Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creatively Challenged?

Ever feel creatively challenged?  Can’t seem to get your mo-jo flowing?  What causes you to feel this lack of inspiration?  What do you do to alleviate these symptoms? 
Debbie Mumm Creative Woman
I think we all must surely go through this at times. It's part of being a creative personality.  Just like a performer, no one can exhibit her talent all the time!  That's not even reasonable to expect of ourselves.  I know I've been ever-guilty of thinking I had to create a marvelous work of art each and every time I go into my studio.  Not so.  (Heck, I’m lucky if I can create a marvelous work of art ONE in ten times I go into the studio!) 

One thing that I've noticed works for me is to (borrowing a phrase from Nike) "just do it."  That is to say that when I'm not feeling the least bit inspired, I often just get into my studio and make myself work on something more mundane. Maybe it's just organizing my space. Or perhaps it's just picking up that old project I've been meaning to finish but was too "inspired" doing other things to mess with. Whatever the case, when I tell myself that I'm not really "creating" per se, I find that I can get started. And wouldn't you know, before I have a chance to realize it, that fickle ol' creativity sneaks in and I'm off and running again! Happens every time! 
Debbie Mumm Imagine Possibilities
Thanks to Debbie Mumm for the pictures!  Don’t you  just love her cute images?!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Frozen Stiff

A small group of friends and I have decided to make every other Wednesday a "Creative Day" at my house.  We find that if we make it a regularly scheduled appointment, we have a better shot of actually making sure we include at least a minimum of creativity in our lives.  The others couldn't make it over yesterday, but I committed myself to Wednesday Creative Day, nonetheless.  Although my desk runneth o'er with bills and junk mail, and the dishes need to be loaded in the dishwasher, I put those lovely tasks aside and headed straight for the craft room.  I didn't even stop off at the PC to check my email, fully knowing that if I did, I would be distracted from my goal for hours (I'm an internet junkie!)  I did, however, manage to multi-task by doing a few loads of laundry throughout the day, changing loads when I stopped for bathroom or food breaks.

While I didn't create anything profound or amazing, I did CREATE, and that was my purpose.  I have a friend who starts out each new year with a word that kind of encompasses what she is attempting to achieve for the year.  Last year her word was "journey"--and I was thankful to be a part of hers.  This year she's working on "balance".  I've discovered that my life is much more balanced--I, as a person, am more balanced, when I make time to create.  I KNOW that about myself, but I so often let distractions keep me from doing that which makes me healthy and whole. 

I made a couple of cards for people who've been on my "To Do" list to thank or otherwise contact.  The one I spent the most time on was a sympathy card for my mom.  Recently her cat of 9 years died.  Anytime someone loses a pet, it's sad.  But, what's interesting about this pet's departure is how it affected my mom.  See, my mom has always been fairly "arms-length" with animals.  It's not that she doesn't like them, it's just that she sees them as outdoor-only creatures.  You can feed them, and play with them, but you do NOT let them inside to shed all over the furniture!  Her cat, Polo, was no different....initially. 

Polo was a stray.  I don't remember when or how he came to be mom's pet, but she ended up being the one who fed him.  Though she didn't acquiese to allowing him to live inside, he did manage to work himself into a comfy home in the garage--and even some inside time if Mom's mood was right.  In the end, it was the freezing Missouri cold that got him.  For some unknown reason, he didn't come home one night.  Mom said she opened the door and called for him every hour until about 11pm until she finally went to bed, unsettled.  The next morning she got up to go to work and when she stepped out the front door, there lay Polo all curled up at the foot of the steps, frozen stiff.

Mom said she cried and cried.  She felt horrible because she didn't hear him come home somewhere in what must have been the wee hours of the morning.  She thought that if she had, she could have got him into the garage and snuggled him up.  I told her it wasn't her fault, she did her best, but that doesn't really take the hurt away.  My parents are divorced, but Dad still lives not too far from Mom's house.  She called him up bawling, and told him what had happened.  He told her not to worry, he'd take care of it, as she couldn't bare to dispose of poor Polo's stiff body.  By the time she got home from work that evening, Polo was gone....forever.

