dream on

DSC_0061 (3)

What do you do when you don’t know if you can … but feel you must?

How do you cope with self-doubt?

How do you push past feeling self-serving to feeling self-deserving?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions all summer long. Delighted with more time and opportunity, I’ve been able to nourish my creative soul more often. I savor each and every moment spent with my keyboard and camera.

But is that enough?

I’m not sure.

Is the creative act itself enough to satisfy, or is it in the sharing of the end result?

Do I dare? Will anyone care?

What role does audience play in any creation? In any creative’s growth?

I’m tiptoeing along this path, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of special friends and a husband who supports my every breath and dream.

And there’s a few other acquaintances whose inspiration and pep talks I keep within arm’s reach — maybe they’ll be of use to you if you’re in the midst of your own creative identity crisis:

Elise Blaha Cripe: fearless creator of Get to Work Book and so much more! Find big bunches of motivation by following her @elisejoy on Instagram or her website here.  Her Get to Work Book is a no-nonsense, plain-and-simple, get-it-down and you’ll get-it-done planner I’ve found to be oh-so-helpful. Elise experiments, explores, tries, fails, and tries again — a fun loving and living example of growth mindset. I find her incredibly inspiring.

Elle Luna: artist, co-leader of #The100DayProject, and creative author of The Crossroads of Should and Must. 

Elizabeth Gilbert:  author of Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear

Brene Brown: author of Daring Greatly

and finally, the classic Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.

How can I possibly live past the hypocrisy of encouraging my children, my students, and family and friends to follow their dreams … if I’m not willing to walk the talk and follow my own?

Dream on, friends.

 

 

in praise of porches

DSC_0198 (2)

I’m not much of a talker.  I often feel awkward. And shy.  Even with friends, sometimes.

There’s some sort of sudden pressure in the first few moments of any casual conversation or unexpected encounter.  A sense of responsibility. A rush of adrenaline, maybe, and a flush to my cheek.

I just don’t know what to say.

And there’s a small moment of panic right there in aisle seven.

Niceties. Pleasantries. Small talk. All challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable for me.

But I’ve learned this summer  there’s something about a porch that unties my tongue. On a porch, conversations tend to drift, unhurried, and flow like the gentle back and forth of the rocker.

It’s easy. Neighborly. We’re in good company. And there’s a gentle silence in the spaces between words. A moment or two spent rocking and watching the birds fly by.

There’s time enough for companionship. A cold beverage and yes, commentary on the weather.

You and me.

Let’s catch up.

Out on the porch.

 

 

 

once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud

 

summering the alphabet

DSC_0749 (2)

We’re summering our way through the alphabet again this year.

Not letter by letter in order, of course, that would be far too constricting. However, the structure the alphabet provides is some sort of reminder to get out, go out, find out, and do something with the lovely (and fleeting) days of a New England summer.

In no particular order, we’ve summered the alphabet so far with:

S: strawberry picking

H: hiking

T: tennis, both at home and away (our racquets travel with us)

P: picnics

Some letters fill up quickly, and others are a bit of a challenge.  Last year’s Y: yard sales will likely be this year’s as well since I’ve got a new classroom come fall and find myself in need of several solid bookshelves. It’s okay. Repeats are fine. I impose no rules or restrictions when summering the alphabet, although I usually only document those people, places, and events we meet, visit, and experience together as a couple.

I’d rather not summer solo.

We add the destinations we reach like some sort of alphabetical post card documenting the places we’ve dreamed about visiting throughout the long winter while waiting for summer to come.

E: Ellacoya State Park, Gilford, NH

C: Calef’s Country Store, Barrington, NH

M: Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert, Vermont

Of course, V is for visiting Vermont in all her fine, full-on summer greenery and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. We’ve stayed with our favorite Vermont family at I: Inn at Manchester (which incidentally also appears on our fall and winter alphabets,) and for the first time ever, we’re also summering at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont – which of course means W is all set.

The alphabet’s filling up fast this year … it’s not even July, and we’re almost halfway through. Maybe this summer we’ll experience a letter or two more than once.

And won’t that be fun?

 

 

 

 

hello

I found a penny on the floor this morning. Heads up. 2016. A shiny circle of copper peeking out from under the dryer in the laundry room. Of course I picked it up.  Of course I checked to see if heads were up or tails, as if that one small cent held the fortune to whatever might come next in my life. I may pass it along to someone else in need of a lucky penny, or I may keep it awhile, right here on my desk, evidence that fortune can be found anywhere – even under a dryer.

Hello.

I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed me …. writing to you. The collective you. My vision or version of audience, whoever you may be and however – if ever – you arrive here.

And though I’ve not been writing, please know of the many times I’ve thought about doing so. No explanation for my absence feels adequate or entirely accurate except to say that I’ve been in transition. Neither here, nor there, but somewhere in between, and I’m finally able to slow a bit — enough so as to hear myself think — and write those words down.  I can feel them. Right there. On the tips of my fingers.

Maybe it’s time to begin another hopeful year.

 

bake for good

DSC_0018 (2)There’s nothing more simply satisfying, more homey and wholesome, or more basically beautiful than a loaf of freshly-baked bread.

Unless you bake two loaves – and share one.

When I bake bread, my heart fills in direct proportion to the rise of the dough. I love all the steps: the measuring, the mixing, the kneading, the baking. I love the aroma as the crust browns. I love to cradle the warmth of each loaf as I wrap it in a cotton cloth just out from the oven. I especially love feeding my family.

I’ve written before about the joy and grounding I find when baking. (See Warmth.) I’m not much for cakes, although this is a good one, and I’m family-famous for my chocolate chip cookies, but my new fascination is with baking bread. It’s been a long-standing someday thought, only recently realized come an unexpected snow day off from school.

And it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Time-consuming? Yes. But easy. And so worth the time.

This latest good thing in my life rose even higher, so to speak, this week after an in-school presentation by King Arthur Flour. Based in Norwich, Vermont, King Arthur Flour’s been a baking name to know since 1790 and employee-owned since 2004. With a company focus on connections in the community, the flour company not only maintains a baking school, but several outreach programs designed to “Bake for Good.”

Last week, the students in our school enjoyed King Arthur Flour’s Learn. Bake. Share. program where they learned all the basics of bread baking and the science behind it too. Each student was sent home with a flour-filled canvas tote, a dough scraper, a packet of yeast, a booklet of delicious recipes to try with their families at home … and an invitation: To share what they bake by donating a loaf to a local food bank.

Kids can participate in two ways:

King Arthur representatives visit over 200 schools all over the country every year. In-school presentations can be arranged by visiting here. Self-directed group baking can be arranged by visiting here.

Youth groups of all kinds can participate in Learn. Bake. Share. Anyone can participate and pledge to King Arthur’s Bake for Good. One pledge = one meal donated to Feeding America.  So far, King Arthur’s donated over 41,000 meals to date!

Bake. Enjoy. Give. And rise.