Friday, October 30, 2009

Joy Diet - Treats

Am I REALLY supposed to be blogging while game two of the World Series is on????? JEEZ! :) (yes, I know this seems out of character - but that's me- I'm an enigma)

OK - here it is quick & dirty. I am one of those people who has a hard time thinking up treats and even when I do think of them - I don't do them. Last year I while I was doing a rather physically demanding show (many bruises) under stressful conditions I promised myself I would get a massage when it was over - never did it. Then after doing Midsummer while clinically depressed I promised myself I would get a massage when it was over - never did it. THEN after doing Heidi Chronicles (both times) I promised myself I would get a massage when it was over - well you know the drill now. Could it be my body goes into depression because I never follow through on my promises to it?

Why do I defer my desires, why don't I give myself the treats I know I 'd love. These are deep questions and I could (and maybe should) stop here to try to get to the bottom of them but I think they are questions I will probably be working on for quite a some time. So, I'll ponder and keep paddling. I've started a little list of treats and I'm starting to do them. Today I listened to opera even though other family members were home - baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

This weekend I'll treat myself to one of my favorite holidays - HALLOWEEN!!!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

5 Things

1. HALLOWEEN!!! One of my all time favorite holidays. I loved it as a kid, the dressing up and going out after dark. It was so much fun and seemed so magical - without all the pressure and hype of Christmas. I still like it for many of the same reasons. Now I like to see the kids whooping and hollering through the fallen leaves on their way to my door. Trick-or -Treat!!

2. My favorite Halloween movie is The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was singing in Orlando when they finished this up so I got to see the private screening in Orlando. I was enchanted by Tim Burton's wonderfully creative world and it has remained a favorite ever since.
3. My favorite jack-o-lantern idea this year. It makes me giggle.

4. Aren't these Halloween cupcakes just adorable? I found these at Le Cupcake. Go take a look at these and all of the other beautiful and imaginative cupcakes. Cupcakes as art.

5. Finally, what's Halloween without costumes??!! This made the rounds on Facebook and I got a kick out of it. I must have been a 5 year old boy in another life. Check out some more fun homemade costumes here.

H A P P Y H A L L O W E E N ! ! !

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Glory

This is all Mother Nature - I didn't do anything other than capture it with my crummy little point & shoot. Ah! that color!!!!!!!!!!!! Glorious!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


As we continue our journey through Martha Beck's The Joy Diet at The Next Chapter with Jamie Ridler we were invited this week to explore risk. "Every day, do at least one frightening thing that contributes to the fulfillment of your desires."

I don't have any big dramatic risks that are tugging at me at the moment. I'm in a much more contemplative place trying to figure out my next move. So, I won't be rock climbing or jumping out of a plane (although a former student of mine did just that this past week). My risks are smaller but just as seemingly inexplicable.

I have this baffling need to make art. Painting, drawing, photography, paper collage - you name it - I need to do it. I don't know why. I have no talent or training. I HAVE a god-given talent (as they say). I sing. I'm good at what I do. I get paid to do it, people come to me to teach them how to do it. So, why the hell am I painting for god sake??? I have NO idea.

These are also the risks that call to me: "Go ahead - buy that paint," "Get down on the ground to get that shot (even if people are looking)," "Take that workshop." And I did - all of it. I'm taking Carmen Torbus's Spill It workshop. There are people in this workshop who know what they are doing - I mean - they are artists. I haven't had any kind of art class since the third grade when our teacher threw a chalk board eraser at one of my classmates because his tree was "wrong." Yet, here I am posting my work right up along side of theirs. You have to be a risk taker or an idiot to do something like that!!!! Carmen and my fellow workshop participants have all been incredibly kind and supportive and I am so grateful for that.

I'm not sure where all of this is taking me. I pull at the thread of a thought that says, as I am changing, this amorphous goo in the chrysalis, what I have to say and how I say it is changing, too. I'm not sure that the visual arts will be the final incarnation of my metamorphosis but I know it will inform it. So...I paint.

