Deadlines and motivation. Finishing what we started.

Finishing what we started. Deadlines and motivation.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The artist has one function – to affirm and glorify life. W. Edward Brown

How often have we seen revised books with chapters, not in the original? The author thought of something that should have been included. I received the proof of my children’s book. I knew when I ordered it that it wouldn’t be published the way it was, but I wanted to see how the colors would look, the type, the background, etc. Extra pages were added so I have more to work with than I thought I did. Deadlines motivate us. How often have we waited until the last minute but we get done what we need to do? Some things can only be done last minute and sometimes we think we are done when we have only just begun.

It is stamped not for resale. I’ve noticed other authors objecting to this but I love it. I hope to get another author’s proof before final publication, but I am running out of time.

I’m swapping out five paintings and adding two so I am busily painting and composing paintings in my head. The more I’m thinking about it the more ideas are coming. Finishing a project is exciting and nerve-racking. It is tempting to think things can be better than they are. When you actually see something complete it is what it is and you have to accept the quality produced.

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams

When my daughter told me, “You need more pictures, Mom.” She was totally right and some of the best ones are coming from this last-minute push to get everything done. “You don’t need to rush,” she tells me.

“I have to meet this deadline,” I tell her. No one is taking me out to the bush to shoot me if I don’t, it’s true, but I am committed. Working furiously to complete something is not the same as working furiously and continuing to move the deadline so you don’t actually get the feeling of accomplishment for finishing it.

“But, don’t you want it to be the best it can be?” That’s a tough question to answer because I do want it to be the best it can be. I also know I could always make something better. Instead of making this the best it could possibly be by repainting every picture and rethinking every word, forever. I will put it out and it will be what it will be. I will write another one using what I learned and maybe it will be better. We can rework things so much that even if they are technically better they lose some of the sparks they initially had.

There comes a time when we have to let things go. We’ve kept them to ourselves long enough. This story has been with me since our beloved dog died in 2012 and I wrote a little story about him and put it on my bookshelf where it sat for years. What is being published and what I initially wrote have gone through many iterations. The first one was sad because, in the end, he died. Instead of putting fifteen years into one book, I’m putting snippets of his life into each book.  When I found the “Pete the Cat” series based on a real cat I began to imagine something bigger than I’d originally thought. 

We don’t know where something will go when we start it. It can’t become anything until we finally release it into the world. When that deadline is approaching does it give us motivation and ramp up our productivity?

Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day. Winston Churchill

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art. Leonardo da Vinci

Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is “to fit together” and we all do this every day. Not all of us are painters but we are all artists. Each time we fit things together we are creating – whether it is to make a loaf of bread, a child, a day. Corita Kent

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to those who read my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you click on the picture below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the item through the Amazon affiliate program.

Creativity is finding the small joys in life. Are we always looking for the presence of wonder?

Are we always looking for the presence of wonder? Creativity is finding the small joys in life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live. Auguste Rodin

On Saturday morning, in my writer’s group, we had an editing workshop and critique session. I put the first chapter of my second novel Secrets and Sorrow up for critique for a second time. I used the critique the first time to make it stronger and I will use this second critique to make it stronger still.

We haven’t done much critiquing in our writer’s group. It is a sensitive subject because we must be gentle and yet if we are going to get anything out of it as writers we need things pointed out that isn’t working or could work better.

One of the things pointed out to me is my use of the rhetorical question to engage readers and ramp up tension may not be working so well. Our session was too short to get too deep into things but after our meeting, I found a blog “Kid Lit” by Mary Kole addressing this same question. The answer it seems is that the question is not a bad thing but it doesn’t go far enough. The question gives us an opportunity to deepen the story and instead of leaving the question hanging we can answer it or at least examine it a little further.

An example she gave is. Could he trust her?

How to deepen this might become. He wanted to trust her, but he didn’t. Not right now. She’d have to earn it.

The power of writing groups and beta readers is they point things out to us we don’t see. When my writing group read my first novel, one of them pointed out I had too many dogs in it. I eliminated a few dogs.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Vincent Van Gogh

This time around I am working on a tighter timeline. I had no timeline for my first novel and it ambled along year after year. I’ve set goals and timelines this time, and I am coming up against a year of working on it. I’m realizing having it ready for publication on September 5th is a stretch goal, but I am planning to have it pre-released by that date.

