Can you just nix Pluto and add an Ocean?

I learned something new in school today.

Teacher in hall: "Yeah, but he still believes Pluto exists."

Me: "I don't get it."
Teacher: "Pluto's not a planet anymore."
Me: "Says who?"
Teacher: "You haven't heard that?"
Me: "Who gets to decide that all of a sudden there's no Pluto? How can there be no Pluto? I didn't see any emails about that. Who's in charge of that stuff?"

Teacher: "Well you'll love this - there's a fifth ocean."
Me: "Really?"

Teacher: "Yeah, the Southern Ocean."
Me: "Man, I'm writing a letter. Who do I address it to? United Textbook Makers of America?"


This working for a living is really cramping my style. I've barely written a word since I started back to work at the end of August. I am working on figuring out some kind of routine that works - striving for balance. But if I can't have balance, I want the see-saw tipped in favor of what feeds my spirit. I came by this cool website yesterday. It might be totally illegal to share this clip with you; but I'm giving credit and referring you to her inspiring site, so hopefully it's okay.

Ten Ways to Infuse Your Work with your Personality
by Keri Smith

1. Document what you are responding to regularly. *journal/sketchbook, blog, listmaking, photo journal, bulletin board collage, internet bookmarks, Allow yourself to go deeper into an idea. Find influence outside of your field. Consider that you are ALWAYS working for yourself.

2. Start to challenge yourself on a regular basis to try new things, (not just for work. *i.e. new foods, colors, processes, classes, travel, become a guerilla artist, etc. Your hobbies are your greatest source of play.)

3. Go back to your childhood, (the formative years). What were your favourite things to do? In this lies some clues as to where you want to focus your energy as an adult. What makes you burst with energy?

4. Do something that is not for money. For your own enjoyment. (Your greatest work will come from here!)
-x-mas card
-product concept
-gifts for friends.
Design for yourself. *See handout on guerilla art.

5. Use sources that are based on your daily life. Your life IS your art. What are the things that are most important in your current life?

6. Become a collector. Collecting allows us to look at one thing in a contemplative & mindful way. Giving you new insights and perceptions. Examples: Maria Kalman -purse contents, Steven Guarnaccia -shoe sole
rubbings, Ian Phillips & Grant Heaps -Lost & Found pet posters, Mark Ulriksen (former art director) -misspellings of his name, Charles & Rae Eames -toys from other countries

7. "Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain." Ignore what other people are doing. It has no bearing on your existence or vision of the world. The times we feel the most discouraged are usually due to the fact we are comparing ourselves to others. Most times reading awards annuals, and industry mags only serves to make us feel inadequate. Try cutting it out entirely. Designer Bruce Mau recommends not entering awards competitions. His reasoning, “Just don’t do it, it’s not good for you.”

8. Don't promote to target your audience. By all means send things out into the world, but don't think in terms of "promoting to get work". Send stuff out because -you're proud of it, -you want to share something with the world, -it's fun to get mail, -to have good karma, -you want to spread your germs, -you like licking stamps. Try sending a postcard of something you made for fun, (i.e. directions on how to make a finger puppet). When thinking of subject matter for promotions look to your current life. If you deal with topics that are important to you a piece will have much more life to it.

9. Take a lighthearted approach (Don't take yourself too seriously). If you feel stuck, you can always reinvent yourself, (re: try something else).

10. Study other artists or creators who followed their own vision. Research

LAF - Living Appendix Free

It's hard to believe it's been a year since I founded LAF - Living Appendix Free

It was an ordinary Wednesday morning. Well, ordinary except that I woke from my sleep at 4 am with a stabbing pain in my abdomen. Acknowledging my tendency toward drama (the same one that had me rushing to the ER with what I was sure was a brain aneurysm, when really it was my first migraine)I decided to wait it out. Until 8:01 when I called the doctor's office in the worst pain of my life. "Maybe it's a virus," the triage nurse suggested. "Give us a call if it gets worse."

"Uh-uh. I'm going to need an appointment right away." I was already on my way to the doctor's when I called Niki who I'd seen study body diagrams all through college. The early hour of my phone call was her tip-off that something was wrong. Then there was this line of questioning:

"Hey Nik - where's your spleen?"

"Left, upper quadrant."

"Where's your appendix?"

"Right, lower quadrant - why are you asking me this?" 

