Never apologize for your art.

Photoshop is extremely good at making muddy photos
look a million times better. This picture was taken
in the shade, and therefore the lighting did not give
much depth or variation. Photoshop had to do that.
Damian
02 February 2009

I saw this quote the other day:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

and I liked it very much. I was curious who said it, so I Googled it. This is a quote from George Bernard Shaw.

My Google search led me to an essay by Scott Ginsberg on this webpage. I like the article very much, but I especially like this line:

Never apologize for your art.

I apologize for my art all the time. In fact, I never even thought about not apologizing for my art until I read this article. It didn’t even occur to me.

I love my art, even my crappy art. And by art, I mean my photos, my drawings, my blog, my writing, anything that comes from deep inside of me. And that’s why I love it. But, externally, I do realize that some of it is crap and could use improvement.

But that’s not the essence of art, is it? Art is not about perfection; art is about self-expression. And therefore, Scott Ginsberg is right. We should never apologize for our honest communication with the outside world.

February 4th, 2009 | Photography, Podcast | No Comments -

Children already know The Meaning of Life

Logan stayed this past weekend with us, and, among the things he said
he wanted to do, he wanted to make pumpkin pie from pumpkins. So,
Uncle Matt, Logan, Lily and Damian all crowded into the kitchen to make
homemade pumpkin pie from pumpkins.
18 October 2008

I have been working hard for the past few days “catching up.” I had descended into a bit of a funk, and, as I go into the murky mire, so does my house. I told Matt that if he ever wanted to know what mental state I am currently in, just look at the condition of the house.

But the house is clean again. For the first time in perhaps a week, I woke up this morning without an agenda. There was no crisis cleaning to be done because I had finally caught up on the household cleaning. So, here it is 1:15pm, and I have been kind of meandering around in a mopey sort of way. “What do I do next? I’m so tired; I just want to take a break today after so many days of work.”

So, ostensibly, I have a day off today. But I’m still in “responsible mode” and I’m having a hell of a time gearing out of it. After being so responsible and so reliable for years (ever since giving birth to Lily), I realized that I don’t know how to have fun anymore. I know how to clean the dishes and feed the children and do the laundry and pay the bills. I know how to plan and execute the fun of others — parties, trips, festivals — and organize, clean and cook while others are having fun during these events, but having fun myself… I’ve forgotten. My understanding of how to have fun has atrophied from lack of use over the past few years.

And even the things that I once enjoyed — writing, gardening, running — they have become too “goal oriented” to be fun anymore. I don’t write to enjoy the process of creating a story while playing with the English language; I write to have a chapter finished so I can upload a podcast. I write to have a completed story, not to create a story. I don’t garden to tend to and watch my beautiful plants grow towards the sky; I garden to have pleasant backyard for myself and my family, and I get impatient that the garden is not already completed. I don’t run to enjoy the feeling of my body; I run for exercise and to get to the goal of a marathon.

Children know how to have fun. They have fun all the time. They don’t go to the park to slide and swing and run with the intention of burning 500 calories so they can fit into skinny jeans. But as a responsible, reliable and really useful adult and surrounding myself with all these goals, the actual moment of life gets lost.

It’s so hard to reclaim though. Sure, I have the mental realization, “Hey, I need to be more childlike in my approach to life, fun, and not being so goal-oriented,” but it’s another thing entirely to grok that philosophy and have it become a natural extension of myself. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t think of another word that worked as well as grok, and thesaurus.reference.com doesn’t even have an entry for grok. Go figure.)

And, in the end, I still have to wash the dishes, feed the children, do the laundry, plan the trips, and execute the fun of others. But, while washing, cleaning and planning, I want to also reclaim the natural joy of life that comes from being in the moment — playing with words and plants and my own body — and appreciating this amazing physical realm where we are so privileged to live. This is something that children innately understand, but many adults lose this skill as we grow up, become responsible, and focus too myopically on our life goals.

October 22nd, 2008 | Planning Nerd, Podcast, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 2 Comments -

Photography, blogs and procrastination

I’m supposed to be writing the next chapter of my great American romance novel right now… but that’s a bit intimidating — you know, trying to bend my artistic ego into narrative poetry — so instead, I’m writing a blog entry! Procrastination comes in many forms.