In order to pre-release, I need a cover so I worked on one last night. Putting people on the cover sells more books is my understanding and so I want a person on my cover. Last night I found a perfect photograph by Philip Oursel on Unsplash. What the cover will finally look like I don’t know, but I am pleased with the concept I came up with last night.

I didn’t know when I sat down after watching the last game of the Euro Cup that I would have a concept for a cover. We often don’t know what we will end up with when we sit down to do something. I only sat down to see if I could find some free photos of girls and horses. Then I thought will that photo work with the sunset photo I am thinking of using for my cover? What if I use the same fonts and color of text on this cover? By the end of the evening, I had created something I hadn’t sat down to create, but when I found the photo I had to see if I could make it work.

We don’t know what we can do unless we try and do it. Sometimes we end up with more than we expected sometimes we learned what won’t work. Either way, it is knowledge gained that moves us toward our goal. There are so many tools available to us now, not many years ago it would have been impossible to come up with a concept so easily. With the click of a button, we can make a photo more or less transparent. We can layer images to create a mood. We can remove backgrounds which I didn’t do but may end up doing. Perhaps this concept will not be the cover at all, but I have a starting place.

When we create something it feeds our soul. It might be a great dinner, a new dessert, or everyone’s favorite. We might use our creativity to create order out of chaos, create a flower arrangement that wilts in days, or a garden that lasts all summer. Sue Patton Thoele tells us, “Creativity of all kinds focuses your mind, engages your imagination, and feeds your soul.”

Is there something we long to do but haven’t gotten around to yet? Being creative is learning to play, have fun, and enjoy the fullness of life. Are we finding ways to be creative and feed our souls? Are we listening to the still small voice that tells us, try this?

Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do this every day. That’s it. Laurie Anderson

The artist never entirely knows – We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. Agnes de Mille

When I say artist I mean the one who is building things… some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen. Jackson Pollock  

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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Living life to the fullest. Being creative and discovering our unique way of seeing the world.

Being creative and discovering our unique way of seeing the world. Living life to the fullest.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. James Dean

Last night we did some fun improv exercises in the course I am taking. We told a story each person adding a new line. For another exercise, we either said fortunately or unfortunately before our line. In a story, this is a great way to think about what happens next. It may even be a good way to look at our lives because whether we have fortunate things happening or unfortunate things happening they are changing and fortunate may go to unfortunate and unfortunate may go to fortunate. Life is a series of events and how we look at them will determine our life. It isn’t always that things are good or bad but in our minds, we make them one or the other depending on how we see life.

Jim Rohn tells us, “Don’t wish for things to be easier, wish for you to be better.” Often we don’t know what we can achieve until we start doing things. We like our novels complicated but not our lives. When we look back on our lives many of the times we enjoyed were very busy, complicated, and active. We need to be careful that we have something left after the busy time of raising children is over, so the rest of our life is still filled with adventure, goals, and achievement.

When I was offered the opportunity to take this course I didn’t think, “Oh wow I’d love to do it.” But, that is what I should have thought. The class coordinator has done such a good job of making it interesting, and we are looking at things differently. Each class has someone leading it who gives us exercises that expand our minds and our way of looking at creativity.

In many ways, I have led an insular life with work and family being so busy with both that I didn’t get out into the wider community. Joining groups and taking this class are widening my horizons.

At the end of our lives, we all ask, “Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? Brendan Burchard

I am definitely a late bloomer in writing and art and I am meeting others that are the same. Coming to writing and art later in life may be the best time to come to it because many of us will not be able to survive on the proceeds of our art, but what we did before can provide for our needs, and art and writing can provide the excitement of discovering our artistic side.

Creativity is not for a certain group of individuals who take our breath away with what they can do. It is for all of us. My husband said the other day, “You always see the bad dancers get on the dance floor first.” I think we should dance to enjoy not impressing others with our ability. Are we standing by the sidelines because we don’t think we are good enough at dancing, writing, singing, drawing, or painting to enjoy expressing ourselves. When birds sing they have their own song. We need to have our own expression as well and not think our expression should be like someone else’s.

This is easier said than done. A member of my writer’s group just finished her novel. What she posted on FaceBook makes me think it will be a much better novel than mine. I’ve heard her spoken word, she’s fabulous. I can’t let my own sense of inadequacy keep me from expressing what is in me to express even if it is not as good as what she expresses. We don’t only want to read the best book. We want to read different books, with different points of view. We don’t only want to gaze at one painting or hear only the best song.

