Archive for Family

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
~Carl Jung~

Bob and I spent this past weekend in Virginia with our oldest Stephen, his wife Mindy, and their two sons, Andrew (almost 5) and Ryan (almost 3). As is our usual routine on the morning of our return home, we ate breakfast and then prepared to load the car.

Bob and I don’t like to leave without first spending a little time with the boys in the morning but while Andrew plowed through his breakfast and talked with us, Ryan slept. I kept checking my watch. Finally, Ryan was up and dressed. I told him that Pop-pop and I were ready to leave.

“Play with me, G’andma.”

I reminded him that he’d slept in and it was time for Pop-pop and me to leave.

“Play with me, G’andma,” this time a little louder, a little more insistent with that edge of upset to it.


“Grandma, I have an idea,” Andrew piped up. “Why don’t you play with us for ten minutes?”

Well, what grandmother could refuse? After making sure that was agreeable to both boys, Bob and I dumped out some Legos and sat in the family room and played with the boys for ten minutes. When the time was up, we put everything away and without protest, Andrew and Ryan got up and proceeded to “help” us load our car. After kisses and hugs goodbye, Bob and I headed home.

Wasn’t that smart of Andrew to ask for just ten minutes (probably modeled by his also smart parents)? Can’t you just see your Muse negotiating for at least that minimal amount of time and attention?

“Play with me?”

You glance at your watch prepared to say no.

“Will you play with me for just ten minutes?”

How you can say no to such a manageable and heartfelt request from your Muse?

You can’t.

Chances are, of course, that once you start playing with your Muse, ten minutes will turn into 20, 30, or more.

And sometimes, because of life, it will just be ten.

But that’s okay.

Because sometimes, that is all your Muse needs.
Just ten minutes. Will you play for just ten minutes?

Categories Creativity, Family

People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most significant success is achieved.
~Annie Sullivan~

6 of Wands from Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

6 of Wands from Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

Recently, I attended our village’s annual lawn party fundraiser for our small but excellent library. A friend who now lives with her husband year round in New Orleans, attended the event after just returning from a trip to California to see her two sons. They, like Bob’s and my two younger sons in LA, are entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry.

Kathy and I got into a conversation about our sons and the challenges they’ve faced to making a living and a career out there on the West Coast.

In order to pursue careers in music, performance and writing, all of them have Read More→

Categories Creativity, Family, Tarot

After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world.

~ Philip Pullman~

This past Thanksgiving, Bob and I traveled to Virginia to be with our oldest son, his wife and his two sons, all of whom were struggling with a virus that resulted in stuffy noses and coughs.

In addition to preparing the feast, Bob and I also took over care of the two boys, Andrew, 3 ½ years, and Ryan, 18 months. The weather and temps were mild so we took them outside for walks and into the backyard to search for bugs (Andrew) and play in the sandbox (Ryan).

On one of our walks, Andrew suddenly became upset by an ant on the sidewalk and wanted me to pick him up. I tried to assure him that the ant couldn’t harm him Read More→

The key to everything is patience.
You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.

Arnold H. Glasow, business man and humorist

I have a new respect for caregivers, oaktitmousenestprofessional and otherwise, after spending a week providing care and support to my 85-year-old maternal aunt who recently returned home, after surgery and health challenges sent her to the hospital and then into a nursing home for a week.

If you’ve cared for anyone during any kind of crisis, physical or otherwise, you know that one of the important qualities needed by both the person in crisis and by you is patience.

Because we all want things to get back to normal—or the new normal—as quickly as possible.

When I broke my leg years ago, I just wanted the weeks to pass quickly so I could walk without crutches again. And yet that experience gave me such a deep compassion and understanding for people with ongoing limitations.

It is human nature to want to speed any process along, especially into today’s technological environment where everything moves faster than the speed of light—or seems to.

But some things can’t be hurried. Pregnancy, grieving, falling in love, recovering from illness, and the creative process.

Creativity and writing take time. While there are those rare occasions when the Muse inspires or talks so fast you can hardly keep up, much of the time, you sit and wait.

If you try to hurry the process, smash the creative egg, well, you might have something in your hand but it probably won’t be what you wanted or were looking for. You might lose something precious and vital.

You have to let the project, the book, grow. You have to handle it gently, protect it, keep it warm, and even cuddle with it.

You have to wait patiently until you hear pecking from within the egg and witness that first crack.

Some things in this life can be hurried along.

But the important things, the things that have meaning, significance and value–like your creative work–can’t.

Patience is necessary.

So, are you smashing or hatching?

Categories Creativity, Family, Writing

This weekend, I will officiate at a wedding. The bride is a young woman I’ve watched grow from infancy, so this is especially meaningful to me. Her mom is a dear friend.

So you can imagine that weddings, love and commitment have been on my mind.

