Crafting Variety

The Gentle Connection

fire at winter BOWI’ve been thinking about my audience lately. My readers. After spending some time visioning, I’ve reached a couple of conclusions.

My voice is meant to be carried through quiet conversations and small gatherings. The messages waiting in my heart do not need to be broadcast. They should be listened to if they are wanted, never forced.

Instead I see friends gathering, groups of three or four or five, meeting for a drink or at the cafe or by the campfire. Perhaps dinner or movie night with a special someone. Candles lit, hearts light, comfy clothes.

Groups like these will go more quickly to that place of understanding, talking about subjects other than weather or sports. Even going past the latest headlines, although discussion may be spurred from them. These types of conversations echo the philosophers of old, the writers and artists, bohemian types, and all sorts of free thinkers. Those willing to dive deep, get messy, and open to new ways of thinking. Those that know themselves, their values, and their hearts.

These are the people I speak to as I write. They read the hushed words and make them resonate off the walls. these thoughts align and light within, and that soft warm flame travels from person to person, group to group. Shared intimately with like minds.

That is the home I seek for my stories and my musings. Listen, feel, and share. It is a gift offered with love, passion, and a yearning for connection.

The gentle kind.

Crafting Variety

Find the Joy

JoyAn online buddy of mine posted recently about his decision to quit fiction writing. He was depressed and miserable trying to push though the struggle to force words out. Of course people came out of the woodwork to tell him to stick with it, that it will get better, that he should try a, b, or c. What he has figured out though, is that if something is causing you heartache and misery, even if you love it, then it’s time to let go. It’s not right at this point in his life.

This has nudged me to look at much of my life and some of the same struggles I’ve been facing lately. Many of the areas of my life which I love completely, have been more challenging than they should be. I’m tired of being drained by the things that should be building me up instead. I’m not going to give up what I love, but I’m realizing it’s time to revamp my approach. Find a new rhythm, a new dance. Find the joy.

Horses

Anyone who knows me realizes I’ve loved these animals since I was young. I walk into a barn and it feels like home. I love the soft noses that nuzzle and the sweet gaze that follows me around. However, after being thrown, leasing horses that weren’t right for me, riding with folks that have different focuses and styles than I do, never regaining my confidence and not having the right fit for instruction and philosophy for me, I’m rethinking my approach. I appreciate everyone that I’ve worked with and those that have helped me along the way.

I need to keep seeking the right approach/fit/style that works for me. Currently that means taking a break and easing back into the horse world slowly. Not trying so hard. Finding the enjoyment of just being with these magnificent animals. Putting aside goals, even the one to have my own horse, until I’ve found the joy again. Letting a natural fit happen instead of trying to force it.

Crafts

Ah, yes. Another love. I have made everything from art quilt wallhangings to full sized bed quilts to wedding gowns, creatures and bags and costumes. If it’s fabric, I generally can figure out what to do with it. I also love paper crafts and have dabbled in crochet.

It was natural to try and turn those creative ventures into businesses. I did for a while, first doing the craft show circuit for a couple of years, then an Etsy business online. Although I learned a lot from both, and had fun, they were failures. Why? Lack of business experience/knowledge notwithstanding, the bottom line is that I hate production work. I prefer to work on one of a kind pieces that I can really get into. Plus working full time really puts a crunch on the preparation time needed for shows. So, I shut the businesses down, and besides the immense relief at not trying to prepare for craft shows or produce inventory for an online store, asked – now what?

Now what, indeed. I’m trying to learn how to create just for myself without thinking of sending the piece somewhere or needing to make multiple for sale. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m trying to finish some of the projects that were set aside in favor of production. I’m finding I love creating for friends, family, and exchanging work with other artists.

Writing

This is the hardest for me to talk about. From the second grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Growing up and into college, I took workshops and classes. Wrote poetry and short stories. Alternated between hearing that I was a brilliant writer, or I sucked. Listened to those stupid, annoying, and wrong people that said I sucked, and didn’t write for ten years. The stories wouldn’t let me go though, and with a nudge from my best friend – ok, actually a push – I jumped back into the world of stories.

I’ll admit that I haven’t finished any of them yet. There are eight total, all carrying varying degrees of weight around in my head and heart. I realize part of it is still dealing with my friend’s passing, as she was a constant catalyst for forward motion. And my beta reader. And the one I gave my work to first with complete trust. Finding that inspiration to write again is challenging.