Still, I was stunned when there was a surgeon called in for consult. And even more so when I heard I would be having surgery that afternoon. I had shower invitations to mail, a bachelorette party to plan, all my articles for the Home & Garden tab were due, there was no way I had time for surgery. But, my body disagreed.

"Why are you crying?" The surgeon asked. He honestly seemed bewildered.

"Um, because I came in with a stomach ache and now I'm going to the hospital, and I'm here alone and ... "
"You didn't have an ordinary stomachae, it's acute appendicitis and we need to get the appendix out before it ruptures." This was followed by a little more crying as our Q&A session came to a close. I called the high school and left Matt a message with someone I later learned was a student aide:

Surgery_message_3 Message was condensed to: Wife. Surgery. Hospital.

Matt beat me home. I had to stop at the library to return my library books. He had my bag packed for me and we were off for a miserable ride to the hospital. I'll spare the details of the hospital experience for another day. It was horrible. I may never eat Jello again for as long as I live.

Catch and Release

Word Count: word count?!

I'm still emotionally hung over from my meltdown Friday night. I woke up feeling sick on Saturday and feel like I wasted another weekend feeling anxious, sick and depressed. After talking it out with Matt and some friends and journaling for hours, I think I have a plan to reclaim my life from the me that is a people-pleasing junky. It's my adult version of the "just say no" club.

I'm committed to less staying late and working for free (I did the math and I'm just donating a full work day every week, donating as in unpaid).  I need that time back for more love, laughter and writing, blogging, scrapbooking ... time with my husband and friends. You know, the dream we all dream of ... balance!

I've started a catch and release program that seems to be working  - it's the conscious practice of letting go faster. I have a tendency to mull comments, insults and irritations over until the thorn is burrowed good and deep. Now, when I catch myself doing this, I visualize myself catching the thing and deciding if I really need to hang on. If not, I release it. I am getting over things faster. When you're interacting with that many people a day, it pays to get over it and move on as soon as possible.

Happy New Year - SNR

Dscf0062 Happy New Year and Stastny Novy Rok to all of you ... this picture is the opposite of how I rang in the New Year but I didn't get a picture of Matt and I enjoying doing nothing. My mom always says how you spend the first day of the New Year is a sign of things to come for the year. It was nice to wake up without a hangover! We just puttered around, recuperating and enjoying each other's company ... perfect.

A New Year's tradition we have is sitting down together and journaling our goals and resolutions for the year ahead. We write our own and then share them with each other to come up with some mutual goals ... this year we were pretty much totally in sync. We also got a good laugh out of mocking my last year's resolution which was to (seriously): Organize Everything.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy new year full of Love, Laughter and many happy surprises!

Not what I expected

December_2005_147Let's just say this wasn't the break or the holiday I expected. Freshly out of my fluish fog, I wanted to do a little writing. As I moved some piles (because I haven't gotten "clean office" off my to do list) to get to my keyboard (yes this is frustrating and yes I will do something about it, eventually) I saw a stack of Christmas cards, signed, stamped, and half way addressed, waiting for me to look up a zip code, spelling or new house number. And here they sit. Super. So, I find that once again, I'm behind on my life and as I emailed a friend tonight, it occurs to me that perhaps this is just the new status quo and I should simply stop pretending there is a point where I will ever feel caught up. But I'm not saying it was a bad holiday. Because it wasn't. It was just really not what I expected.

The main gift I got from Matt this Christmas, doesn't come in a box. It was a reminder that he loves me with all of his heart and it is the geunine hold-your-hair-while-you're puking kind of love. That's the real deal.

We got to the coast in a flurry of grocery bags, gifts, games and expectations of good times ahead. Our rooms at the Ocean Rogue Inn were perfect. We unpacked, got settled and the games began ... we played Family Bingo (complete with prizes), Scattegories - where you really learn a lot about each other. For the letter "W" and the entry "things that are cold" Matt and I both wrote exactly the same thing: witches, tit.





As we nestled into our beds on Christmas Eve ... I suddenly didn't feel so good. And it was on. The worst flu I've had in years. I'll spare you the details. I'm still recovering and in after we got home from the coast, Matt got sick, too. The sick part pretty much just sucked. The games, being together, getting to know my nieces and the intentions behind it all, that was the good stuff.

So, that's why I didn't meet my 300 word a day quota, why no blogging at all and why I haven't made any progress toward accomplishing 2004's resolution of "organize everything." And, this, friends, has wiped me out. Back to bed.

