Let’s Be More than Pretty

Wow crazy blood moon lunar eclipse, I don’t know if it’s cause I’ve got my moon flower (aka red tent time, aka hide me in a cave and leave me the hell alone) but I am awash in some kind of insane explosion of creativity. I can barely sleep, and for once the steady reel of tragedy and fear that plays on a loop in my brain is matched one for one by awesome ideas and inspiration. If it wasn’t so exhausting, I’d want this to be the norm. But I have three kids, one of whom is an almost-three-year-old, so I need my sleep, okay? Here’s a perfect example of what my interior looks like right now, and it all started with a picture:

 

 

This, my friends, is for the dogs. Literally. I snapped this while strolling through the tourist haven that is Niagara-on-the-Lake. At the time, I was delighted to find such a sweet little piece of pretty outside a high-end home goods shop. It seemed like a cute gesture on the part of the owners. Clever marketing, thoughtful. There’s even a fresh, live, flower. Lucky dogs!

But then, I also realized how I’d been struggling with my stroller to get in and out of nearly every tiny, over-packed store. Whenever I have a hard time with the stroller, I immediately think of people who use wheelchairs and scooters. If it’s a hassle for me, I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be for them. In a place like NOTL, there’s more wheelchairs and walkers than there are strollers, believe me.

Here’s the next layer. I live a blessed life. We are far richer in spirit than we are in our bank account, but we can make ends meet. The store that extended such a thoughtful gesture for the four-legged companions of their customers is way beyond my means, and frankly, even if I had that kind of spending cash, I can’t imagine ever throwing it around it in such a place. Which makes me think of the people who aren’t as lucky as me. Who stay up at night wondering how they’ll make their very limited resources feed their kids. They barely have enough, and every month is a struggle in making the most of very, very little.

Which sends my thoughts across the globe. Where people in plastic boats are drowning with their children because all they want is a safe life for their families. They live each day in terror, not just in Syria, but in so many other places. Here’s their reality; an over-packed dingy that cost them their life savings and may mean the death of everyone they love is a better alternative to the place they once called home. There is no sense of ‘home’ or ‘safety’ for so many of our brothers and sisters out there.

Never mind their fucking dogs.

So, what to do? Do I hate myself for my initial delight in this pretty display of hospitality. No, I can’t. I’m an artist – when I see something lovely, I like it. However, lovely and beautiful are not the same thing, and it’s what’s beneath the initial impression of loveliness that really counts for something. It’s pretty, I smiled, but what else is  in there? How can this relatively shallow gesture mean something more? How can a ploy to lure in customers turn into something greater?

It starts like this, I think. With our ability to reflect, ask questions, examine our own position, our values, the meaning behind everything that moves us either to smile or to weep in desperation and helplessness. Enjoy the silver platter, but be damned well sure you know how lucky you are that you can, and then add your voice to those who want so much more for everyone else. Our world is shrinking, and we have more power as a people than we ever have before. It’s fine to appreciate the snapshots of pretty that turn our heads and lift our spirits, but let’s be more. We can all be so much more.

 

I Don’t Know What to Do Next

Hey you guys! I’ve missed you. Please, please send me news of your adventures. My own to-do list is so huge, I don’t know what to do next. I do know that this September-y time of the year always has me fired up with a keen mind for work and the promise of exciting new possibilities.

Over here, things have been a complete whirlwind. We had such a busy summer, hosting lovely friends and family, our home was like a bed and breakfast which was a wonderful way to warm the place. But now, oh now I’m so glad the children are back to school. Not because I can’t handle having them at home one more second, honestly with the pool this year they were absolute angels. No, I’m just so damned glad to get into a routine. Some kind of useful, effective work routine.

And there is so much work to do that I am dizzy. Mamma S finally found a local job. She’s delighted to have a ten minute commute instead of the 2.5 hour (EACH WAY!) mess she had grown used to. We’re all so lucky to see more of her, and this means all of us grown ups have more time and energy for ALL THE STUFF. What is the stuff? Where do I start?

I’m thrilled to be very close to publishing my first book, “Keeping It Up: A Guy’s Guide to Great Relationship Sex”. I’ve found a wonderful team of designers to work with, I’ve finished my final re-writes thanks to my glorious team of handsome beta readers, and I cannot wait to get this book out there. My goal is to have it hit the press well in advance of the holiday shopping madness.

I’m growing my little business experiment as a professional beta reader. It’s proven to be a very enriching and educational way to earn some extra money. What’s a beta reader? It’s not an editor, but someone who reads a piece (manuscript, short story, screenplay) with the eyes of an avid reader. I give feedback on character, plot, continuity, plausibility – all the things that make a book stand out as a good read. I’m finding I’ve got a real knack for putting a fine point on what is working and what isn’t, and exercising my critical muscles has been very beneficial for my own writing. I’m running that side project over at Your Beta Reader. Please check it out and share it where you think it can help.

I finished the first draft of my novel! If you know me, you’ll know this is HUGE. I was so, so intimidated by the idea of writing fiction, I could barely get started. Some creative writing classes via Quick Brown Fox helped me ignite the fire, and sheer determination helped me stick to it. Frankly, I mostly have Nekky to thank. He was a fantastic audience for each finished chapter, and his enthusiasm for the story spurred me on. Just as your enthusiasm inspires me to post here. What can I say? I love an audience. Now, the draft is ‘steeping’ while I take a breather. It’s killing me not to get back into it, but everything I’ve read suggests that taking a break is really wise. I have lots to keep busy with, but it’s hard not to bust out those color-coordinated post it notes.

At the advice of several trusted Internet resources, I need to develop my brand. Part of the problem I’m faced with is not really understanding what I’m selling. Ultimately, I want to make a living writing and selling my books, but I think there may be more here – a bigger picture that I just can’t see. I’m not convinced I’m ‘life coach’ material, or that I have a unique product I can sell, but who knows? I’m trying to stay open, and receptive, and I’m reading lots and lots of inspiring stuff. At the very least, I’ll be able to make this blog prettier by the end of it all. Sigh…

As if this weren’t enough, in the interest in investing in ‘me first’, I’m also taking on some work for our family business. Something new for me that I feel challenged by. I’m hoping it will provide some additional income to finance all of my ‘passion projects.’ Self-publishing, and more importantly, marketing said self-published materials, is going to require some resources I just don’t have.

Per my last point, I’m exploring Patreon at the advice of a trusted artist friend. This is a platform where people can sponsor their favorite content creators and help them fund their projects.  I’m trying really hard to ignore the voice in my head who keeps yelling “who do you think you are?” and just focus on building a great profile for my body of work. I am an artist. I am an artist. My work is important and must be seen by the world. Again, sigh…

Now it’s your turn! Send me news! How are you getting back into the groove? Are your creative fires blazing? What are your own passion projects?

My Birth Story, Part One

This post has migrated from my previous blog, because I really feel it’s important to include here. It was written November 22, 2012, about a month after my son was born. He’s my third child, but my first biological child, and my first experience with a newborn because I met my daughters when they were three and a half and five years old. This moment really shaped the person I am today, in fact the entire experience of pregnancy felt like my gateway to self-love. I so enjoy reading these kinds of reflections from parents, and I hope you can connect with some of your own early parenting experience through reading my birth story. xo

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Create A Will, Protect Your Loved Ones

Yesterday I completed one of those huge grown up tasks. I sat down with my loves to create a will. On Saturday I put the final signatures on my life insurance policy. Later today, I will draft my wishes for my memorial service and instructions about what to do with my remains. No, I’m not dying. At least no more than any of us are.

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