Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Best 100 Novels

At a party we attended over the weekend, our friend Roger gave me a gift. Two actually: a compliment and a list. Roger and his wife are retired, so he took on the project of gathering and reading the entire New York Times List of the 100 Best Novels. I was so impressed by this endeavor and can't wait to look over the list myself to see what worthy book I can read in the ongoing cause of self-education. Roger and his wife read my novel, and he was complimentary and sincere in his praise for SUMMERS AT BLUE LAKE. Coming from the man who has read 75 from the list of 100 Best-ever novels, I find his thoughts to have weight. I feel honored that he deviated from his book list to read my offering.

I do have a few problems with the New York Time's list. Of the 100 selections, only 8 works were authored by women. The minority population is underrepresented as well. The partial article that accompanied the photocopied list included a quote that basically said that women weren't going to be included for the sake of having women. Still, I can't help but wonder how does the populace as a whole judge a work to be a worthy representation? What are the standards? Female authors are less likely to be written up in reviews and journals. Their books are less likely to be included in basic school curricula where the die is cast.

I have long thought that sharing our stories was one way to bridge the gap of understanding between the sexes. Think back to the books you have read recently. Think of the books that are on your pile waiting to be read. What do they look like in terms of the author diversity, protagonist, genre? Are you doing your part to cross the divide. Of course, we have our tendencies, but think of the barriers we can break if we read just one book outside of our comfort zone.

Feminista.com offers an alternative list for those who are looking to broaden their scope with the best of women's voices. Their list of great books by women is in response to the New York Times list. From my quick survey of both lists, I found that the female list is more culturally and ethnically diverse, as well.

While I don't want to sway anybody from the task of reading from the New York Times list (What a worthy goal!), I hope that like Roger, readers will take a break from time to time to question the literary establishment in this country and diversify reading habits.

***It goes without saying that I believe in reading, discovering, and sharing works of new authors as well. (We need the publicity and the money.) So while it is great to educate one's self with established authors, make sure you walk on the edge from time to time as well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Packaging Girlhood; Part 1--a postscript

P.S. Newsweek just ran this article about girls' Halloween costumes with commentary from Packaging Girlhood author Sharon Lamb. My daughter is going as a pirate this year. I have mixed feelings about this costume. On one hand she is patterning herself after the feisty females she has seen in Pirates of the Carribean movies, but I cannot be sure that she isn't buying into the sexy pirate image. It's hard to tell. Her rendition of the pirate wore glitter, red lipstick, and sexy stockings, but she also (while still in costume) was the only girl playing football with the boys at the Halloween party we attended this weekend. I think I am okay with the complexity.

Packaging Girlhood; Part 1

My daughter, a fifth-grader, has been coming to me with more and more specific requests lately. A certain computer game, a specific Webkinz animal, an Abercrombie and Fitch sweatshirt. Peer pressure is advancing! She doesn't watch TV in the typical way. No Hannah Montana or Cheetah Girls. We get Little House on the Prairie on Netflix and we watch Survivor (commercial-free, but for their obvious product placement). But the marketing is getting to my daughter nonetheless, through her friends, pop-music on the radio, and American Girl magazine. As a mom, I feeling the squeeze. She doesn't have all the information to make healthy decisions for herself, so I have begun to educate myself so I can help her navigate her choices.

I borrowed the book Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketer's Schemes by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown. I recommend this book for all mothers and grandmothers of girls--no matter how young or how old. What I like about this book is the fact that it points out the problem areas and gives methods for traveling through the minefield that marketers have set in motion for our daughters. It doesn’t advocate discipline over your child, but rather takes the path of informing you and your daughters as consumers and encouraging discernment. For instance, in a world of fashion merchandising where the same styles are sold from sizes 4-16 (Does a 6-year-old interact in the world in the same way a 15-year-old does?) the authors encourage parents to make choices about what slogans their daughters wear. Supplement a young girl’s wardrobe of slogan T’s that are cropped or form-fitting with plain cotton T-shirts in an array of colors (not just pink and sparkly). Likewise with cropped pants. The message is that girls’ clothes should be cute. Maybe, but above all, parents need to ensure that girls have clothes that give her the ability to be active.

