Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 7 and 8 of WRITE: 100

Yay me. Sick for a couple days. Actually, not really well for over a week, but down-and-out these past couple days. But hey, I stayed pretty peaceful throughout. Tucked myself into God's arms with lots of quiet prayer.

Still managed to fulfill my writing challenge each day. Maybe that rubbed-raw feeling actually helped the writing, although I'm definitely glad to be feeling much better today and would most happily yield up any "inspiration" that feeling so bad might have produced.

I'm holding on to these last few days of warmth. Very windy out--mighty bursts of warm wind. And they say that we will likely see our first snow tomorrow evening, at least in the higher elevations.

Many many many chores and obligations have slid the past few days. And yet, I have spent the morning in creative work: writing, praying, painting. And somehow, that feels very responsible. Perhaps the peace and fulfillment I feel at this moment will do much more for helping me accomplish all the GottaDos, than the load of worry I usually carry. I'll keep you posted on how that comes out.

The photos I've posted today are part of my submission for Head over there Thursday if you want to see more.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 6 of WRITE:100

Mothers, listen to your daughters. Or at least, listen when you have been blessed with a daughter like mine, who is also a fellow artist and writing companion. (Catch a glimpse of her amazing work at

Last night, when I'd shared with her some of what I'd written in the first few days of this Last 100 Days of 2009 challenge, she urged me further. Yes, she praised my determination to fulfill the day's quota, especially when it was wrung out in the last moments before the stroke of midnight on an overloaded day. But why not try writing in the freshness of morning?

Hmmm. What would come out, I wondered, if I let my creative self out to play in the dewy first hours of a brand-new day? Perhaps Little Daughter hath much wisdom . . .

So I tried. Rolled out of bed, after morning prayers, grabbed my bedside fuzzy robe, and parked my Self at the computer. Turned randomly to page 149 in my prompt book and read the 5th line: "phone. I was gone for a week of teaching at the end of summer"

Ah. "end of summer." That's all it took. An hour and fifteen minutes later, I have 1162 words of fiction printed out and ready to tuck into my binder.

And the bonus: I will go through whatever else this lovely day includes, breathing the scent of creative work filling my house, my heart, my world.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

First 5 Days of WRITE: 100

Proud of myself for keeping up with the new challenge, albeit for only the first five days so far. But they've been busy days, with some wobbly parts to them. Would have been oh-so-easy to flail my hands and skip a day, or two, or twelve.

But I didn't.

I'm not at all sure what, if any, of the daily writing I will post here. Once writing is shared on the internet, it is considered published. Don't want to do that, if seeds of The Great American Novel are surfacing!!!

But I want to share SOMEthing . . . so, here are my prompt lines and the output:

Day 1: "they haven't made the separation between speech and"--158 words of fiction

Day 2: "for having leapt into a swimsuit to swim in warm ocean"--349 words of non-fiction

Day 3: "actually becoming a Jew, I must learn to speak phonetic"--188 words of fiction

Day 4: "must not do it. He is too small. He has a lifetime of adventures"--325 words of fiction

Day 5: "what it felt like when I was hungry. It was so strange. I was once"--116 words of poetry.

If anyone else is joining this Last 100 Days of 2009 challenge, I'd love to hear some of what you are doing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A New Challenge

Just got home a few hours ago from a weekend trip out-of-state. Left on a summer day and came back to definite fall in the air. I'm sorta twitchy inside with the change of seasons and wondering what is also changing inside me . . . and in my life.

I feel as if I've been in the land of Transition for oh-so-very-very-long. Will I ever get to where I'm going? Or is "right where I am" exactly where I'm supposed to be?

In the midst of this uncertainty, my daughter and fellow artist-- called me to say she'd picked up this factoid on Twitter: September 23 will mark the beginning of the last 100 days of the year.

Hmmmmmm . . . having just come off a fantastic 100 day challenge in which I "played with watercolors" every day for 100 days, this factoid definitely set off some creative vibrations.

Within a few minute, maybe 15 at the most, an idea took shape, I'd written a contract with myself, printed it out and signed it.

Ta-da. I still feel unsettled about what's going on in my life, but this new creative challenge feels right and good. I think it will provide a continuity for these last days of 2009.

The painting challenge definitely left me a different person than when I started. Can't wait to see the effects of the writing challenge.

