Do We Need Magic to Create?

Greetings my dear readers,

I’ve been away for a while, busy with life, and probably will be again very soon.  More on that later.  But for now, I would like to share with you some wisdom I learned while reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Steven Pressfield. I first read his book The War of Art a few years back, which talks about fighting against “The Resistance” in order to pursue your creative work and accomplish your goals. He was referring to that inner critic inside your head that provides nothing but negative self-talk. That voice never goes away, but you can learn to quiet it and trust yourself.

I just finished reading another one of his books, Turning Pro, also excellent. Several passages struck me, but one really stood out, especially as it pertains to my word for the year: MAGIC. He talks throughout the book about the amateur vs. the professional mindset and how that can make all the difference. We must let go of self-doubt and procrastination by establishing discipline and striving for excellence. But one question remains.

What about the magic?

He’s referring to flashes of brilliance and moments where we feel the muse speaking directly to us.  Shouldn’t we wait for those moments? His answer is no.

“The monk glimpses the face of God not by scaling a peak in the Himalayas, but by sitting still in silence.”

This is not to say that we should do nothing. On the contrary, we should sit down in the chair every day and attempt to write, draw, design, etc. No matter how we’re feeling. No matter what is on our mind. Because eventually we’ll get there. But waiting around to get there isn’t going to make anything happen. Achieving a moment of greatness won’t do it. We’ll only be waiting for the next moment. But showing up in front of the silence of the blank page will. Every time we face that challenge, we’ll grow stronger, and be more likely to come back again and again to do the work. To make something happen.

“In order to achieve ‘flow,’ ‘magic,’ ‘the zone,’ we start by being common and ordinary and workmanlike. We set our palms against the stones in the garden wall and search, search, search until at last, in the instant when we’re ready to give up, our fingers fasten upon the secret door.”

I’m sure you’ve all experienced the magic moment before: The Flash of Greatness. But I’m calling on you to experience something more. It’s the same magic, but there’s another way in, which involves a little more searching, a little extra effort. You get there simply by starting. You’re in the tunnel, and it’s dark, lonely. But you dig anyway. Keep going. Claw your way through. Until you see a light. And before you know it, you’re in the zone, and you’re not even sure how you got there. But you know, if you did it once, you can do it again. Because you’re not waiting for it to show up. You’re going after it.

Find your magic. Find it every day. But don’t wait around for it to appear. All you have to do is begin. Start by playing. The magic will want to play too. It can’t resist. And before you know it, you will have created something unique, dynamic, and all your own. Not perfect, but something you can be proud of. Something born not out of a moment of greatness, but through patience and effort. And that which is created from such a hard-won battle is truly inspiring.

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The True Value of Imagination

The City Museum in St. Louis, MO is like a giant playground for the imagination. Both children and the young at heart are welcome!

“She isn’t rich… She’s clever. That means she knows how to use her imagination. When you can do that, you can do anything.” –from The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

I don’t usually start a blog post with a quote, but this one really struck me. In fact, it’s the whole reason for the blog post. It reminds me of my childhood. Like most children, my sisters and I didn’t have every toy we wanted when we were growing up. Some kids might complain about that, and sometimes we probably did. But then something magical happened. We realized we could use our imaginations to create what we wanted.

We had this great big basement playroom, and luckily, our mom would let us do whatever we wanted with it, provided we clean it up every once in a while.  She called this “overhauling,” which usually meant giving some beloved but never used old toys and junk away.  Anyway, we had toys, games, and craft items down there.  Usually I’d convince my younger sister to join me for some fun, as our older sister was often “too cool” for us, doing mysterious older sister things in her room.

Sometimes we’d rearrange our old toys into something new, making castles for our toy figures out of chairs, kitchen stove sets, plastic telephones, toy cash registers, and the like.  Other times, we’d see toys we wanted on TV and decide to create them ourselves. Toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes turned into action figures.  Cut-out watercolor drawings of kids turned into paper dolls.  We even invented things and conducted experiments.