I took a lot of photos last night of the children. As dark fell, Damian was screaming and laughing and I had to switch to flash to catch the moment. I love comparing different factors that compose a great photo.

No one can deny the beauty of the lighting in the first photo. The photogenic baby just makes the picture that much more beautiful:

Damian in the back garden.
30 September 2008

But sometimes, catching the “moment” — emotion revealed on a person’s face, an action shot, etc — can definitely make up for inferior lighting:

Damian in the back garden.
30 September 2008

I used the Photoshop burn tool on both of the above pictures to make the subject pop.  Having a dark circle around the subject of the photo acts like the perfect frame for the action.

Photography is fun.

October 1st, 2008 | Photography, Podcast | No Comments -

Site redesign, baby!

Damian peering into the Macquarium.
19 September 2008

I was trying to upload a new chapter of my romance podcast every two weeks, and… well, you know how that goes… best laid plans of mice and romance novelists… But I hope to get back on track.

I have started using the Google Chrome browser because it is sooo much faster than Internet Explorer.  But my poorly-written, hacked-together romancepodcast.com website was broken in Chrome.  I was never that pleased with the design anyway. So, instead of fixing my hack, I started over from scratch, and I am very pleased with my new design. I’m afraid it looks slightly better in Chrome and Firefox than in Explorer, but I am very pleased with it.

It’s very girly, but if you want to check it out, head on over there.

September 29th, 2008 | Podcast | No Comments -

Sadness revealed

Lily in her Cinderella dress holding baby Cinderella.
04 August 2008

After a long, anticipated wait by our three-year-old daughter, the next Ariel movie, Ariel’s Beginning, was released this past Tuesday.  Super Daddy bought it on the sly and put it on after dinner as a surprise.

I cried.  Yes, a direct-to-DVD Disney movie made me cry.  When the whole family was together Tuesday night, I hid my tears because… well, because that’s what we do in this society, isn’t it?  But the next day, when Matt was at work and Lily watched it again, I got the lump in my throat again when King Triton races to Ariel and holds her unconscious body in his arms.  And this time, since there was no one watching and therefore no need to hide my emotions, I cried.  Once I gave myself permission, I sobbed like a little baby.

And I realized that I wasn’t crying simply because it was an emotional scene in the movie.  That was merely the vehicle that finally brought all my sadness out from under the rock where I had been keeping it.  I was crying because of all the crap that has happened this past month.  I was crying because my ITP has gotten worse and my hematologist has recommended a splenectomy.  I was crying because I gave into societal pressure and tried to wean Damian, and the extreme pain of weaning too soon was acute for both of us.  I was crying because I had been dealing with the intense fear of putting my writing and my ego up on the internet.  I was crying because my beloved cat of 11 years was violently killed by a dog right before my eyes.  I was crying because when you’re a parent of young children, you have to keep your shit together no matter what you’re feeling on the inside so you can do the laundry and feed the children and make sure the bills are paid on time.

I was crying because I desperately needed to cry and the movie finally gave me an opportunity.  And that’s when I realized that sad movies are sometimes more than just storytelling; sometimes they are a cathartic release of emotion.

August 29th, 2008 | Podcast, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

I did it.

I uploaded my first podcast.  The first chapter is up over at RomancePodcast.com, so if you are in the mood for a dark, dry, romantic audio book, go check it out. 🙂

Now to write chapter two…. I only have two weeks…..

August 16th, 2008 | Podcast | No Comments -

The Woodings’ Crazy Weekend

If you have ever wondered what a 3-year-old
who does not want her picture taken anymore
looks like, here it is:

Damian is weaned. I’m both happy and sad about this.  I’m happy to have my body back after three and half years of nursing two children, but I’m also sad that I will no longer share that intimate moment with either of my children… very sad about that actually.  That chapter of my life story has ended, and it was a beautiful chapter.

Lily is potty-trained and has finally moved out of the security of her pull-ups.

Damian said his first word which is “Yeah!”  We were all throwing our hands in the air saying “Yeah!” and then Damian did it too.  Since he only communicates through grunts and growls, “Yeah!” definitely counts as a word.