Many of us have experienced the loss of a pet or a loved one.  The thing that's of significant interest to me is the way this loss affected my mom.  I've never known her to cry or mourn the loss of a pet before.  I don't know that she ever, in her whole 62 years of living, allowed herself to get as close to an animal as she did to Polo.  But, my mom and dad divorced about the same time Polo came into her life.  My mom's not one to wallow in self-pity.  She is very independent and doesn't "need" much as far as friends or social interaction.  She actually likes living alone.  But, whether she voices it or not, I know there have been many days where she has sat and cried when life's difficulties have at times been overwhelming.  I can imagine her letting Polo inside for a few stolen minutes to sit on her lap and comfort her.  He'd been with her through all the hard times she's faced this last decade--especially as she's grieved over divorcing my dad (because she still loves him deeply--she just can't stand him!) 

Although it's been hard thinking of the sadness Polo's death has caused, I'm happy for my mom.  It may seem strange to say such a thing, but I am.  Although it's "normal" to grieve over a lost pet, for my mom, it marks a whole new level of softness.  Because her life has been so hard (and believe me, it has), she's had to put on a "survivor" mask, which became so real to her that she learned how to keep all emotion carefully in check.  She had no time or energy for "frivolous" emotions like being sad over a dead cat.  But now, in the early golden years of her life, she's finally at a point where she has let down her guard enough to love an animal as a friend.  Polo has softened her, and I'm thankful for that.  She needs to be allowed to feel love, and loss, and not have to distance herself from feeling--from LIVING.

So, like I said, though I may not have created anything spectacular yesterday, spending a few hours creating this card for my mom (and a few others) allowed me the time to think about my mom and how much I love her.  Creating not only gives us freedom in expression, it also allows us a much-needed break from life's hectic pace, to ponder.  I think that often we become unabalanced because we don't take necessary breaks to sit back and let ouir minds wander.  But the times in which we do, are the times when we FEEL what's inside of us taking shape, waiting for the moment it can be artfully expressed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Service Project

I had a WONDERFUL time yesterday! Late last week I received an email from some women at church stating there would be a service project on Monday to help the victims of the Haiti 7.0 earthquake which had occurred on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. A few women had decided to get together to make baby blankets for the little Haitians and invited our whole Frisco, TX stake (a large group of women of our church who live within certain geographical boundaries)to participate.

Since being layed off over a year ago, I've struggled at times with feeling a PURPOSE. Not yet having children of our own, sometimes I lack the drive to make every day meaningful. This service project opportunity was exciting to me because I knew it was something, no matter how small, that I could do to help. Something that might have a real effect in someone else's life.

So, from 8:30am-6:00pm yesterday, I met with many other wonderful volunteers to make baby blankets. Our goal was to complete 50 baby quilts, but by end of day we had more than 70 either finished or nearly finished! I sat at my machine and sewed all day long, while others pieced fabric and batting, ironed, trimmed, and tied the quilts. We had a whole assembly line going! As I finally got up to leave, several of the others thanked me for my service. All I could say was, "It was a pleasure." And it was.

I hope these blankets make it to Haiti in a timely fashion. I hope some little orphaned child gets one to snuggle up close to and feel the comfort and love that we are sending. I hope I can remember this feeling of how good it is to feel needed. I hope I can reach out to find other ways to serve and regain a sense of PURPOSE!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Slap Chop = FAIL!

Okay, so I've been MIA since...what? October or something? I don't even know. All I know is it has been too long.

Suffice it to say that the 4th quarter of 2009 was a BEAST for me. I could go into detail, but I have neither time nor inclination to do so. What I will say, though, is that a new year = new determination. And, I am determined.