We are often our own worst critics but we will meet critics along the way and we have to overlook their criticism or use it to make ourselves better. Stopping because we are intimidated by what others are doing will not move our own work along. In Toastmasters we are evaluated and the evaluator is supposed to give two positives for every negative comment. An evaluator will point out areas of improvement we can bring to our work that elevates it. If we have no room for improvement then why would we bother with the next project?

Often we look at someone else’s strengths and compare them to our weaknesses and of course, we find ourselves wanting. Life is in many ways, not a team sport. We team up with people but much of our journey is solitary. We develop our own character, beliefs, and self-expression. What we do to stay healthy is individual. How many spouses wish eating healthier themselves would impact their spouse or going to the gym themselves would make their spouse fitter?

We can work on ourselves and everyone else has to work on themselves. We can spend too much time and energy looking at how everyone else should improve their lives instead of improving our own. If we are living our best life we might inspire others to live their best life. Others will inspire us. When people try to direct us on how to live a better life we often dig in our heels and we won’t do what we know is actually in our best interest because we don’t want to be controlled, we want to do it our self.

Are we living life to the fullest? Are we developing our creativity and discovering our unique view of the world? Are we singing our own song?

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Unknown

If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. Wanda Sykes

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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Self-expression through art may heal our souls. When we find our voice we find ourselves.

When we find our voice we find ourselves. Self-expression through art may heal our soul.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The goal of art is the vital expression of self. Alfred Stieglitz

Last night in the art course I am attending we created an intuitive collage. We were told to get maps (I printed a world map from the computer), and newspapers, magazines, or pages from a book. We outlined the part of the map with clear water we wanted to keep and then tore them out. We were limited for time so we only did one layer of collage. Our instructor Thaniath Siddiqui often does about ten layers. She has videos you can watch on YouTube about Art and Mindfulness and is offering a course online in July called Whyology.

The idea behind intuitive painting and collage is to explore our experiences without knowing where we are going or what memories, ideas, or experiences we will remember. This can be a healing practice for people. As we put words, images, maps, objects, or whatever we can think of onto canvas or watercolor paper.

We need to be careful of bringing computers and water together. Last night I dumped my water container all over my desk. Fortunately, I had put a few pages of paper on the top and the water didn’t hit the keyboard or mouse but I had quite a mess to clean up. One word of advice is to use a flat container for your water and not a tall container as I used.

The painting for this post is the painting created last night. We didn’t have a lot of time but the paintings created by the group were varied and beautiful. Even when we are following the same instructions we are not creating the same piece of art. Different moods, images, and emotions are evident and what the art invokes in others is different.

We don’t know where our journeys into self-expression will take us. Many people may hesitate to put into words what they can express in art. The art is open to interpretation and part of the art may be hidden under layers. It might be the first time we’ve expressed something. As we continue we may express more. We may have hidden dreams or hidden hurts, things we are proud of, or things we are ashamed of. We may have things we don’t understand, things that have always puzzled us, things we question, and things we think we know for sure. Art is a way to get to know ourselves on a deeper level and explore relationships with others, communities, and the world.

Without self-expression, life lacks spontaneity and joy. Without service to others, it lacks meaning and purpose. Lawrence G. Boldt

Finding our voice, expressing ourselves, through art, dance, music, writing, clay, cooking, gardening, quilting, sewing, building, etc is important. How we express ourselves may affect our daily life. If we can express our feelings in a positive way they may do us less harm than when they are bottled up inside. Unexpressed feelings may erupt in our lives in negative ways that had we found a way to express them may have impacted our lives and those we interact with, in a big way.

In art, we can express our fears and we may find acceptance of things we cannot change. We can look at uncomfortable truths about ourselves and history. We may learn to make peace with what is, and make the most positive choices presenting themselves to us.

Listening to Pastor Mark Hughes on Sunday he said, two sons were talking about their life. One said, “I drink because my father did.” The other said, “I don’t drink because my father did.” The same circumstances but different choices and those choices impacted their lives in big ways.

We can’t control the circumstances we were born into. What we get to control is the daily choices we make. and what we make important in our lives. Life is a garden our thoughts are the seeds. We can plant flowers or we can plant weeds. Unknown.

We are who we are, we’ve been through what we’ve been through and self-expression may help us deal with the wounds and heartbreak we feel. What do we have to express and have we found a way to express it positively?

