Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Unexpected

un·ex·pect·ed
ˌənəkˈspektəd/
adjective
  1. not expected or regarded as likely to happen.
    "his death was totally unexpected"

    synonyms:unforeseenunanticipatedunpredictedunlooked-forsuddenabrupt,surprisingunannounced
    "an unexpected change in plans"


    There is a way we view our world. We know the players, the backdrop, the goings-on. But sometimes something so unexpected happens that it shakes up that orderly arrangement. This rearrangement, brought on by unexpected news makes you question all of the aforementioned parts of your seemingly orderly life.

    Acrylic on Canvas, c. 2015 Stephanie Rose Bird


    I received some unexpected news yesterday. A friend of the family has been suffering with breast cancer, quite quietly, I might add. I had no idea, which also causes a variety of responses ranging from guilt to shame, and then inevitably the question rises, What to do?

    The friend of the family has just always been there, at least for the past 12 years or so. She is an indirect friend, meaning our children our good friends, and by default we have been brought together on many occasions. Yesterday I found out that this lovely person, who has always been so helpful, so open and welcoming, has breast cancer. She has been enduring chemotherapy, and in the process she has lost her lovely blond hair--all of it.

    So now I am re-examining things because that's one of the challenges unexpected news offers. I'm wondering what is the appropriate thing to do and I keep coming back to heart. While unexpected news is a shake-up of sorts, it is also a reminder of the heart center or heart chakra we learn about in yoga. My intention is to give of myself, as selflessly as she has, from the heart. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Transitioning and Tears

T

Transitioning and Tears

I took off a couple of days from the A to Z Challenge. It felt good. Now, I'm back! I decided I wanted to allow myself more freedom in our last week, so I'm transitioning. Moving forward, I'll be writing on random topics I'm passionate about. 
This is the transition part of the post. It has to do with authenticity. The "A" word looms large in my life at this point in my development. When I don't feel what I'm doing has as much authenticity as I hope, I transition and change until it does.


Tears


Prince was a huge influence on my creative production in the 80's when I was in graduate school. Many paintings, far larger than I would dare paint now, were completed with energy and verve, inspired by fast-paced song after song by Prince. I was deeply saddened to hear of his departure Thursday, and more than a little shocked.

News coverage can be grating and annoying but I've found what I've heard about Prince, has jibbed with what I thought or suspected. It's been so nice to see the rainbow of people from different ethnicity's, colors, and walks of life that he drew to him, through his talent. In fact, his broad-based appeal to so many, that would not typically even get along, let alone be in the same concert hall, is a talent in itself. His music was colorful and colorless at the same time. He crossed musical genres with ease, style and flair, with little regard for prescribed boundaries--a true artist. Prince was also deeply rooted. He held fast to his community in Minnesota, and the people there claim him. One woman in a television interview said, "He was ours," with a face streaked with tears

Curiously, he was extremely sexy, androgynous and sometimes seemed asexual, all at once. I'm sure that because of his mysterious and at times deeply sexual vibe, he drew many people of varied sexual orientations to him. He had become increasingly more involved with our current Civil Rights Movement, he championed women musicians, was vegan...I could go on and on.

So now, as much as I wonder what took him from this earth, I also wonder who can fill those tiny, and at the same time, gigantic high-heeled shoes his absence leaves in the music industry, and in many of our hearts.






Friday, April 22, 2016

Seismic Crimes Released Today!

I met Chrys Fey a few years back, online, through the A to Z Challenge. We found out through our posts and frequent comments on each other's blogs, we have I lot in common. We are both vegetarians for example, are published authors of multiple books, and share a strong interest in alternative spirituality. Since that time of finding such important common ground, we've stayed in touch and support one another's work. 

I am a strong believer in developing and maintaining community: blogging community, spiritual community, local community, writing and art community, and yes, online community.

In that spirit, I want to share with my readers some tantalizing tidbits about "Seismic Crimes," her first novel. Fey has written many eBook Novellas, some of which I've read and enjoyed. She has a way of drawing the reader in, and then through her copious research and flair for dramatic twists and turns, she holds your attention with intriguing, and well-paced storytelling. You will also find yourself immersed in the rich environmental setting she creates, and invested in her well-crafted characters.


Enjoy "Seismic Crimes" by Chrys Fey!




SEISMIC CRIMES
Today is the release of Chrys Fey's first novel!


BLURB:
An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.
Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.
When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?



DIGITAL LINKS:


ALSO AVAILABLE IN PRINT!



About the Book:

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she
can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do
whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a
criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Perspective

P is for Perspective

2
perspective

noun  per·spec·tive \pər-ˈspek-tiv\

Definition of perspective
1.  1a :  the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically :  representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance b :  a picture in perspective
2.  2a :  the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed <places the issues in proper perspective>also :  point of view b :  the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance <trying to maintain my perspective>
3.  3a :  a visible scene; especially :  one giving a distinctive impression of distance :  vista b :  a mental view or prospect <to gain a broader perspective on the international scene —Current Biography>
4.  4:  the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions


My Creative Block Hack for today is about changing your perspective.