PS: the item on top of my books is a really cool watercolor palette that my husband gave me years ago. He eventually took it for himself because I never used it. I still probably won't use it much. It's a little cumbersome and at the moment it's filled with his colors not mine. Reclaiming it, however, is symbolic. I acknowledge this part of myself.

(collage done for Carmen Torbus's Spill It Workshop)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

5 Things

(bad phone camera shot - remember to take the good camera with you)

1. This is not a great shot but that's sort of my point. The trees are GORGEOUS now. There are about 5-7 days a year when they are like this. SO, step away from the computer, grab your camera (so you don't have to resort to using your phone camera on the fly like I did) and get out there and enjoy the COLOR.

2. Improv Everywhere is so much fun. Watch the Grocery Store Musical all the way to the end, I love the guy who says, "What just happened. They did a musical - they turned life into a musical!"

3. Connie over at Dirty Footprints Studio is doing a week of art journal love. I especially liked "Dreaming of Modigliani" but you'll want to check them all out. You can feel her joy leap out at you from across the computer screen!

4. Chema Madoz's surrealistic photography is beautiful, brilliant and thought provoking - see several of his works here at

5. I'm reading Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko. It's a "business" creative book and that's usually not my thing but I'm finding so many really useful and interesting techniques that can apply to almost any situation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today India will celebrate the first of 5 days of DIWALI, a significant festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Diwali, is known as "the festival of lights." Traditionally, "diyas," lamps made from clay pots filled with oil, are placed throughout the home. The lamps of Diwali are lit to give thanks for health, success, and peace. They signify the triumph of knowledge over ignorance and the belief that, through light, one discovers true beauty and the joy of life.

I have never celebrated Diwali but the essence of the festival resonates with me and I add my energy to those who are celebrating.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Joy Diet: Creativity

Last week's ingredient in The Joy Diet was "desire." I'm still unclear as to what my heart's true desire is at this time. As I've mentioned before, I'm in a place of transition at the moment and I'm ok with that. I also live a pretty charmed life. I have most of what my heart truly desires. So, I didn't have much to say last week.

Creativity was the ingredient this week. Here's where things got interesting for me. I consider myself a relatively creative person and being in the performing arts I call upon my creativity on a daily basis. But, in this chapter Martha Beck is really talking about creating YOUR LIFE. Ah! The assignment was to name one true desire daily and TAKE ACTION. Yep - you guessed it - that's where I get stuck. I was amazed, truly amazed at how frequently I defer my little everyday desires. I have a movie from Netflix that I've been wanting to watch for 6 months now!! I have a background that I've wanted to do an image transfer on for three days, I skip meals when I'm hungry, I have an ipod full of music I love that I rarely listen to. I've been asking myself "WHY" all week. I'm not even sure the answer is important and searching for the answer might just be another diversion tactic. This week I've been trying to diligently and honestly follow the suggest to identify one true heart's desire and take action on it. It hasn't been comfortable and I am still processing everything that has come up this week but I've been doing it.

5 Things

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Here's what Jarbas Agnelli says about the music: "Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electrical wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song using the exact location of the birds as notes."

3. Following Dreams: I saw this documentary on (again!) my local PBS channel. It followed a variety of people who followed their dreams, often despite the odds. Check your PBS listings and catch it if you can.

4. This week I was lucky enough to catch a photography webinar by Art Wolfe on light. I learned so much about photography and thinking like an artist. It was third in a series by Art Wolfe on composition. The first webinar is available at livebooks.

5. Artsyville is one of my new fun places to visit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today Creative Techs offered a webinar with Art Wolfe. I've been taking their photography class with John Greengo and received an email just yesterday about this class. I rearranged my schedule so I could be by my computer this afternoon and I'm so glad I did. I learned so much about light, light light. I think it's what I love most about his photography. He also mentioned over and over again the importance of being open to the unpredictable. You may be planning to photograph one thing when another will suddenly make itself available to you. You can't be too locked into your original plan or you might miss the perfect opportunity. It's a wonderful metaphor for life isn't it?