Other times, especially in the summer, we’d make a tent out of tables, chairs, and blankets, sleeping inside it every night.  I also invented something called “the boat game,” where we had 5 minutes to gather everything we could (toys, games, etc.) and get onto the boat (i.e. bed or couch) before it sailed away.  Then we’d play with all our stuff there, which was much more exciting than simply playing with it at the table or on the floor.  We were on an adventure! My favorite part and probably my sister’s least favorite was when I would nudge her off the bed and say, “Oh you fell into the sea!  Now I have to rescue you!”  Then I’d slowly pull her back up to safety 😉

I hope kids these days still find time to use their imagination.  More importantly, I hope they understand what imagination is and that its value far exceeds the worth of any toys, video games, or electronics they might have.  As an adult, your imagination can take you places too.  You learn resourcefulness and how to carefully use your resources.  You come up with creative problem-solving.  You find solutions where you otherwise might not.  And let’s face it, imagination is just plain fun!  It’s what gives us hope and provides a means of entertainment and escape from reality, even if just for a while.

For me, my imagination is what has allowed me to become a children’s writer and illustrator.  I use it when I conduct storytime for the kids at the library.  And it fills me with a sense of wonder whenever I travel, visit a park, or go to an art gallery.  Imagination keeps me young at heart, and I wouldn’t trade that for all the money in the world.

Have you used your imagination recently?  What is it worth to you?  Please share!

 

 

Get Your Hygge On!

Picnic in the Park

Hi Lovely Readers,

Can you believe March is already almost over?  I guess I’m a little over the wind, but then again, that means we now move on to the rain 😉  But I did read a nice quote today on Facebook that gave me a little perspective: “Partly cloudy with a chance of rain, or partly cloudy with a chance of a rainbow.  You choose.”  Something to think about.

Today I want to introduce you to a Danish concept I think we can all benefit from: hygge (pronounced HOO-ga).  I first learned about this unique approach to life in an article on Today.com titled, “What is hygge?  Why the world’s happiest country says this is their secret.”

The basic translation for this word is “cozy” and in broader terms it relates to the way you can cultivate more happiness in your life by learning to make your life more cozy and taking time to feel cozy everyday without experiencing the guilt that often goes along with it.  Here in America, we’re prized for how much we can get done, our worth is measured by how successful we are, and we see happiness as something we can buy or own.  But in Denmark, they’re operating under a different system.

According to the article, they take time to slow down and create little moments in their day, adding cozy elements where they can.  This includes stopping for a coffee break, reading a good book, putting on a pair of fuzzy socks, walking in the woods to get fresh air, and catching up with a friend.  The focus is on fun, whether that be playing a game or telling a funny story.  And the more you share this experience with others, the better.

You can set the mood for hygge in your own house by lighting candles, decorating your house with silly or whimsical elements like old toys or funny pillows, or placing some dishes of chocolate within arm’s reach in different rooms.  The idea is to make yourself laugh and not take life so seriously.

You can even employ the concept of hygge at work by adding plants to your cubicle or a comfy sweater to the back of your chair.  And since hygge is also about connecting with people, consider bringing in lunch for your co-workers or organizing a weekly potluck where you can share yummy food and catch up with co-workers on non-work-related stuff.

I think we can all use a healthy dose of hygge in our lives.  So stop being so hard on yourself if you don’t finish that 10th item on your to-do list.  Instead go run barefoot in the fresh, spring grass or make that cup of tea you like and read a funny article in your favorite magazine.  Just remember that hygge is not another routine or rule to follow.  Make it spontaneous and remember to just let go and have a moment of fun just for the sake of it 🙂

My friend reminded me of this today when she sent me a text reminding me to take time out to breathe slowly and meditate.  The advice sounded so good, I immediately got up and did some random yogic poses.  After stretching, I felt completely relaxed and energized!  She also sent me a little joke that allowed me to laugh at myself and how our bodies change as we get older.  So now, I think I’ll go have a couple of maple cookies, because life isn’t all about fitness, either.

Okay it’s your turn to share.  How do you plan to practice hygge and bring more moments of joy into your everyday life?

Mad Tea Party

March Magic!

Happy March everyone!  It sure is coming in like a lion 😉  But I’ve never been more excited about it.  I’m very happy to see February go, mostly because it means spring is right around the corner.

I started thinking about the best way to welcome a new month and the coming of a new season.  How about with some magic!

I recently read a great article online titled, “33 Ways to Invite & Invoke More Magic Into Your Life” by Kara Maria Ananda, a Healing Arts Educator, Holistic Business Coach, Speaker and Writer.  I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites, some of which I plan to focus on for this year.

  • Drink more water.
  • Dance, stretch, do yoga and move your body.
  • Play with children.
  • Go somewhere new in your own town.
  • Pay attention to synchronicity.
  • Get a massage.
  • Meditate.
  • Leave secret notes with positive messages in public places for people to find.
  • Make art.
  • Read your favorite books from your childhood.
  • Walk barefoot on the Earth.
  • Get all dressed up just because.

