Update: Projects, Purging, and Poetry

Hope is the thing with feathers...

Hope is the thing with feathers…

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

Dear Readers,

I do want you to know that I have some things in the works.  I have not been posting regularly on this blog as I have been working on my other blog, The Original Journal Project. But mostly, life has distracted me.  It is amazing how things just get busy.  I do post regularly on Instagram, so please follow me there so we can connect. Find me on Twitter too.


I am not sure where I stand on platform building and blogging.  I want to connect with my readers, but I am not sure where I need to precisely focus my energy (since I have three active blogs and projects). I’d love for you to subscribe to The Original Journal as I am in the process of getting things organized to publish the first edition of The Original Journal. That is exciting just saying it! I have been taking small business classes at the local community college. They are free. If you are interested in starting your own small business, go to your local community college and ask about the Small Business Office.  It’s such a great resource.  If you have any questions or need help finding your local Small Business Office, please email me and I’ll try to help.

I have also been reaching out to professionals and networking.  I find people are willing to help young (can I still call myself that? Well, yes I can — because I am a new budding entrepreneur) entrepreneurs. I have always struggled with the Left Brain.  I call it “Crossing the Left Brain Rickety Bridge.

I wish my post could be more focused, but I am trying to figure out branding (taking a class this week) and focus on business.  I should tell you that I am really excited about purging. I listened to this podcast on purging at Unstuckable (which is a great community and I 100% recommend it). I love what Stephen Worley reiterated about purging that author, Marie Kondo said in The Magic of Tidying Up — to allow yourself to hold the objects you are struggling to get rid of and thanking them for being in your life and then letting them go.  I have been able to get rid of so much stuff since listening to that podcast. It really cranked up my engine. The podcast also talked about seeing a thread in your objects. There’s a story being told about you regarding what you hold on to. Now for me, I still have letters I received from pen pals when I was 14.  I am a paper pack rat and I’ll say it — a HOARDER. I have so many scraps of paper with random poems and really awful prose. I kept it all. What I didn’t do was process it with a clear head. I’m doing that now and am making such wonderful progress on getting rid of things that I no longer have to hold onto.

Dare I say — ZEN. It feels Zen to me, but I certainly have a lot of paper based items. To me anything that is sentimental, I keep.  I love story and memories. Thus I write memoir.  I will have to post some photos of my progress.

The ceiling in the Artroom (office) fell in.  There were some heavy rain storms about a month and half ago and a big chunk of ceiling fell down.  Luckily, it did not leak because underneath the cave-in were all my papers and photos of The Evanston Community Kitchen. Thank goodness nothing got wet.  I take it as a sign to start getting serious on that project. My Elizabeths (great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother) are giving me a sign!  I am working on that book in a writing group.  I am really looking at the traditional publishing model and self-publishing is really looking like a good fit for that project. Self-publishing is the route I am going to take with The Original Journal. I will keep you updated about that.  I am trying to get my ducks in a row about how to streamline social media and my blogs.  But just know that I will be keeping memomuse as a blog too. I am trying to figure out how to do a newsletter.  I feel stupid admitting I don’t know how to do it.
Well, honesty is the best policy.

So, I’m excited about blogging a bit.  I hope you are well and this update finds you in good health and spirits.  We are having snow in the South and I am just tickled pick. I love it.  I think snow is beautiful, but it has been a hard winter on people. This is an older blog I did not post right away. Everything is current except the snow update! We had the snow in February. We have sunshine today and spring temperatures. It’s lovely weather.



Thanks for your support and reading my blog.

Bird on a Wire II

Bird on a Wire II

Memomuse Update: July Joy and Sorrow

Hello friends.  I am sorry I have not been keeping you in the loop of what is going on. Although I have been active on Facebook and Twitter, I have been somewhat dormant.  I am working on learning how to use Photoshop so I can upload photos with watermarks and protect my work.  But really all I want to do is share and tell.  I have so many images I want to share but since I have had to deal with photo piracy and I have the tools to watermark them, I feel I should use the tools to watermark images. Except the whole watermarking process puts out my fire and it always feels laborious.

open the door

I am not the most technical person and struggle with left brain waves. I prefer the open ended ocean of the right brain world.