Moving My Life into the Foreground

I'm participating in the Spill It Workshop led by the wonderful Carmen Torbus. Our first assignment was to create backgrounds for our pieces. I had a great time doing this, intuitively moving the paint around the canvas with my hands. I learned so much and it was very freeing. This week we're doing image transfers. I am SO STUCK!! I just can't seem to move onto this next step. I was looking through my journal to see if something would inspire me and then it hit me - I NEVER cover the backgrounds. Well, I do - I write over them but I never cover them with images. I never move beyond that first step. I have another project that I started - I did paper collage over some old hardback book covers. I want to add images and paint but they have just been sitting on my table staring at me for over a month now. I think I'm afraid I will mess things up. It's as if my inner critic is saying, "Phew, made it past that first step without making a total ass out of yourself - better quit now before something bad happens." What happened to all of that wrecking I did this summer. I'm invoking my Inner Wrecking Warrior - help me wreck this canvas!!! Help me move into the foreground!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

5 Things

You shouldn't have to justify your work
-Judy Chicago

1. This week while watching my local PBS station I happened upon a wonderful documentary entitled No Compromise: Lessons in Feminist Art with Judy Chicago. In 2002 Judy Chicago returned to the classroom as a visiting professor at Indiana University. This film captures her work with the students and the students' artistic process from concept to execution. I loved watching her push the students to their edge demanding that they make their work bold, powerful and personal. Check your local listings - it might be coming to your PBS station.

2. I am taking the Spillit Workshop with the vivacious and talented Carmen Torbus. Carmen is a fantastic teacher - her videos and explanations are fun and easy to follow,Carmen herself is encouraging and enthusiastic and the other participants are creative and supportive. I highly recommend the workshop. We're starting week two today but Carmen is leaving registration open for a bit longer so it's not to late to join us.

3. Found this little writing prompt site, One Word. It's quick and fun and it helped me get a poem started.
4. Diana Damrau is probably the best coloratura soprano in the world right now. This video shows her talking about the roles she sings. It also shows her recording several arias. What's fascinating (at least to me) is that you can see her technical thinking physically manifested. This is the sort of thing we singers do all of the time when we practice but let go of when we perform. For me it was a mini voice lesson because I could tell exactly what she was thinking as she approached certain notes and phrases. Although you may not get the technical subtleties - you will at least be impressed with her impeccable coloratura.

5. I thought THIS was fun,too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Voice Unheard

For a while now I've been thinking that my singing days are pretty much behind me. I haven't really sung since Kiss Me Kate last year. I did manage to pull things together a bit for A Midsummer Night's Musical this past Spring but just barely. I began preparing myself for this a couple of years ago - voices don't last forever and it seemed wise to have a back-up plan. Although I do enjoy teaching, I'm like Cassie in a Chorus Line - I don't want to spend my life teaching others what I should be doing myself. I knew there had to be something else. So, I've been experimenting with this transition, doing theatre, painting, spending more time writing poetry. I can't say I've missed singing. I don't wake up thinking, "Today I want to sing!" But, to be honest - I hadn't had that thought in years. YEARS!! I'd wake up and think - "Today I HAVE to sing" because that's what I did EVERY DAY. It's was like breathing - I just did it - I didn't think about it much.

Some days I feel guilty for neglecting what most would view as a gift. Some days I feel sad - like I should be squeezing every last drop out of my voice. But, truthfully, most days I don't think about it at all. It has just slipped away and I figured it was like so many other things that are slipping away from me these days - my hair color, my period, my eyesight, blah, blah,blah! But, then this past Friday, Bruce and I went to see Showboat at another theatre. Not my favorite musical but I noticed that I was breathing with the singers. My body was physically responding to the music as if I was singing. It was completely subconscious. It is what my body does naturally. When someone sang a high note - I realized that I actually had to stop myself from singing out loud - my instinctive impulse is to sing. After the show was over I spent the rest of the night humming and singing to myself.

