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Inspiration for a Monday

Monday, August 19th, 2013

If you hold back or hoard and find that tendency hurting your life, or if you sometimes are afraid that there is no abundance, read this quote.


It’s a great quote for me, as I start a day at my desk. I’ve been gone long… it will take more than one session to catch up.

I must remember the abundance in the air around me, in my creativity, in my creative soul.

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a better place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.”

– Annie Dillard,
– “The Writing Life”

City Hall Fountain, Toronto

Photos from Toronto. The second one is City Hall’s fountain (a skating rink in winter). There were several folks there in wheelchairs. The man at center left was reading a newspaper, without company. How freeing that must be for him.

Deep Feelings – Travel, Change & Art

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

LynnH at Textile Museum
I went to the Textile Museum in Toronto yesterday. (The photo above is me in front of the Museum.) To get there, I took an unusual route via streetcar and a lot of walking.

An important section of the subway track is under construction this weekend. This means the above-ground transit is bursting with passengers.

The transit drivers are kind and helpful, and they have information workers at the top of every stairway leading down to the closed trains. Here is one of them helping two women find an alternate route.
Video with Heart
I know I’m known for being cheerful, and typically that’s truly me. Some readers ask for do-overs when I post photos of me with a thoughtful, rather than happy, face. However, there are other moods which contribute to a good life.

Walking through the part of Toronto which was such an important part of my teen years, of my becoming the Lynn I am now, has me pensive and thoughtful. It’s an emotional trip for all the right reasons.

Last night I recorded a short, shaky, imperfect and heart-full video for you, on the roof terrace of this Hostel where I’m staying. I talk about the Textile Museum I visited yesterday and why this trip touches me so deeply.

When you watch, I think you will be OK with my lack of an outright smile. Click the photo below to see it.
chat from the roof

Art is Real Life – a Split Second

Saturday, August 10th, 2013


Yesterday, I caught this stylish older woman outside the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO. Sometimes real life is art.

Abandoned Walmart is Now a Library!

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

I love collecting libraries. Brian and I often spend time in them all over Michigan as we travel to sing.

Originally this library in Texas was an abandoned Walmart. What a creative use of the building! And better yet, library enrollment has gone way up.



Technicolor Train

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Olek, the Yarn Bomb artist originally from Poland but now living in New York City, has recently completed the yarn bombing of a four car train, in her homeland Poland. If this doesn’t make you smile, you need to start over with a new day!

When I was in Montréal last year, I happened upon a piece created by Olek near the fine art Museum. If you want to read more about that encounter, you can click to read it here.



Google Doodle: Maria Mitchell’s 195th Birthday

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Today’s Google Doodle Honors Maria Mitchell, First Professional Woman Astronomer (and poet, and professor at Vassar). Here’s the Time article about it:


“Try Something New” Day

Monday, July 8th, 2013

If ColorJoy is about creativity in all ways, then trying something new and stretching is ColorJoyful. June was crazy in my world, I spent more time traveling for work than ever before. I sang, I danced, I knit… all out of town.

(Photo at Right is Habibi Dancers backstage at a Library Event, below is The Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts Weekend.)

While I was on the road, I didn’t post here. Posting becomes harder, the longer I wait in between posts.

Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts WeekendI’m pushing past the clumsiness by doing something guaranteed to be clumsy. I’m doing something I’ve not done before. I pointed the video camera at my face. Maybe we can connect more fully if you hear me speak?

I think video is great for connection. It’s also good for demonstration. Let me show you how easy it is to use fabric paint to embellish objects.

First I show you my eyeglasses, which were black for over a decade but are now pearly turquoise. In the video I embellish plastic dollar-store earrings. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: if you can’t view this here, CLICK HERE to see on YouTube’s site. On my computer it doesn’t work in FireFox, but it does work in Chrome.)

Oh… (added later) here are up close photos of my eyeglasses before & after.


glasses before


glasses after

Why Be Alone?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013


There is some talk in the press lately on introverts and their needs; their contributions to business and social groups. It is a world-enhancing concept; I’m all for it. However, alone time is not only a need for introverts.