I have had a weekend filled with pain and drugs.  I woke up on Friday with my neck muscles locked tightly and I couldn’t move my head without extreme pain.  A doctor visit later, I was loaded up with Vicodin, muscle relaxants, and steroids.  I can now move my head and the pain is under control, but I have been doped up all weekend long.

… so kind of an eventful weekend actually.  Oh, and I’ve been working hard on RomancePodcast.com.  I should have the first podcast up on Friday.  For me, that is both exciting and scary.  There is nothing like having your ego readily available for anyone to download.  But what is the point of being alive if you choose not to live, right?

I hope everyone else had as surreal and progressive a weekend as we did at our little house. 🙂

August 10th, 2008 | Podcast, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

Supergirl

People transform when they play with children.
In these pictures, look at the faces of the adults.
It’s like bringing a box of puppies into a 3rd grade classroom.

Auntie Allison with Lily
17 June 2008


Uncle Sam and Auntie Bev with Damian and Lily
20 June 2008


Andy with Damian and Lily
23 June 2008


Lindsey with Lily
23 June 2008

I’m attempting to write for RomancePodcast.com.  I’m attempting to pull wit, beauty, and insight from deep within my soul and weave these elements into a masterpiece of storytelling.

But fuck! is it hard!

Really.  I’m not kidding.  I can’t imagine training for a marathon would be any harder than writing.  And somewhere between fear and desire, I completely forget why I started writing in the first place:  I really really enjoy it.

I must somehow reclaim the joy of my childhood writing experiences.  I was fearless.  I was Supergirl.  I wrote for no other reason than it was fun.  Now I torture myself searching for the perfect word, the perfect nuance of character, the perfect twist of plot wrapped in the perfect cadence of poetic narrative.

I love to write.  Have you ever heard a toddler laugh?  Their laugh is pure joy and it makes everyone around them laugh.  The feeling you get when you hear a toddler laugh is the feeling I get when I am writing for the joy of it.  I have to let go of perfection and simply live in the experience.

As an adult, that is not an easy thing to do, but at least now I have a beacon when darkness descends on me while I’m writing.  When I begin to worry if I’m writing utter crap or if I’m struggling to find perfection, I need to remind myself that once I was Supergirl… and I can be her again. 🙂

July 19th, 2008 | Podcast | No Comments -

An anchor

Grannie and Lily in the water in Wells, England.
17 June 2008

I’m ready to have another try at RomancePodcast.com.  The overwhelming fear stopped me dead in my tracks for a little while, but I’m ready for another pass at my personal opponent: my own lack of self-confidence.  I love to write, so I need to get past this little bump in the road to get back to something which I enjoy so much.

I think it’s time to make a list.  I’ve been feeling a little lost since our crazy summertime schedule ended, and lists help center and ground me.  The world is spinning around me and I’m very dizzy.  I need a list to anchor everything.

I love lists. 🙂

July 18th, 2008 | Planning Nerd, Podcast | No Comments -

No joy, man. No joy. Fail.


This would be Lani cooling off in the mud.
25 May 2008

I love to write.  I love to surprise people with a clever twist of words or an insightful, wry truth.  I love to strip a situation or a personality down to its basic elements through poetic or dry narrative.

It makes me happy.  It makes me feel connected.  It makes me feel unique and gives me a sense of purpose on this planet of six billion people.

But it’s terrifying.

When I put my stories out onto the internet for anyone to see, I feel naked and vulnerable.  I freeze — literally freeze — like a deer caught in the headlights.  There were no posts to the blog for two weeks because I couldn’t write.  I put up RomancePodcast.com, my personal showcase for my stories, and I completely froze up.  I couldn’t even write a blog entry.  All the joy disappeared into the blinding fear of vulnerability.

I love to write, but writing — or any creative endeavor that comes from the soul — requires you to let others see into your soul.  I’ve spent my whole life guarding myself, protecting myself from harm, as we all do.  But if I want to write something that is true and meaningful, I have to let others see the naked me… and to not only see the naked me, but to scoff at the naked me.

And that’s terrifying.  To willingly step out naked in public — that’s no easy accomplishment and one that I have not yet managed.

May 26th, 2008 | Podcast | 1 Comment -