Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The First Creations

It has taken me a long time to get to where I am comfortable talking about my creative path.  And a couple of years to realize what I want to share here, in blog form, as well.  Many a New Year's resolution to write more, blog more, share more have come and gone without success.

Some things just can't be forced before its time.

The delay was, mostly, because part of that story is about the events of my childhood. Not all of them pleasant and several outright harrowing but, in fact, they are a part of that creation inside.

So, no better time than today, on the cusp of a New Year, to start. . . without a resolution or promise. It's just time.

I would count myself among the millions who probably utter this phrase, "I have been creating since I can remember" more than I would like. It is, of course, true but I always have a bit of an issue with non specific statements like that.

I could say that it was a finger-painting a did at age 4 ( and vividly recall making)  that my mother still has framed and on her wall almost 40 years later. I can still see the spot where I started to finger paint my name before realizing that did not constitute a "picture" and promptly smeared over it with a blend of paints.

That was done in the bedroom of the apartment my mother ad I lived in the first 10 years of my life.

But the memories of my first creations artistically are blended with the meory of my first creations in my head of the sing-songs, games and mantras that were to keep me safe from what  can only say was a very dark entity in my room. 

That is not a cloaked statement alluding to someone evil or any sort of abuse. It was most definitely some "thing" that I feared. And it haunted my horrible nightmares from my earliest memories. I would fight to not have to go to sleep in that room and often would convince my mom to let me stay up and fall asleep on the sofa in the living room or on the floor. Then she would get me into bed once I was already out.

In the nightmares it was something about the curtains/window of my room. The hideous floor to ceiling orange curtains might have been enough without their animating and speaking in those dreams. lol  I also had a series of health issues then. Spontaneous nosebleeds that would not stop but, luckily I was told, I awoke just before they would start every time.  So it seemed a battle of forces and, in my mind, I did all I could to appeal to the forces of good.

So, in that part of my paracosm, I found it useful to create ways, in my head, to defeat that darkness. I had games that, if I won, would keep me safe. Chants and sing-songe repeated the right number of times or for a minute straight etc.

In the case of the nightmares, perhaps it helped.

One night, in a most frightening dream where the darkness was closing in on my bed and the curtains were flailing across the room trying to grab me, I watched as that the ceiling of my room split and a shower of millions of gold spinning snowflakes (sort of shaped like little nuclei with tiny round orbs at the flake points but all gold and sparkly)  , the size of a dime, cascaded down from the sky spreading over my entire bed. In the dream I sat uptight as the snowflakes poured over me and, then, awoke, sitting in my bed, still able to feel the last snowflakes falling on me and I could literally "see" them as well. Once they stopped falling I realized it was still very dark. . . late night. . . and I was alone. But then, as I stared into the darkness waiting for my eyes to adjust, I saw one spinning gold snowflake appear in front of me.  Hovering and constant. I lay back down in my bed, realized I was sweating and got up to get a drink of water.  When I returned, the snowflake was gone.

I never had another nightmare again.

In fact, to this day, I only remember dreaming once every couple of months or so and I sleep, most of the time, only 5 hours a night (which may be a hold over from those childhood years).

Also I should mention that anytime since that night that I think of those little spinning snowflakes one, and only one, will appear right in front of my eyes be it dark or daylight . . .  as one is here in front of me now as I type. I'm used to it and, in all honesty, I find it most comforting.

All those little games, rhymes and songs were invented to keep me safe. To help me cope with nightmares, fears and the darkness. . . it would not be a stretch to say that now, in my adult life, they came back to do the same though the shadows were most definitely more internal and they had names we all know like expectation, self-doubt and all around general adult world illusions and societal programming.

The stories to come get stranger. . . but the power of creativity will be the theme throughout.  The struggle to stay close to that possibility and wonder that permeated my youth. . . to this point where, once again, my whole life revolves around it now.

So I'll tell it as best I can and hope that it leaves something behind that will resonate with someone else one day.

Wishing you all a happy start to your new year!

Create it to be pure magic!


Saturday, December 14, 2013


When people throw the phrase, "I am going through a second childhood" around, I always like to ask, "Are you getting it right this time?"

By that, I mean, are you incorporating it into your everyday life? Movies, books, activities etc etc? Not just a trip down memory lane for a day or two but a real rebirth of that spirit within.

Often there is a "looking down"upon certain things, even in the midst of the reawakening, that can lead to a dismissal of many important elements.

I've said before I think one of our greatest faults is that we tend to see "growing up" as a need to move away from childhood loves and pursuits.

I try to keep all aspects of that time close by. Even finding some that I never really connected with or that were a part of my world back then. Always looking to expand that world and that possibility.

So, let me recommend a book to you that creates a world and a story that I think every adult and kid should peer into.

"Journey" by Aaron Becker is one of the year's best books for any age in any genre.

The lack of words makes it a story anyone can read themselves into (even the main character is not given a name) and, if you want to know if you are in touch with that creative inner-child, pick up this book. . . if it resonates, you have the magic in there somewhere.

Erin Stead, a former Caldecott medal winner said:

"We live in a time with a lot of flash and beep and tweets. Mr. Becker has made a beautiful reminder that there are times we need to turn it off. Sometimes we need a book, some quiet, and our imagination. It’s so well done."

The only downside of the book is that in all reviews it is listed as appropriate for ages 4-8. That, I consider to be. selling it far short.  I picked it up at at our local library along with Maurice Sendak's last publication, "My Brother's Book" which needs no review or testimonial . . . because it's Maurice Sendak for goodness sake! Isn't that all you need to know? : )

But Journey is a book I intend to buy and keep near at all times.

One can't lose the way with that sort of guide. . .

As for the rest of my world. . . 

Busy holiday sales were a bit intimidating. And, of course, in the midst of the busiest times I find myself coming up with new ideas for the coming year.  So, instead of worrying about the dwindling shop stock, I am working on all new themes, creatures and little worlds to ring in the new year.

I hope the season, the solstice and the magic of it all surrounds you every day. . .

Until the next,


Friday, November 29, 2013


I believe one of the many things we tend to leave behind as adults from our childhoods is the many forms of a Protector that we create in our imaginations and in our creativity at those young ages.

For me the role of protector came in many forms. From improvised sing-songs and night time routines that kept me safe from scary movie creatures and dark shadows to the devotional candles my grandmother kept burning round the clock in our home to the many little internal bets I made about how long I could do a certain task, with the inevitable success granting me safe passage or dreams.

There also were dream images themselves. And voices. . . which, as it turned out, DID save my life on two occasions but that is all for another time.

My draw to the pantheon of ancient Egypt dates back to when I was 6 or 7 and the treasures of Tutankhamen were touring the US for the first time.  The images of Tut's burial treasures were on the cover of every major magazine and many books were released about the discovery and the history of the tomb.

It was in grade school that I first was shown one of those books by my teacher. That was followed by a trip to the library and a venture through our family encyclopedia. (Anyone remember those? )

I was completely enchanted by the anthropomorphic Gods and Goddesses and the amazing array of symbols and meanings attributed to them all.

