Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘creativity’

Gifts in the Mail

Bloggers are a different breed of people. I think most have a broader perspective of the world. Our world is larger in many ways even if it appears to the eye to be quite small.

I started blogging six years ago to enlarge my world created by a debilitating illness. I could no longer drive my car that had taken me thousands of miles across the country. Catching a bus to go shop was a major event that brought a great deal of fatigue. The blogging community rescued me from self-pity and taught me I could reach out as well.

African Violet loves the kitchen sink area. Happy day.

I have met (virtually) many who are in some capacity, more debilitated than I, offering great strength and courage. Their tenacity moved me forward. Even though we are somewhat debilitated or even disabled, we still have much to share with one another.

Over the last year, my local quilting friend Patti was working on a cross stitch that I fell in love with. It was a pattern company I was familiar with but had never seen this design. Already having given away all counted cross stitch patterns I had as I could no longer see the tiny squares, I asked Patti if I could borrow the pattern to copy and share with a blogging friend that I thought might enjoy it. I was hoping to pay this blogger to make it for me.

Patti said that as soon as she was done with the pattern, I could have it. True to her word, as I ogled the finished project, she handed over the pattern which I promptly forwarded to my friend Lois at Life in a Minimalist Farmhouse.

I have sent and received gifts from many bloggers over the years. They are cherished more than anyone can imagine. These people have never and probably will never meet me in person. Despite this, we have formed deep and personal relationships. Lois is one of those friends who inspire on a daily basis. She reclaims cast offs and re-purposes them, inspires neighbors to garden, repair and rebuild. I had a lot of pink fabric and no more little girls to use it on as well as a few children’s books and no more children. I passed them on to Lois who had grandchildren that appreciated what she made from the fabric and enjoyed the books.

Previous gifts from Lois

This is what I received from Lois soon after sending her the pattern. Now she is making one for herself from it and then sharing it with another friend.

She chose different colors than the pattern asked for. I LOVE them.

I can be quite slow about getting things framed but this was too beautiful to wait. After all the hours of her hard work, I had to get it up on the wall quickly. So. I went to Craft Warehouse and had a discount coupon to get it framed in a way I hope brings more attention to the art than the frame. Thank you, Lois. You do incredible work. Her work on holiday and celebration gifts are stunning. Stop by and pay this amazing woman a visit. She just posted her version of this design so stop by and take a look at it here.

The frame is the same color as the trees.

Have you enjoyed close friendships with other bloggers?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

An Apple

I sat in my chair eating an apple. It was in one hand, coffee mug in the other, and the mouse was on the arm of my chair so I could move it to read my computer with the fingers that were not holding the apple.

Then I realized I was not tasting the apple. I set down the coffee mug, already about empty at this time of the morning and looked at that apple. It was a lovely small, crisp, happy looking apple.

One of my favorite kinds of apples. The Fuji

One of my favorite kinds of apples. The Fugi

 

Awareness began to creep in. This apple had been off the tree for quite some time before it arrived on my plate with a purchased salad. I usually get the bread with my salad, not the apple. This apple had something to say. It was still alive even though it was away from the source that gave it life. At least for a while.

An old standard, the Red Delicious.

An old standard, the Red delicious.

We are much like the apple. When we are unplugged from the Source that gives us that spark of life, we can still be alive but not as fully as if we were still plugged in. That spark of life, if we aren’t connected somehow, starts a slow living death until we too start to rot, decompose and go back into the earth. Those that are more connected, seem to stay fresh longer. You’ve all seen people wander through life that look like they have no spark left. The luster is gone, the juices run dry and after a bit, no one wants what you have to offer.

The sweet Gala apples

The sweet Gala apples

 

That little apple did more than nourish my body; it gave my spirit a quick reminder to pay attention and look for what gives me my spark. That Source of my energy and creativity. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not about religion unless that’s what works for you. It’s about paying attention to life around you. I was multitasking and missing it all and will probably never look at an apple the same way.

Do you find you miss the details when multitasking?

Are you finding ways to plug into your spark?

Thank you for reading and wishing you all a very mindful and Happy Thanksgiving.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Happy Halloweeny Anniversary

Why on earth did I pick Halloween to start a blog? Was I on a sugar rush or just enjoying the festivities of the ghoulish decorations at my son’s house while living with him.

Would you have asked her for candy?

Would you have asked her for candy?

Five years ago I was extremely debilitated by many unusual symptoms of Bells Palsy. I could no longer drive and as a passenger, I had to close my eyes, especially at night. I couldn’t sew because seeing the needle move up and down turned my brain into mush with an odd nausea. Television had its own terror. If things moved too fast on the screen, I had to close my eyes and look away. The cane is still necessary to keep me balanced and upright. The symptoms aren’t gone but they are far better.

Standing guard

Standing guard

The symptoms were a reflection of my life. Writing was all I had left to pull the terror of where I was in that moment into a cohesive plan for some kind of a future as a 62 years old freshly divorced and debilitated woman. Social Security advised I qualified for disability. I was not employable. That was scary enough.

