• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
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double marathoning

Two major things happening in my life right now that are my “extracurricular” activities. Meaning, they have nothing to do with work or family and are just for the enrichment of my life. Funny how they both involve the word “marathon” – my “creative marathon” of which I have most recently been journaling about. And of course, the women’s half-marathon in September for which I am training. Marathon, by the way, is named such because this Greek runner messenger ran 26 miles to deliver his message of Victory at the village of “Marathon” and then fell over dead.

There is irony here because I am not trying to kill myself, but am rather trying to better myself. It can, however, feel at times as if it is indeed my death that I am plotting. Physically and emotionally. While I am feeling very successful….hmm, successful doesn’t accurately describe it…rather to say that I am very pleased with my painting efforts. I have even decided to keep one (mile #11 – the whimsical blue flower). My running efforts however, are feeling….well unsuccessful. Words like failure and inadequate come to mind. Very discouraging.

But I digress, as first I wanted to discuss my experience with my “book”-club the other day. We decided to do this creative marathon together and forgo books for the time being. We met last Sat to discuss our journey so far. They are very very talented women and their works thus far were very inspirational. I must admit, that prior to meeting with them, I was worried and feeling a bit self-conscious about my attempts at art…especially sharing the images with others doing the same thing. What if theirs were Better? Prettier?…Better?

What I found was that it didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to compare, and they weren’t either. I didn’t feel so self-conscious once we became engaged in sharing and discussing. I didn’t feel like comparing. I did learn a lot about myself. I was very delightfully surprised by their interpretations of the “miles” – the drawings we had been sent to work from. They were interpreting! You could see their individual spirit in each painting, and they were all beautiful…even when (maybe especially when) they wound up looking very different from the example.
I think my paintings stayed closest to the examples. I remembered how, as I was painting, I would try to paint my images a little different…but…**light bulb!!!***… I realized that I was very strictly adhering to “rules” that I created for myself. Those rules said I had to do it like the example and that I must follow the instructions. I gave myself only the tiniest bitsy bit of wiggle room to be a little “different”. Perhaps because I am not trusting my process. Not trusting that I could have original ideas or unique interpretations that can still be beautiful works of art. Not trusting that I have ability, that I do have an inner artist locked inside that really wants to get out. Only I keep hemming her in with rules and straight and narrow rows that she must follow in order to express herself at all. Rules that are about other people’s art, and not about my own.

Perhaps it was “fate” that this last mile didn’t give a concrete example. The instructions were to draw a “cave painting”. So I did. I did research some images that I wanted to use. And then I made up my own. It isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t hang it on a wall. But it is all mine. And I like it.

I intended to write more about my current struggle with running (yes I am running, but it seems harder than ever, I feel slower than ever, and my hip hurts). I don’t much feel like moaning about it any more. As I wrote the above, I realize that perhaps I am having the same problems with both marathons. I am trying to hard to fit into someone else’s mold. I run the way I run. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t fast. Its messy. And sometimes it hurts. But I am doing it.


Beginning a Creative Marathon

So this is my new venture. A friend ofmine first told me about this “creative marathon” thing a few months ago, and I was intrigued. What a better para llel for my actual marathon training than to “run” a marathon creatively. So, here is what 6 the thing is about: Essentially you are painting 26 paintings over a period of 13 weeks in an effort to delve into your right brain, open your mind and heart, and become “creatively fit” .

At first, I really I really wasn’t sure whether I would have the time to paint two paintings a week….I mean, one painting has taken me forever before, and I spent a lot of that time being dissatisfied with the results. Whitney Ferre , the brain behind this process, assured me (via video) that my painting was “not going to solve world hunger” and so it really didn’t matter if it was perfect, or even whether or not it looked very good. Plus, the beauty of it all, is that come the next mile, I am going to paint right over it. So it really doesn’t matter what the outcome is. I love this idea of impermanence; of stretching myself just to stretch and letting go of the outcome.