Another disturbing trend is the sexualization of young children. Here we can look to Abercrombie and the sexy way that it markets to the preteen crowd. Not only in the photographs in the ads (nudity for the middle school crowd?), but the blatant STUD printed on boxer shorts for pre-teens boys.

I am also interested in this book because I have started a novel for middle-grade girls. I want to be part of the solution for young girls and not some unaware author who helps them buy in further to the Princess myth. It may be my downfall as far as marketing to my audience. Recently, my daughter was with me at the used book store. She wanted to buy 7 books. I told her she may have two. How did she decide which two books to buy? The covers of course. The cover of one of her choices showed two cheerleaders in short skirts with pom-poms. The other cover showed pre-teens dressed in prom-like dresses. Did I tell her to put those books back and make more appropriate choices? No, but after she reads them, I will ask her why she chose those books. We will have an age-appropriate conversation about images, messages, and what is important and healthy for girls her age.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NaNoWriMo & NaBloPoMo

Now I've done it. It's like at Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) when you fill your plate with an extreme amount of food and decided to try to eat it all anyway even though you didn't plan ahead and wear your stretchy pants. Whoa, baby, have I ever filled my plate.
I've signed up for National Novel Writing Month and made a commitment to write a novel in November. A 50,000 word commitment. This was brought on by a call I received from my agent last night. I had sent her a bunch of novel possibilities and we plowed through them with her notes. We touched on some reading I should do as examples and now I am chomping at the bit. Nothing like making a 2,000 word a day commitment for November.
Then, on the advise of my dear friend Elena (who the world knows as French Toast Girl), I joined National Blog Posting Month. In this effort, I am trying to gain visibility as an author and get my book out there. For this commitment, I must post once a day in November. (They didn't say how long the posts had to be.) I have also within that commitment, committed to posting a word of gratitude every day. It is the month of Thanksgiving. Did I mention that it is my favorite holiday? Did I mention that I am hosting Thanksgiving.

Goals for November:
  1. Blog every day
  2. Write a novel
  3. Give Thanks every day
  4. Host Thanksgiving and supper-go-round for church
  5. Watch my husband run a marathon (Spectator! Yeah!)
  6. Matron of Honor duties at my best friend's wedding shower (Easy! She is no bridezilla.)
  7. Paint a portrait on commission
  8. Woman-to-Woman participation
  9. Parent/teacher conferences at school
  10. Present a workshop at Radiance

December 1st may find me in the fetal position under my desk, but I am going to try to rise to this challenge. I have a week to mentally prepare!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Family Reunion

We had a family reunion this past weekend. This is not just noteworthy because I got to see aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear old Gramps, but also because I got to chill out with my siblings, the collective of which is known as the Four J's. I am J1. The J's don't meet often enough. We are a close bunch. We love each other dearly, but geography and schedules make gatherings into rare and tricky occasions. So we crammed as much togetherness as we could into a weekend.

Now we don't have any black sheep in this family. We all get along, but we are very different people. J4's husband had an interesting remark in the last hour of our reunion. He said that he can't believe that the four of us were raised under the same roof. Um. Yeah. He kind of has a point. We have different takes on religious life and politics. As for college majors, we ran the gamut of art, electrical engineering, educational counseling , and occupational therapy. We are all well-traveled, though to different places and for different reasons. For J3 it is Paris, and for J4 it is the Paris Casino in Vegas. J2 travels for business, and I am a vagabond--going wherever in the world I can hitch a ride.