The very act of writing helped train my damaged brain to find words again. Mimicking a stroke in many ways, this virus left my brain unable to put full sentences together without long pauses. I couldn’t find words I knew were there. Friends and family started finishing sentences for me. My writing was simpler five years ago. Gradually, I’m making progress, I hope.

This spider is tickling my nose.

This spider is tickling my nose.

In five years, I’ve found an online support community of bloggers. Who knew such a thing existed? Every time I got discouraged, there would be a comment, e-mail or even happy snail mail loaded with lovely things to cheer me on.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I scrounged together enough money after the home I shared with the last husband sold to put a down payment on a small manufactured home for myself, my books, fabric and other crafting tools. Slowly, I’m able to do little bits at a time of my cherished creative endeavors. Making this house my home has taken a lot of energy. Naps are on my daily agenda when tackling any project. It’s the brain that gets tired before the body so I’m exercising my brain as much as my body.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It's said to be glow in the dark.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It’s said to be glow in the dark.

This Halloween will be different again from the last. Aren’t they all? Not so many outside decorations as we’re having the wettest October on record and today brought high winds. Power has been intermittent. Inside, I’m ready for any brave little goblins that make it past the real bugs and spiders out there. It’s so warm, they have swarmed like an apocalyptic army. They scare me more than zombies any day.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

I’m curious to see what the next five years will unfold. Heck, I’m curious to see how today will unfold. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheering me on. Have a Happy Halloween with lots of sweet treats and no tricks.

No candy in this pumpkin

No candy in this pumpkin

Is there anything that scares you more than a zombie apocalypse?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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Creative Endeavors

There are lessons to be learned about oneself even in the autumn of one’s life. I’m hoping it’s the autumn and not the winter so I have lots of time left for discovery. I’ve discovered I’m a procrastinator, big time.

As I set out to complete my daily tasks, I find that procrastination can be a perpetual companion and a teacher. It tells me there is fear somewhere in the task or maybe something even as strong as dislike.

I’ve had a lot of projects on the back burner lately. As all of the outside projects came to completion, I could finally focus on the inside projects. I realized that when I would rather mop the floor, do the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or make the bed rather than sit at the sewing machine, something was going on.

The workhorse

The workhorse

It started with my newest Viking Diamond Royale sewing machine behaving badly with almost every project. We’ve had many trips back to Montavilla’s where it was purchased and it always seems to work for the doctor. It must be something I’m doing they say. I have an old Viking SE that threads and operates the same but will sew circles around the new one. The new one has a larger embroidery field that I have not yet been able to enjoy. The whole unit is packed away. I don’t need more frustration.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

My old machine works well, my eyes, eh. They could be better so when working on precision quilts, I have a hard time getting them exact. I’m thinking it’s time to let that go. I’ve done the squares required for the quilt group and am turning my attention to more fun things to make. It has to be fun or why bother.

Making a shirt for someone is very much like making a quilt. It has to fit just right. So it goes to the top of the procrastination list. Gifts for birthdays and Christmas are moving to the top of the to-do list and can’t even look at the procrastination list. Ten weeks, people, ten weeks is all I have left.

In the meantime, I found a fun project. Microwave bowl cozies. If you still use a microwave and the bowl is too hot to pull out, then set it in the cozy first, heat and just leave it there to keep your food warm while you eat. You don’t burn your fingers that way. My son thought they were great. I had to make some a bit more masculine looking. They are made of 100% cotton so they don’t melt or catch fire in the microwave. Also handy with a freezing dish of ice cream or frozen fruit. Your hands don’t freeze holding the bowl. I started with fabric that I was going to pass on and worked my way up to fabrics that were chosen by the recipients.

I found some kits for making pillowcases in fun fabrics. U-tube has some wonderful instructions and shortcuts. I’m also a sucker for cute prints and panels. I have one for Halloween on the table waiting for borders, backing and binding to be cut and attached. They should be easy but quilting on the machine is not something I’ve mastered yet. I’ll keep at it though. I still have puckers.

So as you can see, I’ve done a little with my down time and need to do so much more. The procrastination list needs to be shredded and everything moved to the do right now list. I have company coming in two weeks and then only eight weeks to get it all finished and mailed or wrapped. Sorry for the reminder. I don’t shop for the holidays, I craft for them.

What’s on your procrastination list? Are any of them creative endeavors?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Clear Sight

I’ve had limited vision since I was 4 years old when a bad case of measles along with a picture window framing the snow outside left me struggling to see what everyone else took for granted. There is a gift in that. There is no sunrise, sunset, bloom or cloud that fails to leave me breathless for a moment.

 

Clear view through clean windows

Clear view through clean windows

Seeing things clearly is on the top of my list. I’ve had new glasses made, had the cataract removed, and recently, had my windows professionally cleaned. It was an extravagance that felt necessary. I love to be looking out my windows. I can see the sunrise from the chair I write in, the sunset and the moon on its journey from my bedroom, the coming and goings of the neighborhood from front windows and my lush fern covered hill from my kitchen window.