I'll see if I can post the text of my contract:

100 Days: 100 Words

Starting on September 23, 2009, I commit to writing a minimum of 100 words a day, each day, until the end of the year.

The prompt will come from a random page selection (pages 1-272) in Anne Lamott’s TRAVELING MERCIES: Some Thoughts on Faith.

I’ll count down to the 5th full line of text, and then copy out that line with its beginning and ending.

The writing can be anything: poetry, fiction, non-fiction.

The only parameters are at least 100 words, every day, for the last 100 days of the year.

I imagine that I’ll use Dan’s laptop . . . maybe out in Agnes???? I’ll print each day’s output and put it in a binder. Decorate the front? No clue whether or not any daily writings will connect with each other.

I hereby commit to doing my very best, realizing full well that “life” may intervene.

I further commit to approach this creative endeavor with a spirit of love and joy and fun.

(signed) AquaMaureen

P.S. "Agnes" is a camper I have in my backyard. I have dreamed of her being a little home-away-from-home where I hole up and write.
So, anybody else out there want to join PersistentGreen/Amanda and me in some sort of creative challenge for the last 100 days of 2009?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bravely She Paints

With all the painting I've been doing, and the immeasurable progress made in my valuing of my creative work, I still get surprised by negativity.

One of the artists with ThursdaySweetTreat asked us to help her make her goal of having 250 4x6-inch pieces of unframed art, to be auctioned at some event in New York City, to benefit cancer research. I think she intended to encourage us by telling us that our work would be auctioned off alongside some celebrity work, mentioning Liam Neeson as one such celebrity.

That "encouragement" turned out to be a stumbling block for me, plus the idea of having people bid for the privilege of buying my art.

I'd decided, in theory, to participate. But when it came to actually sending the piece in the mail--actually commiting to saying "Here is some of my art and soon some people are expected to spend some real money for it and maybe bid against each other 'cause more than one person wants MY art" . . . . well, that's when I faltered.

But, yay for me. I DID send it off. Happily.

But I'll also admit here that I enclosed a note saying that if she didn't think the piece was "right" for the auction, to just keep it for herself.

I couldn't just send it off, freely and joyfully. I HAD to give the receiver some sort of "out"---I could not banish entirely the possibility of her opening the envelope and gulping and thinking, "oh, dear . . .what do I do with THIS?"

Oh well, I DID paint. I DID send it off.

And now I shall wait . . . for Liam Neeson to contact me and hire me to paint an entire wall in his celebrity home . . . teeheeheehee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What next?

Oh my. For 100 days I had a structure for this blog. Paint every day. Post nearly every day. And now that glorious adventure is over.

You know, even as I wrote "had a structure for this blog," something pinged in my thoughts. I think I stumbled onto this whole idea of blogging, back in January, as a way to break loose, break free. Of what? I'm not sure. Maybe if I knew more clearly, I'd already BE free.

Anyhoo, instinct tells me that holding to some "structure" for these posts would be antithetical to the original inspiration.

So . . . . . . here's what I'm thinking right now ("Now" being nearly 1 a.m.--waaaaaay past my bedtime . . . .) : I'm gonna do my best, my very best, to share the real me here in these posts. No, that's not a new commitment--I've been as honest as I know how, from the beginning. [oh poop. Tears. Gollygeewhiz, I'm sooooooooooooooooooo tired of crying.]

I'm casting about for words to accurately say what I'm trying to convey. But they dance at the edge of thought. They tease me. I LOVE writing. LOVE finding just the right word. But right now, words are NOT cooperating.

At this moment, I'm feeling all bits-and-piece-y. The last two weeks have been a physical and emotional roller-coaster, taking responsibility for getting my 88-year-old aunt moved from one assisted living facility to another, from a private room to a shared room. Making her new tiny space accommodate her myriad of needs. What she couldn't take with her is now scattered throughout my living room, single garage, double garage. Do I share it? Sell it? Toss it? I am inches away from drowning in STUFF, hers and mine.

I see her mired in memories, many of them sad. Even though her fiestiness usually prevails, much of her time now seems shaped/crippled by her past.

What do I want to do with the rest of my life, so that when I am 88, joy predominates? Every day overflows with crossroads, many taken unconsciously. This way? or that? Right this very moment, I am walking my way into my future. Which direction am I headed?

