Tag Archives: Walking in This World

Creativity Anniversary

6 Jul

While I, the Muse, have been around forever, my 4 Chicks only recently celebrated their one-year blog milestone. In honor of this, their paper anniversary, I inspired the Chicks to put pen to paper and retrace their shared journey. Because like one’s marital anniversary, it is well worth remembering and commemorating when and how you first decided in earnest to pursue your creative passions. And those with whom you choose to share it are your creative soul mates for life.

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Week 12: The End of the Walk

16 Apr

Well, they took 12 months instead of 12 weeks to finish The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and that’s how long they took to finish Walking in This World, too. For the past year, the 4 Chicks have walked and talked their way through this second book together. To celebrate this completion, and in the spirit of Cameron’s many excellent creative exercises in her books, I inspired the 4 Chicks to hold a “Letting Go” fire ceremony, burning their fears, frustrations and other negative feelings that might otherwise block their future creative paths, as well as a whimsical “Dream Planting” activity, articulating their top three creative dreams for the future and giving them fertile ground in which to grow.

If I, the Muse, inspire you as well–be it writing, illustration, music, drama or any other artistic endeavor–consider bringing together three fellow sojourners and continue further down your own creative path today.

 

Chicks Chat About Authenticity – Week 11

4 Apr

 

In the end, an artist’s life is grounded in integrity and the willingness to witness our version of truth. There are no set markets that assure us of safe passage.  This week focuses on personal responsibility for our creative caliber and direction.

– Julia Cameron

Sticks and stones can break my bones…

10 Feb

Actually, I never liked that saying. Why would I care about names hurting me if someone’s breaking my bones? But there is a point: people who are throwing the proverbial sticks and stones and names can’t hurt you if you don’t let them.

I have an inner circle of those I can trust and an outer circle of everyone else. And levels within those circles. In Walking in this World, Julia Cameron talks about camaraderie (a word that I can never spell correctly the first time, incidentally), and the importance of having the “right” people around you. Those who know how to be supportive while offering constructive feedback. Here’s an exercise to see which of the following people should be allowed into your inner circle of trust:

Scenario: You just finished your first novel and you show it to your friends/critique partners/family members/whoever for their thoughts. You know that it’s only a first draft and it needs editing, but you want their initial thoughts.

Candidate A: “Hmm. It’s okay. But it’d be better if you’d do a story about sheep castration, since you grew up on a sheep ranch. You should write what you know. Did I tell you I wrote a story once?”

Candidate B: “This is a piece of crap. I know you can write better than this.”

Candidate C: “Hey, I like where you’re going on this project. I think if you weave in some of your personal experiences with xxx it will make this piece stronger.”

Obviously, in this situation, Candidate C is the ideal choice (although it’s not a bad idea to keep the occasional Candidate B around to kick us in the butt when we need it–kidding!).

What it comes down to is trust. I’ve had plenty of exposure to people who’ve had little snarky comments to make about this or that, looking like they’re happy for you but really trying to find a way to get in a dig somehow.

Here’s how you deal with it. Keep those people —————> here. As far away from you as you can shove them (figuratively, I hope).Image

That doesn’t mean that other people can’t try to hurt you. They can. But it is up to you to keep these “you-aren’t-good-enough-aren’t-smart-enough-aren’t-talented-enough” naysayers at bay.

I’m lucky to have several wonderful people in my inner circle of trust, starting with my fellow Chicks. If it wasn’t for these girls, I would’ve been too chicken to venture into the outer world of writing. I have a wonderful critique group as well. Do I still hear comments from Bitter, Party of 1? Of course. But I just smile and say, “Okay,” (in my head it translates as, “whatever dude”) and move along. I don’t think about them again. It doesn’t bother me at all, because those comments don’t filter through to me.

Don’t let them filter through to you.

Chicks Chat About Camaraderie – Week 10

31 Jan

Despite our Lone Ranger mythology, the artist’s life is not lived in isolation.  This week focuses your attention on the caliber of your friendships and creative collaborations.  Loyalty and longevity, integrity and ingenuity, grace and generosity – all of these attributes are necessary traits for healthy creative exchange.

Disney Marathon

7 Jan

“I consider the pavement between 20 and 26 sacred ground: not for training, to be tread upon only with a race number on your chest.” – Hal Higdon

Disney Marathon 2012

Tomorrow is my big day.  I will be running the Disney Marathon.  The race starts at 5:30am and I’m in wave C.

I’ve trained as much as I possibly could, while running a business with my hubby, raising 2 little girls and trying to go back to school.