I can only say that this kind of relation is great for a writer. Imagine the diversity I can draw from to create characters. They have been warned!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eat Pray Love and pray some more

On Tuesday, I was privileged to see my friend Nan's pictures of Italy. She had gone over with a gallery group who were taking pictures and painting. Now, I don't need stimulation to start my travel envy. It's a given. And the two places I want to spend a summer are the Italian countryside and Paris. Nan lent me her copy of Eat, Pray, Love. The author is fairly local and will be speaking at the Junior League next month. I won't be in attendance. That's $55 I can put in my Europe fund. I've wanted to read this book for a while--long before Oprah recommended it. I love me some travel memoirs. Give me Frances Mayes or Peter Mayle, and I am a happy woman.

So, yesterday after my workshop, I took the book and sat outside a crepe restaurant in Lancaster. I imagined I was back in Paris (I was there for 48 hours in 2003). The folks who walked by weren't dressed as well the French, but I imagined it all the same while I noshed on my brie and mushroom crepe. (There's a funny story of our trip to Paris, my brother and his fiancee ordered a ham crepe and tuna crepe respectively. When the crepes came, they both had a mixture of ham and tuna. NOT a great culinary moment for France.)

So, I dream of taking my kids and spending a few weeks in Paris. (Mon homme, too if he can get off work.) I will eat and paint and write. (Read The Writer's Paris if you need inspiration.) I will take the kids to the parks and art museums. My son fences, so we will check out sabre duels. My daughter is a ballerina, so we will find a place to dance. All of us will eat cheese and crepes and escargot (my daughter's favorite food in all the world). I read a chapter of Eat, Pray, Love to my daughter this morning. We decided that maybe we should sell pizzas door-to-door to raise money for this educational experience. And maybe, too, I can sell posters of my little dancer paintings to all the people who love dance. It's a dream. It's a plan. It's a prayer.

The energy of color

I've facilitated workshops in the last two days. The first was a general workshop on journaling and the second was specific to color in journaling. In both workshops we answered a series of questions about our personal history with color. Questions such as :

What was the color of your childhood bedroom?
What colors do you associate with your parents?
What are the predominant colors in your favorite travel destination?
What colors are evident in your favorite meal?
What color or colors do you avoid wearing?

I found the results to be powerful. Color is light energy. Each color has a frequency that can be used in our daily life to send signals, balance energy, or attract people. I am fascinated by the psychology, by the physics, by the personal language of color. I think I could do a series of workshops on this aspect alone. My personal belief color has the vibratory power to heal through color meditations. If a friend of mine is going through trauma, I will often think of that person and imagine sending color vibes her way. Blue for peace and tranquility, green for growth, pink for healing and healthy tissues etc. I light different color candles for the same purpose.

I teach color as the first concept in creative journaling because it is the easiest to employ. If you are a journal writer, buy yourself an assortment of colored pens. Ask yourself a few questions to get an understanding of your own personal relationship with color. Then when you journal, select the pen that best relates to your mood for the day. Then, looking back over your journal, you can see patterns emerge. To me, color just lends itself to creative visualization. It is easy to grasp, and it is a wonderful way to take abstract thought and bring it to the physical world in small baby steps of actualization.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I was contemplating a blog entry on swearing when an article from Writer's Digest on the topic came into my inbox. I love that there is an article on this topic. I had been thinking about swear words in writing, but being an isolated writer, I often think that the things I think about are topics only mused about in my own little writer bubble (the one that happens to be perched on my shoulders). I happen to believe that as an active parent (kids still in the house), I think differently about curse words that a non-parenting writer. I also think that as a writer, I think about curse words differently than non-writing parents. (Maybe I am wrong, but I'm alone here in the bubble.)

I believe in the power of words. I believe that words mean something whether it is a vow, a pledge to meet at a certain time, or a throwaway compliment. I do swear on occasion. Not often. I've heard my parents swear--even less often. It kind of shocked me the first time. Much as it shocked me the first time I heard one of my kids use the s word in the proper context--a bad Uno play.