La Clairvoyance by Rene Magritte


Here are some ways I suggest to accomplish this shake-up:

·         Challenge the lens through which you look at your work, including your fine art, the characters and situations in your novels, or your approach to creative nonfiction.


Memory of a Journey by Rene Magritte


·         Give yourself permission to change things up a bit.

 Imagine this different type of work.

1        Ask yourself, how can I change the mental, physical, conceptual and/or spiritual view of my creative project?

2        How can I encourage readers or viewers to see my work differently?

Have you pigeonholed yourself?

Spend some serious time, days, a week or month(s) figuring out how you can get out of that pigeonhole.

Examine your work as objectively as possible.

Look for common themes, motifs, words or images.

Now think about themes, motifs, words, concepts or images you’ve thought about exploring but haven’t.

List these things out so you can see them.


Begin to work your way through the list, approaching the work from a completely different perspective.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Open Air

O is for Open Air

I don't know about you, but I find being cooped up, in confined spaces constrains my creativity. Further, just taking a walk--cold, hot, rainy, whatever the weather conditions may be, changes the perspective and sometimes allows new thoughts to come to light, even though you didn't think it was possible.



These photographs were taken by my husband Damian, of me working en plein air/open air at the Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie, IL. At first I dreaded the idea of working outside, as a part of an open air public event, even though I'd volunteered for it. But gradually, as the morning went on, and the sun brought the surrounding environs to shimmering life, I grew to love it!

from www.mscareergirl.com

Typing outside is equally refreshing to tired old thoughts. The wind on the face and varied sights, with sounds of the outdoors, easily increases the flow of creative thoughts. You need not go camping to do this, or head to a bucolic locale, though if you can do that it can be exhilarating. A front or back porch, balcony or coffee shop with an outdoor table also does the trick--even opening the window, if that's not something you normally do, helps. The idea is shifting the way your brain thinks by immersing yourself in a different and preferably outdoor environment is bound to boost your creativity.

You may feel funny drawing, painting or doing your word processing outside, if so, either take a notebook, sketchbook or your open-mind to download fresh observations and new ideas to enhance your work.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Notebooks

I've been reading "How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day," by Michael J. Gelb. It is a wonderfully inspirational book for all creative people, and those that want to become more creative. The book isn't limited to visual artists or writers because Leonardo da Vinci did so many different things, it embraces many different disciplines and ways of thinking.

One of the interesting bits of information I came across last night was about Leonardo's notebooks. He carried a notebook with him at all times. 7,000 pages are in existence, but it is believed there were many more. As a man who cultivated curiosita, (an insatiable curiosity about life, and unrelenting quest for continuous learning) notebooks were a constant source of inspiration and motivation for his creativity.

Some of the ways he used the notebooks, which you might try, particularly if you are suffering through a creative block, is to ask yourself a hundred questions in the notebook and then answer them, as thoroughly as possible, in your own time. Another way, is to observe everything about your day: the people you meet, how they look, act, what they say, how they interact with others, your changing environment, as you travel from one place to another, and do it all in great detail. This can help you develop characters for your novel and is also a good way to develop characters for your narrative paintings and drawings. Recording the environment helps with the environmental setting of novels and it helps with painting what is around you, or commenting on it. Use your notebooks and/or sketchbooks to release your childlike wonder about the world. Notebooks are a wonderful source for your work, and you can go back to them repeatedly, learning, building and enriching upon your original observations and thoughts.





I write out my entire novel and nonfiction books, by hand in notebooks. I take copious notes at lectures and when attending workshops, so I can recall every detail, and everything that was said later. Note-taking helps me focus and concentrate completely on such events. When I'm feeling dried up for ideas, I will go back to a notebook or sketchbook, sometimes one from many years ago. Often, I've forgotten what they contain. My notebooks and sketchbooks are treasures, from which I mine information, inspiration and ideas.







Now, we have more choices than in Leonardo's time. We can use electronic notebooks and save sketches digitally too, in files. Whichever way you like to work, give notebooks a serious thought if you're having a creative block, and if you want to avoid them in the future.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Mixing Things Up

M is for mixing it up

Being very linear, with everything planned out neatly, has it place. It is reassuring and can keep your energy flowing from a place of security. I like sketching and outlining but have also enjoyed mixing things up a bit. 

Mixing media as an artist is a sure-fire way to break up monotony. Further, it is a challenging discipline that pushes boundaries preset by other well-defined disciplines. Mixed Media can lead you into unknown territory, ripe and ready to be mined for new material. 


The Dancers, Mixed Media Book Art with Found Objects, Collage and Stitching, by Stephanie Rose Bird


As a writer, I’ve found that adding poetry, letters, book passages, quotes, songs or recipes into my stories is another fun way of mixing things up, in a productive and fun way.


"The Dancers," Mixed Media Book Art, with Collage, by Stephanie Rose Bird



My theme for the A to Z Challenge is Creative Hacks to Break Creative Blocks. I’ve listed a few ways I mix things up to muster through the tough spots that would otherwise leave me mired in inertia. How about you? Have you changed directions, adding in new media to your art or mixed genres in your writing? I’d love to hear how you mix things up and feel free to leave links to your work.