A Year of Listening: Week 39

day lilies 010To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. — Emily Dickinson

I studied flower arranging as a 4-Her in my youth.  Using day lilies was an introduction to wabi sabi, a term I would not learn until many years later.  What is blooming today, and only today?


Accelerate Results

Who wants to create more in the time allotted?

How can that happen?

Running With Scissors
My friend Cathy Stark photographed me in this pose that illustrates, “Runs With Scissors.” When the cutting begins, I am in the creative zone. And while I am more of a risk taker than my high school teachers could have ever imagined, I usually stand still with scissors. However, I do have them strategically placed throughout the house.

My siblings and I, creative, entrepreneurial beings, have discussed this. Paul is making things in multiples. I have been repurposing design components to new projects. Beth, owner of Spencer Grace—a creative communications agency, offers this terrific technique on her blog: make a fast mess. Please read her complete perspective at spencergrace.com.

Evolve in the Land of Little Bits

Big drama wears me out. Big bites overwhelm me. I often choose a “little bit,” a phrase my father often used and now so does my son.
Both Studio Three 17 and its division fibergig experienced significant growth spurts in 2013. We grew, we learned, and now we are intentionally building on those experiences. This week I am painting on new scarf prototypes, a circular cotton knit and a large rectangle rayon number with fringed ends.
Exploration is in the early stages. Fabric, wet or dry. Paint application with brush, with tip top bottle. Fabric flat or scrunched. More paint? Time to print with ink? I am happy in this Land of Little Bits.

flat scarfpainted scarfscruched scarf





2014, A Year of Listening

I like shoveling snow when no one else is stirring, except the snow plow coming up the highway.
Everything is muffled, except the scrapping of the shovel against asphalt, worked out in a rhythm that mirrors the movement of arms, feet, lungs.
I am hoping not to fuel up the snow blower this year, but to work my way through the snow with a shovel. Slowly. Sensibly.

I usually have three focus words for each year. This year I am choosing an activity for my focus. I am listening. My sister asked me “for what?” She needs to ask that later.
To what? Collected words.
Here, every Monday, I am posting a quotation from my collection. I will be listening to those words. The words will be accompanied by one of my art pieces or a sketch, a response to the words.

Come listen with me. Tell me what you hear.

An Economy Lesson from my Mother

I stacked up 3 buttons and then repeated the action 7 more times. The little buttons were embellishments for gingerbread men, a new design for journal covers. I threaded up the machine, successfully sewed on two buttons, then cracked the third and broke a needle. I took the thread out of the machine and found my thimble.

As I found a meditative pace in the repetitive work, I remembered the November when mother and I made 25 Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. There were three size options and a range of skin and hair color. Over Thanksgiving break, I was assembling doll clothes while mom was organizing the big meal. She stopped in to see my progress.

She was not entirely delighted. She had caught me zig zagging every seam in the small garments. “Norma, this is just doll clothes! “. This statement came from the same woman who had ripped out wavy seams while I cried just a few years earlier. My pursuit of excellence was deeply rooted in her parenting. Today, she was teaching me something new, an economy of time. Today I call that day’s lesson, “appropriate effort.”

I could have glued the buttons on the journal covers, but that does not conform to my standards for my studio artifacts. I expect the owner to slide her hand over that cover, to enjoy the soft wool couched around the cotton figure, perhaps to flick the button a bit with a finger nail. The buttons are sewn on securely, with doubled heavy duty thread, so that I only made two stitches for each button. I honor the economy lesson from so long ago.

What did you learn long ago that helps you today?


Enough: Time

I attended a small business seminar last week.  One of the presenters began his workshop with two questions: what is you biggest challenge and what is your greatest aspiration?  The most common answer to the first question was enough time.

I have been thinking about that answer all week, accompanied by the old adage of “make hay while the sun shines.”  We had exceptional warm days and bad weather is coming up the coast.  I have been cleaning and rearranging the garage.  Today I mowed the yard for hopefully the last time this year.  I have structured my 24 /7 to make good use of the weather.  Storm Sandy has added a sense of urgency.

I have not felt short of time, because I have had clear goals and a flexible focus.  I would like to bring that to more of my weeks.  What makes you satisfied with the use of your time?