Art is a way to express yourself and through that, you can escape a bad situation. Russel Simmons

Telling the story, acknowledging what has happened and how you feel, is often a necessary part of forgiveness. Unknown

Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. Sigmund Freud

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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Creativity and the fountain of youth. What if the fountain of youth is to be creative and tapping into this source will keep us young in heart and mind?

What if the fountain of youth is to be creative and tapping into this source will keep us young in heart and mind. Creativity and the fountain of youth.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Creativity is contagious, pass it on. Albert Einstein

What if creativity is the fountain of youth and we all have access to it? We choose to find ways to use creativity in our lives.

I was at the bookstore looking for a book for my son for his birthday. On a podcast, I had seen a book called The Practice by Seth Godin. When I looked at it I thought it was a better fit for me so I bought something else for my son.

Seth Godin has been writing a blog for twenty years. He has written nineteen bestselling books. He has been walking the walk of the practice. He has been making creativity, a practice, and putting it out into the world. On the podcast, he said, “Do you know why I’m putting out a blog post tomorrow? Because it’s Friday.”

He tells us we should be generous with our ideas, our art, and our creativity. He calls putting our work out into the world “Shipping the work.” It may take us a long time before we feel ready to “Ship the work.” It took me until I was fifty-five to hang my own paintings on my own walls. What was I afraid of? It took me until this year to publish the novel I’ve been writing since 2012.

I need to get back into the practice of painting. I’ve cut my blog down to two posts a week so I can write my second novel in the mornings. I’m working on learning Adobe Illustrator so I can finish a children’s book I’ve started. Time needs to be carved out for painting. Nothing gets done if we don’t take the time to do it. We don’t get better if we don’t continue to practice.

He tells us not to focus on the outcome. That is what we cannot control. It is like planning a picnic but we have to work with the weather. I remember when we were kids we used to go to my Uncle and Aunt’s place at the lake for picnics. We had many picnics inside roasting hotdogs in the fireplace and I remember some of those the best. We can let the rain ruin our day, or we can find a way to have fun anyway.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Sylvia Plath

Life is about choice and we have created our lives by the choices we have made. He suggests keeping our expenses down so we can afford to be creative. Has he looked at rent lately, or the price of buying a house? But, truthfully keeping our expenses in line is always the best solution because consumer debt is one of the big problems of our time. Debt is not a new problem, a widow was left with the prospect of her sons being sold into slavery in the bible because of her dead husband’s debts. That is when she was told to fill all of her vessels with oil from the small amount of oil she had, and she sold the oil to pay off her debts.

Not needing to live off the proceeds of my writing or art is freeing. Poverty is never something I’ve aspired to and it is a good position to be in to be able to do something for the love of it without having to depend on it for sustenance.

This was the advice given to the character Philip by his art instructor in “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham, to not pursue art as his calling if he wasn’t of independent means because money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make complete use of the other five.

We can find a way to make art, writing, quilting, dancing, singing, playing instruments, or any other artistic endeavor part of our life and earn a living at the same time. We don’t have to choose to only make a living or only be creative. Sing, dance, and learn something new. Life is an adventure if we make it so. We can learn new things and we can share what we learn with others. What if this is the secret of those who say they don’t feel old because the creativity they use in their lives keeps their mind and heart young?

A rock pile ceases to a rock pile the moment a single man contemplated, it bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupery The Little Prince

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. Stella Adler

There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture, and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

If you purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

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The Practice: Shipping Creative Work Hardcover – Nov. 3 2020

by Seth Godin  (Author)

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas  (Author)

Creativity and self-expression are good for the soul. Are we feeding our souls?

Are we feeding our soul? Creativity and self-expression are good for the soul.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still. Unknown

When we do something, we might want to do it as well as we can, perfection might be our aim. This can leave us stuck and worried that the next action we take will ruin it.  A pottery teacher told his classes I can grade you on one or two pieces you take a lot of time with or I can grade you on the sheer weight of the pieces you create. He found that the students who went with more volume created the best pieces overall.

The more we create the better will be some of our creations. We may labor with writing a great sentence. The more sentences we write the more good sentences will be in the mix. The more cakes we bake the more fabulous ones we will produce.

Isn’t quality supposed to matter more than quantity? What if it is better to sift through quantity to find quality than to agonize over everything trying to make things perfect? This might be where writer’s block comes from. We are trying to be too perfect. Just writing anything that comes into our head and then deleting it later if it doesn’t fit may be the way to move things along.

