Friday, March 29, 2013

Oracle Cat nips me

Once upon a time there was a bunch of bananas, waiting for a bus. (This story is for Cathy, who likes the bus better than she likes bananas, but likes the idea of bananas waiting for a bus.)

The bananas didn't know the bus routes, didn't know the schedule, didn't have a destination in mind. (Have you ever tried to read the mind of a banana? Talk about a split personality -- & that's just one banana. This was a bunch.) They were just waiting, wanting to be somewhere other than here, trusting that any direction was better than no direction. They weren't new green bananas, fresh off the boat. They were seasoned, mature, ripe bananas. Maybe just a bit past their prime, a few age spots, but still firm, nicely sweetened by their time on the planet. They weren't black. They weren't ready for banana bread, that one-peel-in-the-grave last resort. They were ready to get out & see the world while they were still vital.

There is a happy ending to this story. The next five people to come to this bus stop each took one banana & a different route. The bananas saw the world, or at least the city, before their biological clocks took them to their final rendezvous at the landfill.


Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, also known as SARK, is a fountain of inspiration. One of my favorite things from her website is Jupiter, her black cat, who has a kind of "magic 8 ball" function. You think of a question (mine is always "now what, my darling?") & click on the drawing or photograph (there are many different Jupiters) & get some advice. Frequently it's very cat-centric, like "take a long nap" or "blink slowly" but I just got -- 2 days in a row -- some very good & appropriate advice:

"Don't force growth"
"Allow natural timing"

These were particularly apropos for me, because I had submitted some photos & an article via my photography group to a magazine called The Laurel of Asheville. Wouldn't it be cool, I thought, to have photos & writing in a magazine that was practically named after me?

The editorial response was:
"Say, those five photos are nearly identical. I realize that was the gist of her story. Still, from a layout standpoint, there's not enough variety. Also, four of the five were not in sharp focus."

I began a little flurry of trying to find other photos from that particular shoot that would fit in with the sharply-focused one (once I'd figured out which one that was) & after determining that the others weren't really good enough either, took a deep breath & relaxed & decided to continue to work on my photo skills & try again at some future date.

It reminded me of when I started painting & had some nice paintings & some kinda sorta pretty good paintings & took them all down to a coffee shop in Winona for a solo show. I stepped out before I was ready. I'm not sorry I did it, but there is something to be said for allowing the learning & the exploration to be just that & achieving a certain level of mastery before hiring an opening act & scheduling the world tour.

If you want to ask that wise cat some questions, here is the link.

I have had weeks of the BEST conversations. Monday alone I had 4 really good ones. Plus I talked to several people who had been having great conversations -- besides the conversations with me! -- so I am pleased to know that great conversations are lurking in both the likeliest & unlikeliest places.

Blog alternative:
254. Set yourself up for a great conversation. Say a kind word to an interesting-looking stranger or invite a good friend who may or may not live in your house to share a few words. Perhaps ask a question. Perhaps ask yourself a question & share the answer. Giggle out loud when you read something that delights you & let someone ask you what's so funny & read it to them & see where the conversation goes. (& remember, a great conversation doesn't have to be long to make it into the memory banks.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Snowshine Synchronicity & The Good Habit Gang

Look at the monkey...

In February, I was 15 minutes early for some body work, so I walked down the street & was treated to the sight of fresh-bloomed crocuses & the buzz buzz buzz of the first bees of the season. I didn't have long -- it had taken me about 2 minutes to saunter down to that particular chainlink-fenced yard, so that meant 11 minutes of photography. The pistils & stamens were fascinating & the bees were ready for their close-ups (there were 2 of them there, 2 sweet busy buzzy sisters) & the colors were even more breathtaking than they would have been, being it was such an early spring event. (Since then we've had plenty of winter, including some snowshine yesterday, so I'll get to experience the extra-wow factor again.) This was one of my favorites of the little bouquet of photos I was able to take before hustling back up the street.

