went through yet another 5 years of reverse-culture shock (realizing this only 5 years after it was over), because I’d been away for so long and I lacked common experiences with my other classmates.

The effect, I think, was always feeling like an outsider or stranger, to this day. It took a long time to develop comfort in some social skills, but even now it is difficult to put away the feeling that I am an outsider/intruder that doesn’t belong.

Was art your first love, and tech more of an adult decision?

Neither of them are a first love, I would say, as a maker. I’m probably more of a reluctant creative.

I was more excited about stories than anything, particularly ones that I thought I could make. I wanted to (and still do want to) make really interesting experiences. I love animation, illustration, computer graphics, computer game design because of the stories and feelings they encourage, and for the knowledge and experience they deliver.

I’m a frustrated storyteller, and both art and technology are where my efforts seem to have gone because I have wanted good tools and good skills. Where I have fallen short, though, is having the guts to tell those stories and keep practicing.

It feels like I’m only now just getting over that block. Making things that are lovable is hard!

David, thank you so much!

This was my trigger to contact Dave – I LOVE
the Angry Scribble option!I call it my  Grump’s To Do Form. 

 

END OF POST 1. 

NEXT TIME, MORE ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS, HOW AND WHY THE BLOG HAS MORPHED OVER TIME, WITH EXAMPLES, PLUS THE GROUNDHOG DAY APPROACH TO TRACKING. 

PART 3 INCLUDES A FRANK DISCUSSION ABOUT POETRY, COMFORT ZONES, CONFLICT, AND MORE FUN POSTS TO READ ON DAVE’S SITE. 

 

Make Visible: The Feminine, by Anne

This post was one of our favorites, and is being shared again. Enjoy!


write-pic
I’m a poet with a particular point of view, and write poems on different subjects from my point of view. Each poem is an expression, through me, of inspiration or Spirit or emotion. What you see in this light is what you bring to the poem.

“The Feminine” is often expressed in writing by men. I offer you this poem, by a woman about femininity and what it means to be a woman. To me, just to me.

No Woman is an Island

More like vast continents
covered in dark forests,
hidden lakes and tributaries,
golden cities.

This land, dotted with small towns,
broad highways and dirt roads
is easy to get lost in.

There are no maps,
no signposts.

It’s not my fault,
if you lose your way…

Anne-1-25-16 post pic

© Anne Westlund


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

 

 

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