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

I am working on some new posts for all three of my blogs: The Original Journal, The Community Kitchen, and Memomuse.  I have compartmentalized to try to target potential readers better.  I am a bit exhausted from social media though.  I am putting my energy into writing (in Microsoft Word). I get very distracted when I am on the internet.

But here is the 411 for July. We went to Washington D.C. to inurn my mother at Arlington National Cemetery.  She was placed in the same shelf like box (for lack of a better description) in the Columbarium (where people are placed when they are cremated).

My mother and I on my wedding day.

My mother and I on my wedding day.

I will post a detailed post about that as Arlington was very moving.


Columbarium: My parents’ grave

I climbed the ladder and placed my mother’s ashes in the box like shelf, or think of as an ash cubby in a way. I know morbid, but I am just writing, or rather blogging so I am not going to struggle with finding the perfect word/description. The marine who was the pall bearer or ash box holder, was very serious and he marched in typical Arlington fashion. He was very serious.  I guess I am dismissing the seriousness of death, but my mom died Christmas Eve and her inurnment was scheduled in July.  It was a serious affair and very moving, so I am not being flip — just trying to be funny.

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom's funeral

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom’s funeral

The marine had the most beautiful blue eyes.  They sparkled even.  As he handed me the urn box with my mom’s heart and ashes in it, I said “Semper Fi.” It was awkward.  I sometimes can be so strange even to myself.

Well, anyway, he handed off Betty and I placed her urn box in with my father’s, making sure they were back to back and their boxes touched.  I dusted off my father’s ten-year old death dust from the top of his box.  That was intense.  Dust to dust.  Anyway, it was moving.  I wrote a descriptive piece about this experience for the SAMLA conference.  I am the chair of the creative nonfiction panel this year. SAMLA will be held in Atlanta this November.

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom's funeral

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom’s funeral

See, even when I try to write a little update, it turns into a whole lot of words. 

I went to Evanston, Illinois at the end of July for a research trip on a book I am working on: The Community Kitchen. That was amazing.

Another view of this beautiful house.  You can go on tours of the Dawes House.  The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

Another view of this beautiful house. You can go on tours of the Dawes House. The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

My mom grew up in New York City, but moved back to Evanston in 1947 with her mom after her parents divorced. I went to Evanston a lot as a child with my parents. Mom took us to visit our grandma and great-aunt often.   A post will be coming soon about my trip to Evanston, either on The Community Kitchen blog or here.  The compartmentalizing is taking its toll on me.  Managing three blogs is a lot of work.  And I take my blog posts serious.  Probably too serious.

The Original Journal had several signings in Evanston. One was a man I met on the airplane.  He likes redheads.  Another signing was a Northwestern chemistry student taking a break in the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern.  That is the signing I am going to feature on The Original Journal blog.  She wrote a great journal signing.  A couple more journal signatures were done on Northwestern campus.  So, there will be some posts on that blog.

Got to run. I am writing a book after all, so chop chop to it I go.

I will leave you with my mother’s favorite poem by Kahlil Gibran — “On Joy and Sorrow”

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Source: http://www.katsandogz.com/onjoy.html

A Room of My Own!

Isn't it delightful! Yes, indeed it is! Everyone needs a room of their own - Now go create your own (after you read my blog post, of course!)

I am typing in my own room that is so not filled with clutter it makes me giddy with artistic and I must admit, anal, delight!  All that is in this room right now is an antique desk that has been with me for many years of artistic and creative and human ups and downs, a vase with yellow birds, a coffee mug (with delightful coffee), a chair, and my inspired creativity, oh and don’t forget space…lots and lots of lofty and white ballooned space. And the baby monitor.