So I started on my first mile. Initially I had these nagging little thoughts that said things like “this doesn’t look anything like what they are doing” (students in the video I was watching), “that line looks terrible”, “what a mess”, “you can’t do this”, etc etc. Thankfully I ignored that voice, and told myself just to relax and enjoy the process. So, while this little critic yammered away in my head, another part of me just ignored it and enjoyed the feeling of the brush in my hand and the smell of the paint. When I finished, I criticized the result a little I must say. I didn’t like this tree, or that line, or that color, but it was fun and I left it to dry. When I came back to snap a photo of the result after it dried, I felt very differently about it. I loved it. I really didn’t want to paint over it, but wanted to keep it. Wow! My first “real” painting.

Mile 2: I was eager to start, but it took me a moment or two to let go of the attachment I describd above, and slap on a new coat of paint. Maybe it was because this image was so childlike and fun, or maybe it was because my inner critic wore itself out on the above painting…whatever the reason, the critic was absent for this mile. I just enjoyed the painting process. It felt really freeing to let go of the previous image and bring out the child within myself. Whitney suggested painting this one with your left hand, but I actually forgot to do that, which was okay. This little guy was just so much fun, and I loved mixing these colors. I felt childlike and joyous. This painting also took very little time, and I was almost sad to finish because I wanted more!

I plan to blog about the entire 26 miles. I am looking forward the new experience of each painting. Whitney talks about it being like meditation – and it certainly feels like it as afterwards I am left calm with a little center of childlike joy. I actually pulled out another board and started an “optional” mile #1 because I couldn’t wait for mile 3 to get here! Maybe I will post it later.

Happy New Year

The sun is shining…and that is how I am feeling. (well emotionally at least..I am also the teensiest bit hung-over). The sun symbolizes joy and hope and new-ness for me today. I am most grateful for this sunny day to start a new year and a new decade. Reflections on this year just past bring a lot of joy and a lot of sorrow. This has been a year of many many changes in my life and I feel a lot of gratitude and a lot of pause. Yes pause. There is a yearning in me to create space – a container to hold and honor and rejoice and mourn many of these changes that have happened over this past year. These changes seem innumerable (though really they are finite and I am exaggerating) so I will only list a few. All of these things listed here are monumental to me – though some of them may seem trivial compared to others. Each bears a depth of emotional convolutions. Some I have blogged about, others you will just have to guess at. Each has had great weight in my life:

  • Reconnecting with my older sister
  • Death of my older sister
  • Getting to know my youngest nephew
  • Starting a New journey of health
  • Releasing 69 pounds and still releasing
  • Running two Races!! (5k & 5 miles)
  • Registering for a half-marathon!!!
  • Falling in mad love with my husband again (I never fell out mind you…I just fell in deeper and in a different way)
  • Short hair-cut
  • creative efforts
  • fishnet
  • Wine
  • Clinical at Vanderbilt

So much to say about each. So much change. pain. sorrow. joy. wonder. My intentions were to blog about my hopes and goals for the upcoming year. Instead I will rest in this pause. Close the container.

inspiration strikes

Inspiration and creativity seems to hit me in great spurts, which is great, but unfortunately there are often long pauses where I feel uninspired, apathetic, and generally dull. Also, when I am “struck”, I am often struck by multiple ideas – too many too get down at one time and/or I get so lost in tangents (as evidenced by some of my posts) that I lose the original thought to begin with. OR, and I love this, things come to me that I MUST write about while I am driving down the road, or in the grocery, etc. I have thought about using my phones recorder to save my thoughts, then transcribe later…but that makes me tired.

These creative bursts are not just limited to writing, it also pertains to other things…crochet, drawing, some great collages I have done in the past, and most recently – making jewelry. I have a booth in a local festival in a few weeks and I will be selling my jewelry for the first time. Talk about enough anxiety to make the aristic block loom! Thing is, two weeks ago when I decided to do this, I had not yet made any jewelry to sell. Which means my fingers need to do some fast moving! Up until yesterday, I had made a few pieces here and there…but everything seemed to take sooo long. Then yesterday, my creativity was at a peak and I busted out several beautiful pieces, more than I have done in the past few weeks combine…now to pray the creativity lasts.