During my whole year of training of had my high’s and low’s.  I’ve question myself why I’m putting my body through this? Am I trying to prove something to myself?  But also I’ve had amazing revelations about what I could really do and how much my body can really handle.   It’s amazing to hear your mind say “give up Eva, you are to old for this” to my body saying “I can go longer, just keep pushing, don’t stop”.   It feels like the battle of good and evil.

My evil side is always complaining.  But my good side admires what I’m doing.  I know this sounds crazy but when you only have yourself to keep you company for 4 hours straight you get tired of hearing yourself.  You try to focus on the music, then you go through your checklist of things that you need to do for the month, you start planning your next Halloween party, and then the only thing left is thinking about how much pain you are in.

So, is this all worth it you may ask?  YES!  It’s worth all the pain.  You turn out realizing how tough you really are.

It’s amazing how going through the Julia Cameron, “Walking In This World” book with my 3 other chicks has helped me not only creatively but also helped me push myself in other things that I though would be impossible for me to do.

If we all lived our lives not fearing what other people might think of us, or letting insecurity stop us.  I wonder how much we all can really accomplish.

Chicks Chat About Resilience – Week 9

23 Dec

There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: Fall down seven times, stand up eight. That ancient writer might have gained that wisdom from me, the Muse. The Chicks are in the process of learning it now. In any endeavor, whether you fear and fail is not as important as whether you try and try again. I am beckoning you. Keep seeking me, and the worry, fear and self-doubt you feel will not be roadblocks but signposts along the way.

Join the 4 Chicks as they chat about Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World: The Practical Art of CreativityChapter 9: Discovering a Sense of Resiliency.

Happy Holidays to you and here’s to a creative 2012!

.                             .                            .

Apricot Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Italian Sausage-Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 4 Cornish game hens (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almond slivers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups apricot jam
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • KICKED UP DAN VERSION:   ADD ½ CUP COINTREAU

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the fat is rendered, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the orange zest and sweat for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook stirring continuously for 3 minutes. Add the raisins, almonds, parsley, thyme, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place it in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the rice from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Place the rice on a sheet pan or a platter to cool.

Combine the apricot jam, orange juice, COINTREAU and remaining zest in a small mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Place the glaze in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Allow glaze to cook until reduced by half. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.

Season the hens with the remaining salt and pepper on the insides and out. Stuff each hen cavity with about 3/4 cup of the cooled rice and place in a roasting pan. Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze on the hens and place them in the oven.

Roast the game hens for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and spread another layer of glaze over the hens. Return the hens to the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the hens from the oven, spread the glaze over the hens, and return to the oven.

Continue to cook for 30 more minutes, or until an instant read-thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160 degrees F, and inserted into the rice registers 140 degrees F.

Serve the hens with any extra rice pilaf.

Killing off my darlings

20 Dec

I don't know what this picture represents, but aside from the near-miss on the moon shot, I thought it was pretty cool.

I hesitated to put that title because I didn’t want FBI showing up at my door to make sure my family is still alive (they are, and as loud as they can be, I’m sure our neighbors can vouch for that). But it’s how I felt when I made what I consider pretty major changes to my manuscript.

I was hesitant, even resistant to the changes. But someone(s) finally took a hammer to my head (kidding, kind of) and convinced me to make the adjustments. I finally realized they were right. It took a lot of work, but it was worth it because the book is so much better because of those changes. In chapter 8 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World, the task is to perform an “exorcism” of the creative demon. She suggests throwing it over the gorge bridge or burning it. Too extreme for me. I decided just to cut them and stick the extra “babies,” those pieces I thought were necessary until I realized they weren’t, and pasted them into a document I’ve titled “pieces and parts.”

Of course, I won’t go back to those pieces and parts. They were cut for a reason. They lay in their virtual grave, to only be revived if needed for a reminder to myself or to others close to me that getting rid of those little darlings can be good.

Hard, but good.

 

Who’s Your Fire Escape?

17 Dec

Making a Quilt for My BFF (Part One)

This month, the Chicks and I have been mulling over Chapter 8 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World. It’s all about what Julia calls Discernment, that is, learning to “name our true supporters more accurately.” The task: Make Something for Someone Else, Not to Be Somebody.

Jennifer and I have been having "Field Days" for as long as we've known each other.

In truth, I bought the material for a new quilt months ago and have wanted to make it for much longer. Maybe since I was in first grade. That’s when I first met my friend, Jennifer, although I wouldn’t know for another decade that we were destined to be BFFs.