So, now I wonder, I am really done singing? Did I stop because it was the natural progression of things or did I stop because I am subconsciously sabotaging myself? What is my true desire- to sing or not to sing (that is the question *hee-hee*)? I am so close to it I can't tell right now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October Full Moon Dreamboard

As I meditated on this month's full moon I thought about the things that ground me -being in nature & feeling my connection to the earth, walking, meditating, yoga and my gratitude journal. This time of year I also love the "gathering in" activities of crochet (I just never have caught onto knitting) and cooking - especially rich, warm, yummy soups.

Ghost Light

Some families go to baseballs games or BBQs to bond - mine helped make a movie for the Project Twenty1 Film Fest. Great fun!

Bag Monsters

These guys made me smile today! I'd love to happen upon one of these bag creatures!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


(I'm posting early so I can go to bed early tonight - hopefully.)

This week I've been trying to face the truth. In her book, The Joy Diet, Martha Beck asks us to create and absorb at least one moment of truth each day. After 15 minutes of "nothing" she suggests we ask ourselves the following questions:

What am I feeling?

What hurts?

What is the painful story I'm telling?

Can I be sure my painful story is true?

Can I think of another story that might work better?

Here's what I know is true - I'm in transition. I'm perimenopausal, (which, by the way, pretty much sucks - I don't recommend it *hee-hee*), I'm drifting away from what once was my livelihood and full time passion and my little girl has become a teenager. I am acutely aware of all of this. The trouble with transition is - you have to go through it. Grr! My mind is full of questions, doubts, wonders and I know that this restlessness is practically oozing from my pores. So, when I plopped down to do nothing this week and ask myself the questions, I was pretty sure I knew which direction the answers were going to go. Lord knows I have all kinds of issues just standing in line waiting to unearth themselves.

I was derailed with the first question.

"What are you feeling?"

And there it was like a stretch of bright blue sky - I'm happy. I'm happy for no reason.

I'm happy.

You'd have to know me these days to really appreciate how surprising that was to me. Content, accepting, resigned, maybe - but happy? You'd have to know me to know how hard that is for me to say - I'm happy. Bitingly funny, sarcastic - probably - but happy?

How wonderful to know that along side all of this transition there is happiness. It's right there for me to grab on to whenever I want it.

My truth is I'm happy. Now ain't that somthing?

Come join The Next Chapter at Jamie Ridler Studios

5 Things

1. I've been taking creativetechs 10 week on-line digital photography class with John Greengo. We just completed week four. The classes are FILLED with information, stuffed to the brim. And, the classes are free. Since I don't know f/stops from train stops it's been highly informative and easy to understand. And did I mention - free!

2. If you don't know of Anoushka Shankar give her music a listen. It's so rich and interesting. She is a sitar player and composer. She studied classical sitar with her father (Ravi Shankar - remember him? Seriously if you don't, you're not as old as I am) and is considered one of the best. But, (here's the cool part) she also crosses over into flaminco, western classical, electronica and so on. One of my latest favorites is Red Sun on her album, Rise. Go listen - now wasn't that great?

3. Girls in Trouble. I found them while searching through the Amazon free MP3 downloads. They are uber cool. Their album comes out later this month. Here's what they say about themselves on their Myspace page: " Girls in Trouble = informed by years of classical violin training, Baltimore punk rock shows in the early 90's, and ancient Hebrew and Aramaic studies in Jerusalem as well as shyness, Emily Dickinson, and the symphonies Alicia has heard in her head since she was a small child."

4. I love to look at Sue Doodles. She inspires me - makes me want to doodle.

5. The Daily Om is offering A Year of Rumi. They will send you a copy of one of Rumi's poems everyday for a year. Sounds like a lovely practice. They are also offering the opportunity to pay what you can from $1-$100.

My own little place to explore my creativity and imagination