We may think we aren’t creative enough to do something creative every day. Maybe we are using too narrow of a definition of what creative is. Some people believe that tapping into our creativity is good for our mental health. When we immerse ourselves in a creative activity we often enter a meditative state where we are so engrossed in what we are doing we temporarily forget the things that are troubling us.

Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow. Vincent van Gogh

Have you ever tried to tell yourself to quit thinking about something? It seems almost impossible to get our minds to quit churning over something we are sick of thinking about. If we start doing something like cooking, drawing, photography, art, music, or even crossword puzzles we enter a meditative state where our brain releases dopamine, which is a natural anti-depressant.

Adult coloring books are a way to relax and enjoy the creative process. Zentangling is a form of doodling that can be meditative and helps us be creative. Intuitive painting is an opportunity to explore our inner self through creativity. The main premise of intuitive painting is to tune in to our own unique creative process without attaching meaning to the end result. The more layers we add the more likely we are to find something in the end that we love.

One expert said to use warm colors on the first layer, cool colors on the second layer, and to create as many layers as we want but to let the canvas dry between layers so we don’t muddy our colors. As the colors below and above mingle we can use white if we want to paint an intense color over it. We may see images show up we didn’t plan. We can paint everything onto our canvas and by covering it up with another layer we can lay our soul bare but in a way that is recognizable only to us.

On this canvas, we could lay all of our hurts, troubles, fears, and hopes in whatever image, scribble, words or symbols has meaning to us. People are paying artists to do this for them but we can do it for ourselves. One price I saw was for a 36-inch by 36-inch canvas for $17,497.00 done over a one to four-week consultation between client and artist. Check out Dominique Hurley’s website to see some really beautiful work. I’m thinking of doing a large size eventually but right now I am working on smaller canvasses and watercolor paper.

The idea is we have no idea what the finished work will look like, what colors will be dominant, what images may surface, or at what point we may feel we are done. The more layers we use and the more colors play against each other the more interesting it will be. In the end, we may feel there it is, the mosaic of our life, the dark times, the bright and happy times, the worry, the excitement, the fear, the joy, and the love.

We are told the more we do this the more we will find to express, the more chances we will be willing to take, and the freer we will feel.

Are we finding ways to bring creativity and self-expression into our lives?

Do things that feed your soul, not your ego, and you will be happy. Unknown

Feed the mind good wisdom, the body good nutrition, the soul good vibes, and the heart good love. Elevation for your situation. T.F. Hodge

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

If you purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate link.

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Creative Revolution: Personal Transformation through Brave Intuitive Painting Paperback – Nov. 1 2016

by Flora Bowley (Author)

Baking and eating while we are standing and waiting. Can we make someone laugh today?

Can we make someone laugh today? Baking and eating while we are standing and waiting.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As long as you know how to bake, life is sure to be sweet. Unknown

Everyone seems to be baking up a storm during our stay-in. To join the baking club I made banana bread yesterday. When we cook we take a few ingredients and turn them into something else. It is a form of alchemy, chemistry in action.

When we think of alchemy we may think of wizards brewing up concoctions and isn’t that what baking is? Flour sugar and fat becomes a cake.  Some researchers see alchemy as the forerunner of modern science particularly chemistry.

Trial and error lead us to become good bakers. It helps if we keep good notes on what we liked, what we added the next time, or what we took away.

What a discovery it must have been when bread was first created. It is believed the earliest bread was baked around 8000 B.C. in the Middle East specifically Egypt and would have been a flatbread like chapattis (India) or tortillas (Mexico).

The first leavened bread was made with wild yeast (sourdough) and dates back about 1000 B.C. Louis Pasteur in 1859 discovered how yeast works and nine years later Fleischman’s Yeast was founded and the modern baking era was born. The bread slicer was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1912 and the first automatically sliced loaves were produced on July 6, 1928.

Many people are learning to make sourdough bread and creating their own sourdough starter or getting it from someone who has some. I’ve never tried to make sourdough bread but the starter sounds pretty easy to make just water and flour left to ferment and then you feed it equal parts water and flour until you are ready to make a batch of bread leaving ¼ cup of the starter for next time.

Cakes are like books, there are new ones you want to read and old ones you want to reread. Ellen Rose

Whatever we bake when we are done we have something to show for our efforts. In a time like this feeding people is something we can do. It feels wholesome, nurturing, and loving to provide food and there is something about the smell of baking that adds something extra to our day. If we want to sell our home we are told to create the smell of baking by boiling cinnamon and sugar or actually baking something to give our home that homey feeling and scent.