This is how we deal with swearing at our house. I tell my kids two things. First, I tell them that the act of swearing happens when a weak mind is trying to assert itself strongly. You simply don't have the time to form articulate phrases to emphasize how you feel. For example, I used the preferred Uno game cuss when I knocked over a quart of paint at a friend's house. My son was there. He understood that my mind was weak at that moment. The other thing I tell my kids is that swearing is a negative expression, and negative expressions draw negative energy to a situation. I've told my kids these two things and also told them it was up to them to decide to use words appropriately and to accept consequences if they use them inapproproately--a swear word at school, for example. I actually think this is a good way to approach swearing. Children of friends of mine, in whose houses swearing is outlawed, tend to point out and count the swear words in movies--making them larger than life. My kids don't do that.

As a writer, I don't use swear words often. I used to wonder if it made me seem prudish or motherly. I'm always pushing to be seen as a writer, not as a female writer, so I was afraid that an absence of swear words would seem too ladylike. When I was in the musical Li'l Abner in 6th grade, my lines (not a great number) had to be changed for the audience. Hell to heck. God to gosh. We weren't even allowed those words in the home where I grew up. Rats and sugar were the only acceptable explitives. Growing up in that environment made me question if it was the norm in middle America households or if I got dealt the quaint card. Maybe, by adding some colorful language, I was headging all bets, but I did ask myself some questions while writing my frist novel.

1. What is my character's stance on swearing?

2. Is there a time in the story where they go against their stance. (If so, the swear word should stick out from the story.) Why do they leave their comfort zone? (Usually this is the point.)

The Writer's Digest article raised another point that I hadn't thought about--and that is the reader. Who is your target audience, and what kind of language do they expect in a book? I admit that I only really considered my audience when I read a passage of my book aloud in my hometown. I hadn't really thought about my reader's comfort level before that point. In the end, in this world of HBO Orignial series and movies on demand, I don't think I crossed any lines. But here in the bubble, I just dotted a question mark.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Artist reception versus Book Signing

My friend Marsha says that I go in many circles, meaning that she has seen me in action with many different kinds of people. Sometimes I think it is deeper than that. I feel like I am a different person in each circle. Not that I am disingenuous. I am a Pisces--a mutable water sign, so I swim in and out of different arenas with ease.

I did however notice a difference in myself preparing for my artist reception versus preparing for a book signing. Author Jill smooths her hair with curling iron and smoothing gel. She wears button down shirts in medium muted colors. She likes her red cat's eye reading glasses. She wears red toe-nail polish and drinks decaf Cafe Americano with cream. Artist Jill breaks out the funky jewelry and scarves with black clothes. She lets the hair take on its true wild and woolly character, and she wears as many earrings as possible--that's 5, plus an ear cuff. Her toenail polish is so deep purple as to almost be black. She drinks a dry earthy red wine.

I enjoy both types of events and have fun with anyone who comes to my events. I give out lots of hugs. My artist event was more casual, so that felt a little more comfortable for me. I don't like a big fuss.

This weekend at my Moon Dancer reception I had a great time. My aunt Sylvia traveled a distance and brought my 90-year old Grandpa to see my work. I can't thank her enough for doing that. My sister Jan came with my niece who sacrificed time on her 8th birthday to see me (and collect her present). My college roommate and her parents came. My in-laws, church friends, a co-worker, the wonderful women from the Woman-to-Woman collective.

The weather was perfect. We sat on the patio overlooking the Susquehanna River for 3 hours. (Most of my friends and family stayed the entire time). My friend Patti brought a world-class crab dip. We drank wine and listened to live music. (I traded the owners a copy of my book for a bottle of their Pinot Noir.) When it got chilly, Jim (the owner of the winery) put a log on the outdoor fire pit. His wife Sue was knitting a beautiful sweater. (The yarn alone, fluffy purple and blue twined, made me want to break out my rusty knitting needles.) My daughter found an outdoor stage and practiced her ballet moves. She was pretending to be alone, but really loved the audience nearby. I think she wanted folks to know that she was the ballerina in my portraits. She spent the rest of the time taking artful photographs with our digital camera.

