Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love, Writing

The Vein of Gold

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'The Vein of Gold VEIN GOLD Journey to Your Creative Heart book discussion facilitated by Jessica White JULIA authoref CAMERON the ARTIST'S WAY'

Before I knew I was going to be running behind on my BYOB project, I’d already signed up for this writing class/workshop/book discussion group covering Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold. I have done a book by Julia Cameron before, many many years ago, called The Artist’s Way, and then several years ago, I also went through her book Blessings. So I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this when I saw it come up as an option on one of my book groups.

Today’s the first day the group is meeting (and coincidentally also the kids first day back to school). I just discovered that, sadly, I’m already a little bit behind. Apparently a calendar went out over the weekend when I wasn’t paying attention to the group yet, starting daily personal activities last Sunday. Ah well, it looks like it should be pretty easy to catch up, as I actually already have a Morning Pages and Daily Walk habit. I just have to catch up on the very small amount of reading. 🙂 I cannot wait to get started!

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

Prayer

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In week four of our UU Spiritual Practices class, we covered prayer. From a UU standpoint, prayer is not necessarily to someone or some being, it is a way of being conscious of what is active in your heart. Basically, every day ask “Where is my spirit?” and pray from that answer. If you absolutely cannot think of anything, some things to pray about could be: what you’re thankful for, what help you need, what amazes you.

A book was suggested: “Prayers for people who don’t think they can pray”

We did model prayers together. Some of my prayer started like this: “Thank you for my family and friends who are like family. Thank you for a safe home and enough to share with others. Help my friends to feel like they are enough and that they are not so alone with their burdens.”

Bits of prayers from others that I plan to incorporate into my prayer life:

“Help me listen to the many different sides of everyone’s stories and needs.”

“Help me remain open to the knowledge and wisdom of others, even if I think they’re wrong in some things.”

Posted in Computers and Internet, Lifelong learning, Writing

Artist Dates

Another one of Julia Cameron’s big things is taking yourself on an Artist Date. Julia describes them thusly: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy.”

A bajillion years ago when I did my first Julia Cameron experience, I had no kids, I lived in a big city, I wasn’t immunocompromised, and there was no pandemic going on. So there are big changes in the here and now version of my life.

I’m really not leaving the house much these days. I go on walks around the neighborhood, the grocery store occasionally, and Wal-mart even less often than that. Not much more than that. So Artist Dates are hard to imagine right now. Fortunately, the group I’m doing this with is awesome and came up with a list of alternate ideas for artist dates, some of which I’ll share below:

For this week, I did an Artist Date with my youngest son. We painted “pawtraits” of some local rescue cats as part of a charity fundraiser to raise money for O’Malley Alley Cats in Tyler (the group we fostered for this spring and summer).

Posted in Around the House, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, The Past Comes Back to Haunt Me

Keeping the Sabbath

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So this week in Spiritual Practices class we covered “Keeping the Sabbath.” If you know me well, you know the phrase “keeping the Sabbath” weirds me out. I spent a long time trying to shove my big round self into the little square hole of my husband’s religion and “keeping the Sabbath” and “keeping the Feasts” where big phrases in his church community. It really makes me shudder.

With the Unitarian Universalists, keeping the sabbath seems to be an easy affair. It can be done any day or any time. It doesn’t even have to be all day, apparently.

What is a Sabbath practice? The Hebrew root of Sabbath is a word that means “to cease.” So the big question here is: What do we want to turn off in our lives to make a Sabbath? What do we change from our regular lives?

For me, a Sabbath looks like turning off a lot of my responsibilities. I don’t do PTA or volunteer work on a Sabbath, nor do I attempt to get any serious writing done. If a great writing thought comes to me, of course I’ll write it down, but I won’t sit in front of my screen with my mind on my plan and my plan on my mind.

In thinking about it a while, what I realized is that I need more than just not doing things, though. I need things to do. So I thought about it a little more and decided that the things I could do that would make the Sabbath a little cozier were adding in good music, making gratitude lists, reading from my spiritual books, and spending time on self care that I don’t usually get to during the main part of the week (like fun nail polish or teeth whitening or other spa like treatments).

What are some things you do to make your Sabbath a great experience?

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

Finding Sanctuaries Where We Live

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This is week two of my Spiritual Practice Class. This week we talked about our spiritual practices in terms of what we do when, and where we do it all.

In terms of Daily Practice, we discussed different kinds of mediation, like breathing exercises, journaling, or praying. We talked about going to a place with permission to not be distracted. Safe spaces, basically, which lead to a discussion of places we found safe throughout our lives.