Me, Too!
I’m an Extrovert. I love people, and have many good friends.

Yet, I came of age in a family of 3, and I prefer to interact with one friend at a time. The list of friends I meet for lunch or tea in the course of a month is pretty long. Relationship is a high priority in my life. The way I do it is time-consuming… and totally worth it to me.

I have a very public life. I can barely go to a coffeehouse or grocery store without seeing someone who knows me. This is a city of 115,000 people, and it feels as though I know most of them! Yet, I go crazy if I can’t be alone.

A Balancing Act
I find social interaction in groups socially confusing. Being at the front of a room, either teaching or performing, energizes me. Tea with a friend is perfect.


On the other hand, a room full of people, even if I love them individually, is over-stimulating and overpowering. I tend to sit near the door in these situations.

The Ears Have It
I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’m overly stimulated by sound. Sitting between two conversations is harder than playing chess, I can’t figure out what to focus on.

Even when I work alone, I prefer writing after midnight. My beloved is sleeping at that time, and our city neighborhood is quiet. Nobody is walking a dog past our corner. There are no sounds of bicycles, cars, or dribbling basketballs on the sidewalk at that hour.

My Personal Friendly Noises
I figured out last summer when I took a 2-week retreat to Montreal, that a regular repeating sound nearby helps me work. A ticking clock, crickets or a percussive old-fashioned lawn sprinkler can calm my ears, so that they are not straining to hear sounds further away.

(Ticking clocks distract others… Including my Brian. Rain stresses me out, but a waterfall calms me. It takes a while to figure it out.)


I purchased an app for my iPod which makes cricket sounds and a host of others… Birds, water, clocks, wind chimes. It has helped me work alone during the day. By playing a sound near me, my ears don’t strain to hear things a block away.

Growing Up?
I guess I need alone time more now, at 50-something and self employed. Still, I remember in college buying a friend a fast food meal so we could have a 1-1 conversation outside the dorm or sorority house.

It’s a joy to learn how best to work. I exhibit many attributes of a person with ADD, but the typical treatment for it makes me worse, not better.

As a child, I know some adults worried for my future. As a young adult, I struggled to find ways to be an effective employee (often staying late, to get deskwork done when the environment quieted down).

My Own “Boss”
As a self-employed woman, I now can’t afford a bad day. I am my own secretary, publicist, computer tech, webmaster, copy writer, graphic designer, errand-runner, pattern writer… I am even the products I sell: teaching and singing.

It took me a very long time to figure out what it was about me that needed such care. Even though quiet music playing in a restaurant would distract me from good conversation, I didn’t see that as anything but restaurant-relevant.

I found an interesting article on introverts here: Introverts Explained: Why we love you but need to get away from you

You may find the article enlightening.

Are you in need of alone time? Do you find that those around you are fine with it? Threatened? Confused?

PS The iPod Touch/ iPhone app I use is called Quick Sleep. It lets you save combinations of sounds for later (crickets & a clock; 4 kinds of birdsong). It also has a night timer to fall asleep to your favorite sounds, then turns off to save batteries. There are a lot of sound generators… This is just the one I prefer for my needs.

Images: 1) Tea for one, 2) Lunch with Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow (handpainted yarns t& fibers, she dyed the yarns for both of my Knitty sock Designs – Crystal and Sunberry), 3) My backyard balcony view in Montreal, 4&5) Me teaching a crowd.

Goodbye Party for Yarn bOMb at MSU

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Local Lansing, Michigan friends… it’s time to take the sweaters off the trees at Michigan State University. They are warm enough and want to grow again.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go visit our ColorJoyful Yarn bOMb page and smile.

Will you join us tomorrow/Saturday, May 4? We will meet at the garden around 11am (stragglers welcome). Link to Map, for Horticultural Gardens (Children’s garden parking… free on weekends. We hope nobody will park there for graduation.)