I fashioned many of the objects I saw out of whatever materials I could find. The  tin foil roll was a favorite target of mine, much to the dismay of my mother, and I made countless small little statuettes of the figures out of it.  This led to my first bit of sculpting clay but i was not good with it at all. I was much better at drawing and so, in short order, the walls of my bedroom closet became a tomb with hieroglyphs drawn on all three walls.

This also did not go over well with mom. :) 

I can tell you that I felt protected by the strange and wonderful figures. I memorized their names and forms. . . Horus, Isis, Anubis and Hathor were my favorites to render and, by age 10, I had taken to drawing them on the tops of my feet in felt tip pen, also with the understanding that they would protect me. Though I never felt I needed protection against anything in particular.

So when took up polymer clay work a few years ago, it seemed natural to want to create something from my childhood. Perhaps something I never could then. And while it did not leap off the page into my head to make Egyptian statues, it was not far behind the first thoughts.

One thing that had NOT changed was my lack of ability with clay. Art, in almost every form, comes somewhat naturally to me. But clay, even polymer clay, just felt so foreign at first.

Once I began trying to create votive statues of the ancient Egyptian pantheon, it all fell into place and I suddenly had the incentive and the motivation to stick with the clay. It has, to say the least, paid off.

I never knew there were so many forms and deities spread throughout the history of ancient Egypt. I'll never master them all but I do so love the time spent researching and learning just as I did as a child. It is as important as the art that comes from it.

 One of the forms I never knew of in my youth but who I am so drawn to now, is Bes, a multifaceted and infinitely interesting Deity of many faces and forms. Celebrated as the full-service protector god who served as the champion of everything good and the protector against anything bad, Bes had a long and impressive list of deity duties, including:

Protector of Women
Protector and Entertainer of Children
Guardian against Nightmares and Dangerous Animals of the Night.
Patron of Warriors, Hunters and Travelers
Patron of Music and Dancing
Guardian of Families and Keeper of Domestic Happiness
God of Good Fortune, Luck and Probability
God of Commerce
Guardian of the Vineyards
Guardian Against All Manner of Misfortune

I almost never make the exact same form of Bes twice! This is my latest.

Now, the world is filled with guardian spirits, angels, entities and deities. Bes is just one of many form cultures of every corner of the globe.

But what is often missing in the adult versions we hold to is the child's ability to take the image, the idol, the entity and expand it in our own universe.

Essentially, to reinvent and create it. And then, in doing so, to believe in it fully.

And while many people I know tend to believe this is because we "know" too much about the world around us and it's inherent dangers, I think it is quite the opposite.

We have forgotten far more than we have learned since childhood. For some, that is not a choice. Bad things. . . terrible things, definitely do happen to us. Sometimes placing us beyond the point of return.

For me, each statue and amulet. . .  or each fairy world or gargoyle . . .  or each elf or miniature house I create is a protector. Everything I create in fact could be seen as such. I find that the mystery is everywhere around us. . . and, unfortunately, there are still a few monsters out there too.

The deal we make with these created protectors is a simple one to strike.

I believe fully in it as I create it and, in doing so, it opens the door for another to believe in it as they decide to bring it into their own world. In whatever form, when it arrives, it is an acceptance of something that binds from the earliest days of our creativity.

 It is a desire to make sense of the world around us in the very same way the ancient Egyptians belief in their pantheon came to be.  It changes, it grows, it adapts and it reinvents itself over and over and over. . .

As we should too.

Every piece I create is a step into that reinvention.  It's a claiming of something that was inherently mine all those years ago and, for whatever time I have left in this world, I want it back as completely as I can manage.

And, along that road each day, I leave these little markers. These Descansos. All of them protective icons and imagery that allows me to step forward without fear again tomorrow.

Into the unknown and the well known.
All at once.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fairy Tales

It occurred to me very recently that perhaps the main reason I drift in and out of blogging is because I feel that so much of what I want to say and convey about the creative path I am on and the origins of it in my life are not spoken but, rather, find a way into my work each and every day. Often, at then end of the day with a number of visual images, gargoyles, fairy houses and Egyptian Gods and Goddesses all coexisting on my studio table, I realize my entire day has been filled with unspoken dialogues and enough words to fill a three volume set. :)

It also seems to make sense to me that I can choose the pieces to display here in blog form, not for publicity sake but for an opportunity to reveal what is behind them. Bit by bit to find the core ofmy place of origin and to, in a sense, add to the map of my life.

The other day I completed this piece as the first of a set that will be featured next year in Bewilder and Pine,

Miniature N Scale  - Hansel and Gretel Discover the Witches Cottage
This piece speaks to many of my origins. The worlds I would create within my childhood. Often invested in them alone and keeping them close to my heart as I just felt that any outside input or exposure would change them. Alter them and, in fact, weaken their power and place within my own mythology.

Second, as a pre-teen, my love for model railroading and building entire scenes of a new layout every year remain one of the most treasured ways that I spent time in that older-youth era. Of course, this was a pursuit embraced by my family as well so I could work on it in the open but, I am positive, no one ever really saw INTO that world I created each year. Every figure and every part of the overall scene had a backstory. A dialogue and a plot that often changed over the two months it was up and running. I'd add to it and rearrange it each year with a fresh view of it. In reality, the train was the least of my concerns. It was about taking these little pieces, people and structures and making something new from them that fit wit my own paracosm.

And fairy tales. . . I simply adore them. The dark, the light, the rambling and the brief. They remind me, simply put, of the worlds I create as well as the possibility of anything becoming our reality in this world.

Once, when I first moved to the Oregon Coast, I considered renting a piece of property/that had been started as a retreat space with a beautiful A-Frame house. The price was truly way out of my price range but I debated and schemed how I could manage it all  because the original owner had built, in the middle of the woods, a large, free standing mushroom room. Seriously. it stood 8 to 9 feet tall at the peak of it's red spotted mushroom cap roof and was about 7 feet in diameter on the inside with stained glass windows, electrical outlets and a hardwood floor.  I mean, it felt like a portal had opened and this mushroom had somehow slipped to our side from a fairy tale side of existence. What magic!

So, my point is that I truly believe that every person must create from what they know inherently. Or it comes off seeming false somehow. That doesn't mean it should or will be easy as often the most difficult roads are the ones that lead us back to ourselves.

And if we are lucky we find that trail of crumbs that the little Hansels and Gretels in us left behind. . .
we find or way thru the dark woods and past the scary creatures of this world. We survive to create new and personal tales. . . .and we all do this no matter what the path we take.

So, you'll likely see me around more often and I hope you won't mind the display of my work in the posts. It is how I get to what is inside and to what I truly want to say. . . . and quite often, it is all I have to say. :)

Thank you, as always, for reading. :)


Saturday, September 21, 2013


It's a natural experience, living at the Oregon Coast, to see birds of all sorts on any given day.