I have been happily doing my artist's way exercises & I came to the realization (Have I had it before? Perhaps, in which case it is a re-realization.) that good habits attract other good habits. It's not that I haven't been hanging out with good habits for a while, but it was spotty. You know the friends that you see occasionally & really enjoy it & get a lot out of it but don't make it a regular occurrence? It can be that way with habits, too. Good habits & bad habits, whoever shows up comes on in & either turns on the sitcom & gets out the Cheetos or says, "hey, let's go for a walk & then paint together."

Well, after I started going steady with Art (aka Artist Date) & Page (Morning Pages is her full name) a bunch of other good habits started hanging out with me. They're a band of good buddies with good hearts & kick-ass effectiveness, ready for the adventure. If I've forgotten my pocket handkerchief, some one of them will have an extra, or show me how to blow my nose cowboy style, one nostril at a time & always downwind. I am having a great deal of fun & getting a great deal done.

Besides the good habit brigade, Synchronicity has been hanging out with me as well. The other Monday, as I was leaving my poker SIG (special interest group) at UNCA, having just won the tournament (& chosen as my prize a large black t-shirt with a picture of 3 guys in cowboy hats, jeans & boots standing at a bank of urinals, titled "Texas Hold'em") a song came on the radio, a song that I've been thinking about, fondly & longingly. I'm not sure I've heard it since I moved here, but back in Minnesota it made my friend Cathy (former New Yorker) & I (former Montana girl) very happy. She said it made her miss her childhood in the south. I couldn't remember the title -- "Sweet Southern Childhood?" No, not quite. -- or the artist or enough of the words to plop a sentence into a search engine, so I was dependent on some DJ to present it to me. & there it was! "Sweet Southern Comfort" by Buddy Jewell. Yay! Now I know. I told Cathy, now a Seattleite, so she can tune back into her downsouth roots as well.

& now it's time to get back to my buddies, the Good Habit Gang, who've been reading this blog post over my shoulder as it emerged from my fingers, poking each other & doing some high 5s ("Hey, she's talking about us!" with Art & Page giving each other a proud glance at being specifically singled out.) but now ready to move on to another activity. Walk downtown & get the mail ("Hey, it's sunny & almost fifty degrees!") is on the schedule, right after get dressed. (The habits like to say "Hey" a lot & are fond of exclamation points. No wonder we get along.)

Blog alternative:
253. Invite a good habit to spend some more time with you. (Make room for its buddies.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Morning paged me, & I answered

the desk at the foot of my bed, jazz added
Once upon a time--

I mean

Today was the best day ever, since yesterday, until tomorrow.

Because today I was in today.
I took a walk
& watched some movies
& worked on my room
& ate tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches
& did some reading
& did some writing
& picked up free art supplies from the streets & sidewalks
& photographed a bunch of bananas waiting for a bus.

Once upon today...

& in the morning, morning pages. Yes, that means exactly what you think it does. (If you're thinking what I'm thinking, which you may not be, until after this parenthetical.) Tomorrow (the new today) I am embarking on The Artist's Way, with Cathy & perhaps Elizabeth. Not with exactly, for I am doing it alone, & whether they do it or not, but perhaps they shall parallel play along with me. I did it once before & it changed my freakin' life.

On a different today, a couple todays ago, I sent off a picture book with a timeline of 13.7 billion years. Don't worry, it's not long. Only about 200 words. (If a word paints a hundred million years...)

Oh, & something I've been forgetting to share: a google alert pointed me to a wonderful book trailer for Growing Wings that someone named Vona created for Humanities7. It made me cry. Thanks, Vona.

trailer for Growing Wings

Blog alternative:
252. Hold the day in your hand & pretend it is a free art supply you just picked up from the sidewalk. Cherish it for its own beauty. Add it to other ingredients & make them all more delicious & beautiful. Share if you'd like.