For me, the spaces I found safest were places my mom couldn’t get to me easily. I was that kid that was always off hiding somewhere, usually curled up with a book. In Nebraska, it was usually up in the tree in the front yard. My mother hated that. She and the neighbor across the street would usually meet nearby to have a venting session and she hated to find out that I’d been listening the entire time. Which I really wasn’t, because of the aforementioned book. Once we moved to Texas, I didn’t have a good climbing tree any more. But we got a pool a couple years after the move and I found that I loved to swim. I’d swim in any season. My hair turned green and my mother would have to beg me to get out and come back inside (which cracked me up after her years and years of begging me to go out and play).

Where do you go to find sanctuary? Is it a person or is it a place?

Posted in Lifelong learning, What I Love, Writing

Thinking about what I should write

I get emails all the time from various writers trying to sell their latest books about writing, writing courses, etc. Sometimes they are full of interesting things, sometimes not so much. Today’s message from bookfox.co caught my eye sent me down this rabbit hole:

Write down your favorite album, your favorite movie, and your favorite artwork.
Now answer a few questions about these selections:
What do your answers have in common?
What kind of art are they?
Why do these pieces of art, above all else, move you?
Now to figure out what this means. What do your answers tell you about the type of writing you should produce?

My answers:

Favorite album: Nomads, Indians, and Saints by the Indigo Girls

Favorite movie: Sliding Doors

Favorite artwork: Van Gogh’s Starry Night

What do these things have in common? I chose them all during my college years. They all represent a time to me when I was first starting out, making my first decisions away from my parents, living on my own for the first time. And even with twenty years in between those days and now, I still love them. I still think about them as some of the first things that were really, truly my things.

Other things they have in common is a certain amount of wildness and inconsistency, some questioning of reality, a journey to find what really is true about the world. Those are still things I’m thinking about today, even though some of my thoughts on those subjects have changed, my quest for truth in the world has not. I’m still striving for my own authenticity in a world that wants me to be just like everyone else. But not I can see how different everyone else really is and see what that means in their lives. My world has expanded so much since then.

The next part of the email made me realize that I’d gone off the intended path of the lesson at hand for the day, but that’s okay. I like the answers I found.

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Crafts, Exercise, Family Time, Friend Time, health, Lifelong learning, Music, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting, Television & Film

Huge List of Activities to do with Kids during Covid-19

I started this document ages ago and have shared it with many friends, family members, and FB forums already. It’s compiled from many, many different places: lists on facebook, travel websites, space websites, family websites, school websites. It’s broken down into categories for ease of use: The Arts, Books, Celebrities, Coding, Crafts, Disney, Exercise, Food, Movies/TV/ Mental Health, Museums, Music, School Related, Travel, and Non-Internet Things to Do.

Hope you enjoy it. Here’s the link.

Posted in Computers and Internet, Crafts, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Summer of Themes 2020

School got out a couple weeks ago, but my family has been taking a little staycation. I spent some time working on my summer plan for the kids. With summer camps being out of the question, we went back to the drawing board and decided we were going to do another summer of themed days. We’ve done them off an on for years and I first wrote about them here and here.

A lot has changed since then– we’re down to two children at home now, both teens, the internet can be viewed on the big TV in the living room, and free videos abound about far more subjects than we’ll ever have time to watch.

Here’s a link to this year’s list of themes. I’m updating them weekly on Sunday mornings, usually. Feel free to download and change for your own needs. 🙂

Posted in Everywhere But Home, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

What Changes Will I Make Post-Pandemic?

Before all this happened, I didn’t really think of my life as boring. I had my monthly family events (one for each extended family), weekly church, weekly writing groups, biweekly writing groups, PTA board meetings and events, kids marching band events and band concerts, and weekly dates with my husband. I feel like I normally have a really full, busy life. Then I started reading post after post from other people about what they missed in their lives: regular live music events (not involving their children), daily or weekly visits to restaurants or bars with friends, art shows, ballet, opera, races, festivals, farmers markets, fancy charity events, parties, etc. I realized that my life really hasn’t changed that much since we started socially isolating and “wow, my life is so boring.”

Some changes I’d like to make:

  1. Start attending live music events
  2. Start going to my friends art shows
  3. Find some friends that can go out on the nights I have free (this is tricky – there’s only one night I’m free, really)
  4. Start dragging my family out to community festivals on the weekend – there must be some that go on on Sunday afternoons, right?
  5. Start arranging the family visitation calendar so I can start going to the extra events my church puts on (there’s usually at least one a week)
  6. Join a musical group – I’d like to find a singing group because the RA & fibro make it hard to always be able to play instruments.
Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Exercise, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Our Quarantine Home Life

Sundays are fairly normal. My husband, Nick, gets up around 6:30am and exercises, then I get up and make some breakfast. The midkid and I watch our church service online instead of driving two minutes down the road. Nick and Greg make a grocery list, which Ree and I add to once our church is over. Then Nick goes out shopping for a couple hours while the kids and I do some household chores. In the later afternoon we watch another documentary or play a board game. Sometimes Nick has to work some more. Then the Nick makes dinner, the kids set the table, and we eat dinner. Then it’s time for showers and bed.