No more "quiet desperation."

No more holding back.

No more shushing myself.

No more shame.
The lovely flowers shown earlier, all arranged in a vase, came from this tangle of sunflowers growing in the cracks of my front sidewalk. They weren't planted. They weren't on purpose. They just started whereever they found themselves, grabbed onto whatever soil was available, made do with whatever water came their way, and they grew. And grew. And grew. They didn't ask for space. They didn't apologize for blocking the walkway. They just grew.
They shall be my teachers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 100 of 100

Day 100. Here it is.

Yeah, I'll admit: trumpets woulda been nice. Or a little drumroll.

Instead, it's just the sound of me snuffling back tears from a very long, hard day. And the sound of me munching milk-soaked shredded wheat just before midnight, the dinner I forgot to have earlier.

Spent 12 hours helping an elderly relative switch homes. I'm not at all sure she is is capable of living at this current level of independence. Another move might need to be on the horizon. Or maybe I am overtired and not optimistic enough and just really need a good night's sleep.
And maybe underneath, I still ache for someone to share this burden of care with me, and maybe even, sometimes, take care of me.

Well, what I DO know is that these 100 days of playing with watercolors has awakened in me another whole language of expression.

When I woke this morning, struggling against the demands of the day before it ever started, I went to my paints. Dripped and dribbled some splotch of each color in my paint set. Had no idea of some grand overall design. Just knew that Day 100 needed to incorporate EVERY color I had.

Came home some 12 hours later, so far beyond tired, and went to the paints again. Filled in all the white places. Wasn't sure what to do next. Head about to droop onto the wet page as midnight neared. Then I picked up the rigger, dipped it in the aquablue and started outlining.

What came out at the end makes me think of stained glass. So my final piece of this incredible 100-day endeavor uses all the color available; does not limit itself to some photo-realistic expression; and makes me think of church windows, lit with light and lifting thoughts to the heavens.

When all is said and done, I am satisfied, more than satisfied, with this 100 in 100 days project.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 99 of 100

Had a lovely family picnic scheduled for today, but part of it was going to be hard. Hard emotionally. In my early morning prayers, I turned to a book my dear daughter and son-in-law had given me by Dawna Markova: "Wide Open--On Living with Passion and Purpose."

Found this line: How could you love this day as if you had never been hurt?

I went right over to my watercolors and painted this:

It's me, AquaMaureen, giving and radiating and being wholly me.
Me, not pulling back or allowing myself to harden into something less than myself, due to being wounded in the past by someone else's actions.
Me, staying open and loving and vulnerable.

I'll risk getting hurt again, if that's the price of being fully open to love, fully alive.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Days 96, 97, and 98 of 100

Busy few days. But I'm proud of myself, that I still painted. Actually, I'm sorta at a place where it would be harder NOT to paint, than to paint. I love that.

Here's Day 96.

Extremely random swipes with the wax resist crayon.
And the colors not as vibrant a contrast as I'd hoped.

Day 97.

I knew I had an extremely full day ahead of me, both physically and emotionally.
So this wide open, full sun just begged to be painted.

Now indulge me, folks . . . does anybody "see" a particular shape in this section?

Day 98.

I just felt like pink today :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 95 of 100

Here's today's piece.

Had a wonderful time last evening, finishing up five pieces that I did for ThursdaySweetTreat.
I absolutely loved working on that many at one time.

When I paint, I'm in a place beyond words, where things inside me feel in balance.
I love it.

(I photo'd these while they were still wet--the piece is dry now, but its fresh wetness is captured here in the photo--I like that!)

I can't quite believe that I have painted for nearly 100 days in a row . . . and yet, I DO feel a difference inside me. As if I've learned a new language.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 94 of 100

Here's a glimpse of today's offering.

Give yourself a treat and pop over to sometime Thursday
and you can see the whole piece, plus a whole lot more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 93 of 100

Here's Day 93.

It's my attempt to paint the happy I feel today.

Woke in severe pain during the night. Prayed, as I have all my life. Did not get relief.
Called a friend early in the morning darkness to pray along with me.
Peace and relief came within a half hour.
Freedom from fears.
Freedom from pain.

Human language doesn't have words big enough for the gratitude I feel towards God for His loving tender care of me, and for the priceless support from others, in times of need.