This is an official alert of the Emergency Cheryl Broadcasting System: From now on I plan to be honest in my blogging. That's not to say that the things I've written in the past have been lies. They haven't. However, they've only been part of me. I know blogging isn't necessarily meant to take the place of good ole "Dear Diary", but I know I'm not happy with the way I handled my blog last year. I know that's part of the reason I stopped writing. When things got going tough in my world, I didn't feel like I had any "good" things to write. As you, the reader (if I still have any left at this point) well know, BLOGLAND seems to be filled with upbeat beautiful portrayals of life and accomplishment and talent galore. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy reading others' blogs who are uplifting and joyful. I do! I need that, too! It's just that I felt overwhelmed by it all and knew the things that were going on in MY life would probably be of little import to anyone else. I also felt that I couldn't "compete" with all that beautiful living and so I stopped trying.

My alert to you is to let you know that I'm determined to be more authentic this year. More authentic in the way I allow myself to "feel" life, more authentic in the relationships I endeavor, and most especially more authentic in my written expressions. Ergo, this may no longer be the blog for you. I won't always have a clever caption (not to say that I ever did) or a nifty photo to illustrate my writings. My posts may be long and boring, at best. But, it's my blog and that's what I've decided is important to me. So, you've been warned. And hey, no hard feelings if you decide to walk out the door now and never look back. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz, right?

So, today I was actually cooking dinner. As I sat there at the table dicing tomatoes (because that silly Slap Chop gadget I bought doesn't work on tomatoes like it promised!) I had opportunity to let my mind wander. (Of course, I have to keep a pretty tight reign on it because if I let it wander too far, it's likely to never come back.) I got to thinking about the flower arrangement some friends and I sent today for a funeral tomorrow. The gal who passed away was my age or thereabouts. She had colon cancer and unfortunately it got the best of her. I can't imagine the heartache and sorrow her husband and family must feel. I remember over the last several months seeing posts on Facebook and other internet group sites from this gal about her ongoing struggle. She would often comment about her medical treatments or how her days were going. Stronger than I would've been, she often had an upbeat attitude. And then the shame crept in. True, unadulterated shame. I am so ashamed of myself.

I remembered not less than a month ago commenting to another friend how I was somewhat "annoyed" with this gal for always writing about her cancer. I know. *GASP* How could I have thought such a thing, much less have voiced it, right? Anyone in her right mind would've known better than to say such a thing. And what kind of prideful woman thinks such judgemental thoughts? I, I did. Today as I sat crying over the onions, I wept for my shame. How could someone like me, who has seen her own fair share of medical difficulties in life, judge another woman so harshly? Why would I do that? I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I'm much more private about my medical struggles. For some strange reason I seemed to get it into my fat head that everyone should be like me, I guess. I'm almost 36 years old. I should know better than that by now.

You see, lately, I've been thinking a lot about how 2009 was so difficult, not only for me and my family but for so many others. With the continued "recession", so many have suffered. Yet, from my point of view, it seems like so many people I know paste on the same old "Happy Happy, Yep, We're Happy!" smiles they've grown so accustomed to portraying. I feel fairly disconnected from people. I mean, I KNOW that statistically, at least, there have got to be at least a FEW others out there struggling, right? So why isn't anyone sharing? Why are we all so hell-bent on masking our pain? I SOOOOOOOOO need to share my struggles with others because I need the support. In return, I too, want to be called upon as a friend, cousin, sister, wife to be a support to those around me. It's in the sharing of our burdens that our loads are lightened. It doesn't mean things necessarily change. But, at the very least, we can know we're not alone. And isn't that really the bottom line? Isn't that the very reason we seek for love, build friendships and strengthen family?

So, here I sit, judged for my own failings. Maybe the reason this gal felt compelled to share her comments was it was her way of connecting with others. She probably received lots of encouragement, positive feedback, and SUPPORT from others who are far wiser than I. She seemed to understand the necessity to share her struggles with others because in sharing, all who participate are blessed. Why would I ever try to deny someone the beauty of that? I was so wrong. And I want to change.

I am determined.