It looks very different through a dirty window

It looks very different through a dirty window

To tell the truth though, I’m used to seeing things a little fuzzy so it’s normally no big deal until I took photos of things at my windows. Not a pretty sight before the cleaning. My attempts at it left them not much better. I wanted to show off a couple of wonderful things so in came the cleaning man with his miracle cleaner. Now I can show you the lovely danglers that the very talented Pauline King  at the Contented Crafter made for me.

 

Too beautiful for words

Too beautiful for words

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

Each one is personalized for the individual she makes it for. I have Angels, butterflies, books, and things related to sewing on mine. One hangs in my sewing room window as it gets the first light of the day and when the sun hits, the crystal sends rainbows all through the room and down the halls.

The other hangs in my bedroom so I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night reminding me that there are wonderful, creative and caring people in the world.

 

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

I also wanted to show you the shelves and lace curtains I made for some of my windows. I wanted lace to have a tiny bit of privacy but still allow in the light. I can see out better than anyone can see in through them.

My inner hoarder was brought to light when I made the curtains. Living room and my bedroom are panels that I had from the house we owned in the early 90’s. I saved them and found they worked quite nicely with some cutting and hemming.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

The curtains in the den, dining room and kitchen were made from one of 2 bolts of lace I had left over from making curtains for the last house I lived in. I bought the lace at Walmart so inexpensively that I just couldn’t give it away knowing I might make use of it someday. Well, it’s someday. I still have another bolt left and now I can increase the fullness of the curtains or make valances. Nothing goes to waste here but I do hoard a bit. I looked in stores for lace curtains and they are a thing of the past, as am I.

Clear Vision isn’t only a matter of the eyesight, it’s also a matter of the heart and mind. Trying to get clear focus on your heart’s desire or your direction is a job from the inside out. Not so easy to hire help for this but it can be done. My tools for that are meditation and writing. A good friend, family member or coach willing to speak the truth you need to hear also helps.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. ~ Helen Keller
How clear has your vision been lately? What tools do you use to get clear?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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What’s in my bed?

Do you sense a theme here? Sleeping isn’t something I do much but the sleep I do get seems to be better. In spite of my discomfort with that horrid C-pap machine, I’m waking more “rested”.

Up until a few years ago, I had my little dog, Schatzie sleeping on my bed. She was quiet all night and never seemed to mind my tossing and turning or the occasional snore fest.

Lucille is my sister's new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Lucille is my sister’s new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Now I sleep with just books and notebooks in my bed. My headboard is littered with them and so is the bookcase beside my bed as well as the nightstand next to it. Everything in my life is designed to accommodate my books and notebooks. That includes e-readers.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

I don’t read like a normal person. I can read four separate books in one night. Once or two chapters each. I may read a bit from a magazine, a short story book, a non-fiction and a fiction. That’s after I’ve done my journal writing and gratitude list.

 

My sister is reading and loving it now that I'm done. I'll have to order dinner next.

My sister is reading and loving it now that I’m done. I’ll have to order dinner next.

Recommending books is not something I usually do. The book a person is supposed to read will appear at the right time and place for them. I can be excited about one and tell you about it but you may not be ready for that book now…or ever.  These are just a few that I have read lately.

 

Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

I’ve had books fall off the bookstore shelves at me, slide forward on my own shelves or just jump into my Amazon cart from nowhere. I have books on crafting, painting, sewing, quilting, writing, quantum physics, spirituality, children’s books, novels, short stories, and the list goes on. Who has time to sleep?

 

I'm not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

I’m not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

My e-reader is filled with self-help books of every manner. Many are filled with wonderful quotes that keep me in a positive frame of mind. I don’t naturally lean that way and must stay cautious. I want to learn something new each day by any means possible. Happiness to me is a bookstore or a fabric store and best viewed with a creative friend.

I couldn't put this one down.

I couldn’t put this one down.

 

There are novels on my e-reader written by fellow bloggers that only write e-books. I wouldn’t want to miss any of those. Some have to wait a bit to be read but I’m making shorter work of them as the winter projects draw to a close. I’ve read several by Maddie Cochere and Jackie Phillips. They are entertaining and light as well as have a bit of humor which sends me off to sleep with a smile. The only reading done early in the day are all the blogs I follow. That’s done over morning coffee.

This is the fourth book of Maddie's I am reading.

This is the fourth book of Maddie’s I am reading.

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Another of Jackie's with more to come.

Another of Jackie’s with more to come.

As I take off for my trip to Phoenix to see a friend, there will be no hard copies of books going along. Just my journals and a notebook as writing sometimes requires pencil and paper to let the thoughts flow.

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I will probably find a bookstore while I’m there. Hopefully my favorite in the Mesa area called Changing Hands It’s an independent book store; my favorite kind. I would probably sell my soul to own one. Right now the bookstores own me. If Heaven doesn’t have books, I’m not going.

What are you reading these days? Do you keep books by your bed or in it?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

That sense of Accomplishment

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.

 

almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.

 

The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself