My Strange Pull: The Original Journal


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Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

— Rumi

My Strange Pull

I have been pulled towards The Original Journal for twenty years. I have been collecting signatures from people for two decades.  If you don’t know this about me, I ask random people I meet to sign my journal. I tell them there are three things they need to know before they sign it:

1. There’s a Front Door – Rated PG13

2. There’s a Back Door – Not Rated

3. There’s no rules!

I guess you could say The Original Journal is a living journal, scrapbook and a yearbook all rolled into one with two ways to enter the book — through the front and the back of the book. Like a house, a front door is for more formal introductions and meetings and a back door is more familiar, uncensored, and messy. The back door usually has a screen door letting in fresh air.

I just can’t let The Original Journal go. It won’t let me go!  I have to see this through to publication.  I am in the process right now of finding a printer.  Each printer I talk to tells me it is a complicated printing job. I will have to find a specialty printer.  I don’t want to give up the tape binding like a typical composition notebook. I want The Original Journal to feel like a composition notebook, but of course it will have special elements to it to induce and provoke creativity, journaling, and musings.  There will a selection of quotes from other original journal signers (there are hundreds of journals with thousands of signatures and many pearls of wisdom from ordinary folks). The first edition will include 50 quotes — 20 Front Door quotes and 20 Back Door quotes, along with 10 of my personal favorites.  I can’t wait to get this journal to press.

Trusting My Gut (Business Instinct)

As I have gone through this process, I have had to be flexible and let go of things I have clutched tightly to for a long time. For example, the black and white marble design that I have been using for the last seven years has been let go. I worked with a talented graphic designer, who is also the sister of my best friend from childhood. Their father is an commercial artist in the Chicago area (where I grew up). “Arch” was also my soccer coach as a kid. He would Ginger and me into the city to create in his industrial size studio where large billboard size canvases stretched across thousands of square feet of creation space. It was so exciting to go into Chicago from the suburbs to paint and explore creatively on weekends.  These excursions planted a seed of creativity and art for me. Arch has worked for Disney and many other companies. I remember the feeling of freedom paired with splats of color and creation. It made me giddy (perhaps it was the paint fumes). I love creating and it is a natural high for me. My best work is done late at night when the house is quiet and night offers her blank canvas.

It was serendipitous that I connected with Julia (my best friend’s older sister). Ginger (best friend fro childhood) and I had many adventures as children and many funny memories. Ginger has the most contagious laugh I have ever heard.

I had to trust my gut (what I have been calling my business instinct) when someone (before I connected with Julia) offered to create a logo for me and it was not working.  I did not feel this person understood my vision for my company logo or The Original Journal. I have to say it was a great thing that I trusted my gut. Now I have a logo and cover design I really like and I think you will too. The logo and cover designs have gone through revisions and adjustments but it is really close to being finished. It’s amazing how many split-the-atom decisions have to be made when designing something. Detail. Detail. Detail.

Kickstarter Video

As you know, if you follow The Original Journal or my other social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) you know that I have been working with a videographer on a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to print the first edition of The Original Journal. It was very serendipitous how I met Jah-mul. He is from New York City. One of the first interactive original journals I made was The New York Journal that I made for my first trip to NYC. I actually got reprimanded for zoning out at a boring literacy training I was attending as a teacher. I was so excited about my trip and went a little ADHD with the glue stick, markers, scissors, and creative supplies that were on the table, but that is another story and probably another seed of how The Original Journal came to be).

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

No doubt about it - I am a right brained brainiac.

No doubt about it – I am a right brained brainiac.

Jah-mul and I hit it off after a professor at a local college suggested him because of his creativity and talent in videography.  I am really excited to see what the video will look like. I have enjoyed working with Jah-mul and I see a bright future for him as a film maker. I started The Original Journal in college so it is interesting to work with a college student on the Kickstarter video. I will keep you posted when I launch the campaign. I wanted to launch the video on Summer Solstice, but I may have to launch it closer to July or August as I am still searching for the right printer. I am getting my right brain ducks in a row so they form a beautiful left brain formation.

ducks in a row

When Can You Purchase The Original Journal?

I wish I had the answer to this question!  I am hoping the journals will be available for pre-orders by August and Back to School. If they are available for Back to School, it will be closer to the end of August. But in reality, I don’t think I will have them ready until September.  I will keep you posted. It looks like the printing issue will be resolved this summer as I am still researching printers to find the right printer.  It is very exciting to be moving into this next phase of the project as see it go from project to product.  I am also in the process of finding a website designer as I need to set up an e-commerce site. If you know of anyone, please shoot me an email. But please no spam. I take personal recommendations from people I know very seriously and enjoy working with people I have a personal connection to.

Adapting and Letting Go

This process of setting up a small business and taking an idea that has floated in the right brain down to the left brain field has been a discovery process. I have had to let go of certain things. It was hard at first, but I am seeing the bigger picture.

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The bigger picture is unlocking doors and unblocking myself from my own issues related to success and failure. I have been ding some soul searching on things that get in my way. And I am one of them. I have an Upper Limit Problem, which I am working on. I have had to let go of perfectionism which is really a way to set up a giant roadblock on the path to success. It would be more of a failure if I didn’t see the publication of this project through. I am prepared to fail and learn from it, but the success lies in getting it done. It’s really scary pursuing the dream that lives in the deepest pocket of your heart, but in the process I have realized that I am creating a product that will help people do exactly that. And I am so excited to tell you about the special parts of the journal that help you focus on your inner heart pocket dream. This exciting component to the journal will be revealed closer to publication. I had an aha moment late one night when I was working through some kinks to the design and it hit me.  It’s the core of the vision for my company and for The Original Journal.

What exciting projects are you working on and what fears are you working through as you go after them? I’d love to hear from you.

Photo taken in Canterbury, England 2014

Sit down and dream a little…                                                    Photo taken in Canterbury, England 2014

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Pollinators: The Creative Process and Big Ideas


Pollinators spread pollen. The definition is “one that pollinates: as a: an agent (as an insect) that pollinates flowers b: POLLENIZER”

I am thinking of a metaphor of people in your life that help spread good things in your life. Do you have friends who cheer you on and encourage you when you try new things or go outside your comfort zone?
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This photo is from my garden. We were headed out last Sunday to my in-laws our weekly Sunday dinner.  My husband and I both had bad colds and were feeling under the weather. He got in the front passenger seat after buckling in Ben into his car seat. I got in the driver’s side and saw this butterfly feeding on a Tiger Lilly in our garden. It was surreal. The butterfly was huge. I longed to have my longed to have my long-range camera, but only had my cell phone.  I told my husband I was going to take some photos.  He looked miserable and as a wife I thought, “Let’s just go and get to my in-laws.” But as an artist, “I thought you have now or never. I mean when are you going to have this chance again to photograph a butterfly feeding on tiger lilies in your own garden only a couple of feet away? Artist wins.

So, I got all up in this butterfly’s business and held my camera phone as close to it as possible.  I took several photos which are below.  I love the photo above. I did not edit it at all.

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Bumblebee on a marigold in my tomatoe garden area,

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Butterfly muse

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More shots of butterfly

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So, there you have the sequence of photos of the butterfly.  The funny thing is that I spooked the first photo in this sequence (the first image in this post) and it flew off and seemed to chase me. I scampered away.  A friend was surprised to see a comment that I was freaked out by the butterfly chasing me.  I had posted the photo on Facebook via Intsagram.  That butterfly was huge and I had totally got up all in its business. I would have been irked too. She was quietly sipping her nectar of the butterfly gods and I got all nosy. I would have been better off with my long-range camera. Anyway, I scampered around the yard running from a butterfly. I know, funny!

I watched the butterfly circle the garden after it spooked me back.  A butterfly does not have a direct path it seems when it flies. It goes in a non-linear motion and it made me think about my own creative process and how that process for most artists and creatives is non-linear.  The butterfly eventually made it back to the Tiger Lilly and continued drinking. We drove off and it enjoyed the beauty on its own terms.

What is your creative process?  I go from A to Q and then back to B and then loop over to T and swing back to H and hop over to Y while doing X,Y, Z.

Bumblebee on sunflower in my garden

Bumblebee on sunflower in my garden

Back to pollinators… really think about the friends and people who support your process and pollinate ideas by encouraging you and adding to them and also passing them on by sharing them with others. Nurture these relationships.  Drink the nectar they provide. The creative process is difficult and often done in isolation, but the pollinating is done with people who encourage and help you build that non-linear bridge that loops and droops and soars.

I would like to thank a friend who is a pollinator for me. She has never dismissed me and actively listens to my ideas no matter how “out there” they are. She is my pollinator. Thank you Sus. There are so many more pollinators in my life. And you know who you are and I thank you.

One more I would like to thank is Mike Shay.