We will un-sew the “ace bandages” around the trees so we can wash them and reuse them in later projects. I expect it willtake a few hours.

When we’re done I’m buying a round of tea/coffee at a local gathering place. We’ll either go to Chapelure (the closest), Wanderer’s Teahouse, or Gone Wired/The Avenue. They are all locally owned.

Cry not, because we have more Yarn bOMb projects in the wings. A semi-secret smaller one is planned for Memorial Day… stay tuned.

Rockin’ Sound for Magnificent Work

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

It’s funny how we can take decades to learn about ourselves. Self-discovery is hard. Why is it such a challenge to see the pieces of how we interact with the world?

In the last year I’ve discovered again how sound impacts my life. Sounds, their presence/ volume/ lack thereof can help me function beautifully… or not well at all.

Born this Way

My mother remembers that I reacted as an infant to minor-key music on TV (by crying), even if I was in a different room. I’ve heard that story enough that I’ve repeated it myself. I know that movies and TV do not relax or energize me, they exhaust me. I don’t watch them any more.

Last summer, when I spent 2 weeks in Montreal alone, I was there to write. Some days, sitting long enough to write was a challenge. Some days, it was pleasant and no problem.

An Aha! Moment

One day on the balcony (see above), I figured out that rhythmic sounds helped me sit still (a clock ticking in the kitchen or a lawn sprinkler outside). When the neighbor stopped watering the lawn, I first missed the sound and then realized how much it had added to my comfort level.

Why did I find this information so surprising? Why did I not imagine that sounds other than minor-key music might impact my moods? Why do I know that certain music helps me stay focused, but not that a non-musical sound (crickets in the night, morning birdsong or a lawn sprinkler) might give me comfort?

Maybe you’re not self employed as I am, but all of us want to function well during those times when getting things done is important, yes? Personal tasks, professional work, volunteer or family obligations… all of these can benefit from our focus. Driving and cooking, in particular, depend on our full awareness.

I found a few Apps for my iPod Touch* which play me some sounds I enjoy when it’s too quiet but I don’t want music. In particular, this has helped me on nights when it was hard to sleep.

Pondering a Music Mood

I sing love songs professionally. The 1920’s was a prime time for romance and sweet melodies. It was great for sentimental lyrics. Brian and I perform positive music on stage, by design. We want to help folks gain a smile, and improve their day. That’s our niche, and one my voice (and temperament) is well-suited for.

Yet, I believe that music is a sort of non-prescription drug. When we decide what music to play, we are choosing what mood we want to be in. Sentimental romance is not a balanced music diet.

For example, when I choose Michael Jackson or the B-52’s in the morning, I want to dance myself awake and get on the road quickly. When I play non-English-language African music, I need to stay focused but not be distracted with words.

Sometimes I want to walk briskly. Sometimes I need “oomph” to clean house. Sometimes I work in the yard, and need a bit of energy behind me. At these times, I wish I had more energetic music options. I’m not a rocker by nature, but sometimes I need some rockin’ music to propel me.

I Need You

So… that thought has brought me to another which may seem unrelated at first. What makes them connected is that I’m seeking a particular sound input for myself. Perhaps you can help?

I want to put together a playlist of unforgettable single songs from female rock singers, anywhere from the mid-1970s to 1990 or so. I tried to make a Pandora channel of this type, but they kept suggesting male singers. I’m ashamed to say I had many of those CDs already. It’s time for the Grrrrrls to rock my world.

I need some musical Sisters to sing me into a dance-beat mood of action. There just are not enough of them. It’s time for me to both support and get to know them better.

Here are some possibilities I’ve thought of, only the first two of which I already own. This is not a long enough list. Help?