Maybe we are soothing our fears in an uncertain time by creating a safe and nourishing home filled with good food. We are once more gathering around the kitchen table drinking coffee, eating bread or cake, talking and laughing.

If we don’t have a house full of people we can put our creation on FaceBook or Zoom and eat our creation with a friend while they eat theirs. We may have to make an effort to connect with people but technology makes it easier. There is always the phone if we can’t get our computer to work with Zoom or other programs.

Reach out and touch someone through technology. We can have a laugh, break some bread and talk about what we’ll do when this is over. We can think about those keeping everything together while we stand and wait. We can offer up prayers for them, give thanks for them, and be grateful for what we have in our lives. When this is over we will all reflect on the part we had to play, and if we did it as well as we could. Will we be proud of ourselves?

Sometimes me thinks “What is a friend?” And then me say, “Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.” The Cookie Monster

Today I will live in the moment unless it’s unpleasant in which case I will eat a cookie. The Cookie Monster

If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation. Regina Brett

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Recipes and Wisdom: by Martha Markey by [Martha Markey, Mary Earp]

Recipes and Wisdom: by Martha Markey Kindle Edition

by Martha Markey (Author), Mary Earp (Editor)

Creativity and self-expression. Should we find a way to bring creativity and self-expression into our lives?

Should we find a way to bring creativity and self-expression into our lives?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

“Some said, how’d you fly?” I said, from not being afraid of trying to fly.” Jay-Z

Wow, our life is moving right along. How can we slow it down? We can’t, but we have just as many hours in our day as those people who accomplish what we wish we could accomplish. How do they do it? One of the biggest things in life is perseverance; nothing can take the place of doing the next thing and not giving up.

Jay-Z says he knew the record company would be my bridge to those people I could connect with, but they didn’t give me that bridge, so it was a very important part of my career that we didn’t give up right there. That belief in myself, and belief that I had something to offer, so we built our own bridge, and I started my own record company. Jay-Z

There are enough Jay-Z quotes that my whole post could just be one great Jay-Z quote after another. He says most of the people who became successful where he was from never went back. So, there was no mentoring program, no going back to teach someone what they knew.

There are so many people we can learn lessons from. Somehow we have to find our own way, use our own gifts, and be moved by what inspires us. Even if someone doesn’t mentor us they can be an inspiration from afar. If they can do it, maybe we can too?

When we realize we don’t fit in, it may be the biggest gift we receive. “You don’t see things how other people do, there’s something wrong with your thinking,” we may be told. That’s just another way of being told: “You don’t think inside the box.” Don’t we want to think outside the box?  Isn’t that where the magic is?

If we want to be originals then we won’t fit into a group. By definition, an original is on the outside. Sometimes originals end up with a following. Sometimes they just end up going their own way, thinking their own thoughts, creating their own life. When we learn to embrace ourselves, idiosyncrasies and all and embrace all of ourselves we can make the best of what we have to give to the world.

The truth about talent is first, that it’s God-Given. When you want to unleash that talent, your mind lets it go. Because it’s there. You have to have that belief that when you draw from that well of talent that it’s going to be there. Jay-Z

One of the joys in life is surprising ourselves with our creativity. We didn’t know what we would write, how the painting would look, or how the garden would bloom and look in each season. What we had was an idea but sometimes the reality becomes so much more than the idea. We are surprised by what something has become.

Making room for creativity in our lives allows what is in us to be expressed. We never quite know what that will look like. Some people make their living with their expression of song, art, dance, or other creative endeavors. Many of us don’t, but allowing creative expression feeds our soul if not our family. Everything worth doing is not only worth doing if it brings in money.

Money is great, we need it, we use it, but creativity and self-expression are important and just as creative if no one sees it but our self. Some people’s gift to the world is their self expression, for others this is their gift to themselves. No matter what we do in life, we should find a way to allow creativity and self-expression to be part of our life.

Is there something in us calling out to be expressed? What is the medium our self-expression can best be expressed through?