It becomes such a part of the daily routine to share this space with pelicans, gulls, herons, egrets, geese, killdeer, cormorants, mergansers and kingfishers that I imagine at times I am obblivious to them as I go about my day. . . .

But how quick I can be to notice when something si not quite right with one of them. . . .

. Walking the foggy shrouded beach yesterday we were drawn immediately to a lone cormorant in the distanc. grounded at the surf's shifting edge. The distinctive shape unmistakable.

I think I knew instantly that something was not right. There are rarely lone cormorants with no others in sight. They rarely occupy the beach, choosing instead the rocks and old pier poles of the bay where they can dry their wings and rest while watching the water for small fish to pass by.

Approaching this cormorant, it was now a certainty that it was not ok. I won't go into the entire episode of my interaction hut, it was clear after one slow approach that I was not going to get close to it. I left it alone and walked to a driftwood log to sit and watch it awhile. A few minutes later, as two young boys emerged from the fog and ran towards it, it DID manage to fly using both wings. . . . but only a foot or so off the ground and it would just go far enough to get away from the kids, then land and again stay to the surf line on it's feet.  Occasionally it would swim out, dive under the surf and pop up again a few feet out, only to return with the next swell. . .

Now, cormorants are amazing swimmers so this one wasn't likely "land-locked" by the waves. .  and they are even more prolific fishing birds. Around here, the local fisherman got permission to start a program (as it is Coho salmon season) to "scare" the cormorants away from salmon runs. They use fireworks known sometimes as bird-bangers or bird rockets, to frighten them away. . . heaven forbid the birds might get more fish than the "sport fishermen" before the run is cut off.

Eventually, we had to move on and get back to our work day in the studio. . .  the last scene in my mind was looking back at that vast open expanse of foggy beach and there, with no other creatures in sight, was the lone cormorant. Standing at the surfs edge. . . my heart was so torn.

I can only hope that the cormorant was just stunned by something like the bird-scaring fireworks and was able to soon rejoin the routine of it's flock. It is amazing how one lone bird, struggling in any way in it's environment, can touch me so deeply.  The ocean never looked bigger or more daunting than it did in comparison to that one cormorant.

I know we all find aspects of animal behaviour that pull us closer to a certain breed or species. For me, with cormorants, it is the way they dry their wings after swimming. Yes, they actually dry them. Though it is still quite a debate as to why they dry them or exactly what purpose the drying serves. . .

They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Under water they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorant species have been found to dive to depths of as much as 120 feet. After fishing, cormorants go ashore, and are frequently seen holding their wings out in the sun. All cormorants have preen gland secretions that are used ostensibly to keep the feathers waterproof. Some sources state that cormorants have waterproof feathers while others say that they have water permeable feathers. 

If you have never seen this particular behaviour of a cormorant, I've included an image below. . . that posture, often held for a few minutes at a time, is what  am so drawn to with cormorants. It is something my soul recognizes as being truly divine.

In silhouette at a distance, or close up, it is unmistakable. . .  to see a dozen or more of these magnificent birds in a leafless tree with many of them spreading their wings out like that . . . holding them in that pose. . . it is impossible not to be in awe.

I don't know why I wanted to write this today.  Some things just stick with us I suppose.  Its hard to shake the image of that one bird. Alone on that vast shore. Which is, of course, exactly how I see us all in essence.  It's just our nature. . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Town Vignette #1

There are so many things I absolutely love about living, by choice, in a little town of 800.  Some are expected given the size and some are random, it-could-only-happen-here, sort of events.

Across the street from my studio windows is an old fashioned Barber Shop with the old fashioned moving red, white and blue striped barber pole in the window. The woman who owns it is always very busy the five days a week she is open. Almost all old timer's and retirees are her clientele. It's a rarity to see her chair empty though.

Awhile back she was closed for months during a series of chemo treatments for cancer. When she returned the turnout was beautiful. . . all her old clients returned and business is, from where I sit, good.

Just the other day we noticed a new addition beside the barber shop. Built by her husband to look like and old style, blue and white phone booth, it is a little booth with a seat in it and the sign, instead of "Telephone" says, "Cell Phone Booth"

I love this for several reasons.

One, it's just a great way to say, "take your calls outside please!" without it being confrontational or rude. Seriously, I am so grateful to live in a place where the majority of people scrunch up their face and shake their heads when someone is using a cellphone inside a business. Personally, I have, for some time now, had it with the need for people to be "connected" 24-7 in every store and in every place of business. And I applaud any business that will draw that line and say, "Not in here"

But more than that I love the fact that, without a doubt in our town, there was no permit process or debate over whether this little addition was ok or not just off the public sidewalk. No sign zoning or city ordinance to deal with. Though it is quite possible a deal was made for volunteer hours or a donation.

The point is that I love being in a place where people are left to do as they wish (within limits) and that there is still room for a little ingenuity and originality and it doesn't cost you to do it at every turn. Occasionally this means having to deal with the guy who has a fire-pit and a couple of beat up couches on his lawn for his weekend loving, classic rock, beer drinking soirees. Even that becomes endearing in it's own way. . .

This little fishing town is changing as it turns it's collective eye to tourism a bit more but, in the meantime, I will enjoy the small things like that cell phone booth and celebrate the fact that places still exist where nothing much changes but, when it does, it isn't always necessary to fill out an application and apply for permission for it to change.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Silence and Gratitude

I've done it again. . . gone over a month without saying much. . . silence is a dear friend to me but I seem to lose track of time so easily these days.

Some of you may know that I spent part of June and July on jury duty here. First on a trial jury for an eminent domain case and then, as luck would have it, my number was called to fill an absence on our county grand jury for two months immediately following that.

It was, in our small rural county, a breeze and simply a joy to serve on the grand jury. There was only one case where the members of the grand jury had any disagreement at all. And that was simply on a lesser, unimportant charge.

But I have to say that 8 consecutive weeks of listening to the stories of people who just can't get their life together, who seem to have no idea that there is another way to live and who, often, repeat the same mistakes countless times over within the lives they live. . . well, it all starts to wear on a person.

It drove me to a bout of silence and solitude in it's aftermath.

And from that comes a wealth of gratitude.

As one of my great aunts used to say repeatedly, "There, by the grace of God, go I"

I grew up with a brother, much older, who made just about every bad choice you can make when it comes to life. And while some families seem to breed a consistent pattern of such behavior, I am happy to say that he was the exception to the rule in ours. And all that I saw him go through was like a guide book of what not to do. . . how not to live.

But there is one event in my young adult life that I believe was very instrumental to my not turning out like that or ever stepping down those pathways at all.

When I was 19, out of school, a little lost myself. . . a friend of mine at a club (where I was underage) one night asked out of the blue, "Hey, do you want to go to Europe?"

She was trying to get some distance from a suffocating girlfriend/relationship and just wanted to get far away for a few weeks.Europe seemed far enough. . .

I, with little thought, said "Sure, why not."

That trip and all of it's twists and turns was a life changer for me in how I perceived the world around me. Suzy, who I always thought was such a strong person, had trouble with the currencies, the languages, the constant need to be on our guard and make decisions and meet trains, get rooms etc etc. And I, who had no idea I could, stepped up to fill in when she was unable, and vice versa. . .  we were perfect travel companions and I leanred so much about my own abilities and areas that needed improvement.

We spent an all-nighter in Piccadilly Circus in London when we could not get a train out due to not having British pounds after banking hours. We considered, but rejected, an offer from a young couple to stay and work in their pub in the Lake District, and then our proposed "day trip" to Paris that ended up being a 4 day love affair with all things French.

There was the little Riviera village of Menton where I was solicited by a little old grocery store owner as a date for her granddaughter and, again, offered a job. ( I spoke French fairly well then)

The overnight mail train to Scotland and stepping out, pre dawn in Edinburgh, just in time to see the sun arriving over the mythic Arthur's Seat. . .

The list goes on. And while I neglect to mention them there were plenty of moody moments and discouragements too. . .

But the truth is, all these years later, I can look to that journey as the time I came to realize there were no limits to where I could go or what I could do. I returned to the US but could have easily stayed in France, Britain, Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium. . . somehow, just knowing I could, was enough.

And I can say in retrospect that I never looked at life the same again. . . suddenly the world was wide open and while I had little desire to roam the world in a drifting way, I knew that I was not limited to one thing, one place, one situation, for any amount of  time.

I grew to believe that I could create any world I wished as well, no matter where I was.

This is turning out to be true creatively too. I do not feel stuck to any one thing or "life" with my creativity. If I want to try to succeed at something new, I will. And, without a doubt, I have created the ability to make a living by not only doing what I love and being true to who I was in childhood, but by adapting and shifting when necessary to keep things moving forward. 

A little compromise, a little stubbornness, a little solitude . . .  and a lot of faith.

So yes, there is much gratitude for what I avoided by allowing myself to open to possibilities. Years later I learned that this country I live in is big enough to provide a wealth of scenery, lifestyle and opportunity if one is willing to get up and go. . .

In the end, I have chosen simplicity. Small town, rural county, more cows than people. . . the internet makes this possible, opening new opportunities to just about anyone. . .

That'sit really. . . not so much a story as a meandering of thought.

With a healthy does of gratitude for everything in my world.

For any of YOU if you took the time to read this.

Autumn is hanging so close on the horizon.
My season of choice
And as always
I will emerge
And be grateful. . .


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Full Circle

I was a small child when the first grand tour of the treasures of Tutankhamen came to America. The madness in the art world that surrounded it filtered down to my childhood world and, through books and magazines, found it's way into my soul. Not long after it was a tour of the permanent exhibit at the Carnegie museum's antiquities section that really stirred my imagination.

For all of the luster and glitz of KingTut, I was even more taken by the simple, everyday possessions of the ancient Egyptian that I saw in that museums cases. It was that first glimpse into the life of, what I imagined to be, a boy just like me, that inspired the life long love I have held for that era and the pantheon of Egyptian deities.

So, now with my adult self creating statues and amulets that are all directly inspired by ancient pieces and primarily those of everyday worship in that ancient Egyptian world, I have received a very meaningful nod to my work that ties hits whole cycle up in one small way.

Yesterday two of my pieces were purchased by a woman who is part of the La Habra Children's Museum in La Habra CA. They are having an installation come October that will be a walk through tour of a scribe's life in ancient Egypt.

The pieces are these below:

 Bes and Taweret

She also sent me this description of how the exhibit will be set up.

***The exhibit is called Egypt: Land of Ancients, and it basically follows the life of a scribe named Peneb. The gallery is rectangular in shape and is about 1000 sqft. Guests will enter through a gateway following the river Nile, which cuts through the room diagonally (blue carpet, with fiberglass rocks, papyrus reeds, a fiberglass crocodile etc). On the East side of the Nile is Peneb's house which will simply show daily life for a scribe's family; a market place with food and livestock, a textile stand and a spice stand; and a temple to Thoth, which is also the scibe school, where touring kids can learn hieroglyph-to-alphabet symbols and spell out their names with wooden blocks, and also a simple number system.

There will also be a small copy of the Rosetta stone and an explanation of it's importance, an alter to Thoth, and an area on papyrus. Across the river to the West will be a wabet, where kids can wrap a mummy, with explanations regarding egyptian beliefs on the afterlife. We then move upriver to the present to an archeological campsite and Paneb's tomb. Inside the tomb will be a wooden coffin and artifacts, plus a DVD on egyptology.***

 Needless to say the best part of this, for me, is that it is for young hearts and minds! I can only hope, looking back over the years and the way those early exposures to ancient cultures helped form the person and maker-of-things I am today, that there will be one or two who come away with the same intrigue and sense of awe. . . as well as the comfort and connection I felt then, the kind that permeates the soul and settles there to reappear at some point in adulthood when it is needed most.

For me, every piece I send into the world is a wonderful affirmation that those ancient spirits never die. . . and these two, going to be part of something that will open new eyes and minds, well, that makes me feel incredibly joyful.  . and I just wanted to share that with you today.


Friday, July 12, 2013

You are "Here"

If there was one special superpower I would love to be able to instill in others at will, especially other creatives who want to make their way to making a living from a craft, it would be the ability to step back and distance themselves enough to realize that everything in this life takes time, maybe an entire lifetime in some cases, to unfold and I'd give them the ability to stop thinking in the short term with an immediacy there is almost never a good reason to hold. I'd give the gift that would allow them to just grow into their work one day at a time. Because, the truth is, sometimes we just aren't ready yet. . . 

Is that two superpowers? Maybe. . .

The Gods know I was as guilty as anyone of trying to hit it big with everything I ever did. Always thinking of the best scenarios and the highest accomplishments and, often, that came at the expense of the reality that I hadn't the skill or the know how to get there on a jet rocket trajectory. .   and to be honest, my endless energy and belief in what I was doing took me further than I probably should have gotten with the abilities I had.  Belief does factor in to a degree. . .

I had reasons for pressing on in that way in spite of what I lacked. . . some of the reasons were healthy and many, of course, not so much. In the end my greatest enemy was my inability to see that it takes time to develop and mature into any pursuit.  There is no better or more proven way and often, those who find the rocket trajectory beneath them, come down too fast and too hard on the other side. 

Of course, looking back, I could not have gone about it any other way. I didn't know enough and I, of course, did not have these superpowers either.

I knew I had to press on though.
I knew that you do and will figure it out as you go.

It is hard for me to write or explain the path I took to get "here".  It seems, sometimes, like such a short story having just walked away from owning a coffeehouse two years ago to now creating all of my art and craft that currently supports my life. But in truth, it is a lifelong story that has been  unfolding all these years and it wasn't until I embraced the beginnings, the mistakes and the growing pains I did experience and began to work with what is inherent in me from childhood that the page turned and I started to find my way. . . and, just for the record, I am not "here" yet, nor will I ever likely be. I expect it to be a lifelong pursuit and a lifelong path of creative expression, ups and downs and ultimately as many frustrating days as perfect ones. But that's all fine with me. . .  I no longer feel the need to achieve anything that is big-goal oriented. Just to work hard at my craft every day to bring something beautiful into it each day and to hopefully be fortunate enough to share that with others along the way.

The fact is our life should teach us about repetition and patterns and the way life prepares us over and over for the cycles it moves by. We all went through those wonder-filled childhood years, were subdued in those awkward teenage angst years and dodged the insecurities and the uncertainty of stepping out on our own for the first time. We all had our individual experiences to work with of course,but the point here is they should also teach us that we will repeat them in life within any pursuit we undertake.

The cycles of life repeat always and in all ways.

So, you want to follow a creative dream? Then whether you really begin that path at 15 or 35 or 55 be prepared for the phases of it to mimic your early life. I actually think this is what keeps most people from trying something new with all their heart. The realization hits early on that this is not going to be easy. That you'll have to learn new skills, leave old programming behind and reinvent your life to fit the new "you" that you envision.  You have to walk through it all again. . . the young innocent phase, the awkward teenage phase, the first steps into adulthood phase and hopefully, eventually, the mellowing into it mid-life phase where it all comes together.

The calm in the storm. . .

And, since you went through it over those early years of life, it should not take as long this time around.

Don't hang the entire world on an ideal of quick success and always give yourself a chance, a REAL chance,  to grow into it as you have anything else throughout your life. . .  And then, eventually, one day,

You are "here"


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Mapmaker's War

The Mapmaker's War. . . I am currently submerged in this wonderful book by Ronlyn Dominique

Often it can be the first line or few paragraphs of a book that really draws me in. . . this one went beyond pulling me in with the following early narrative. . .

With meticulous care, you planned your provisions, though not your expeditions. 

Adventure wasn’t in the hunger to come but in the quest of what to follow. You packed your pouch | nuts and fruit, soft bread and hard cheese | along with parchment and ink, cloth scraps and straight edges.

You mapped the hidden worlds when you were still young enough to see them.

Spiderwebs and honeycombs taught the wisdom of symmetry. To you, everything before your eyes was built upon invisible lines and angles. The very spot where you stood only a point among many. A girl is not always in her place, you thought. A girl can be many places at once. And so you were. When you settled upon a space in the forest or meadow, you made a grid on the earth with small steps and tiny flags until there were row upon row of even little squares. You took your seat within the grid. You moved from square to square, noting what stood still and what passed by. All day long you observed and measured, sketched and colored. That which was off the edges appeared on the parchment as well. There were mysterious realms of bees and ants and creatures never seen before, with tiny castles and bright gardens.

In my previous post, Paracosm, I spoke about the beginnings of my imaginative childhood worlds and how they have been with me all through my life, even when I tried to put them aside. . .

This book took me immediately back to those days and the themes within it, mostly mythic and universal, truly touched a part of my soul that recognized it instantly as kin.

I feel like this is my charge again, among the worlds that others often neglect and, in some cases, never see. There is work to be done and many uncharted places to visit here. . .

Mapmaking is much more than pen to paper

It is about perspective and acute observation
It's about seeing with something more than our eyes
It's a visual poetry

When we look at early maps, what do you see? Do you see the world as you now know it NOT to be and think, "Oh, they had it so wrong then!" or do you simply surrender to the wonder and beauty of it, of the time and place and the impossible motivation that made people create them?

How we see maps tells a lot about us too. . . 

What a good mapmaker sees, or what a mapmaker reads are more than pinpoints and land plots.
There is nothing finite about a map and the good ones seem to have no beginning and no end.
Like the art of writing kanji, each line begins off the page and then, on the other end, the motion and movement which are always present, carries the brush off the into space. 

It is not a series of points.  . but the motion of a living, breathing entity.

It does not end.

And so, again, I hammer home the point (to myself) that where we come from, the formative parts of our imagination, the maps we made, have no end.

If we try to constrain it to a page
A part of our history
A finite set of coordinates
It is incomplete.

Maps of all kinds change too

There is a second story I love and often return to that has this same effect on me. You can, of course, read this one too but you can also HEAR it read on the podcast, Selected Shorts, if you are inspired enough to dig for it online.

It's called "The Mappist" by Barry Lopez

Of course, the pattern here, for my own purposes, is telling.

I am always returning to the mapmaker within
The charts and excursions of my youth.
My landscapes

Nothing stays the same and that is why we should, I believe, revisit and remap those spaces too. . .
it's why I intend to do so for the remainder of my days . . . my motion in a lifetime that also began off the page, appeared, and will one day exit into space again.

And through it all, I will remember this line from "The Mappist", to help keep my sense of placeas I go

“don’t make the mistake of thinking you, or I or anyone, knows how the world is meant to work. The world is a miracle, unfolding in the pitch dark. We’re lighting candles. Those maps- they are my candles. And I can’t extinguish them for anyone.””

Make your maps. dive into YOUR landscapes, and most of all tell and retell your stories as your miracle unfolds.


Saturday, June 15, 2013


It has been awhile since my last post and the reason is singular and simple. Writing does take my soul deeper into my own experience and, recently, in writing some unrelated thoughts to answer someone else's questions about my life as a maker-of-things, I came to a deeper revelation about that very part of myself. . . and so I have taken the time to really mull it over internally and explore it fully before writing about it here. And this is what I have discovered. . .

If there is one thing that most artists I know have in common who have been able to create a successful art business, and even most people I know who are TRULY happy with their day to day lives, it is that what they live, what they are creating and what they love in life is a direct link to something from their childhoods and that untainted past. Some part of them that never quite went away and fuels, in some way, their life pursuits today.

On the extreme end of those childhood experiences, there is the idea of the creation of a paracosm which is defined as: a detailed imaginary world or fantasy world, involving humans and/or animals, or perhaps even fantasy or alien creations. Commonly having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is often developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time: months or even years.

I had many such worlds in my childhood.

Nothing I played, drew or created was just a game but had back-story and detail and a running dialogue within.  From my imagining of being alive in ancient Egyptian times or in the Roman Empire, Pompeii, Alexandria, Druid times, Viking times etc and on down to my creation of little towns and worlds each year with the model railroads I built under our holiday tree.

Everything had a place, a story, a reason.

When I sit and create the things you see in my shops, in all three of my shops, they are, in no uncertain terms, a direct link to my childhood experiences and explorations of the world around me.

As I grew into my teens and 20's I, like most, felt a need to become more "grown up" and set off into the "real world" to find my way. . . this was, unarguably, the greatest mistake I ever made. One that I plan to rectify for the rest of my days.

And I truly believe that the "mistake" part of that was the desire to leave that childhood past far behind.  Of course, in my quiet, alone moments, I allowed myself to indulge and revisit it at times but, as my world became cluttered with people and social events and owning businesses and adult life. . . I left more and more of it there.

I will, in the near future, reveal more of my own paracosm and try to show how it formed me and how it has come full circle.  How I believe that life is indeed cyclical and how we often allow the negative aspects, people and events to remain with us along our path while discarding the most integral parts of our soul which are meant to help us as we grow into our later years because they wre there at the foundation of who we are. 

The thing that is often NOT talked about with paracosms is how so many adults are creating them daily in what we like to think of as our adult world. This life is. for lack of a better definition, ALL fantasy. All paracosm.  It is US who creates the place, the story and the reasons for anything in our worlds. And if you can step back and allow that one idea to sink in and become truth, then you may recognize how the choosing of it is always up to you.

Whatever you subscribe to is indeed part of your created paracosm. Career pursuits, ideals of success, ideals of relationship, security and contentment. . . even the dialogues we desire to hear, the way we fantasize about one thing or another. . . we create all of those too. Do they work? I can't speak for anyone but me. Except to say that whatever you believe in is strictly YOUR creation. And often we are so caught up in wanting to "belong" in a union, a community or group, an accepted circle of some sort that we allow too much outside information and influence to shape our world within.

I tried many adult paracosms over the last 20 years that just did not fit because the inherent landscape of my childhood was simply too strong to be changed that much.

So, when I began to return to it and allowed myself to roam within it freely again just a few years ago, I immediately recognized that what I sought, what I desired and what made me happiest had been there all along. . .  I began creating the creatures and worlds that were alive in my thriving childhood imaginings. I allowed them all to come back and through that indulgence I suddenly began connecting with others who found them appealing for whatever reason.

The more I allowed myself to dwell within that paracosm again, the happier I became.

The more of the "adult life" I left behind, selling my business, moving away from the grind of the city, leaving happy hours and social commitments and the larger community behind, the happier I found myself being as well.   

My world of many and much became a world of few and little and allowed me the space to grow into that vast landscape again. It requires a lot of space. . . a lot of solitude. . . and a lot of internal silence.

I do believe paracosms are truly meant to often be singular experiences. But for children, that never seems to present much of a problem does it? For me, as that child, that alone time was so precious and desired over almost any activity involving others. I had friends. More than I can remember but only a few who were able to occupy the landscape I created in my deepest imagination.

It is funny how, as adults, so many take such a strong dislike to being alone. And maybe, just maybe, that is because we are not happy with the paracosm we have created as an adult.  If it requires others for happiness, it is not deep and true enough. There is nothing wrong with wanting to share what is within. . . but that will follow the act of creation. . . not the other way around. Find and know yourself completely first and THEN others can follow safely in your footsteps. YOU are the explorer of the landscape within. The better you know it, the more likely others can traverse it with you in safety and
 the more likely you will attract the right people to be a part of it.

I had that wrong for years too.

And of course, for me, this is all ultimately about creativity. One of my favorite writers once said that "if you want to be a writer you just have to be crazy enough to sit down and let the words bang out."

Often people come to creative pursuits from the perspective of how they can make a living doing the thing they want to pursue. . . but this is really backwards thinking. . . the creator must create first and find it within . . .  it must come from the places deep within that are the storehouses of the inherent.

Those who try to "create to sell" rarely find success and almost never find lasting happiness or fulfillment within that pursuit.I tried that as well and guess what. . . it never worked.

I am glad I found my way back. Reconnected with the child within who had been waiting all this time for me to finally understand that HE is who I am. He was, after all, there first. He was born, not of a plan or a constructed architecture of hope. . . not of a reinvention that I contrived or designed. . . but of something so deep and pure that it simply can not be ignored.

I shall never set him aside for anything again.

So think about the idea of your lifetime thus far and the paracosms you may have once created and continue to create now.

Do you see the paracosms of your yesterdays and today?
Do you find it all to flow in a cyclical way too?
Do you see the pure essence of YOU in the child you were?
Does he/she still have a foothold in your adult world?
Are you kind to him/her when he/she appears?

I hope so.
There will likely never be a truer "you".


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poem - Starling Spring

In the city, Spring was my least favorite of seasons
Winter kept the streets silent
Everyday rain makes people go inside and
Whether that was a metaphor
Or just a corner bar
Made little difference to me
In my own treasured world
I did not have to bear the cacophony of
Jumbled hearts
Or displaced souls
Shrieking in the night

The downpour of winter was bliss
And every stormy day
Sang as a liturgy of beautiful hours
And unbroken solitude

Today, in this small town I now call home
The sun is a harbinger of the season at hand
Outside my window, starlings are busily going about it
Building their March nests and
Singing their intricate arias to attract a mate
For hours on end the hopeful
Perch and croon
Preen and display
And to my surprise
Their cacophony
Breathes a beauty into the season
I have rarely felt as an adult

Spring, in all it's bustle, is suddenly
A different place
A lesson learned
An old friend
I can embrace
Once again

- nicolas hall 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Simple Roots

To understand who we are I think it is important to mine the past. . . the childhoods that formed us into who we are today.

For all the reinvention, desire to establish myself as an individual and attempts in teenage angst to shock and stand out, I am essentially the same person I was at 10 or 11 today.

I often wonder if I had recognized that 20 years ago would I be "further along" or was I somehow just not strong enough in my 20's and 30's to walk this decidedly uncluttered and simple path?

In between that boy of 10 and now there have been several moves and changes of scenery, several creative incarnations and a few businesses and careers owned and passed through. And while all of those experiences add to the foundation. . . .the foundation is the same.

I believe this to be true for more people than most would care to admit and I also believe it is a great cause of the unhappiness I see and feel in the world daily.

I believe those early experiences are just the simple roots of what we will become in our lifetime. But as with any rooted thing, they always remain the life source through which everything else flows. 

*  *  *  *  *  

One constant in my life has always been the lack of people who get into my "inner" world. I have always been so very protective of my creative spaces and, since I was a boy, I have preferred to dwell alone there unless a soul came through who just fit and could come and go without it either affecting of distorting the world I was creating.

If you think about it, that's a rare, rare happening in anyone's life. Most people, I think, are just better at compromising and making room. . . but I believe that to be a constant state of sacrifice rarely worth the trouble. There are and WILL be souls who fit. . . perfectly. . . . without much if any effort or notice.  What is more likely to happen though is that people make room out of a fear and dread of being alone. Out of needing someone to fit even when it causes more harm than good.

That, in my world, has always been such a foreign idea. . .

As a child I had, from the ages of 9 to 14, really just two great friends. And from age 15 to 20, just one. I never felt lonely. In fact I do not know if I ever have felt that emptiness that so many seem to want to run from.

David was one of the two friends in those early years who just fit.

He was someone who could show up and at a moments notice, fit into whatever game or world I was creating.  Looking back, I think his family life, with a house filled with brothers and sisters never allowed him the peace he desired and the sense of space to create and explore with noone looking over his shoulder. So, we were fast friends. He knew he could come and go as he pleased and create what he desired when we played together.

Ultimately it turned out that he was diagnosed as schizophrenic in his late teens which led to a tragic end not many years later.  The diagnosis, revealed to me at 19,  really came as no surprise as I remember far too many instances that were strange by any account but, to me, it was always was accepted with nothing more than saying, "Well, that's just David."

