Wednesday Wonders: Leap into Making the Art, Good or Not

Standard

I do kid crafts. Sometimes I do them without kids.

My latest big idea was a Leap Year Day with a frog theme. (Get it? Leap? Frog? I found this grand idea surfing around the Internet.)

I planned to make a time capsule out of a Pringles can, green construction paper and various cheap decor. The idea was to put mementos from the lives of my kid and the kids of my friend Billie Jo into the capsule. We’ll store it and check it again on the next leap year in 2020. (Egad, that feels way beyond a space age year.)

There was only one problem.

My kid wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Neither was my friend’s boy. They both would rather bounce off the walls and fight over possession of various toy trucks than make a craft.

I didn’t let this stop me. I made my own parts for the time capsule. My friend and her two girls had a good time with me as we made handprint frogs and decorated the capsules.

This is one of the beauties of being an older mother with another older kid who also has no interest in crafts — I’ve learned not to depend on the interest of 5-year-olds for my own joy.

I reminded myself of this lesson recently as I started to fret over the submissions I made a few months back. I waited patiently for a response for about a month, and then I began to get antsy. When would they get back to me? 

Worse, this impatience started to stall me out on the projects I was doing.

I remembered leap day and thought maybe writing and other life arts are an awful lot like doing crafts with kids who may not have any interest in playing your games.

I make the stuff. I put it out there. And then I make more.

Maybe others will be interested. Maybe they would rather fight over their possessions, bounce off the ways , or do some other surfing on the internet. Whatever they choose to do, if I keep my head and my heart in my work, I win.

Neil Gaiman had something to say along these lines. He once tried a project only for the money and it failed. Here is what he shared in a commencement speech I love:

“I decided that I would do my best in the future not to write books just for money. If you didn’t get the money then you didn’t have anything. If I did the work I was proud of and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

And I would say that you can substitute the word ‘money’ with ‘approval’ or ‘the interest of others.’

I don’t know if my frog party was ‘good art.’ But it sure was fun. I’d do it again even if I were the only one at that party.

And I guess that’s what I do every morning I wake up and make my art, good or not.

Wednesday Wonders: Finding Love at the Zoo Under Deadline

Standard

One more deadline this week so another post heavy on pictures today. (More on deadlines and productivity coming up. Wow! Those things are motivating!)

I spent Valentine’s Day at the zoo with my two guys and my wonderful Seattle family. I hadn’t considered it before we went, but it turns out other people think Woodland Park is a good place for a romantic getaway. I think half the young couples in Seattle joined us there.

I especially liked George the Great Blue Heron who flew in and out of the penguin exhibit. He posed for all of the tourists wanting to take his picture, and I suspect he liked the fame as much as the free fish. The frog also stood still for every picture loving passerby, staring at us from his perch above.

A nurse log caught my eye this week. I’ve walked by it hundreds of times, but this time the ferns begged me to notice.

IMG_7015

Q and I sat for over half an hour reading this long book filled with one dino story after another. That was a wonder. (My voice even held out!)

IMG_7026

And this 3-puzzle sat in our game closet for months or more before I pulled it out last night while Q messed with the obnoxious duck quacking game. I’ve always wanted to try one of these. 60 pieces made for just about the right amount of effort.

May you find photogenic wonders, a good long book, and just the right challenge this week-

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.57.01 AM

A recycled bit on the wonder series:

As a part of my 2016 blog revision, I started a new small weekly post I call ‘Wednesday Wonders.’

One of my favorite things about writing and other art forms is the way they open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

Voiceless

Standard

file9921266813876

“Hello,” I croaked. I knew that the person on the other line could barely hear me, and I wondered why I’d bothered to answer the phone at all. Too late now.

“Uh…is Philip Myton there?” said the receptionist from the clinic my husband uses.

“No, he’s not.” I breathed more than spoke those words.

I then explained that I had laryngitis in as few words as possible. The lady seemed relieved to know, and I tried to imagine what she had thought when she first heard me. From her reaction, I thought I must have sounded like a phone call from a dead relative I remember in the spooky stories my friends told at sleep overs.

Laryngitis came on this week in the middle of my morning class on Tuesday. I croaked when I could make a noise at all. The phone call came at a time when I had rested my voice for many hours so the receptionist could hear me.

Watching people react to me reminded me of staying in Germany for a time. I looked like the Germans all around me so no one treated me differently until I opened my mouth and they heard my accented German. One man on the street asked me directions and his face changed completely when I told him I was new to town.

But at least in Germany they knew I was only foreign. When I used my froggy voice this week,  everyone stepped back a few paces, not wanting to catch whatever it was I had. I don’t really blame them, but it felt strange.

Trying not to talk while communicating with my family also proved a major challenge even though they were used to my call from the dead sound.

When I was younger, I thought about what it would be like to lose my hearing or my sight and asked myself which would be worse. But I never considered how vital my voice is.

As I thought about my froggy voice this week, I remembered my writing. When the words work, it feels like a have a voice. Like what I am trying to say moves across the page and into the minds of my readers. When those words don’t work, I am croaking and people look at me (in my mind’s eye) like I have laryngitis.

I got over the physical laryngitis this week. I’m hoping to kick my writing voice laryngitis to the curb, too.