On any given weekday, Nick gets up at 5:30am, goes to the living room and exercises with some weights my kid brought home randomly from my dad’s house. He is so thankful for that. I wake up at 6am and grab a cup of tea and a chat with him before he heads off to shower. I read the news until it’s time to swap. After my shower, I dress myself and put on makeup and jewelry because that is one little piece of sanity in my day.

Nick starts work at 7:15am in the home office I rigged up for him from the desk our college kind left behind. It’s perpendicular to my own home office. We hung a curtain from the ceiling between us so our online meeting people don’t have to see the other person in the room. I also need it there because I cannot write if someone is looking over my shoulder. I’m also not used to people being home during the day. I usually spend quite a lot of time alone and I’m going a little bit crazy without alone time.

7:15am is also when I wake up the kids. They don’t wander out until nearly 8am, so I spend time playing the new Animal Crossing Game. It’s very soothing to have someplace to go and other villagers to visit with. My brain doesn’t care that it’s not real. Once the kids come out, we eat breakfast and then take a walk around the neighborhood. I try to pick a different kind of thing to look for every day, just to keep it interesting. Sometimes it’s a kind of tree or a bug or a bird.

When we come back inside, our 7th grader  has an online meeting at 9am. The teacher says its optional, but she also texts me every time he doesn’t show up, so I try to make sure he goes into the Zoom meeting before I leave his room. Then I encourage our 10th grader to look at his assignments. His teachers haven’t posted much at all, so he’s inclined not to check unless I stand there and watch him do it. Since he has 8 classes to check, this takes a while.

At 11am,  I coax the kids away from the computers and we start looking at our lunch options. I’m usually the one that buys the lunch food, but I cannot go out because I’m immunocompromised, so we have to make do with what my husband brings home. He rarely thinks of lunch food. By noon, we’ve come up with something, eaten it, and the kids wander back to their devices for some recreational screen time while I chat with my husband, who has an hour off for lunch. Sometimes instead I hide in our now-quiet bedroom and luxuriate in the fact that no one is speaking to me.

At 1pm, it’s instrument practicing time. Each kid has two instruments, so one plays for 30 minutes, then the other, and then back and forth again. Sometimes I don’t have to monitor this time period. If I can get away with it, I sneak off to do some writing or editing.

From 3-5pm, it’s serious school work time. The middle school teachers have been assigning all the things, so our youngest has a TON of work. The high school kid does not. So I have the youngest ask the middle one for help during this time while I go do my “work hours.” I have a lot of volunteer positions — Secretary for the Tyler Council of PTA’s as well as focus person for Bell, Moore, Lee, and Andy Woods PTA’s when they need help, Secretary for the Lee Band Parents Association, Secretary for the Moore Middle School PTA, Membership chair and Assistant Webmaster for the East Texas Writers Guild, Facilitator for this group. Plus I’m a member of  two critique groups. Some of my groups have successfully transitioned to online meetings, some have not.

At 5pm, I encourage the kids to go play outside or water the garden or weed something. Soon it will be too hot for that, so we may swap our morning walk for yard work, do indoor chores during this time, and take a post dinner walk.

From there, the kids get some non-homework time until dinner set up starts. I usually try to find some artistic thing for them to do or science experiment to run instead of more screen time. Some times it works. Occasionally one of them has an online music lesson during this time.

We eat dinner around 7pm, like we always have. After dinner, it’s time for a family board game or more Animal Crossing, which we play on the big screen together in group mode. Occasionally Nick or I will have an online meeting for one of our groups instead. (He’s on the security and media teams at church and he’s also trying to host online game nights for some of his co-workers who are quarantined alone.)  Then showers for the kids and they are sent off to read in bed until they fall asleep. Nick and I go to bed around 10pm after watching Star Trek: the Next Generation.

Fridays are different because Nick only works half days. We have our eldest son over (he lives alone around the corner from us) and do some take-out for lunch. Then play a game, usually. He goes home afterwards. Then Nick’s been finding household jobs to do to keep him occupied while the kids finish their school days. He’ll make a fancier dinner that night.

Saturdays are pretty normal. We wake up later, sit around reading or playing music on our instruments, then eat a bigger brunch. Nick’s church meets on Saturday, so he and the bookend boys watch the service online while I sneak off to write. Our midkid wanders off to read. After church is over, we have a family dinner and maybe some more board games. Sometimes we watch a documentary together. Then the eldest goes home and we do our nighttime routine.

And that’s our week.