Friday, March 27, 2020

Slow Projects

As someone who has a variety of artistic interests, I have often found myself wanting more time to spend pursuing an art or craft idea. Designing and making things is fulfilling. I have in some years, particularly while in the thick of homeschooling my kids, found it difficult to consistently block out time to focus on my art.

I always have a backlog of creative projects waiting for me. I enjoy creating designs for embroidery and stitching them. There is usually a hat, scarf or baby blanket on my knitting needles. I frequently have an idea for a drawing or painting floating around in my mind.

Our new lifestyle of an empty nest has opened up the prospect of bigger blocks of time for me to follow through on more of those ideas. Over the last several months, I have been developing the routines I need to really dig into my own creative pursuits again.

Now with the social distancing and shelter in place directives our home has suddenly returned to full and overflowing. Even with a full house, I have been able to utilize the forced time at home productively and creatively.

While it is currently a scary time in the world with social distancing and shelter in place orders in effect in Illinois, I can't say that I mind the slowing down aspect of it all. Even with the return again to a full house, I am have been able to utilize the forced at home time productively and creatively.

So far I have completed one, left from last year (lol) Christmas project, made progress on a pieced baby blanket and worked on more than one painting. I have also enjoyed getting out the watercolor paints for shared time creative experimentation time with my 18 year old daughter. Sharing the creative process with her is such a delight. We have been working on sewing some clothing items for her, as well.

For myself, an ongoing creative project can begin with a favorite image I've captured with my camera. I enjoy exploring a variety of ways to present an image. Using different mediums to create the same or similar composition allows me to emphasize different aspects that are interesting.

I am missing my forays out into the world with my camera but I  have plenty stored and ready for some editing. Many have been taken as a way for me to record an image idea for future inspiration and use as a catalyst for new ways to explore an image. Below are a few visuals from one of those adventures.

One thing leads to another...

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Reality

They just keep coming, transitions, adjustments and overall new realities in our lives. In our home, we recently experienced a big taste of an empty nest as each of our three launched into the big wide world. One set out on his own with a job and into an apartment. Another for his final two years of college, at a university about a 100 miles away, the third and 'baby' to pursue dance training in a city about 500 miles away.

And then the return began, with the awareness  of COVID-19. The threats it presents have been shaping a new reality. Due to the demands for health and safety for, ourselves, our neighbors and communities, they have all three dove back into the nest of our home. It is in many ways, lovely to have them here. Due to the surprise of it, it is in many ways a more impact-ful change than their leaving was. It is lifestyle altering again for each of us individually and for all us as a family. From a family perspective it is a return to a former stage of family life but not of parenting.  From an entire life, work and world perspective, it is a new reality, beyond what any of us have confronted before.

For how long? Who knows? Make plans? Live in the moment?

As a former homeschooling family with three young adult graduates, I have been used to having everyone home. Some seasons included more inside all together time than others. Some seasons were filled with activities, schedules and commitments.

There were weeks of jam packed schedules with activities of travel, work, sports participation, volunteering and other obligations. Other seasons, there were quieter times of stay at home art projects, outdoor nature wanderings, backyard picnics, lots of read aloud time. They were in our homeschooling years frequent days of unstructured time without a schedule.

There were many days when the three kids began some self-
initiated or group project among themselves. I rarely interrupted those self initiated endeavors with my own agenda. A day of them recording their own "radio show" on an old tape recorder, home developed animated lego videos, as just a couple of examples, seemed to have, potentially, more value than would have been gleaned from a lesson from an academic program I could impose.

Even in those free for all, unstructured times it was valuable to approach the day with a routine. To begin together with a breakfast or brunch gathering, a read aloud or a check-in to see what was on everyone's list of to do lists. and pursuits.

Winter was generally a more low key for us but it also frequently, meant responding to what the weather prompted. There were ongoing commitments to neighbors to shovel snow, deliver the local weekly paper despite the cold or assess the temps that produced the right conditions to skate in the backyard rink.

All the many activities and experiences contributed to real life learning and skills; math, reading, writing, communication, project management, along with some joys and disappointments along the way.

So for now, sweet families, try to enjoy each other and your time together. Choose happiness. Choose to be positive. Choose to see the blessings. Relax, meditate, breathe, pray, read, think. Let your mind empty, wander, enjoy the quiet moment and the chaos. Be willing to see what brilliance you yourself posses and can discover in each of those you are sheltered in place with.

What the World Needs Now - for Virtual Orchestra

Beautiful Work!

Berklee College of Music Students
Produced by Shelbie Rassler

All credits on the original post. Please view and share.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Reading: 1st Quarter Goals Accomplished

Apparently recording, reviewing and sharing my own 2020 reading goals on this blog, on a monthly basis, is at this time, a little beyond my reach. My new plan for the blog is to post my reading accomplishments quarterly. First quarter list below:

I set reading goals for myself for the year of 2020.
These titles are the ones I've gotten through during the first three months of 2020. I am noticing  the rewards of being intentional with my own reading again. I've been choosing titles based on the goals I set of two fiction, two non-fiction and one audio per month. I'm feeling the rewards and the challenges of actually consistently setting aside time to engage in the printed word. Now, with the added changes to all of our lives this year, having this goal continues to be a helpful. I expected social distancing to create an atmosphere for increased reading. Despite remaining at home, the world situation has actually made it more difficult for me to focus.

Reaping the Benefits of Reading

Setting a reading goal for myself at the beginning of the new year propelled my reading back to where it has been at other times in my life. I have found sitting with a good book to still be as pleasurable as it has always been throughout my life. Immersing myself in a good story, or theory or approach of an accomplished writer is so very satisfying. Attempting to apply an approach and/or instigating conversation beyond the books has contributed to deepening relationships and added joy in my current life in only the past two short months. Honestly, it has!

My 2020 list so far.



Atomic Habits, An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
The Legacy Journey. A radical View of Biblical Wealth by Dave Ramsey

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Taken for Granted by Gianno Caldwell
One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
All the Places to Go How Will You Know by John Ortberg

The Enchanted Hour The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon
This is my new favorite regarding the joy of reading aloud.


Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
The Glass Castle A Memoir by Jeanette Walls
A bit more about these two titles on an earlier post.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

And one audio. 

I love this option from our library. Digital listening allows me to knit while listening to a good book. For ongoing inspiration, Sarah Mackenzie's was a perfect listen to read.

The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

Social distancing has presented the opportunity for more reading. In recent weeks, when I have been able to get started with a good read, I have found the time reading to be a welcomed escape from the anxiety that currently shapes the world and has managed to intrude into our homes and lives. Taking the time to dive into a good story, individually, gives us a break from our current day to day concerns. We might discover a better point of view from which to approach our intended plans. If we are sharing the experience of reading a title with others for a book group discussion or as a read aloud we share the experience of thinking about higher ideas or another's story and have another basis for deeper connections and creating community. My hope is for my family, friends and everyone, really, to enjoy the benefits from picking up a former favorite title or a recommended new one during this unprecedented beginning to a new year.

Happy Reading!