It is truly my pleasure to write these blog posts, but there are times when the backlog of ideas for new posts has been depleted, and I wonder if I’ll find anything worthwhile to share ever again.  It amazes me as much as anyone that I’ve posted almost every day since April of 2009.

At first, I wanted to document in photos and words the little seasonal changes I observed over the course of a year in my ordinary life in Seattle.  Then, writing my blog became a habit of sorts.  I still walk through my life on alert, always on the lookout for possible ideas for blog posts.  Sometimes I start with a poem or quote I’ve discovered in my reading, and then try to find an image to illustrate that idea.  Sometimes I start with an image, a photograph I want to share but have to find some words to go with it.  I don’t try to write long essays or post too many photos in one blog post.  Rather, each day focuses on the pleasures of one small idea or image.

I am most comfortable when I have a small backlog of ideas, but I try not to get too stressed if my well is running dry.  Right now, for example, I’m thinking ahead to late February/early March when I will be out of town for a week.  Can I prepare enough posts in advance to have something ready to publish each day of my absence?  I worry about this, but then something happens and invariably all turns out okay.

Like the neighborhood walk I took yesterday with my camera.  I didn’t know what would strike my eye, but it turns out I was almost overwhelmed with lovely images.  Suddenly, nature seems to be stirring out of its winter dormancy, and I’m seeing all sorts of things going on.  I took photo after photo, and after uploading them, I’ve mentally sorted them into themes for a week’s worth of blog posts!

It’s funny how I can walk the same streets day after day and not see anything special.  And then a new day, and it’s like I’ve got some kind of special glasses on that allow me to see with fresh eyes.  I’m still learning that I have to trust the ebb and flow of my creative life.  And that the Universe will provide if I am open to it.

I’ll end with three photos from my recent neighborhood walk — images that I like but can’t figure out how to incorporate into a full blog post.  Enjoy!

Thorns on the bark of these trees

I like the pattern of these buds standing all in a row.

New growth cutting through old leaf

An Answering Spirit

December 16, 2011

Cedar by Emily Carr, 1942

Totem Forest by Emily Carr, 1930

When I travel, I like take along reading material that relates to my destination.  For my weekend trip to Vancouver, B. C., I packed The Complete Writings of Emily Carr, and from that 900-page volume, I read her journals, called “Hundreds and Thousands.”  It was a perfect choice.

Emily Carr was an accomplished artist and writer from British Columbia.  She is well-known for her paintings of Northwest woods and totem poles.  But she was also quite gifted at painting with words.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading her journals for her thoughts on making art, making money, solitude, loneliness, and for her vivid similes and metaphors.

I was taken by one passage where Carr defines the difference between keeping a journal and writing a letter:  “Here I am, little book, having neglected you for some time.  I have written to Lawren twice, so that does you out of your little spiel for I work it off on him instead of on you.  It’s all the same as long as you can get it off your chest, only it’s easier when there is flesh and blood at the other end and, more than that, an answering spirit.”

I think that having flesh and blood at the other end of my blog, and more than that, the occasional answering spirit (my readers’ comments), is what has motivated me to keep posting for almost three years now.  Last week I reached a milestone — my 1,000th post!  I’ve never kept a diary or a private journal for so long.

It’s always rewarding when a good writer articulates something that rings true for you.  I love the idea of an answering spirit.  I hope that you keep your comments coming.  I really do appreciate every one of them.

 

 

 

The Over-Connected World

July 16, 2010

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers.  He writes about the common feeling of being over-connected, never being out of touch, and the challenges this over-connectivity brings to our yearnings to live meaningfully.

Hamlet's Blackberry by William Powers

Powers reminds us that we need not become addicted to our cell phones, portable devices, e-mail, internet, etc.  We can control how frequently and how often we connect.  Yes, the myriad connecting tools we have in our toolboxes are useful and immeasurably enhance our daily lives, but we need to examine how we use them.  Powers thinks there is plenty of opportunity for transforming these tools to “instruments of creativity, depth, and transcendence.”  

I’ve tried to be selective in incorporating digital tools into my life.  I still don’t have a cell phone, for example.  People know they can reach me at home or at work, and leave voice mail messages if I’m not in. I use e-mail for scheduling daily activities, which means I have to plan ahead a bit, and this is my preference anyway.  I don’t want to be available 24/7, even to family and friends.  I require a lot of solitude, time by myself. 

I don’t even like to plug into music or the radio as I walk and go about my daily activities.  I just don’t like wearing ear-plugs.  (I don’t like to wear sunglasses, either.  I much prefer looking at the world in its natural color.)

I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account and have yet to hear about how they might benefit me or enhance my life.  It’s probably ironic, then, that I have a blog and like to read the posts of a few favorite bloggers.  I do want people to read my blog, but I’d probably continue to post even if no one read it.  I get so many personal benefits from blogging.  It’s a great excuse to review my photos and select the best one or two from each shoot.  The blog gets my photos out into the world.  Blogging is one way to organize and reflect on the many quotes and poems I’ve copied out over the years.  Having a blog makes me more alert to the natural world, as I’m now always looking for things worthy of a blog post as I go through my days. I have to say that I enjoy creating my blog posts more than just reading and commenting on other blogs.  I like the doing of it.

I like learning a new technology, such as blogging, by reading about it and then trying it out and practicing with it in my daily life.  But I can focus on just one thing at a time, so I haven’t become inundated with other technologies and advances.  I know I’m probably leaving some great tools on the table.  Maybe I’ll pick them up and use them down the road.

Coincidentally (or not), one of the bloggers I follow has decided to disconnect from the internet and her blog for four weeks.  She says, “But I’m here to let you know I’m going away for another 4 weeks. I need a break. My creative mind has packed up and moved out and none of my usual tactics are wooing her back. I can’t take any holidays at the moment so I’m doing the next best thing. I’m going off-line for four whole weeks. No internet. No television. Crazy huh? I’m allowing email because I still have to work but I’m looking forward to getting back to basics so I can focus on process again and coerce that creative brain of mine back.

“I spend a lot of time on-line. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I do before I go to sleep at night. And the more I think about THAT, the more uncomfortable I feel. Don’t get me wrong. I love the internet. I love my RSS reader, connecting with friends, reading blogs, design journals, tutorials, on-line magazines, shopping and banking, renewing my library books, facebook, flickr, following twitter feeds, reading the latest news, clicking links for hours and hours, scanning, skimming, researching. But it’s come to that point in the relationship where I’ve heard myself whisper “I need a break ….. It’s not you …. It’s me”. All of that clicking and skimming has come at the cost of creative time and I want that time back.”

I loved reading about what she plans to do during this time off-line. (You can link to her post at http://www.bigprintlittle.com/big/blog.php.)

Powers has some good ideas for figuring out how to be in the driver’s seat with digital tools rather than being driven by them.  He rather cleverly looks to lessons from other great philosophers and thinkers that he/we can apply in our own lives.  From Plato, for example, he finds the lesson of taking breaks from the screens, actually creating some physical distance from being always connected during the day or week.  During these gaps or down times, your mind will automatically reflect on and deepen the experience of the connections, and such depth is what creates meaningful lives.  From Seneca, we learn to “Choose one idea a day to think about more deeply.  Train the mind to tune out the chaos, through the art of concentration.”  From Thoreau, we learn to make our homes a refuge or a sanctuary from the hyper-connected world.

We live in interesting times.  I am still invigorated rather than depleted by the idea that there are tools out there that can improve my life and my creativity.  I just come to them slowly.

Blogging Your Passions

April 28, 2010

Display window at the Greenwood Library

I recently did the outside display at the Greenwood Library where I work.  Of course, I chose blogging as my theme.  

Why blog? (artwork by Jenny Crampton)

Blogs that became books and movies

Some books to help you start your own blog

 Since installing the display, I’ve come across a couple of new titles that would have fit beautifully. The book Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram features tips on how to live more on less.  Ingram writes the blog www.suddenlyfrugal.com

Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey inspires readers by writing about bloggers who are also artists, quilters, craftspeople, sewers, etc.  She says that “Creative blogs are the personal journals of the 21st century.”  I’ve now got a new list of blogs to browse in my spare time. 

 

First Anniversary

April 14, 2010

Celebratory lemon cupcake

One year ago today I launched this blog.  I made a commitment to myself to post every day for at least one year in order to create  a visual record of my world through four seasons.  Blogging provided a way to grow as an artist and individual by working with a new medium that could combine my love of words with sharing photographs.

I am pleased with the year’s work.  I took 6,500 photographs over the past year, created 385 posts, and recorded 8,600 visits to my blog.  

I do plan to keep posting to this blog.   There will be one noticeable change, however.  I will post only when I have something to share, not necessarily every day. 

I don’t want to become stale.  As I continue to evolve in my creative pursuits, I expect that my blog will change over time as well.  At this point, I don’t know what these new directions will look like.  I would like to spend some time exploring how to market my photographs.  I would like to explore painting and drawing rather than just making photographs.  These are challenging projects for me, and it’s all a bit scary because I don’t know if I’ll be any good at them.  You are welcome to read about my journey and struggles in this blog as I forge ahead in the coming year.

I appreciate all of my readers, and I hope you keep checking in.