The most telling might be that there were many times he would call me up and say he wanted to come down and play. He lived about four blocks from me up a steep hill and, from late Autumn through Spring when the trees were bare on the hill, I could follow him from the time he left his house until he got close to mine by watching out of my mother's bedroom window.  He would usually run the whole way down as he loved to run.

Sometimes, and it happened with more frequency as we got older,  he would start out down the hill and then, halfway down, swerve off onto a side street and disappear. He simply would not show up.

This was of course, baffling at first.

When I would next see him I would ask him about it and he always seemed to not be sure what I was talking about or make an excuse that was obviously not true but, at the same time, I never felt it was quite a lie.

I just knew that wasn't like him to just lie.  I never brought it up after a few instances.

If it happened, I went about my day myself and wouldn't even ask him about it anymore. It came to make perfect sense that it was as if there were two Davids. And those differences are what drew us apart as friends by the time I was 16.

During our friendship though we got along so well because no matter who's game we were playing or whose world was being shared, the other person had no desire to alter it or change it to suit themselves.

If it was my game and he came into it, he adapted to the rules and the scenarios and vice versa.
Seems simple but I look around me and revisit my adult life and it seems that so few can enter into another life and simply cherish it for what it is and meld into it seamlessly.

So few can just allow something to be without making attempts to change, fix or better it.

As an adult, I gave into the idea that it was normal to compromise and to lose oneself into the world of another. And it took me 20 years to regain the strength to see that I/we are not meant to fit with "many" in this life. But to wait out the few who will fit with us as perfectly as we do with them. That's what allows us to fully discover and be who we are. .. well, that and a healthy dose of being alone.

Sifting through.

Discovering within. . . 

* * * * *

Not long before I left Portland for the coast I was riding a public bus across town and it happened to be at the time the city schools were letting out for the day. As the bus pulled to a stop in front of a middle school, I was suddenly in the midst of 30 to 40  hyper, young teens whose energy swarmed me as much as their non stop chatter! But, in the midst of those 30, there were two I noticed who were in their own worlds. One girl with headphones and Ipod stared straight through the crowd un fazed by their manic energy. . . another with his nose in a book and no interest in the behavior around him either, occasionally gazed out the window into the rainy November day. . . .

I think many people watching this scene would have felt sorry for those two or worried that they are somehow misfit "loners" because they were not interacting with friends.

I felt like they were sifting through. . . and protecting their vibrant world within. There seemed to be nothing sad about them. Nothing off or missing.

They got off the bus at different stops and headed home to what I like to imagine are worlds of their own creation and making of things as well. 

And I thought. . . "There are two who will likely one day be
just fine. . . "


Monday, February 25, 2013

Silent Running

The little wooden sled never went very fast
But that never mattered  

The first few trips down the gentle slope of the back yard
Were tedious
Cutting and packing the path that the next 4 or 5 dozen passes would follow,
Those first few leaving rusty orange runner lines in the pure white snow

Once the path was defined, I'd bring out the flags
Sixteen or so of the countries of the world
The ones that I included in my own backyard olympic event
Nordic and European
The US, Russia and Canada
Each tiny one drawn by hand, cut out
Pasted to a popsicle stick

And off I'd go
Each trip, after a running start, flowing across the yard
Down into the vacant lot
Then winding back along the sidewalk in front of the neighbors house
The last 20 feet, the sled moved just slightly faster than a crawl
And when all motion would stop,
A flag would be planted in the snow
The mark to beat
And back up for the next nation's run. . . 

These games were always played when my mother was at work
And my grandmother likely sleeping or watching the soaps

I knew, if they looked out the window and saw me,
The inevitable questions would come
"What are you doing honey?"
"Are you just going to ride that sled all day?"
"What are those little pieces of paper down there?"

My grandfather, though he would check on me out the house windows as much as anyone,
Never asked me those questions
Never interrupted the games
Never seemed confused by the 10 or 11 or 12 year old's imagination
To me, that silence always spoke volumes about what we shared
And every moment I sit and indulge my imagination today
The silence connects us

nicolas hall

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hide and Seek

Recently, while reading the blog of one of my customers from Etsy, I realized something that I feel is very critical to describing who I am and what my core beliefs of happiness are.

The blog is a spiritual based one and, I knew that this particular customer has, as many of us do, fallen in and out of their practice be that spiritual or creative)  and was having some life difficulties during these times.

Their return to regularly blogging and practicing their spiritual path, marked a noticeable increase in their happiness and feeling good about themselves and their world again.

As that sank in, I realized that it is the same path for many of us in life. That, whatever it is we love, if we approach it with a spiritual regularity, we will likely find peace and happiness within. This happiness is, of course, not linked in any way to our lifestyle, standard of living, wealth, or even physical health. . . indeed it is something that we may foster to transcend all the difficulties that we may encounter in this physical realm and turn to in our search for solace and comfort and, most importantly, an understanding of self.

Growing up I would say my grandmother and mother were my finest teachers of this phenomenon though in completely different manners.

A devout Catholic, my grandmother went to church every Sunday well into her 80’s despite having difficulty getting around and she prayed the rosary and lit candles daily. Her faith was, not unshakable, but rooted and solid. Her personal polestar. . . and it saw her through many, many difficult times. One of the things that scare me to death as a child was how any mention of something fun. . .a drive to the park, a trip to the candy store. . . a ride in the country, , , was always followed by the stipulation that we would go “if we live.” So, “Oh honey, how about Monday we go get you some new things for school. . . if we live.” It was just matter of fact to her that we might not live to monday but her faith made that a fact, not a fear. 

 Now in comparison, my mother’s spirituality was her work and her job (and I should add, raising me). Hostess and waitress 5 or 6 days a week at an Italian restaurant. mother 7 days a week and then, when that became too much for her physically and I was grown and off on my own, she took a part time job office cleaning with her cousin. Work was her belief. Her trust in things being right. When grief hit the family, she was always better when she could go to work for 8 hours and put her mind elsewhere. I understood that as being a path as well.

In both of these examples there was something in the routine and the comfort each felt in their own way that was spiritual and not, even in my grandmother’s case, simply religious. My grandfather had an even larger impact in this way too, though it was clearly more beneathe the surface and will be looked at separately in future posts.

For me, that spirituality of life has always been my creativity. It is my absolute core foundation. My rock. If I practice it daily I am happier than I could be doing anything else. And it took me years to realize that my happiness in life was tied directly to it. That it was in every manner a spiritual sort of approach I needed to cultivate. 

 I spend each day creating and doing the hard and often exhausting work of selling what I make to allow me the gift of continuing along this path. . .  and as I grow within it, I see distinctly, the paths of my grandmother and mother that are part of my own path and my success.  I create religiously. . . I work religiously. . . I follow my soul as a spiritual path and, while it took me 40 years to figure out how to do that, I am grateful for the practice of all these years that prepared me for it here and now. 

