Saturday, November 21, 2015

Uplift: Be Thankful

Hi folks, I'm continuing my Uplift series. A short one this week but full of riches!

One way to cause your work to soar is to be thankful. We choke on our successes when we don't take the time to thank others for their helpfulness. Acknowledging others is a way of sharing your success; it's a trans-formative process. It acknowledges you did not create work in a vacuum. You are interconnected with all around you;  without the spokes to your wheel, you never go far.

Some keep a gratitude journal to remember all the great things that they wants to give thanks about. Others take time every day to be thankful. There is no best way. Thankfulness helps lift me from a depressed state and gives me hope. It helps me avoid stifling my imagination, choking my growth, and losing my joy. Being thankful makes the ties that bind to be much stronger.

Thankfulness is getting above the waves of life and surfing over a turbulent ocean. You will find your way, day by day. Complexity does not equal better. Thankfulness simplifies you and puts you in touch with the better parts of yourself. It sweetens hard work. It helps you approach work in a way is not "crazy making."

Giving thanks makes you strong, so difficult to knock over. It makes you a better person. The act of thankfulness leads you to right choices and will move you closer to wherever you want to be. A thankful heart is better than a pain reliever;  it can cure what ails you.

Finally, if you want your work to sing? Sing the praises of others. Giving honor and acknowledgement to those people who have helped you along the way. Enrich your life.
We live in troubled times; it's comforting to know that one simple act can do so much for everyone.

I will be back next week with more Uplift.

Here is the week's doodle, The Peace Monument, Bamako, Mali.

A quote for your pocket. 

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life. Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Uplift: Be Revolutionary

Hi folks, I'm continuing my series Uplift. Something I think we can all use right now. It is difficult to turn to a news site and see the troubles of our world. What can an artist do to alleviate any of it? How can an artist work in the midst of it? Is it possible to find uplift in this morass of suffering?

Here is a truth that has come to me. I write because I must. Words flood into me. My artistic endeavor is a gift to me first and to all after. It is something like I'm an artesian aquifer. Deep in us all is the ground water of human existence and it is seeking a place of release. We are animate matter: self-replicating, chemical factories, and electrical maps. We are fragile. I have a short span of days in light of the ancient universe, to share what the spark of life has revealed to me. Use you time wisely.

So much flows from human existence and not all is good. There is terror, murder, mayhem, profane, a list so long, but just the first few on the list places weight in my heart. Thankfully, there is good--mercy, hope, help, kindness. I am one voice among the many, but my voice counts. My choice how to use my voice counts. Like all artists, there is so much pushing up under me. I must allow this art a place, and hopefully, like a fine poet who was called to throw a stone at a giant, I will take down the enemies of my age.

Artists are outliers. I like to do the math. We have about 318 million people in our country. 2.5 million work in all the arts (I'm including the part-timers and unemployed). 7 in 1000 are artists. I'm a writer, and we are really rare birds: 4 in 10000 or so are writers. This is why you have friends all over the world, and you have a difficult time finding folks in the neighborhood who are working on their craft. Even if we are rare, we are mighty.

Art is mightier than any sword because it changes the minds of others without having to lift the sword. We keep hurling our bombs at each other in hopes that the other side will see our point of view. Really?  As a mother, I can tell you hurling rocks will never change the heart. You may defeat your enemies, causing them to hang their heads with bitterness but you will not change them. Non-violent change is true road for everyone, not just the oppressed.

Not everyone producing art is trying to pull the good water out of the human groundwater. Art can be full of good or not. It can laced with terror or laced with kindness. Don't be a con-artist. Regardless though, it's better to put your ideas on a page and think about them, than to force them down the throat of your neighbors at the point of a gun, sword, etc. Don't worry about stopping the foul wells. They don't bring life and people will leave them. We need water to live.

So here it is artist: Use your words. Use your pictures. Use your song. Use you dance. Use every way you can communicate an idea, but if you use your fists, your shouts, your better ways to throw rocks and fire, you will fail. You will always fail.  If you are a well-spring of art, know that you are the only one who is working in a way that will bring forth true change. We are the revolutionary who bring forth sudden, complete, and marked change! Yay!

Change the world for the better, folks. I will be back with more Uplift next week.

Here is a doodle for you: Open Door.

A quote for your pocket:
I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. Martin Luther King

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Uplift: Be Bold

Hi folks, I am starting my new series about what gets me off the ground and in to the creative flow. I call this series UPLIFT. I hope this blog  helps you reach your stratosphere.

Boldness is about moving past fear, and you will need it to find success in your creative endeavors. The first step on your journey to boldness is to win some small battles. What will lead to a high rate of success? Follow that path. Once you win that small battle, don't put yourself down for winning a small battle. The day of small battles is important. You aren't going to win the big battle if you don't win some small ones.           

Identify your weaknesses, really own them, and then create workarounds. You may need to build a team. Don't do this alone. You will spend where things are important to you. If you are broke, try barter. Trade your skills. Also identify your strengths. This is simple but you need to think about how those strength will help you. Take some time and explore that strength. What will help you do?  Are you focusing on what you can't do or what you can do?  Your focus will make all the difference. Be a can-do person. If that makes you cringe, it may be time to reinvent yourself. 

