What a week! My cloud 9 is getting fluffier. Patti Digh's newest book, "Creative is a Verb" arrived in my mailbox this week.
It is so much fun to see my name in print and listed as an "artist." As hard as it may seem to some of you, it has only been a year or so since I've been able to call myself an artist. I now think that is crazy talk but you know the typical scripts that run in our heads,
- I didn't go to school to be an artist!
- I can't draw!
- My art isn't "fine" art.
- You call that art?
Now I can chuckle at these voices, if they decide to descend any time soon, I'll remind them that I am a bonefide published artist. I have proof - see above. There are actually three pages where you'll find my art -- so there inner critic, eat that!
There is more to this story than those pesky inner critics. I had expressed an interest in submitting art for the book project but when the essays were distributed, I somehow missed the e-mail. When a reminder e-mail came out that the deadline was the next day I sent off a reply asking if it was too late to get an essay. I realized that it was the 11th hour on a Monday night (8:30 p.m. actually) and there was little hope that I'd pull anything off - but maybe, just maybe I had something.
Well, the next morning before heading off to work, I looked over at my large planning calendar - the one with a fabulous collage wheel (see above) and thought, "maybe this design concept could be used?" It wasn't until later in the morning while at my day job when I received two essays by e-mail. I immediately opened them up and read them. The first essay refers to Parker Palmer, author of "Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation." Patti Digh had retold one of his stories from his book that I had read only a couple of months earlier. I laughed so hard when I read this essay because Palmer's work had spoken to me so deeply (you see I'm a teacher at heart and on my own quest to let my life speak). I knew the story only too well and in fact had retold it many times during the weeks before. (You'll have to get Patti's book or Parker's to read the story. Or swing by for coffee or a glass of wine and I'd be happy to tell you the story.)
Later in the evening, I worked up a collage circle to illustrate the Quaker concept of bringing our wise colleagues together to form a clearness council. The following week, this design was worked into my first product for sale, The Friendship Circle.
The Friendship Circle Story
Each colorful wedge in the friendship circle represents a beautiful friendship in your life. At the center is a spiral - an inspiration spiral. As each friend shows their true colors the spiral spins and all friends in the circle are touched.
Wear your colorful pin as a reminder that you are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for being in my friendship circle and keeping the inspiration spiral spinning. Thank you for being true. Thank you for being you.
The second essay tells a story of making pancakes. (I don't want to spoil it. - pun intended) You have to read her book to learn about the monogram pancakes her dad use to make. So I sat in my office thinking how I might pull this off. I had 24 hours to make a collage and somehow depict monogram pancakes. Really I didn't HAVE to but I do love a challenge.
Back in February, I had participated in Jen Louden's Virtual Retreat. Patti Digh was a guest presenter and led us through an exercise where we randomly picked up a couple of objects. Later we thought about how the objects reflected how we live and what matters to us. I thought about the card that I had picked that read, "Dare to be remarkable." Sitting there looking at this essay and thinking about pancakes, I thought about how I now had a chance to dare to be remarkable. As I worked, my mind wandered. I thought about what ingredients I had on hand and a really cool apron that I purchased from my favorite local coffee shop. I pictured in my mind the shot I was to pull off in the end. At lunch time I ran home to find my dear friend home and asked if she would be around that evening for an impromptu photo shoot. I invited her darling kids. "There is no pressure on this." I had assured her. "Just wear a pair of jeans and clogs. This will be fun. It is a shot in the dark. Let's play. Do you want to play?" My friend Terri taught me how to play many years ago when we graduated college and moved to Colorado. She smiled and said, "I'd love to play. Let's play!"
The second object, a usb cord, spoke to how I am a connector. This challenge became an opportunity to connect to my creative journey once again.
Just when I was on a roll news of a colleague dying earlier in the morning broke. She had been diagnosed with cancer less than a year earlier. I felt sad about losing her - she was so young. I thought about how much she would love the apron and pancakes and how I was going to play later with my friend and our kids. "Donna would love this." I thought,"She knew how to serve love." At this point the clock was ticking and I was feeling not scared but focused and alive. My mind was clear and I felt energized.
After work I went home and called my other neighbor and good friend to get her in on it. She has a great backyard and I wanted to shoot the photos in natural daylight.
I grabbed my son's cookbook from his life skills class. (Thank you McLaughlin Middle School for the pancake recipe.) I filled a sandwich baggie with batter and carefully pierced a hole to simulate a pastry bag and gracefully drew letters and hearts.
I've been dying to share this story and the behind-the-scenes photos. I'm calling this series of photos my "serving love" series. Pictured above is Terri and her darling daughter. I pulled out some fun fish shaped platters that the little one adored.
Oh how we laughed and laughed.
I'm wiping the tears as I write this. I had Donna in my heart when I worked and played that day. After the photo shoot I designed the collage, prepped the photos and within 14 hours of receiving the essays I had my submission e-mailed.
Since then, I've been responding to calls for artwork and each time I remember that I have nothing to be afraid of. Just do it! Dare to be remarkable!
Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh will be available on October 18th and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. You can also purchase signed copies from Patti's own on-line store at 37 Days.
Many thanks to Patti Digh and SKIRT publishing for giving me this opportunity to learn that I can dare to be remarkable. I'll keep daring!