The other aspect to all is the desire to fulfill my dream of becoming a full time writer. I’m realizing that all it’s doing is putting pressure on my stories – are they clever enough? Am I showing, not telling? Are the characters real and developed? Do the plots zing? Is there enough humor in the writing? And on, and on, and on. It’s enough to drive a writer mad and stop the creative flow. Performance anxiety, or something of that nature.

The only way to stop the pressure it to dissolve the dream. Take away the parameters, and the cage, that my writing is surrounded by. Decide not to care if I ever publish anything or if anyone besides me reads my work. Let it go. Does that seem counter intuitive? Perhaps, but it is the only thing that makes sense. I’ve tried everything else. I’ve listened to advice, followed it, tried other ideas, discarded them. The only thing left is to just let go.

It’s actually a freeing thought rather than a disappointment. My terms for creativity is that there are none. I’m not giving up creativity – it’s a part of my very essence. To be clear:

  • I am a horsewoman
  • I am a crafter
  • I am a writer

Just on my terms, and without the pressure. I am joy.

 

Crafting Variety

A Snail’s Pace Forward

ID-1006129I’ve made some changes in my life. Small ones, because I can’t handle anything else. When I try to make large, sweeping changes in my life I set myself up for failure from being overwhelmed. Instead of trying to take large leaps and be disappointed, I am dancing in baby steps.

Yoga
I’ve added a yoga practice into my morning routine. Now, this is not some grand practice where I stand on my head or twist myself into a pretzel. No where close to that image. This is simply showing up at the yoga mat in my loft and doing some stretches. If I’m so inclined, add a few poses or flows. If I’m too tired or just out of it, I sit there, and breathe.

Journal Writing
Many times in my life I have thought about keeping a journal and started one, only to have it fizzle out within a couple of days. Oh I’d write in it periodically, especially when I was angry or frustrated or depressed. So what changed this time? I write in my journal directly after yoga, after the energy has moved through my body and my mind and heart are open. As with the yoga practice, I just show up. For the days where I have little to say, or basically nothing, I write a phrase that seems to be my current theme.

All I need is within.

Breathe
Breathe

Instead of trying to look outside myself and find the latest self help book or guru to lead me in a new direction, I’m looking within for the answers. I’m showing up to the mat. I’m opening the journal. Whatever comes out is what is supposed to be. No matter how little, or how crappy, it looks and I feel.

I’ve been consistent with these new habits for a month. Yes, between the two it takes about an hour every morning. Already though I’ve seen results. My back feels better. I’m moving more freely (which was even commented on in a recent exercise class). I’m pausing and taking deeper breaths and checking in with my body during the day.

The best result though? I’m working on my stories again. I’ve made more progress in the last month so far than I have in the previous six. I’m not asking for miracles with my stories or creating grandiose plans. I’m just showing up at my writing desk and working on a scene. One at a time. Solving one puzzle at a time.

There were times I thought I wouldn’t finish my stories, and that sent me into a spiral. It’s different now. There are no expectations. All I’m doing is showing up. So are they.

Once the energy in my body and the clutter from my mind cleared by doing yoga and writing in my journal, it paved the path for my stories to surface again.

That’s what has worked for me. Small changes. Baby steps. Just show up. The results may surprise you.

Snail image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Meditation image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crafting Variety

Inner Child

I was grown up by the time I was five, I think. There are so many websites and books out there that encourage you to touch your inner child and set her free. My inner child certainly wasn’t typical; I didn’t paint or draw or play with other children very often. I grew up surrounded by adults, always wanting to be a part of that world, and serious from the time I was young. I knew rules. I lived by them every instant. Inner child? No. She was off in her own world.

My inner child did not play in the typical sense. She dreamed. She would dive into books, fantasy books, and read the hours away. There she could ride horses, wield swords, shoot archery, and fight to defend the kingdom. My inner child came out then. She would do the same with my She-Ra figures, making up stories while she played. It was about fantasy. It was always about fantasy.

It still is.

Horses and wizards and fighting the evil warrior’s minions are second nature and I write them into my stories. I finally realized the other day that just because my inner child was not, and never will be, a typical inner child, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist. Oh no, she’s there all right, full of courage and adventure.

She just needs a bit of magic.