“There are 2 possibilites: 1 is that there’s more to life than the physical life, that our souls ‘will find an even higher place to dwell’ when this life is over. If that’s true, there’s no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it – we have to take it for everything it has and ‘die enormous’ instead of ‘living dormant’, as I said way back on ‘can I live’. Either way, fear is a waste of time.” Jay-Z

The motivation for me, was them telling me what I could not be. Jay-Z

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Decoded Hardcover – Nov 16 2010

by Jay-Z (Author) 4.8 out of 5 stars 12 ratings


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Self-expression through painting. When we find our voice, we find our self.

When we find our voice, we find our self. Self -expression through painting.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows of your soul. Bob Ross

Last night I painted with a certified Bob Ross instructor. I didn’t know certified Bob Ross painting instructors existed. Bob Ross is a personality many people are familiar with who wanted everyone to believe they could be an artist. There was another artist William Alexander who taught this technique of wet-on-wet oil painting on television long before Bob Ross.

The story goes that when Bob began his own show William Alexander made a promotional commercial where he handed off a paintbrush to Bob as a symbolic nod to Bob as his painterly heir apparent.

According to PBS, fewer than 10 percent of the viewers painted along with Bob. Although the show was about teaching painting techniques they tuned in for Bob’s soothing tones, the quiet place of happy trees, happy clouds, and in general creating your happy place.

Bob’s curly hair we are told is because when he wasn’t making much money he permed his hair so he’d require fewer haircuts. The story goes he came to hate his hair but because this was his trademark and on all his products, he kept it. He even wore a wig when he lost his own hair to cancer.

Bob Ross’s TV show ran from January 11, 1983, until May 17, 1994. These shows are now available on YouTube as well as others by certified Bob Ross instructors.

I first encountered this wet-on-wet technique when I came to Toronto in 1976. At the exhibition, there was an artist named Varga who quickly painted one painting after another. I was enthralled watching him paint so quickly and beautifully.

I type Varga into the computer and up comes “Fall Forest Scene” antique oil on canvas by Varga 4ft x 6ft selling for $4000.00. The Painting was recently obtained from an estate sale. Original receipt in possession from almost thirty years ago and the price it sold for then was $5000.00. The date this work was painted is unknown. Obviously, this was not art to invest in. It looks to me like it is probably done by the artist who enthralled me at the exhibition.

My husband called me downstairs last night. He had YouTube on and a Bob Ross certified instructor came up. I have a Bob Ross book and I found the painting they were painting in it. Then my husband put the show on a computer tablet so I could watch it in my studio and paint to it. It was the same show we thought but I soon realized it wasn’t, but I painted along anyway. It was a fun night of painting. I didn’t know what I was going to paint, and by painting along I actually painted something, instead of spending the night thinking about painting. I’ve dabbled with Bob Ross techniques but never painted along with him or one of his certified instructors.

I don’t paint in oil, instead, I use acrylic but the techniques translate, although acrylic dries much quicker. I don’t have the palette knives so maybe a trip to the art store is warranted. Not a hardship since art stores are one of my favorite places to visit.

All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind. Bob Ross

The certified instructor was good at explaining the techniques but he lacks Bob’s personality.  They had a class set up they were filming, and it was interesting that everyone was painting along but every painting was different. The colors were subtly different, the placement was different, the trees were different, and the intensity of lights and darks were different. The mood created by each artist was different.

This is the thing we sometimes don’t realize, even when we paint along, we are creating our own art. We are expressing our own feelings, desires, and viewpoint. Do we paint “Happy little clouds?” Art is expressing our self, the subject doesn’t matter. Every artist painting along created a unique painting. No one had an exact replica of the instructors, and that was the idea.

Bob Ross wanted each person to be an artist, to express their own ideas, to tease out their own clouds out of their own skies. He was teaching techniques so everyone could create their own art. His instruction was a starting point.

Finding a way to express our self is important. We can write, sing, sew, draw, make pottery, wood carvings, garden, cook, or any other form of self-expression. Neuroscience is teaching us that “self-expression” might be one of the most important ways people connect, navigate, and grow. It might be important that our voice is heard and acknowledged, but maybe it is more important that we acknowledge our own voice and our own creativity.

We have something inside us that longs to be expressed. We often feel shy that our expression won’t be enough. This is the beauty of painting along with anyone, or singing or writing with prompts. We are still expressing ourselves, but we are not as alone. Many times we sit and look at a blank page and don’t know what to write. We stare at our blank canvas and don’t know what to paint. We need a starting point, once we start, we are on our way.

