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Showing posts from 2016

U is for Unexpected

un·ex·pect·ed ˌənəkˈspektəd/ adjective not expected or regarded as likely to happen. "his death was totally unexpected" synonyms: unforeseen ,  unanticipated ,  unpredicted ,  unlooked-for ,  sudden ,  abrupt , surprising ,  unannounced "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

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 he

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 storyt

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

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 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

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

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 m ixing things up a bit.  M ixing m edia as an artist is a sure-fire way to break up m onotony. 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 m ined for new m aterial.  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’v

L is for Liminal

L is for Liminal liminal adjective    lim·i·nal  \ˈli-mə-n ə l\ p 30% of words Definition of  liminal 1 :   of or relating to a sensory threshold 2 :   barely perceptible 3 :   of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition  :    in-between ,  transitional <in the  liminal  state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt I like to pursue new ideas, when the day and my mind are very fresh and malleable. Going from a restful sleep to awaking in the morning have been the times I've done some of my best work. In fact, those hours are my favorite times for doing yoga and exercise, as well. I find this liminal or transitional state as an area that is not fully set or settled. I've said what it's not but I can easily say what it is: fruitful. In a liminal, early morning state, I am awake but still open to my dreams states. This odd time is conducive to creativity and productivity. My exercise for this Creative

K is for Kitchen Inspirations

For better or worse, we all have to eat. We've sought sustenance since we were born. Food and the kitchen, from which it hails, is a great way to break creative blocks. Here are some suggestions for writers: Write about your most memorable meals. Create meals for your characters, and have those meals become a catalyst in the story. Research different types of foods and then incorporate that knowledge into your work. Look into the history of food and see if that leads you to discover any story lines or characters that could accentuate your work. Asparagus with Fixins' c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird And, here are a few suggestions for visual artists: Collect food wrappers and packaging; use these materials to create fiber art, collage or assemblage. Paint different types of foods with textures, colors and shapes that are interesting. Study old still life works and consider some ways you could make contemporary statements with this age-old art form. Learn

J is for Jewels

J is for Jewels Even if you don’t think you own any jewels, you still probably have ideas about them. Jewels are precious. Jewels are beautiful. They shimmer and shine. Jewels are multifaceted. Jewels are valuable. They are very special. Jewels are timeless and can be passed from one owner to the next. Even then, the jewel still holds precision, promise and power. Jewels come in many forms. They vary in shape, size, color, weight, beauty and value. You typically need to hunt, quite a while to find just the right jewel for your needs. This can be dangerous, physically taxing or even exhausting work. Then once you discover your jewel, it needs to be polished and finally displayed, worn or otherwise utilized. In terms of being Creative Block Hacks, jewels are nonpareil.  Even the tiniest jewel can be strung together with, perhaps less valuable materials, and still create an outstanding and statement. I like the idea of hunting through your reperto

I is for Inkling

I is for Inkling Have you ever thought about an inkling, and how it could become a Creative Block Hack? Well, obviously I have. Before we get into my thoughts on it though, let's have a look at the word and some of its synonyms through this wordle: Now, when I first thought of the letter “I” in relation to Creative Block Hacks, I thought of the word Intuition and from there somehow I got onto the good old Inner Child. Seeing how I’m not trained in psychology, I don’t want to be a hack, when speaking of Creative Block Hacks, in relation to the Inner Child, so I decided to leave that precious parcel to more qualified people to discuss. Still, when you look back at the wordle above, there are many enticements there that would speak gently to your Inner Child, but enough on that topic already, at least from me. I have a vested interest in inklings. They fuel my written and painted work, and I believe they can help you find clarity in yours as well. Clarity Focus

H is for Help

H is for Help When mired in a creative block, it's hard to see your way clear. You can easily get enveloped in all sorts of negative thoughts: F ear I solation H opelessness D efeat I’d suggest writing your negative, but very real thoughts on a blackboard, if you have one handy, and then erasing them, mindfully, with an eraser. Otherwise, write them out on paper, with a regular pencil, erase them, and toss the entire sheet in the recycling bin, or trash, if you don’t have one. Either symbolic act is not an immediate fix, but doing these sorts of physical activities puts you on a road, cleared of blockages. Reaching out for help is not something we all enjoy. First there is the idea of admitting that we need help. Then there is the daunting task of finding just the right type of help. Our dear friend, the Internet, makes this seem easy and hard, all at the same time. Entanglement by Stephanie Rose Bird Here are some ideas for help with maneuveri

G is for Giant Self

G is for Giant Self A while back, I had a very unusual job for me, Manager of Art Security Guards. I only held the position briefly, but man, did I learn a lot in that short period of time. Where I learned the most was in its excellent training program, with a gifted teacher, I must say. This teacher swiftly transformed my work personality from quiet and laid back, by inviting me to step into my Giant Self. What if you’re handed a back pack and then there is a phone call that the bag is actually holding explosives? What would you do immediately, he’d pry. What would you do? What if someone is yielding a knife and threatening the crowd of people that have gathered? Time is of the essence. What would you do, he asked again? Tell us right now! …the questions and scenarios went on and on, all day. "Giant Self" by Stephanie Bird, 2016 What is your Giant Self? It’s that person larger than your usual self that lives inside of you. In the cloak of your Gi

F is for Feather

F is for Feather One of the qualities of feathers that’s pretty much universally identifiable is that they are light. It is beautiful and a lovely meditative practice to simply slow down and watch a feather slowly descend, fluttering in the air, reaching the ground in its own time and own, often circuitous way. From the lightness of feathers, often I think of the unforgettable book, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. This book was required reading during the early years of college, with many an animated discussion surrounding its reading. What stands out to me and why I want to include it in this discussion about Creative Blocks is that if we can borrow one of its thematic sentiments, that life is indeed to be lived surrounded by lightness, we can break through the block of our creativity. Blocks are heavy. They are self-important and all-absorbing. What if we were to take a new tact? What if being the very opposite of what the blocks want, could help us?

E is for Enchanté

E is for enchanté Pronunciation:   [a(n) sha(n) tay] Enchanted Delighted Pleased Happy I am very interested in fairy-tales and within them there are many an enchanted forest. In my spiritual practice enchantments are also an important part of making things happen and it is a way of seeing the world—magically. Okay, so, I also just like French as a language and using it whenever I can.  Enchanté is a beautiful greeting, in my book. It’s not just “nice to meet you” or happy to meet you” but “enchanted/delighted to meet you.” This is a very elevated way of receiving new people, and it suggests an openness to new encounters. Being enchanted is a magical way of looking at the world, with delight, and wonder, and it indicates you are open to finding pleasure in the smallest of things. Now, about my A to Z Challenge topic. Are you wondering why would enchantments and being enchanted break creative blocks and usher creativity into your life? The answer


D is for Dancing Zulu Dancer So, what can you do for free, that lifts your mood by elevating endorphin levels that also helps your fitness level? Dance! As a girl, I was blessed with a unique opportunity. My mother had danced in her youth and wanted to share that experience with me. Through her encouragement, I grew to love my dance lessons and ended up studying dance about 4 nights a week and then performing on the weekends. One of my favorite activities was dancing outside. I enjoyed practicing my turns outdoors (poor grass!). So, I’d put our large speakers outside the door and then turn and turn, and turn some more, using the trees across the lake as a spotting tool. In case you’re unfamiliar spotting is a place you focus your eyes so that you don’t become dizzy. Now, some of you reading this will think this sounds crazy. Others are living in a place wherein doing something like this is not possible. I’m not suggesting you twirl outside, but hey, if you can, g