Linda Ronstadt, You’re No Good
Alanis Morissette, Hand in My Pocket

Chrissie Hynde/ The Pretenders
Nancy and Ann Wilson/ Heart
Annie Lennox/ Eurythmics
Deborah Harry/ Blondie
Pat Benatar
Cyndi Lauper
Joan Jett
The Go Go’s
Kim Carnes (Bette Davis Eyes)
Alannah Myles (Black Velvet)

Please leave me a comment with as many song titles as you want to suggest. I do listen to the radio when I’m in my car, but they don’t give much information these days. It may be I know a song but not who sings it, or a name but no songs associated with that name.

I’m a little out of my expertise here, but sometimes I’m in my car and this stuff comes on. I sing along, have  a great time, and wonder… “who is this singing?”

Will You Help?

Thank you for any input you can bring to my search. I’ve wanted to ask you for far too long. I look forward to your replies.

*(My favorite iPod sound apps are “Relaxing Sounds” and “Sleep,” both by Red Hammer Software and M30 Pendulum (a metronome) by AMuseTec. I have no affiliation with either of these companies.)

Egg Artist

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

The young artist of today need no longer say “I am a painter,” or “a poet,” or “a dancer.” He is simply an “artist.” All of life will be open to him.
Allan Kaprow

This was great fun. I have some new artist markers (they even can be refilled) and I sort of doodled on the hard boiled egg.

Drawing is stressful for me, but when I get away from a flat piece of paper I feel more free. I also like the feel of these brush-tipped markers rather than a pencil or pen. Since I do a bit of decorative painting, this felt comfortable.

I often am afraid to continue with a project in fear of ruining it. It’s hard to remember that stopping too soon is a different type of “ruining” the work.

This one I kept going until I truly liked it. The magic moment was when I drew the purple diamond close to center here. Until then it didn’t look complete.

For the record, the pink marker bled all the way through the shell and membrane, onto the egg contents. This was a great art project but apparently not so good for food integrity. I’m already thinking about possible fabric paint possibilities for next year.

If You Can’t Put a Smile on Your Face…

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

…put one on your pancakes.

Maybe you can see behind my pancakes, a green towel with a bunch of random electronic parts on it… and some screwdrivers? That’s my beloved (Ms.) Piggy, my iPod Touch, which is now 4.5 years old (3rd Gen).

She’s been dropped a few dozen times. She’s been in a sturdy, bounce-able thick silicone case and has bounced and bounced and bounced. Her glass is still intact (it’s easy to break the glass without a rubbery case).

But last Wednesday I dropped her, hard, down a stairwell. She landed just right and made a hard clunk. Then she forgot she had a battery.

She works fine plugged in, but I use her as a calendar. This doesn’t really work at the doctor’s office or the yarn shop where they want to schedule me.

I’ve got lots of screwdrivers from the many times I’ve fixed computers. I fixed desktops professionally back in Y2K days, when there were few laptops. I have fixed a few notebooks of my own, though they are a bit more finicky.

A few days ago I got out my screwdrivers and found some videos on YouTube showing me how to take apart this version of iTouch. I took her apart until I got to the “tiny phillips screwdriver” part. None of my drivers were small enough and phillips.

Teamwork and Community
Fortunately a FaceBook Friend/Knitting buddy (Elizabeth) had a driver I could borrow. Unfortunately, once I got in there it was clear that a connection I can’t fix was definitely broken (on the cable between the “motherboard” and the battery).

There was a tiny part with tiny little “fingers” on it which is supposed to click into another part like a lego… except the fingers were broken off. There’s no way to fix that. Tiny means smaller than the top of a pencil eraser. I needed magnifying eyeglasses to even see it properly.

The Verdict
Looks like I’ll see if getting a local fix it person will be affordable enough to put money into an older gizmo. I’d just as soon put off a larger purchase.  I’m not a happy consumer, comparison shopping for electronics is not entertaining.

But hey! I learned something. After I watched the YouTube videos I thought “this is something like things I’ve done before, I can try this.”

The hardest part was getting the glass front off, and I did it imperfectly. I didn’t break the glass but I did some minor damage to the rubber between it and the case.