The fact that so few of Bob’s viewers painted along with him is a testament to how we hold ourselves back. How many wanted to paint with him but thought someone would think they were stupid for thinking they could paint? We hold ourselves back all the time. We censor ourselves, we let others censor us. If we aren’t letting those feelings and thoughts out, what happens to them? How are we making our life smaller than it needs to be by not finding a way to express ourselves through some form of creativity? It isn’t about singing because we are great singers, or painting because we are great painters. It is expressing ourselves and getting what is inside of us out.

Maya Angelou told us in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that it sings because it has a song. We have things inside of us that long to be expressed. As we find a form of self-expression we find ourselves. Will our form of self-expression make us money? Who knows, we’ll never know unless we put ourselves out there. If it does, the money is not likely our biggest payoff. Sometimes when money comes into play we are no longer expressing ourselves, we begin to express what we think we should, must, and what is expected.

Maybe even if we make money with one form of self-expression, we should have another that we do only for ourselves.

Believe that you can do it cause you can do it. Bob Ross

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Best of the Joy of Painting Paperback – Sep 20 1995

by Robert H Ross (Author) 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews


Owning the greatness within. Becoming the best we can be.

Becoming the best we can be. Owning the greatness within.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you try and block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. Martha Graham

It isn’t becoming famous or rich that makes someone great. Becoming rich or famous doesn’t mean they are using their gifts, nor does it mean they are not. Sometimes it seems that people who don’t have much in worldly goods are the most creative. Designers watch what the poor wear to get inspiration. When we can afford to purchase a designers line and where it how they meant it to be worn, where is the creativity in that?

When people go to Value Village or thrift shops, Salvation Army, or other used clothing shops and with a little artistic flare put clothes together worthy of being on runways, now that’s artistic flare. I watched my mother sew clothes when I was growing up. She could take remnants and turn them into something nice for us kids. I remember when she was going to one of my sister’s weddings, she sewed what we now call a capsule wardrobe for herself.

Quilting has evolved, but it had its start in using up every last scrap of material, nothing was wasted. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on Victorian times one of the things we see is how everything was used, reused, and used again. Thrift was a virtue.

It bothers Mom to take whole bolts of cloth and cut it up into bits and pieces for quilting. The greatest art of quilting may be that it was making something from almost nothing. True creativity was finding a way to put scraps together in an artistic way.

Necessity is the mother of invention. We don’t have as much necessity so maybe we aren’t as inventive. We have so much entertainment we don’t have to make our own fun. It is great to get together as a group and entertain ourselves. To throw a potluck where each person’s offering makes a feast.

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. Ansel Adams

Creativity is all around us. We see creative gardens where someone didn’t go to the garden center and pay to have everything put in at once. Many of their plants are not only beautiful but have a story. These are Sandra’s poppies. That peony came from Uncle Fred’s. This is a shoot off of Mom’s rose. This cherry tree was given to me by a neighbor. This rose garden is all the Mother’s day roses my children have given me.

We are all creative, but unless we make creativity part of our life it is an unused and unappreciated gift. When you watch little children play you know it’s true. They exuberantly play with paint, building blocks and any medium put before them. We give up our creativity at our peril. When we let creativity move through us we give life to things we didn’t know were in us. Perhaps they aren’t in us, but only come through us, if we are not the conduit through which life expresses itself does it find a more willing conduit?

We tell our self it doesn’t matter if we broaden our self by using our gifts. We tell our self our gifts aren’t great enough. People will laugh at us if we try and present our gifts to the world. The joy that springs up within us as we express ourselves is a joy we get no other way. The joy of writing a novel is not in putting it out in the world. The joy is in the doing. Even if it never gets out into the world if you are a writer, write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a singer, sing. If you are a quilter, quilt. Creativity is expressing life’s joy.

When we learn to express our self through our gifts we find our self. We say through our art what calls to be said. We find the truth, expressing what we cannot express any other way. It thrills us to hear a song well sung, a painting well painted, a carving well carved. Viewing art expands us, invoking feelings we too long to express.

It does matter if you use your gifts. It matters to you. We make ourselves small and insignificant when we don’t express ourselves. Self-expression is a gift, use it, develop it, and own it.

We don’t serve our self or anyone else by keeping ourselves small. We do our part when we do the thing that calls out to be done and express what calls out to be expressed.

Are we owning the greatness within us?

Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency. Aesop

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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life Paperback – Jan 6 2006

by Twyla Tharp (Author)

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews


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