I also am a huge believer in geography as metaphor for most of my life.  It shows in so much ofmy creative output.  I find geography is a polestar for my soul. Books like Kathleen Norris’ “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography” stories like  Barry Lopez’ “The Mappist”, even songs like Howard Jone’s “Hide and Seek” have all embedded themselves into my consciousness and are  like Psalms to me.  . and the writings and lectures of John O’Donohue  a man who I feel possessed a perfect blend of religion, philosophy and awareness of life’s depths in all of his writing who said:

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

I’ve always been so close to that rhythm and maybe just a quarter beat off. . . and all of these things through the years were signposts. .. pointing me to the place I belonged. . .  then it clicked . . . fell into place . . . this is my spiritual path. My practice.

I am a maker-of-things. Nothing more, nothing less.
That is my home

I only feel “right”. . . “centered” . . . and at peace. . .  when I am doing this daily.
It is MY unshakable belief

I hope you find the same with everything you see within too.


Sunday, January 27, 2013


Listening to the NY Times Book Review podcast yesterday and one of the guests was Joe Queenan who was discussing his habit of rereading books again and again.

At first I was intrigued because I have a few titles of my own that I could read a dozen times (and have) and always find something new within.

But what struck me most was a comment he made about how reading is, for so many people, an expression of the desire to escape their world into another.  And he believes this is especially true of those who read voraciously as he does.

As he spoke of his own reading habits, it became clear that it is something more than just enjoying books and stories.  . but that they are truly another world for him to exist in.  He copies lines, passages and quotes for future reference, then organizes and stores them. So the escape continues outside the covers of the books themselves into his own world. . .

He connected this pursuit to being similar to anything people do in excess. . . and, for me, the light went off imediately in my own head.

*** *** ***

As a child, I did not create to escape anything horrible or unjust.

I had a rather charmed upbringing in a simple, working class, urban home in Pennsylvania.  My hours and hours of "escape" were fueled by the fact that I simply preferred those self created places and imaginings more than most of the possible interactive reality with kids my age. (this from ages 7 to 17 really. . . and, in truth, through most of my adult years as well) My interests from sports, to ancient Egyptian art to sci-fi fantasy, writing stories, music and building miniature railroads was all something I felt most at ease delving into totally alone so as to be created by just one set of rules. My own. . .

And I was a voracious maker-of-things within each of those elements.  The worlds I created extended beyond the time spent within them. In my head, there were constant dialogues and imaginings of what would come next. Sort of like previews of upcoming shows.  This was the main part of my world for many years.

Somewhere along the way, in my early 20's, that got sidetracked . . . set aside. . . and I lost my way for awhile in life in general I think. 

It seems to me that so very often, under the guise of growing up, we think we have to leave much of that early escapism and creation behind.  Also, there are people who perhaps never had that in their own childhood years and they actually discover it later in life. Sadly, they relegate it to "hobby" or "interest" status as that is the more grown up way to give it voice.

Now this, it seems, is all in the interest of having these things fit into our adult lives and this is, in my world, backwards thinking.

Do we ever find it if we venture far from those childhood places or allow our passions and loves to be compartmentalized into being called indulgences, hobbies, interests and a few-hours-a-month-when-time-allows activities??

In my life, after all these years, those indulgences and worlds of my own creation are front and center again. They occupy almost EVERY waking hour and they are how I make my living now. They are the very essence of my world today, as they were all those years ago and, yes, that comes with costs that few would be willing to pay. 

With the exception of the computer, where I do indeed sell most of my items and creations on the internet, I have left behind the modern world almost completely.  I am certain that it is not a place where creativity can reign or be nurtured because it is all about the moment and the minutia of our lives. Instant and constant flooding of the unimaginative and mundane.

Creativity, on the other hand, takes time and effort and imagination and solitude to discover. . . to unlock something magical within.

The desire to connect in today's instant access world only serves to push more and more people into forced community instead of celebrating the unique, the individual, the mystery and, maybe most importantly,  the solitude and aloneness of us all. 

Which is, to me, the best thing we can slow down and explore.

And this, I think has trickled right down to every form of escape, even reading which, as Mr Queenan states in his thoughts about e-readers,“ they have purged all the authentic, non-electronic magic and mystery from their lives.”

It's all about magic really. . .
And taking the time to create it is the best thing I believe I can do every day. Because ithas paid me back ten-fold in ways I have yet to even tally.

I hope you will take the time and create it too.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

After the Pause. . .

When it comes to starting or maintaining blogs, more than anything else, the one thing I I hear people say about starting one is, "I just want to wait til I know exactly what I want to say."

Which is when I turn and say,  "It's more important to just sit down at the computer and write and let others decide what is of value and what is worth reading. . . you can always delete later"

It comes down to fear, of course.

But there are times, once the writing is started, to pause and think this over too. Not out of fear but out of a desire for more succinct expression.  And, for me, the first three weeks of 2013 have been that.

I could keep on going with just random thoughts, creative inspirations, mystic meanderings and poetic expression and that, of course, would be just fine as they are all part of me. But I am finding myself, on this rising side of 40, wanting to be a bit more succinct and to lay down the stories and thoughts that have taken me thru my life to this place. To a life I have CREATED just as I have created all thru my years and will for the rest of them, if I am able.

So first, what is "this place?"

It would be easy to say the "place" is a very small town on the Oregon Coast I chose because it allows me to live and work as an artist with little or no worry about needing to make more money to survive or combating the frantic and disconnected vibe of a city.

But it would be more succinct to say that this "place" is the whole of my inner existence. Much of which I , as many of us do, tried to shake off in my young adult years thru my early 30's.  under the guise of "growing up".

I feel fortunate now to have been allowed the gift of seeing myself clearly again. To have recognized that the only people I have met who are truly happy souls are those that are doing what they love. Those who are living their entire lives creatively and choosing their actions each day with thought and consideration to how it does, or does not, facilitate that dream.

It's not the creativity of painting or writing or sculpting. . . it's the deeper creative force of living. 

I am fortunate to have come to this place and time and to have believed in it, and in myself, enough to walk away from the rest and to create this world of my own imagining.  To trust what feels right and what opportunity seems to be presented along the way.

I also have left so much behind.
This life includes few people by nature of the necessity of so much internal and uncluttered time .
Few material "things" that are not true needs and only truly soulful luxuries.
It is not about acquisition or compiling something for the unforeseeable future.
It is about the one thing I know I have to believe and trust in.
The greatest privilege that any of us have
Living FULLY today

My direction then, for this blog, is to tell the story of how I got to this place again. The cycle from childhood to adulthood that took me right back to what I always was. A maker of things. And how I came to believe again in it and to create a life built from that instead of from what we are taught life is supposed to be.

If I am lucky, I will find the words to put even a piece of it into some sensible structure. . . and I will hope that it helps someone else out there to have the courage to step into who they are and to leave the rest behind as well. . .

Allowing them to come home again and to live their todays as fully as they can too.

Here's to hoping that is you. . . today. . . and always.