Fear and Trying
Elizabeth said “Hey, you’re not afraid to try.” With due respect, I may LOOK unafraid but it’s more like proceeding in spite of the minor fear. I was trying something reasonable given my history.

Thank goodness another knitting friend steered me toward a local repair person. My Piggy-pod is far out of warranty and too old for Apple professionals to touch it (even if I had left it whole). We’ll see what he says, probably tomorrow.

The Magic of a Smile
Meanwhile, a smile of any sort has been proven to improve a person’s mood. If you want a lighthearted but earnest video explaining the smile effect, watch Kyeli here.

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Lynn and Altu in Alexandria, EgyptI believe I live in an amazing time. Humans will always strive toward a utopia that is out of reach, but things are pretty good where I sit.

The Good Stuff
I’m an educated, white adult female who looks a way that society approves of. I have no visible handicaps. I have plentiful clean water, transportation, no need to walk for hours or days for medical care.

I have enough income to make a living with a computer and my good brain, and some determination. I can go places alone, make financial decisions for myself, even have a meal with a male friend without the permission of my husband.

I can be married for the reason that I love my spouse and not because I need a financial partner or caretaker. If my spouse dies, I will still be a financially viable person on my own.

Counting My Blessings with Open Eyes
I live in the USA, where women can own property (I purchased a house with my own signature in 1992). In other countries, women are still legally property of their fathers and/or husbands. There are places where women are allowed to study to become physicians and even practice medicine, but they are not allowed to drive themselves to work.

There are a lot of places where a single/widowed woman is reduced to begging to make a living. There are places where abusing a woman is legal, because she is your property.

We had a young woman die in India this month from group physical and sexual abuse. Her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey. Her father tells her story here. Not for the faint of heart. YES this relates to Dr. King’s legacy. Yes, it does. Equality is Equality.

History Must Not be Forgotten
When our country was founded, people with dark skin were property, too. “Blacks” were slaves. The history of our constitution and very early laws, can show how much this impacted and still impacts this country. We continue to grow and change, shift and wake up.

It’s a slow process, like evolution rather than a volcano. I am enough of an optimist to believe it will continue. Notice in the infographic below, the Voting Rights Act was instituted in merely 1965 (I remember that year), which put into place the right of Black citizens to vote. What? What? Incredible… that’s a crazy fact. Read more here…. about southern blacks in 1965 (and non-literate or non-English-speaking citizens) and how this changed their world.

Continuing Segregation
I find that when I visit cities in the south, the skin color of people on one side of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive is darker than those on the other side of the same street. In my neighborhood and my city, we are naturally integrated. One of my very best neighbors, who changed the quality of my block by moving in, has darker skin than me.

My City Rocks
My best friend was born in Ethiopia, in eastern Africa. She has dark skin and yet in this city (Lansing, Michigan) we can meet, become close friends, live near one another, go to the same church and hang at the same places without it being even noticed. It’s normal here. There are many cities, even in the USA, where there are parallel societies and people only integrate sometimes at school or work. (See me with friend Altu in Alexandria, Egypt, at the Mediterranean, in December 2004, upper right.)

I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for Dr. King, who led a multi-racial, multi-gendered movement toward equality for ALL.

For all. Race equality is not fully reached yet, though it is legally in place. We still fight inequality in gender and marriage, which saddens me.

We are the Human Race. HUMAN Race.
We are ONE race. We are the HUMAN race. Whenever I have a chance to fill out a form which asks my race, I look hard for the “human” choice. My skin is not the crayon color “white.” My friend’s skin is not the crayon color “black.” Yes, those are convenient words to generalize as we speak. Still, there is no such thing as “white society” or “black society.” It’s far too general.

Dr. King’s Life and Legacy
I’ve written about my gratitude for the movement Dr. King led while he was alive, and which still continues without him. People continue to find my writings, after MLK Day has passed.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Allison Morris of OnlineCollegeCourses.com. She offered to share an infographic about Dr. King’s life with my readers. I know nothing about her organization, but I do like the infographic and thought maybe you might, as well. (If you click it, you’ll find yourself on her website.)