Mike and Chris Shay and me in front of the Wyoming Arts Council in 2009

Mike and Chris Shay and me in front of the Wyoming Arts Council in 2009 in Cheyenne, WY

He works at the Wyoming Arts Council.  I walked into the Wyoming Arts Council more than 15 years ago with a crazy journal packed with signatures  and memorabilia popping out of the pages from travels and interactions with random people. The premise for The Original Journal  is I ask random people to sign my journal. I tell them there are three rules: 1. There is a Front Door (Rated PG-13) 2. There is a Back Door (Not Yet Rated) 3. There are nb rules. Then they write/draw/share whatever they want. All original signatures from original people with original thoughts. Here is a video I made of some of the signatures: http://animoto.com/play/AUZnc4F5a1d8Ja54pbG61Q.

This had been my “Big Idea” and eventually (I may be walking with a cane by the time it is published) it will be in bookstores as a gift book collection and journal series.  You can check out my blog for The Original Journal and learn all about it here. Mike pollinated this idea by just listening and encouraging me. It took me 15 years just to organize the idea into something concrete and tangible, but I did create a blog for it and a Facebook page. I also wrote a book proposal for it that went all the way to the acquisition stage at a major publisher. I am working on the book proposal and preparing a mock sample of the product. If you like Humans of New York, Post Secret, and/or The 1,000 Journal Project, you would dig The Original Journal. Will you sign the journal? Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. Journal Your Journey.

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

Mike pollinated and encouraged while I described The Original Journal.  And that moment, he helped pollinate this artists/writer/photographer.  This process turned into a great mentor/mentee relationship which resulted in fostered creativity and also I wrote over $20,000 in grants and successfully implemented them as a Language Arts/Special Education teacher at Attention Homes Residential Treatment and Crisis Center. Here is an interview I did with Bob Beck on Wyoming Public Radio about The Diverse Voices of Poetry,  (cue audio recording to 16:08 for my segment) which was a grant I wrote to bring professional Spoken Word poets to Wyoming.  It started with a Individual Professional Development grant I wrote to go to a Teachers & Writers Spoken Word training in New York City in 2004. That experience pollinated the idea of bringing Spoken Word to Wyoming. Which resulted in me being a presenter on Spoken Word in the classroom at the Wyoming School Improvement Conference.  And then I wrote a Wyoming Arts Council Grants to Organizations grant with a project value of $9,151 (The Diverse Voices of Poetry). Pollination!

Poetry Workshop

Article about "The Diverse Voices of Poetry in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, October 2005

I love the arts and all those who pollinate. Thank you.

PS — I am very concerned about the honey bees, but that is a post and conversation for a different time.  I do not like the fact that Monsato has recently bought out the leading bee research firm. I am not a fan of Monsato and of course that is a subject for a different time.

Bee on sunflower

Bee on sunflower

I’m Beautiful (or so they say)


Beauty. What is it?  How do we define it?  What will we do to obtain it?

I think beauty is something you can not hold in your hand. It is silent and ethereal.  It is the soft whisper of a child sleeping.  It is the bright red lips of a beautiful woman.  It is the elbow of your husband.  It is the dog’s bad breath.  It is familiar, it is far. It is unusual. It is aloof and kind.  It cuddles with you as you read an awesome book. It is everywhere. It is within you.

You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.

When I taught 4th grade in California, ten plus years ago, I encouraged my students to say this everyday aloud (“I am beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.” )  They would chant it.  It was my first year teaching and it was a magical year.  I wonder if those students remember me and if they still say that.  I hope so.  Children are powerful teachers.  I learned so much from that group of students.

I recently was nominated for this award: The Beautiful Blogger.  Thank you Blazing Trail.

This award comes with some rules… (oh rules — you know how I feel about those, but I will play nicely)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and Link to that person

Thank you Blazing Trail.