See now, my intention when I sat down at this computer was to write about my novice attempts at gardening, my battle with weeds & the big decision of whether or not to sell the house (which believe it or not ties into the gardening because a big part of me wants to sell this summer, but if we do I will not get to reap the bounty of my gardening efforts). sigh.

I also wanted to write about this great idea I had for an article that I need to write (for a scholarly publication…part of my professional goals for myself this year. For some reason I thought that was a good idea when I was submitting my yearly evaluation). It was about working with borderline personality disorder and application of Jean Watson’s caring theory. Something I can implement this summer and then write about my experiences. I still need to jot down my thoughts about that somewhere. I think its a grand idea.

But alas (alas is a darn good word by the way), alas my time is once again done and I am once again procrastinating going to work.

On a ‘final’  excellent note…Finals are today. It is kinda cool to be the one giving the Final Exam and not the one taking it. yes I now that makes me sound kind of dorky. that is what is so loveable about me.

Writing creatively (learning I can do it)

I really do love to write. I often feel words burgeoning in my mind that want to be written, but then time slips away or when I find myself actually in front of the computer I find the words themselves have slipped away, or otherwise refuse to put themselves together in a cogent formation. I have also had a long-standing desire to write works of fiction, but have been afraid that I could not create a plot that made sense or that was interesting to read. It is funny (not really haha) how I can allow fear of the unknown to hold me still.

So last night I stepped out of that fear and went to a creative writing workshop. It was not what I expected at all, and I truly felt inspired. The woman who led the workshop, Kelly Falzone,  was amazing. It was as if her love of writing flowed out of her and into my willing thoughts down to my hand and created an outpouring of stories that I didn’t know I was capable of . I have always loved words – love words that I can experience with all my senses -their different textures, scents, the way they can make my mouth tingle and the different images they can invoke in my mind. Kelly very effectively guided us in a sensory experience of words: hers, the words of others, and then the words of our own. This allowed me to create my very first short story of pure fiction. The character is not me, but I can see her and sense what she is going through, and she calls me to write more about her, to tell more of her story…but this is a start for now. This is really a breakthrough for me, as what I have been able to write about to now has been my reality, my thoughts and ideas. But this is a whole ‘nother enchilada.

So, I would like to share my first short story here, I think I will call it “The Rake” or “Tangleroots”


I feel heavy as I walk up the pebbled drive. I don’t want to look around me, don’t want to see the work in progress that is my yard. It seems just yesterday that this very same view would inspire me as I envisioned a picturesque landscape waiting to burst to life with the diligent work of four hands. My heart feels heavy as I acknowledges that it was just yesterday and that today there are only two hands  that cannot complete the work by themselves.  My unwilling eyes glance over a rake thrown carelessly against the fence, awaiting repair. The jagged edges of its broken handle yearn for the care and attention that would make it as new again.  Now perhaps, the wood will rot away and the tines will rust in uselessness. It is a thing of disgust to me, discarded as it is, and I have no motivation or desire to touch it or use it for its intended purpose ever again. It seems a hateful object, once full of so many promises of the beds it planned to tend. Broken now. It will never run its tines through the dark rich loam or free the earth from the choking tangle-roots of crabgrass and carpet weed. The roots of those weeds are so deep! I seem to hear mocking laughter that I once naively believed those deep dark entanglements could be undone and replaced with fragrant bursts of color. Still my mind strays back to that old fantasy. Luscious beds of eager daffodils, playful canturbury bells, timid crocus, shy daisies and maybe even bold snapdragons or astringent marigolds all married together in a harmonious landscape. My mind fills with the colors of possibilities. Then harsh reality snaps me back into the present. Despondency once again floods my heart and replaces my florid imaginings with the bleak reality of sickly yellow tangles of mean spirited crabgrass. It feels as if those pernicious roots have burrowed deep into my very soul. As if to defy this reality, I snatch the hateful rake to hurl it from my sight. A jagged splinter  fiercely pierces my palm. It painfully cuts to the very bone.

The end.

for now