Alison writes:

Though not affiliated with The King Center, I actually work with a small team of designers, and we build and design graphics for Internet resource sites. Our primary goal with these pieces is to be able to make a connection between visualization and learning. That said, in light of MLK day approaching, our most recent graphic chronicles Dr. King’s life and his personal achievements:

MLK Infographic

May we all appreciate what we do have, and keep our eyes open to those pieces of improvement, even utopia, which need more work to happen.

World, I love you. All of you. Go in peace.

Three Weeks Already?

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

We have already passed through 3 weeks of 2013 already? Is anyone else reflecting on the passage of time right about now?

As for me, mid-October through early January was a blur. Beginnings, endings, more beginnings… health scares (not me personally) that turned out OK, creative ups combined with too much  on the to-do list. Hellos, goodbyes, and good old dependable friends by my side.

Focus: Word of the Year
I like to focus on a word each year. Some years I continue the year before, if I think it will be beneficial.

Two years ago, my word was “Kindness.” I focused on how I could stay honest and straightforward but find ways to speak my truth which were also kind. It was a fruitful year. Nobody is perfect, but I continue to grow from that year of focus.

Last year I chose the word “Maintenance.” I hoped to work both on health/fitness and business/financial areas.

I did really grow as far as my health. I walked a lot, attended yoga in fits and starts, did a lot of the exercises I’ve been given over the years from my doctor and various physical therapists. I danced, both for fun and with a dance troupe.

On the other hand, I continue to struggle with paperwork routine. It’s not time to give up, but knitting a self portrait was easier than doing taxes in January.

Know Thyself
Being creative for me, brings along a weak spot as well as the lovely parts. I have not learned to be much on a routine. Some days I put one sock on, then the other, then shoes one at a time. Some days I put a sock on and then its shoe, then switch to another foot. This is just a small example.

Some days I eat breakfast before getting dressed, others I switch it. I realize that many people just have a way they navigate through the morning which works well, and which varies rather little from day to day. They waste a lot less time than I do!

The only way to get better at things is to keep at them, yes? Practice, not perfection… but then more practice. Giving up is not an option. So I keep plugging away, working at improving my weak spots.

Slow Go, but Don’t Give Up
On the good side, our house is much more manageable than it was even 5 years ago. Slowly, things start having proper places and I know where those are. Once I know where those things go, I can just find them when I need them. It’s easy to put things away when I know where the heck they belong!

Progress in One Corner
Recently I’ve been struggling with the corner of our living room which is my yarn/knitting item area. It turns out that the yarn itself is in good shape. I have shelves with clear bins on them. Each bin is designated for a particular weight/type of yarn. I know where those things go, so I can put them away. For the most part, the bins are an appropriate size for what goes in them.

However, there were boxes on the floor which held items without clear homes. It turned out that they mostly fell into these categories:

  • Materials used specifically to teach particular classes, in bags ready to go out the door when I should teach that class.
  • Store samples of my knitting patterns, not currently living in a store.
  • Store-purchased sweaters which were shrunken/felted on purpose, to be sewn as fabric.
  • The knitting magazines I’ve chosen to keep. (I let go of dozens of magazines about 6 months ago.)
  • Projects needing my attention. This mostly is sweaters I bought but that need an alteration or repair.

Luckily, I just happened to “inherit” 5 plastic under-bed boxes recently from my sis in love who just moved.  Those items, other than the magazines, went into the boxes, got LABELED (imagine that) and put in a safe place in the basement where I can get into them easily on those infrequent occasions when I need them.

My yarn area is relieved.

On the other hand, I think one word for 2013 is still going to be “Maintenance.” Then again, I have a lot of half-done projects I hope to finish. Maybe it needs to share space with “Completion.”

What do you think?


PS: The image above is 1600 x 1200 pixels in size. If you know how to save it and use it as the wallpaper on your computer desktop, please feel free to do so if you wish.