For thirty years, Jennifer has been my fire escape. And I think I've been hers, too.

When I picked out the pattern for the quilt I wanted to make Jennifer, I saw the word fire and thought I might name it something like “The Flames of Friendship”. But when my tweenage daughter, who’s much more observant than I, looked at the pattern picture last week and said “Oh, I get it. The little squares are like stairs,” I looked more closely at the name: FIRE ESCAPE. Huh. I didn’t get that before. At any rate, I decided it was the perfect (what else?) metaphor for our friendship.

My 16th birthday at Medieval Times.

Although sharing so many similar experiences together at St. Mark’s Lutheran School in Hollywood, Florida (tragically closed just last year), we didn’t grow especially close until high school. I was the loud and outgoing one. She was the quiet and disciplined one. But as we faced the daunting perils of pre-adulthood, our differences became complements. Our strengths and weaknesses fit together, like well-cut pieces of fabric.

My last quilt, made with love in 2009, was for my mom.

This will be my fourth quilt. Wanting to give something special to my sister, niece and mom were my motivations before. My favorite part of making a quilt is the stream of brainless mental wanderings that occur over the hours of cutting, pinning, sewing and ironing. It’s impossible to put so much into a gift without thinking fondly of its future recipient.

Good friends meet equally, at right angles.

Right Angles: One of my ethereal epiphanies came as I was cutting. We all have so many people we call friends, don’t we? The onset of Facebook and other social media has further eroded the term, which used to be a step above mere acquaintance. Perhaps the litmus test is this: is your friendship cut at right angles? Some relationships just aren’t. One person gives more than the other, making them (wait for it)–obtuse.

Before I became one of the 4 Chicks, I was the "co-owner" of a cutting-edge fashion enterprise. We paid for these labels with babysitting money.

But the fundamental starting point of any quilt is right angles. Meeting equally at a point. Over and over and over. That’s the first step of a friendship, too. More about both to come.

See also: Pieces of Us (Part Two) and What’s Your Block? (Part Three).

Organize Like a Blogger

27 Nov

It’s after 3 a.m., and I should really be sleeping. Instead, I’m riding a wave of satisfaction at my latest effort to organize the roughly 75 years and 200 historical characters that are connected to my historical fiction novel. Oh, and the caffeine high from the hard-core Cokes my dad left from Thanksgiving might be playing a role.

At any rate, I’ve tried Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, even index cards in an attempt to harness the information overload. I even started using Scrivener’s writing software, which I do like. However, in the flurry of new information I’ve acquired in recent weeks, I’ve realized that I still haven’t found the ideal way to incorporate new facts and cross-reference effectively. Perhaps, that is, until now.

First let me backtrack just a bit to a few weeks ago. A client who just moved recommended me as a potential resource for an internal communications campaign for which external resources were being considered. I had a weekend to submit a proposal. Instead of cracking open PowerPoint, however, I decided to create a private blog, which was the intended delivery vehicle of the communications anyway.

As I told my fellow Chicks, I put all of my Chick training to good use. In just days, I was able to create a really fun, stylized proposal in just a matter of days. What’s more, I gained a deeper understanding of the organization between pages (not date of writing related) and posts (critical to date of writing). To me, the result felt very cool, very functional, and above all, very organized for future growth.

So tonight, I decided it might be fun-ctional to apply this concept of a private blog to my Goliath project–the “I-T” to which the antecedent is always understood by my Chicks and my patiently enduring husband to be “my never-ending historical fiction novel”. I spent hours just making a start, but at least I have a good general framework for building it out. And knowing that only I can access and view the blog makes it feel like an extension of my brain. But a LOT tidier.

This could be a turning point for me. Besides the potential of becoming vastly more organized with this project than I’ve been to-date, I’ve decided that even if I don’t live to see the fruition of this novel actually written to completion, I’m going to start enjoying the mystery clue-collecting process more. Who knows where this could lead next? And who cares, now that I’ve remembered why I started on this project? I really do love it and am determined to bring order to the historical chaos swirling around my major characters.

Truth be told, I work better when I at least FEEL organized. In fact, I don’t even like to sit at my computer at all unless and until my house is clean and organizing around me. This explains my lack of productivity over the past six months, when the process of moving out and moving in has me wanting to make everything perfect around me. The boxes are unpacked, but perfect–that’s gonna take some time (and money). Meanwhile, moving my equally intimidating pods of historical facts into my private blog-abase is giving me a serene sense of clutter conquest. At least on the screen, which is where I need to stay focused.

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