What does boldness look like in your work? First, trust your vision. You are the gal who is driving the creative bus. Don't allow anyone  take that from you. Cling to your point of view. Boldness means letting people see your work and incorporating their feedback in ways that moves you toward your goals. Boldness means accepting that you may fail, but choosing not dwell on that. Boldness is about healthy, encouraging self-talk. Boldness is all about taking the hits but dwelling on what you learned from them. Boldness is about choosing action over fear. Do it.

I hope you are bold this week.  I will be back next week with more uplift.

Here is a doodle for your pocket. Primary and Secondary

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Chicken by Chicken: Soul Wrapped in Cake and Doughnuts

Hi folks. I'm finishing my Chicken by Chicken series for the month of October.  I write about my real challenges in the series. This week: Soul Wrapped in Cake and Doughnuts. On top of depression, anxiety, partial blindness, and dylexia, I suffer from obesity. It is a daily battle. I hope my journey helps you find your way.

Yes, my soul is wrapped in cake and doughnuts. I have suffered from obesity since the birth of my third child. Gosh, you have no idea how difficult this is for me to write about.  It's just a piece of cake. It's just a doughnut. Don't eat it. Ah, but that cake and doughnut is about that moment of pleasure in a life that has not had so many pleasures.  Yes, I struggle with eating for emotional comfort. Like any addict, I hope to drown my sorrows in momentary pleasure. Obesity is a treatable disease and I'm working on it.

I don't have my obesity under control right now, but I haven't given up hope. I long to be well from this need to eat sugar. I live in a world that values the young and so called "beautiful." Thankfully, I have this fantastic understanding of beauty that keeps my chin up. My understanding was a gift. A photographer called Emerald England opened my eyes to the beauty of everything.  I was at my highest weight of my life when I met her. I will tell you right now. I am the kind of person that everyone calls a beautiful heart.

I'd hired Emerald to take a headshot of me for my website. I apologized to her for asking her to use her incredible skills on someone like me.  She looked at me in surprise and asked why.  I told her my truth. I'm fat, dumpy,and gnome-like, and she takes pictures of beautiful people. She looked stunned and told me without hesitation, you are going to find out today that you are beautiful. I laughed and said OK. She took the shots and I went my way. When I received the pictures, I couldn't breathe.

Indeed, Emerald was right. I was beautiful, not just my heart, but the outside of me. Ever since that photography session, everyday, I stand in front of a mirror and speak the real truth to myself. You are beautiful, Molly.  You have a health problem with food. It's complicated, but it doesn't lessen your beauty. I have an illness that has to be treated.  This illness does not make less of a human being.  That is someone else's problem.

So my soul is wrapped in cake and doughnuts.  I'm working on it.  Obesity is a tough disease to live with, but it is not an ugly-maker. You have value, whoever you are. Your flaws are part of your beauty. (My contemporary romance, Plumb Crazy, is really inspired by my journey with obesity. The main character, beautiful Elva, was another gift to me.) Here s a secret. Your so-called flaws will inspire your work if you let them.

I will back next week with my November series, Uplift.

Here is a doodle for you!

A quote for your pocket too!

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years. Audrey Hepburn

I'm adding one of Emerald' England's pics, so you can see for yourself:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chicken by Chicken: A Glitch in the Software.

I'm continuing my Chicken by Chicken series. I am writing about my real challenges in hopes that my story will help you find your way.

This week I will chat about a glitch in the software of my brain. Along with the whole blind-in-one-eye thing, the anxiety thing, the depression thing, daily, I face dyslexia.

What is that like?

I have a hard time distinguishing left from right. I leave articles out of sentences.  I repeat letters in words. I leave letters out of words. I skip words. I don't put words in the right order. I flip bs, ds, ps, and qs. I love lists, but I really hate numbered lists. I thank God that we don't have to look up stuff in dictionaries manually any more! Also, I'm am freaking brilliant with math as long as calculation is not necessary.

I think you get it--glitch in that brain. .

I have hundreds of "work arounds" for this problem. I read my writing backwards. (Ah, yes, reading backwards or forward, right side up or upside down makes little difference to me.) I change fonts. I change the size of fonts. I change the color of fonts.  I only copy edit 5 or 6 words at a time. For math, I'm horrible at calculation but amazing at estimation. I solve every problem until I get the same answer three times.

ADVICE: If you are older, be sure to find some expert on dyslexia to offer you new ideas to deal with your glitches.

Dyslexia makes some easy things very difficult to me.  I have found it is useful to work with the problem and not against it. I am full of stories. Here is a fact. My stories have to be stronger than the average story because I have to get professionals to look past the fact this writing needs "more editing than most." So be it. I'd pit my imagination against, the best grammar any day. I also am one tenacious soul.

In the end, dylexia has brought me some wonderful gifts. The best one is empathy. I love chatting to kids with reading and writing problems. Reading is not about the AR points you can rack up. Writing isn't about the grammar.  Reading is about finding a secret door into new worlds. And writing is about expressing ideas that only you can express.  I can seriously say, "Don't let a string of teachers slapping Fs on your papers stop you from opening secret doors or sharing your ideas."

A deep truth--we are all hopelessly flawed.  Everyone has glitches in their software.  We are having to deal with "work arounds."  If you are full of stories, do your best work and know that is enough regardless of the challenges you face.

For fun check out my Chickens video.  If you would like the book, CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN, check it out here.
And now a doodle:

Here is a quote for your pocket.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller