Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memoir ~ Not Solely an End of Life Inventory

Are you at point in your life path where something has to change? Are you taking mental inventory and deciding what to do next? If so, CONGRATULATIONS!

Now, you might be a bit frustrated with what to do next, but don't fret. I have recently acquired a book by a favorite writing teacher of mine, Natalie Goldberg, that just may have the tools you need. Now, I have never met Ms. Goldberg (or her friend and another writing teacher I often turn to, Julia Cameron) but because her author's voice is so personal and she shares so many of her life experiences, I believe I know her. I am also pleased that her work can help a writer unblock herself, write through her mental processes and emerge with perspective and positive energy for her next steps forward. Goldberg's Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir is just that: practice, practice, practice.

I learned long ago that there is no way around my mental processes and the only method I have found to get past anything that continually infiltrates my thoughts it to work through it via writing. This book will help any reader do just that, and perhaps, in the end you'll have a memoir you'd hope to publish. If that is not your intention, with each of these exercises you've at least worked through your blocks and have more mental and emotional energy to spend on what is dearest and most significant for you.

Best wishes and good luck!

Invigorate Your Muse!

Perhaps it is because my mother taught me to treat books like sacred objects, or maybe because I have been and English teacher, I turn to books for ideas and ways to enliven my creative process. Today I visited the main branch of the Greenville County public library and I found two books that might be of interest to you.

The first is a new title on 14 day loan:
The New Writer's Handbook: A practical Anthology of the Best Advice for Your Craft and Career, edited by Philip Martin, published by Scarletta Press, and forward by Erika Jong. I like this book because of the way the contents are laid out. I can easily navigate the parts that interest me and skip the rest. From reading this title today I have created four pages of notes about one of my latest project and discovered several new resources that I was previously unaware of. This book certainly inspired me; It is nearly 11 p.m. and I'm up blogging about it! For an early-to-bed-early-to-rise girl like me, that's saying something!

The second title is exciting because the author found a dozen women to profile who are following their artistic dreams. The hook is that all of these women are senior citizens! Aging Artfully by Amy Gorman, profiles visual and performing women artists ages 85-105! If that doesn't get you to stop moaning that you're too old to follow your dreams, nothing will nudge you into action.

If you live in the area and want to check these books out, the first one will be returned in a few days, but both will be back in circulation before their due dates. Don't forget, you can reserve the books through your local library branch as well!

Friday, May 30, 2008

What do you do to ensure your personal success in all areas of life?

This week, I have introduced Rhonda Byrne's The Secret to my students. I hoped to give them ideas about what choices they have in attracting a life they want instead of wandering around moaning about the life they have been "given." Most of the students are interested in the idea of attracting money, but others were excited to know the Law of Attraction can bring positive relationships, good grades, happiness, and all manner of emotional, mental and spiritual health and wealth. Before they leave today they will each draw and image of their life vision using the concepts shared in The Secret.

I invite you to follow along and draw your own vision for your creative future. If that doesn't appeal to you, try The Artist's Way author Julia Cameron's directive to write a creative resume -- that is a resume listing all the creative endeavors you've been a part of. Mine begins with me standing on a hassock in the middle of the living room as a toddler and belting out nonsense words at the top of my lungs as I "sung" for my mother, being in school choirs and plays, writing poetry and stories, and so on. You may be amazed about the number and variety of items you've made or endeavored to create in your lifetime. You also might be a bit shocked about how little space you've given creation in your daily get up-take a shower (with soap)- go to work existance.
If you've not happy with what you see, change it!

What will you create today that will add a little spring to your step?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On the 8th day 'til Freedom, My True Love Said to Me....

Okay, so maybe my true love didn't say anything special about freedom from my day job, but I am just so darned happy that I can barely contain myself. Granted, I'm also so exhausted it was a fight to stay awake past 6 p.m. tonight, but I'm hoping that's due to allergies and a rainy evening. It certainly isn't due to my age!

Today my students performed their end-of-the year puppet plays and I was amazed how many gifted me with their puppets when they were done. I just mentioned that if they didn't want the puppets any longer they could either toss them out (as they were created from "junk" items anyway) or I'd be happy to take them. I now have nearly two dozen new puppets to share my life with. Some are humanoid, some are odd creatures from boxes, I've got a handful of paper sack pals and sock sweeties to speak to. No, not crazy, but I can't help but talk to puppets. Having grown up with a myriad of Jim Henson (and company's) characters in my daily life via Sesame St. and The Muppet Show, accompanied by Shari's Lamb Chop, and I see puppets as living breathing friends. In fact, one of my dozens of future business ideas has to do with puppets because I'm so drawn to them. That's what being passionate about your art is all about: finding excitement and fun where others are willing to say, "Here, I don't want it, but if it makes you happy, it is all yours!"

Anyway, I'm delighted to know one week from today my students will be starting summer vacation and I'll be gearing up for my last day of school administrivia. My sincerest respect goes to those who are thrilled to be part of education in the public sector for a career. I've done it off and on for nine years now (seven of those teaching in middle grades and high schools) and I just keep re-learning that I love to teach, but hate all the rest of the work that goes with it: grades, upset people due to grades, meetings because of grades, paperwork about those grades. Life doesn't come with a grade book, folks, and some day we'll be smart and capable enough to figure out an easier, more authentic system of discovering if we learned what we should. Until then, I'll be in the private sector, cheering on creativity at every turn!

Inspiration and Personal Questions

It continually inspires me to see the work of other female artists, no matter the medium or message,
because I tell myself, "If she can find her true path and calling in life, so can I,"
....and furthermore, so can you!

Below are links to the work of five women who have all been Guggenheim fellows
(just as Erika Blumenfeld, the light photographer featured yesterday).
Visit their sites, look at what incredible contributions women are making in the arts, then ask yourself,
"What am I passionate about? If there were no obstacles, what would I create?"
Then, begin believing in your dreams.

  1. Meena Alexander < , Poet, New York City. Distinguished Professor of English, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center: Poetry.

  2. Phoebe Gloeckner < , Artist, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Art and Design < : A graphic narrative.

  3. Anne Makepeace < , Filmmaker, Lakeville, Connecticut; Director, Writer, and Producer, Anne Makepeace Productions, Inc: Filmmaking.

  4. Myrna Packer/Art Bridgman < , Choreographers, Valley Cottage, New York; Codirectors, Bridgman/Packer Dance: Choreography.

  5. Pamela Yates < , Filmmaker, New York City; President and Cofounder, Skylight Pictures, Inc: Filmmaking.
So...what do you dream of creating today?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Votre Vray Awaits ~ Nine days 'til launch!

That's correct! In just over a week I'll be able to dedicate myself fully to gathering all the information I can share via interviews from women in a variety of artistic professions. If you are a creative woman, please, don't hesitate to share your story! You may be featured in the Votre Vray book or play.

Until then, to keep your creative juices flowing, here are some sites and a contest you might be interested in:

1. Do you love the sun? Are you amazed by the power of natural light? Is photography your niche? If so, check out Erika Blumenfeld at:

2. Looking for motivation to write a first person narrative? Go to: and be mindful that the deadline for submissions is July 31st! (Still plenty of time to knock their socks off!)

3. Are you a wife? A mother? A poet? Finding it hard to live three lives in one? If so, you're not alone. Meet a woman who is all three incarnations in one. Visit Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, commercial poetry author, wife and mother, at:

Until tomorrow, keep creating dreams so your realities will slide into place as you always imagined.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Countdown to end of school year -- and last day as public school teacher

Tuesday, tomorrow, is the first of the last four full school days left in the 2007-08 school year in South Carolina!!!!! Wooo hooo!!!!

The last day teachers must work is Thursday, June 5th...and silly me, I elected to take the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards exam on Friday the 6th. Anyway, I'll be a full-time freelance creativity coach and artist from that date forward. (Although one of my dearest colleagues has asked me to to some long-term subbing for her in the fall and so far I've agreed...)

Join me in our statewide countdown to freedom!
10 days 'til FREEDOM! (I can almost hear Mel Gibson yelling now.....)

Ms. Mel joins FeedBurner

Watch out, world! Here I come!

Ms Mel Joins Technorati

Technorati Profile