Now I know what Virginia Wolf was talking about.  I do indeed have a room of my own.

"A Room of My Own" - My writer's and creator's haven

We had this room painted with it being the intention of being the new master bedroom, because it has a closet that connects to Little B’s nursery.  Little B has been sleeping in our bedroom which is on the other side of the house.  Yes, my house has wings it seems.  It is an 1880 Victorian – one level and it is huge, over 2800 square feet – way too much for me to keep up with as far as cleaning goes. But that is another blog entry.

I am so excited to be typing and creating at this little desk.  I will insert pictures.

We have a room that we share called “The Art Room.”  It is a name from our shared office and creation space in Wyoming.  I have inserted photos to show you how non-conducive “The Art Room” is now for creation in a clutter free and stress free room.

"The Art Room" - this view is behind my desk - clutter which needs to be sorted and "Zenned"

To be honest, “The Art Room” has been closed off because it has been the dumping ground since we had our family room, which we call the Parlor (yes this old house could be like the house in Clue without the murders of course it has that many rooms) painted a nice yellow.  I should insert photo here of hallway and parlor which are connected.  The thing is with photos is I have been taking my laptop around which has the program Photo Booth and I snap photos with it because I can just upload them without having to download them from my digital camera which involves multi steps and hooking up USB cables and all that mess.

"The Art Room" with all its disorganization and clutter - how this room would make Martha Stewart nervous!!

You can see here why I would not want to create in this room, let alone be in it!  I am in the process of sorting, organizing, and de-cluttering.  I need Martha Stewart, Necey from Clean House, and those British cleaning ladies from How Clean is Your House. In fact, I found a bunch of mice poop behind this desk in “The Art Room” that is now in “A Room of My Own.”  No judgement – I have a house built in 1880 – there’s going to be mice descended from Victorian age mice! I hate mice by the way and they give me the creeps.  But I cleaned up the mice poop and scrubbed the desk super super clean and then dusted with Pledge and moved the desk by myself (I could have waited to move the desk – but I am an Aries and I like to think my impatience and insistence on doing things my myself is an Aries thing:)).  That was the task at hand – to get the desk in A Room of My Own.

We just are not ready to have all that stuff go on just yet.  I am a mobile office basically and all I am working with is a diaper bag and a laptop.  Minimal! Just for now.

So Little B is asleep for his late morning/early afternoon nap and the monitor is on and in “My Room of My Own.”

This is the view from the right side of my desk in "My Room of my Own"

So here I am just blabbing away (I guess what they call blogging because I don’t really consider this crafting of writing, but it sure is fun and I don’t really care about what I write because I have such a small readership (and I really appreciate you three (Sara, Christina, and Rebecca – love your comments – feeds my ego:)).  I feel I can take more risks with a small readership.  It can be compared to a small printing press or publishing company!  I just haven’t made it big yet so I will enjoy being anonymous.  I can get a few more readers from posting to Facebook, but that is kind of annoying because I feel like it too flashy.  Anyway – sometimes I post to Facebook when I feel I have written something really good (crafted something good in terms of writing, not blogging) or when my ego needs more numbers on my blog stats of views per post.

Close up of the desk I writing on

Taking a picture of Little B in his basinette, which is NOT in "A Room of my Own"

The View Above - The Pleasure of High Ceilings - this is what I see when I look up in "A Room of my Own"

The view outside - isn't that charming?

White Sheer Curtain View - How Delightful and Crisp

Little B asleep in his basinette while Mama Meg enjoys her new space for just mama!

Little B in a basket in the bay window

Well, Little B should be getting up soon and I have to shift gears into Mama mode… we are going to the library today via a stroller walk (it is just a couple blocks away) to read some books.  I hope you all have a great Tuesday and have time and space to create or enjoy in a room of your own!