Check out Ananda’s article to find out even more ways to cultivate magic in your life.

And here are a few magical quotes from some books I’ve been reading lately.  The first is from a book I just started called The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox.  The other two quotes are from the 2017 Newbery-winning book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, which I highly recommend.  The quotes from these books take two very different tones but they intersect in interesting ways, just like everything in life.

“In times like these, according to Great-Aunt Margaret, magic bubbled up, rising out of the confusion and strife of war.  Troubled times stirred up magic like dumplings in a stew.”

“And there was something else, too.  This surging feeling in her bones.  This clicking inside her head.  This feeling as though she had an invisible gear inside her, pushing her, inch by inch, towards…something.  Her whole life, she never knew what.  Magic, her bones said.”

“Her grandmother had taught Luna…how a caterpillar lives, growing big and fat and sweet-tempered, until it forms a chrysalis.  And inside the chrysalis, it changes.  Its body unmakes.  Every portion of itself unravels, unwinds, undoes, and reforms into something else…  “It feels like magic,” her grandmother had said…”

Magic is my word for the year, so it is always fun to see where it pops up.  I think everyone can use a little more magic in their lives.  It’s that spark that makes life meaningful and gives us hope.

How will you invite magic into your life this month?  Please share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Love Me” Owl

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear readers!  I thought I would share a new piece of artwork that is near and dear to my heart.  How many of you are familiar with The Love-Me Bird, a picture book by Joyce Dunbar?

I love this story, which is about a little songbird who goes around calling out, “Love me! Love-me!” in search of her perfect mate.  Well, she never gets a response, which is sad at first.  But then she decides to change her tune to “Love you! Love-you!”  Before you know it, she finds her true love.

This is such a great message.  It’s easy to have expectations, especially on a day like today.  Everyone wants to be loved.  But it’s often the love you give away that comes back to you.

Today and every day, I hope you feel loved.  But don’t forget to share your love with others.  You just might find what you’re looking for ❤

 

My 200th Post: The Good Things Jar

img_9393-2

Happy Friday!  We made it 😉  I’m excited to announce this is my 200th post on this blog.  That is quite an accomplishment, I must say.  It signifies a commitment to my writing practice and to you, my dear readers.  It’s important to celebrate all those milestones, no matter how big or small they seem in the moment.

One way we can do that is to create a Good Things Jar.  I first saw this concept posted on Facebook, but there are many different versions of it.  In fact, a friend of mine and fellow blogger recently posted about The Happiness Jar, a kind of gratitude jar, which was introduced by writer Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Good Things Jar helps you focus on something good that happened each week.  You write it down on a slip of paper and place it in your jar.  Then, at the end of the year, maybe even on New Year’s Eve, you can open the jar and read about all the good things that happened in 2017.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time or space for a jar, you can simply make a list and keep track that way, but it might not be as much fun.  I realized I was actually doing this last year when I kept a list of “miracles” (big and small) that occurred to me or someone else I cared about.  This was in response to my word of the year.

But whatever you decide to do, keeping track of your successes, what you are grateful for, and the general positives in your life is guaranteed to be uplifting.

May you have a year filled with many good things!

My Word for the Year: 2017

Bamboo Forest Illumination in Kyoto, Japan

It’s a new year, My Lovelies, and you know what that means.  Time to pick a new word to represent 2017.  This time, I had a little trouble choosing.  A lot of words hold special meaning for me these days, some of them challenging, others encouraging.  But ultimately, I realized I needed something dynamic and fun.  Something that would get me excited to jump out of bed every morning and start the day.  Something that would give me hope in a very complex world.

So without further ado, my word for the year is…

MAGIC

 

And here are some quotes to express exactly what magic means to me.

“You can’t tame the spirit of someone who has magic in their veins.” –unknown

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” –Roald Dahl

“Magic is believing in yourself.  If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same thing and even today words retain much of their magical power.” –Sigmund Freud

“Love is the closest thing we have to magic.” — from Aquamarine (movie)

“It’s important to remember that we all have magic inside us.” — J. K. Rowling

“Magic is something you make.” –unknown

“Look for magic in daily routine.”  –Lou Barlow

“By choosing to be our most authentic and loving self, we leave a trail of magic everywhere we go.”  –Emmanuel Dagher

I hope you will find ways in the coming year to invite magic into your life.  And don’t forget to come up with your own word for the year!

Check out the list of my past words here.

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