Okay--maybe the artist reception has a leg up on book signings at this time. And maybe I felt a little guilty loving it so much. So much so, that I spent the whole of this morning in a book store with a cup of mocha and my red cat's eye reading glasses. A mother can't have favorites.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History

I read a book in the early nineties that made me love history. After reading the book, I even believed I might want to be a history teacher so that I could make history come alive the way this one book did for me. The book was A Midwives Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. This one book illustrated the years following the American Revolution in a way that I never imagined--all through the very ordinary life of a New England midwife. I don't think I had ever before had the women's perspective. Since that time, I have sought out other historical texts and diaries, but none have had the effect of that one book.

Fast forward ten years. I bought a bumper sticker for my car which I have been sporting on my purple minivan or at least 4 years that says: Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History. Only today, while visiting my new favorite blog http://www.feministing.com/ did I make the connection. That quote is by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the author of A Midwives Tale. Ulrich has a new book out. The title of the book is the same as the quote on my car. My book budget is bare bones these days, but I am hopeful I can get my hands on Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History some way or another.

Sometimes information in my life spirals around in a way that is very cool.

Racial Incident

Recently Warwick High School, my alma mater had a lock down as a result of a non-violent racial incident. The news of this rocked my hometown of Lititz because they believed they didn't have a problem. As someone who has experienced moments of bigotry based on my sex and religion, I am not all that surprised. When I graduated high school, we had few if any people of color in our class, so my first experience with the color dynamic was in college. And guess what? When I was a freshman in college, the newly appointed president of the college resigned due to pressure about a badly phrased remark he made about racial disharmony on campus.

It's more comfortable to pretend this kind of hatred doesn't exist. Maybe it is about time to give our young people an education in tolerance. They need to know the faces of prejudice to recognize it when it shows its ugly face, and they need steps to take when it does. Over the past few years, the schools have tried to push an anti-bullying agenda. I applaud them for it. It is time to take another step forward. Kids need to feel safe in school no matter their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation. I applaud the programs in our area: Race against Racism, Crossroads (a forum for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, youth), the work of the YWCA--among others.

My high school held a town meeting. I am happy to see how seriously they are taking this incident. Superintendent, Dr. George, said in his address that if one child is having a problem with racism, we have a problem with racism.

I can only take a stand where I am. Tonight I am going to have a frank discussion with my kids. I don't relish the idea of having this talk, but I think it is a place to start. And, like many creative practitioners, I try to work through issues using my various art practies. Art as therapy. In this vein, I started a landscape painting of the Lititz Springs Park (very closely situated to my old high school) yesterday. As I was painting it, I tried to keep thoughts of peace and tolerance. I wanted this vibe to be part of the painting. I wish I could say I was happy with the resultant piece of art that I started. It is too early to say, but I am having difficulties with it. The work is raw. I am experimenting with a new color palette, and I am not sure it is working. Color is a tricky thing and, in the end, I hope we all make it work.

This Work of Women

Inspiration from Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Shiloh Sophia McCloud is a reverend and an artist. She and her husband own a publishing house and have published several titles including The Color of Woman journal which I am using in my journaling workhsops. Both her artwork and her writing (including the piece below) haveppeared in We'Moon Calendar.

This Work of Women by Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Yes. It is time for a revolution in women and path, women and money, women and business, women and art, women and marketplace. We do not choose to give our works of any kind away for nothing. We are not starving or frivolous artists. We are creators whose creations save lives, heal the world, heal wounds. This work of women, priestesses and practitioners of every kind is VISIONARY WORK.

Your work is vital. Essential. Needed. This work of women must include creating livelihood. This is not easy, quick, fun nor likely. This is not accepted or encouraged. But this is what we must do:

Cause an abundance revolution.

We must create our own path.

We must create our own money.

We must create art.

We must create our own marketplace.

We must be compensated.