Years ago in 2007, Bob and I attended a wedding for the son of other friends, Bill and Patty. Like us, they have three sons, and Read More→

The Universe is made of stories,/ not of atoms. ~Muriel Rukeyser

Our oldest son and his wife came for a visit recently, bringing our grandsons, one-year-old Ryan and three-year-old Andrew. Andrew went home at the end of his visit with us with a fine collection of stories.

Stories about roasting marshmallows over a big fire with family and friends. Stories about fishing for tadpoles with a friend of his dad’s that he grew up with. Stories of hiking to a waterfall with his mom and dad, and going for a very brief ride in Pop-pop’s MG. And then there was all the baking of cookies and coffee cake with Grandma.

Bob and I read stories to Andrew and Ryan There's a Nightmare in my Closet that were favorites of our sons when they were little boys, stories like Read More→

Halloween, Samhain, and Dia de Muertos, All Saint’s Day. These holidays mark the time of year when the veils between the worlds are thin and dreams of those who have died are common.

So, not surprisingly, I dreamed a few nights ago of my mother who died in 1984.

I worked with the dream as I usually do but then decided to consult the tarot to see what else I could learn. I used a spread for dreams that I learned from Robert Place, creator of The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, the deck I used. In the spread, three cards represent the dreamer.

The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by Robert Place

The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by Robert Place

I pulled Gabriel (Judgment), Prudence (The World) and Stella (The Star), all Major Arcana cards, representing Read More→

Categories Dreams, Family, Seasons, Tarot

After nine years, our reliable Chrysler Town and Country van is giving up the ghost. Although the engine is still solid, the body is rusting and other maladies afflict it. 20140706_191751

We are so ready for a new car. Still, I’ll be sad to see the van go. That van was Read More→

The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. ~Jill Churchill

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the US and I noticed on Facebook the comment from several people that some women may not be moms to two-legged creatures but are definitely moms to furred or feathered creatures.

Whether or not that is true, you are the mother of your creative work.Mothering

But what type of mother are you?

Are you the helicopter mom? The creative that hovers over your work like only you can guarantee its health and well-being? If you are a helicopter mom, you may decide to self-publish because you don’t trust anyone else to do justice to your novel, or you complain because the gallery hung two pieces together when you think a third should go between them, or you hesitate to even put your product on the market because no one will value/understand it like you do. But hovering has a tendency to suck all the air out of the environment of the child of your creativity, and to isolate you and it from others. Move back incrementally and give your work and yourself more room to breathe.

Are you the “my child is perfect, you’re the problem” mom? Ahem…perfection is always something to strive for but seldom achieved. Still, if you are this type of mom, you will fight your editor over every word and turn of phrase or you’ll get angry or hurt about every critique or criticism of your work, immediately jumping to the defense of every brush stroke or note. Good mothering means be willing to recognize that everyone—yes, including your children—makes mistakes in the process of growing and moving into the world. The secret is being willing to listen to criticisms or corrections with as much objectivity as possible and then trust your instincts as to what rings true. Correct or change as needed and your creative child will be that much stronger and better.

Are you the sink or swim mom? I’ve seen lots of these types of creative moms over the years and I admit to occasionally succumbing to this myself. This is the mom who throws her creative work into the deep so it is forced to learn how to swim quickly. The challenge is that some children learn from the pressures of being thrown into the deep end but some are more likely to drown without the support. Some creative projects take gentle easing into the water along with continued attention and marketing. Others crow with delight and kick off for the finish line and never look back. But, if you tend to throw your projects into the deep end and don’t look to see which kind of creative child you have, then you risk killing off one of your cherished children…and after all that work!

Or, are you just the best mom you can be? You stay up late when they are sick, you get up early to pack them lunches for their field trips, you sit in the rain to watch their soccer games, and no matter what they do, what mistakes they make, what challenges they present that force you to stretch and grow, you love them with all your heart and mind and soul. And you never give up on them.

Yes, mothering is a tough job. But when it comes to your creative work, someone has to do it…

Categories Creativity, Family, Writing

This past Sunday was Father’s Day here in the US. But I called my dad on Saturday because I didn’t want to deal with busy phone lines or trying to catch Dad when he was home and not at church or on the phone with one of my other three siblings. I wanted time to just visit and let our conversation flow as it would.

Much of our conversation was about the birds we’d seen recently, he in the deserts of Arizona and me in the mountains of New York. I shared about seeing an American Redstart and he shared about seeing the Painted Redstart.

American Redstart

I mentioned our Baltimore Oriole, he mentioned the Scott’s Oriole. I commented about loving the song of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and he agreed.

From the time I was little, my dad taught me to identify and name the birds that surrounded our home. I learned all the common ones and many not-so-common. Even more importantly, I learned to Read More→