2. Post the award on your blog.

Check

3. Nominate 7 (or less) blogs and link to them:

  • http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com/ I love this lady.  She and I met at a party. We shared a love of literature, wine, and The Sun magazine.  When I was in graduate school and whining about my thesis, she said, “Put your big girl writer panties on.”  She is hilarious and always gives me a dose of honest writing advice when needed.
  • http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com/  I have come to know this writer through the blogosphere.  She is a dedicated teacher, as well as a free spirit, journaler, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writer. She is a huge fan of Wreck This Journal.  She is highly organized and dedicated with her posts and someday I’d love to meet her.  She is a passionate teacher who goes against the grain.  Public education is lucky to have her, and so are we.
  • http://mezclados.wordpress.com/ This is a good friend of mine.  She is an Aries like me and a bit of a scatter-brain with all her creative projects.  She writes, paints, mothers, works, and appreciates art.  She also has two toddlers she adopted and a teenager she adopted.  She is amazing.  Her blog is about mixed families. Her husband is white, she is black.  Check her blog out.  Her heart is the color of a rainbow.
  • http://peacesofgreen.wordpress.com/  This is another good friend of mine.  I adore her.  We met when I lived in California.  She is one of my best friends on this planet.  She is a nature lover.  She recently moved to Oregon — to a town she had never been to.  She just felt in her heart that is where she belongs.  She followed her dream and wrote extensively about her trip cross-country, as she moved to a new town without a job.
  • http://quinncreative.wordpress.com/  Can you say creative?  Well, this woman is creativity personified. She has several books on mixed media journaling and creating.  She is lovely.
  • http://judesphotography.wordpress.com/  This is one of my cyber buddies. She is delightful.  She is a British woman living in France, who is a writer, photographer, small airplane enthusiast (I love it when she posts photos taken from her airplane) and someone I adore.
  • http://kindnessgirl.com/  This is Kindness Girl.  She is a mom and kindness activist.  Yes, she is an activist and has all kinds of projects designed to pass it forward.  Check out her latest project, The Magic Wand Project, where she leaves little magic wands around Richmond, Virginia encouraging children to do acts of kindness.  Ellen Degeneres follows her blog.  I hope someday to see her on Ellen talking about her contagious kindness campaign.  Her tagline is “Kindness changes everything.”  Indeed, that is true.
  • http://deborahbatterman.com/  This woman is so charming.  I discovered her blog and amazing writing talent through a writer facebook community.
  • http://www.thejadedlens.com/  This blog is amazing!  This woman is a photographer, kind spirit, and a good friend of mine, who I have had the pleasure of meeting through a writer facebook community.  Her photos are beautiful and the prose she writes is gorgeous.  Meeting her and developing a cyber friendship with her has restored my faith in humanity.  I am a big believer in big hearts and I do think everyone has kindness in them and beauty, but she truly shines —  genuine, honest, inspiring, and whimsical.

4. Tell you 7 things about myself that you do not already know.

1.  I tend to break the rules a lot.  I was supposed to post 7 blogs; I posted 9.
2.  I met Michael Jordan when I was 15 at the Michael Jordan Flight School.  He put his arm around my waist when he refereed a basketball game when I lost my balance at the free throw line.  When I lined up to get ready to sink my two free throws, he handed the basketball to me on my right, and I twisted and lost my balance thinking he was going to hand it to me on the left side. In the confusion and enormity of standing next to my idol (and I should mention how breathtaking beautiful he is), I lost my balance.  He caught me in his arms, with his long left arm around my waist and said, “Sorry doll.”  I sunk the two free throws to win the game, but he gave the cute Canadian girl a ride to the mess hall in his Corvette. I cried after the game, alone on the basketball court, from shock and awe.
3.  I could not talk until I was 4.  I had a severe speech disability and had to go to a special pre-school for children with disabilities (I literally rode the short bus and a mean girl on the bus used to pull my pig tails until my older sister and her friend stormed on the bus and told her to stop.  That bully never touched my pigtails again.  Now I won’t shut up.

I think I was destined to be a writer. I’m related to Agatha Christie on my father’s side. (So he says)

4.  I know the exact moment I chose to be a writer.  I was on a bus for a collegiate soccer trip my senior year.  I played Division I soccer.  On the bus, traveling through New York City, I wrote down everything I saw.  It was at that moment I knew something had exploded in me.  I have been writing ever since.
5.  I love pomegranates and it was the one food I craved when I was pregnant.
6.  I went to Catholic school for 5th and 6th grade.  I gave my teacher so much grief that I had to be moved to the back of the room.  I remember thinking, how did you figure out how to silence me?  At the end of the school year, she had two dozen on my pencil top toys in her desk, including my most prized, Odie pencil top.
7.  My father bought a car that had 5 different colored doors.  My sister and I called it the Green Machine.  I was so ashamed of the car; I insisted he drop me off blocks away from my tweenager destinations.  Now that I am older, I know it was a classic car and would be considered cool in my book.  Back then, it was just strange-looking.  What I wouldn’t give to hop in that car and go cruising with my father.

My parents were very eccentric. Both of them were artists in their own way and they were soulmates. My mother claims he visits her often in the nursing home. She has extensive conversations with him. They truly helped each other heal on this planet and I am lucky to be their daughter.

I have another blog where I ask people to sign my journal.  I have been doing this since I started writing on the bus in New York City.  Check it out and submit your original thought.  I’d love for you to be a part of The Original Journal Project.  I also have a tab at the top of this blog titled, “The Original Journal.”  You can read about this project there too.  There is a video link that has some of the journal signatures I have collected over the last ten plus years.  I have my heart set on Chronicle Books to publish this.
Thanks for being beautiful and remember, “You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.”
What do you think is beautiful?