We are creating our own mystical cosmic luminous overflowing BANK. A bank that does not cause, contribute or condone the suffering of others for profit. A women's bank. Believe it. Create it. Deposit into it. Draw from it. Invite other women to it. Enter the income stream in your little golden boat and dream and work and pray and play and do not stop. Keep going. It will almost always seem impossible. But we will make miracles. Miracles are organizing themselves around our dreams, our work, right now.

Believe it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Halloween and beyond

I want to be Guerilla Girl. This is silly to say for two reasons: Guerilla Girls are anonymous and the larger wish is that there is no need for Guerilla Girls.

Mandalas: Focused Color in Journaling

I have long taught creative journaling classes that stem from the belief that the benefits of journaling can be compounded if you use art in your process. This gives the brain visual and verbal languages with which to process and communicate. I have given these workshops at many places, and the results have been phenomenal. I am preparing to teach a series of workshops on journaling. This is the first time I have done a series of workshops, and the hope is that I, and the participants, will be able to explore more topics on a deeper level. The first workshop delves into color and takes place Wednesday, October 17th from 10AM-12 PM at Radiance in Lancaster.

One aspect we will explore will be color relationships in mandalas. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means circle, completion, or whole world. Basically, they are circular pictures that have been used in various cultures as a focusing tool to aid meditation and spiritual enlightenment. You can find examples of mandalas in Tibetan Sand Paintings, Native American Medicine wheels, and Rose windows from Gothic Cathedrals. Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, saw the mandala as a representation of the unconscious self. He felt that work with mandalas helped him to diagnose emotional disorders in his patients and work towards healing the personality.

In my color workshops, I will be focusing on use of personal color codes in pre-drawn mandalas, though I hope to explore all aspects of mandala creation in later workshops. But for now the experience of color is a large enough field to immerse one's self. Try it for yourself. Here is a link to a Mandala. Pick up some crayons, colored pencils and go. While you are coloring in your mandala, feel the meditative state--the relaxing quality of primitive activity. Once you are done, you can analyze your creation.

What do the colors say about your mood?

What colors are on the outer edges of the mandala? Which colors are closest to center? What experiences and emotions do you relate with those colors?

Is there a color that isn't present in your mandala? Why is it absent? What qualities are missing in your day or in your life?

This is just one of the exercises we will be doing in the color class. My hope is to expose the participants to many forms of color journaling available so they have a plethora of ideas to choose from when they are journaling/journeying at home.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Girl-a-marketing (Guerilla Marketing)

New author, here, trying to get new of her novel to every corner of the book-buying public. HOW? I am at a loss. Book sales have been strong locally, but outside of the northeast, I am not even a blip on the screen. My head is swimming with ideas. Summers at Blue Lake is a good book. I am proud of it. I just need to get it into the hands of the readers out there.

My friends and neighbors have been coming out of the woodwork with their suggestions. Which are practical? What is the best way to proceed? Here are some of the ideas I have received.

1. Get together with other authors who have books that deal with breast cancer and donate a percent of author proceeds. Garner publicity based on this fact.

2. Market to lesbians by sending the introductory chapter to websites who cater to gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/questioning crowd.

3. Join sites who facilitate author phone-ins to book clubs.

4. Create a stir by getting the book placed in a high school library. (Voices of Youth Advocates gave it 4 out of 5 stars and deemed it appropriate for 11th and 12th graders.) Sit back and wait for the book to be challenged by those who don't agree lesbian grandmothers should be in the schools.

5. Cut out genteel blogger essays and write something to get everyone's forwarding finger itchy. Something controversial, heretical, hysterical, political--whatever.

6. Be a guest on various websites and chat boards.

So where am I on these suggestions? I am writer who likes to write. So anything that lets me sit here and type is good. That would be #2, 5 and 6. I especially like number five because it appeals to who I am: someone with a lot on her mind who (with self-loathing) disguises herself as a nice girl in conservative Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

So what would I say if I went BLOG wild? Yikes! The nice girl mask is mouthing, "Don't alienate all the fine local folks who stretched themselves to support the book." But it has got me thinking. I have got stuff to say, and I think I can say it in a way that will make others think--at least I hope so. I don't think of myself as salacious, so I wouldn't say something just for the shock value, but perhaps I will up the ante on my blog and see if someone out there will hit the forward button on me.