Thankful for ...

As I recover from a whirlwind weekend, it dawns on me that I didn't ever stop to consider my blessings and express gratitude for them. Even during the Thanksgiving grace, I was more focused on how lovely the table looked, how great the food smelled and how I wished I had an IV drip of sugar-free Red Bull. So ... as I sit here relaxing and waiting for the Desperate Housewives hour I'd like to take a few minutes to focus on how blessed I truly am. When I say "relax" what I mean is wait for the laundry to dry, balance the checkbook, and make a list of the things I should've done that I didn't get to. Back to my blessings -

  • A wonderful, loving, affectionate and fun husband who works hard to ensure our long, happy life
  • A family who loves me and does their best to stay in touch and keep connected despite the distance between us
  • A home of our own
  • An awesome job
  • Friends I couldn't imagine my life without
  • The kindness of strangers
  • My health (who needs an appendix anyhow?)
  • Love. Love. Love.
  • Blessings yet to come

Flying_uncle_matt_2_1 Thanksgiving_hardys

Flying_uncle_matt_3 Flying_zoe_2

All that matters

Friends_cardWhen you get right down to it, the connections we make -  our relationships - are all that matter. The rest of life here - taxes, bills, deadlines, traffic, mold rings in toilets - just details and small fries compared to the people that matter to us.

I consider myself blessed with awesome friends and often marvel at the different personalities and types of relationships I have with people I adore. If friendship is a garden, mine has fertile soil filled with lots of forget-me-nots.

On this stormy Saturday evening, I wanted to write but struggled to find a focus. I turned to my box of  "Inner Outings" (The diarist's deck of 33 cards and book of exploration) and drew this card: Friends.

Perfect. The topic has been pinging around my brain for weeks. What makes a good friend? What do I do to be a good friend? I think we can all agree that friendship doesn't just happen, you have to nurture and culivate it - (again with the garden metaphor, I know).

I believe we all do the best we can with what we have. I believe every single relationship we have is for a reason - and that sometimes friends aren't meant to be in our lives forever. I believe showing up, letting each other be and being honest and kind are key ingredients for a good friendship. I believe our connections/ relationships are all that matter.

Our friends and families serve as mirrors to show us the truth about what's inside our hearts - what we desire, what we were and what we are becoming.

A good friendship is not demanding or needy. A good friendship allows for growth, even when it's scary. A good friendship bends, not breaks, with the winds of change.

P.S. If the people who matter most to you really judge you for how your house looks when they drop by unannounced, get better people.


Word Count: Same as before, guilt-free since I'm convinced writers are always working

Rain beating against the roof, whipping wind waking me from my sleep and I can smell the ocean from the front door.

I'm back in Tillamook County for the first time since leaving last June. Time passing evident in some of my old haunts now boarded up, renamed or demolished.

I was excited to go and spend the weekend with Rosie and Paul and Matt chilling out and kicking-off our writing sessions. The nostalgia I wasn't expecting. At all.

As Rose navigated the windy curves of Hwy 101, I experienced constant flashbacks complete with voices, faces, and memories buried somewhere in my brain suddenly surfacing like the endless ebb and flow of the tides.

More on memory lane later. It was an interesting weekend in several aspects. It's the first time I've really relaxed in ages. I just enjoyed myself, and considering that I was sick and I'm one of those miserable sick people, I'm delighted to still be able to say that it was an awesome weekend.

Enjoying the company of my friends and husband, surrounded by quite a collection of magazines (Bitch, Oprah, Poets & Writers, Portland Monthly, Ms. Bust), books and newspapers we read, played a couple games (Apples to Apples, Pass the Pigs), and ate some tasty food, highlights include Wanda's Bakery and Currents both in Nehalem.

And then there was the sharing of the writing. Which included, incidentally, a medley of flashbacks and feelings dating back to grade school when I was horrified to share my work in public and somehow be wrong for my ideas. And this is how I felt with very close friends. Maybe I'm not ready for the Big Bad World of Publishing ;) In actuality, it was cool to share our work and comments and I'm looking forward to growing together as writers, and as friends.

Overheard: once again, it's between me and matt - so maybe i should come up with a different name for this part ;)

Me: Well, the rainy season is here. At least I can stop worrying about washing my car.

Matt: (looks puzzled) but you never wash it.

Me: I know. But now I can stop writing it on my "to do" lists.