Saturday, April 30, 2011


Hi, folks, I hope your work is humming. This week of handy advice is all about sleep. I have to sleep. A lack of sleep chokes my creative vision. I feel that nothing will work out. I despair of finisihing projects. I go to sleep and wake up and the whole world is bathed in rose-colored light. I can do anything again. If you are burning the midnight oil, let it go out a few nights and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night for a week. See if you find your work picking up magically.

I love the quote below about sleep dipping us in God and we are new-created. I hold this in my heart and soul. Another thing about sleep I really love is that I sometimes hear my mother telling me to wake up. For just a second, right as I wake, I feel she is still here and I am so close to the love she had for me again. It's the best feeling. I'm not sure why but dreams are something about who we are; they are about getting all connected with the universe. Don't miss out on that connection.

Really, that's all I've got for you this week. Take a nap! I've been a busy bee and managed not to sleep near enough, probably why I am chatting about this anyway. After your nap, do amazing work. See you next week.

Here is this week's doodle: "Boat on a Red Sea." This is a pencil drawing but I think I should try it in pastels and water colors too.

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
~D.H. Lawrence

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Showers: Storytellers

Hi, folks, today is the last in a series of April Showers. Today I'm going to talk about what brings showers to my soul and this is the multitude of voices. I love to write and shape stories, but I also love to hear the stories of others. I had the great privilege of being born into a family of storytellers. My mother's family comes out of Louisville, Mississippi. They spun yarns like nobody's business.

A great lesson of the storytellers is to practice listening. Make time in your life to hear the stories of others. Think about the questions to ask. Ask the right questions and who knows what you will unlock. I like to ask, "What do you know that no one else knows?" I especially like to ask children this question. These questions always lead to great stories too: "What was the most important moment in your life?" "Have you ever seen anyone die?" "What's the greatest injustice that you've ever seen?" So ask some juicy questions and listen. Take notes or record the conversation. Writers keep the records of who we are and what we want, so listen up.

Another great storyteller lesson is to revise to get your audience interested. I have seen master storytellers in action, and if their audience begins to yawn or heads begin to bob, master storytellers up their game. They bring in more action, more drama, more pathos, more comedy, more. They let this stuff flood in. A great storyteller knows folks need to lean on the edge of their seat, they need to cry, they need belly laughs. Stories need to feel alive. If you don't feel that excitment in your work you might need to up your game this week.

Glad you dropped by. I hope you listen to a story or up your game. Water your work.

This week's doodle: "A Place of Dreams".

A quote about stories:

These stories were the libraries of our people. In each story, there was recorded some event of interest or importance...A people enrich their minds who keep their history on the leaves of memory. Luther Standing Bear, Lakota.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Showers: The Great Joy of Writing

Hi, folks. I'm not one of the bravest souls. I'm nervous, socially awkward, crowd phobic... I haven't really had the opportunity to share what I can do with an audience the way I wish I could. I feel bummed about that. But I don't let myself stay stuck there. I flip the coin, and I see some child from Singapore, picking up one of my books and taking it home to their apartment. I feel better. My words slowly making their way into the world and that's why I put them on paper. More are seeping out all the time.

Sharing with an audience is a big deal for an artist, but still, something bigger is hovering. For me, in here, in the middle of my creative life is the great joy of writing. When I write words on the page, I find something wonderful, and the good news is that I have a better self and it can be found. I sit down to the write sometimes and eight hours burns up faster than a box matches. I've laughed so hard that I've fallen off my chair. I've bawled through sections of my work. I've yelled. I've turned myself inside out.

I hope that you try to connect with the heart of your work this week. Try to be kind to yourself if you feel like you have sown so many seeds but have never seen the harvest. I don't believe good words will return void. Here is a message that I see written in the fabric of the universe: "Soon and in joy." I hope that find joy in your work. Come back next week for more the April rain. This week's doodle is called: "Crescent Moon".

The quote for this week is deep water truth. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. Mother Teresa

Saturday, April 09, 2011

April Showers: Mixing it up

Hi, folks, I'm here with more about the stuff that waters my soul. This week I'm going to focus on how I mix it up. I think as artists we need challenges. We thrive on them. We have to do stuff that melts the ice within us, stuff that breaks up the frozen state that can stagnate us.

One thing I do on a regular basis is to mix it. I open myself up to forms of writing that I have never tried before. I take wild plunges into unknown territory. I especially head toward writing projects that make me uncomfortable. I have found that being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. It keeps me from complacency and laziness. It also keeps me on the road to uncovering the star stuff within me. '

When the clouds roll in the stars aren't visible. Mixing things up sets me off balance, like changing the weather. A good storm settles the dust and clears the skies of my imagination. My goal with all this movement is to keep turning up the amazing hidden stuff I can't see.

I hope that you take time to mix it up this week. Face that one challenge that you keep avoiding. See if it doesn't get some sort of powerful reaction to set off in in you. Seize the day. See you next week.

Here is a doodle I call, "My Starry Night." Mr. Van Gogh always helps me mix it up.

And the quote comes from Vincent too:

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, April 02, 2011

April Showers: Every Little Bird Sings

Hi folks, I just spent a month reflecting and now I'm going to spend some time writing about what brings water to my soul. A sweet spring rain will make all sorts of good things green up and bloom. One thing that inspires me are the birds around here.

Today, I listened to a mocking bird singing its hundreds of calls. I hoped that I would hear something rare, the song of an ancient bird. The notes of the bird touched something deep inside me. How a mocking bird stitches together the voices all around it, fuels my writer spirit. I want to create such a joyful noise when I write with the intent to reflect everything I've heard.

I also like to see a bird on a wire. I'm going to drop a little video below that captures the swarms of starlings that settle on the wires around here every night. There are thousands of them. Starlings flood the sky at sunset. It's a maddening crowd. Those birds dancing in the sky and roar of their voices, it makes my spirit soar. Energy pumps into my heart. Part of me want to morph into the sky and head up into the crowd to dart and weave with the best of them and find my place on the wire.

The last water I'm going to cover is the sound of birds at dawn. In Texas, you tend to get up earlier because it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk past noon. I love the sound of birds at dawn. As the sunlight begins to warm the sky, the cacophony begins. A dove begins to coo, cardinals whistle and call, thrushes, jays, robins, buntings. More and more birds began to chatter until it's hard to tell one voice from the other. They seem so much more aware of the passing night and coming dawn. They live to praise the return of the sun. The experience floods my soul. Every little bird sings out its song, and a hunger stirs n me to sing my song too.

There is no way I could ever cover all the birds that sing spirit into my soul. I hope these three snapshots open you up more to the things that water your soul. Keep working. Keep seeking a way to capture the light and darkness in your life. Seize the day. See you next week for more showers.

Here is the weekly doodle: "Bird at Dawn".

Here is my weekly quote:

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds -- how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives -- and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song! John Burroughs