Meanwhile, help spread the word. Here is a link to forward--an excerpt from Summers at Blue Lake. Keep the word alive. And send me other ideas for marketing myself. I am all ears.

P.S. Join me this weekend at Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville, PA. I am having an artist reception and book signing. 2-5 PM on October 13th. See you there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Technicolor cold

I have a cold, and it is messing up my plans. After hanging my art show, I was once again going to get down to business with a hard-core, don't-interrupt-me, write-in-the-morning, paint-in-the-afternoon schedule. Instead, I find myself directed by my waning energies more than some time-specific outline I penned a week ago. Lower-leg step workout at high noon? 1500 words of elegant prose in two hours. HA!

I've been trying to do things that are productive even if I am not doing things that take long periods of flowing mind power or much energy. Yesterday, I picked up books to sell at my artist reception. I took photos of a place I am considering for a landscape painting. (All feedback suggests I should do more of these.) I even went digital camera shopping with my parents. All of this came in and around my napping and food-network watching (great exercise to watch FoodTV when you have no appetite).

Today, I made myself a little nest on my chair and ottoman to work on my upcoming events. I surrounded myself with journaling and art books and books on color theory. This fall I am teaching 5 different courses on creative journaling--all on different topics. I am doing an introductory presentation to a group of professionals in the wellness industry. At Woman-to Woman, I will do workshops on morning journaling practices. Finally, I am doing a series of monthly Deep Journaling classes at Radiance in Lancaster. The themes for this fall series are: color, flow, and manifesting.

Today's research concentrated on color. I have done so much work with color over my life and have used this element in many of my workshop offerings, but I have never done a whole class on it. Now after doing some research, I see I could do a whole series on color journaling. This is exciting for me, as I am looking to expand my workshop business. I love to combine my love of art and writing and bring it to life for others. I come from a family of teachers, so that part comes easily to me, too.

In future blog entries, I will bring you some of the subjects I find fascinating about my work to bring my workshops to life. Maybe I can inspire some of you to begin your own creative journaling practices. Hey--if it can rouse me from a state of misery and congestion--think what it can do for you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I love fall

I love October. I think it may be my favorite month. It got me thinking about other things I love in the fall:

1. Pumpkin spice coffee. I usually drink dark roasts with a touch of cream, but I make an exception here. Add a maple walnut scone and you have perfection.

2. New York City. For some reason I've been making a fall pilgrimage here that last couple of years. Don't have one in the books for this year, yet. Maybe I better get on the ball.

3. Caramel apple with nuts. Not a candied apple. Ask my husband what the difference is. Thirteen years ago on the very day I gave birth to our son, he brought me the wrong kind from the street fair in the town where we lived. For some reason this story this story gets retold every year on my son's birthday.

4. The tree-covered hills near my house. I take note of their color change every day on my walk/run.

5. Soup. All kinds. Here at the Wood house, we have Survivor Soup Thursdays. I am not a huge Survivor fan, but it is something we watch as a family. This week we are having a double header: Pumpkin Chowder on Thursday and African Chicken Peanut Soup on Friday (when we are, for some inexplicable reason, going to watch Spaceballs.)

6. First frost and the end of allergy season. Self-explanatory.

7. Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I love that there is a holiday all about being grateful.

8. Back-to-school. It feels like a fresh start--more so than New Year's. Plus the kids are back in school, and I can get more work done.

9. Fall colors. If you've seen my paintings, you'll see that my palette is a fall palette. Good thing that my first exhibit is in October.

10. My grandmothers. Not to be morbid here: they both died in the fall. And combined with All Soul's Day on November 1st, I find myself feeling their spirits about me. It's a warm, comforting feeling.