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Archive for the 'quotations' Category

Make mistakes.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Author Neil Gaiman on creating:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

“Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

“So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes.Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

“Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.”

Watch his whole 17 minute speech here. Wonderful. Inspiring.

Read more here if you enjoyed that.

…not quite knowing what you are doing.

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Be brave enough to live life creatively

The creative is the place where
no one else has ever been.
You have to leave the city of
your comfort and go into
the wilderness of your intuition.
You can’t get there by bus,
only by hard work and risk,
and by not quite knowing what you are doing.
What you will discover will be
What you discover will be
– Alan Alda 

Oh, Yeah! You are Beautiful!

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

I’ve been talking a lot with local friends and some internet friends, about how mean women are to themselves about their bodies. How they really do believe there is a perfect shape and they aren’t it. Unfortunately, some also criticize others as well.

There are magazine articles about “downplaying your flaws” and more nonsense of that sort. How about “show off/be proud of your favorite features!!!” ???? How about that?

Correct Your Flaws?

I heard a radio advertisement this week, offering plastic surgery to “help you correct your faults.” To give you a better shape.

UGH. Big UGH. What a horrible business to be in. Cutting people up to make them look different. (I’m all for plastic surgery to help put people back together after accidents and the like… this is not what I’m upset about.)

I am the same age as Michael Jackson… who looked fine as he was born… and had HOW many surgeries to look different? I ache for him that he couldn’t just be happy as himself… with the amazing talent he had.

Plastic surgery is elective, which means a doctor gets paid directly by the patient rather than going through insurance. It’s a BUSINESS. I’d invest in good therapy to help me develop boundaries and confidence, over surgery, any day! Therapy is cheaper and so helpful!

Go On, Find Something to Love!

Which parts of your body do you like? Have you ever thought about it? If not, it’s time to consider loving that pretty knee or your laugh, your freckles, your curly hair that has a strong personality and which other people envy even on humid days.

My friend J has beautiful, small, tapered fingers. Although she wore a bigger dress size than me, she wore a full size smaller wedding ring, a size I wear on my pinky finger.

J also has a beautiful back… smooth, pale skin and a straight posture. She never knew her back was an asset. Once when we were in our young 20’s, I sewed her two dresses that showed off her back and pretty hands (back “cleavage” and tapered sleeves)… one pink crepe satin for dress and one blue knit for work. She looked SO beautiful in those dresses. She didn’t think of herself as beautiful, but I surely did.

I know I have beautiful long hair. I have had this hair since I was a teenager, except for 9 years while I was a young businesswoman trying to look old enough to work. No matter what my weight, my hair is pretty. My legs have always been lovely. Mom says I have the “Carvey calves” which come down many generations of my matriarchy.

My weight has fluctuated from a little high in high school, to a member of Weight Watchers (I weighed more than my man who was 8 inches taller than me), to a healthy normal weight, to a too-thin person for whom most food caused me uncomfortable reactions such as hives, to a menopausal woman for whom food is finally friendly but whose body is now trying to protect her inner organs by making a small tummy fortress around her abdomen.

Take a good look at the photos here. The women I dance with have a rainbow of differing features. They are all BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful. So are you.

Keep Lovin’… or Find Lovin’ for the First Time

It’s important as we see our bodies change while we live our lives, to see that we have those pretty hands, eyes, hair, feet… at least let someone else tell us how beautiful our back is (in J’s case), or to let my friend A tell me how beautiful my curves are while she’s helping me pick out clothing for my slowly-rounding 55-year-old figure.

You may have an amazing smile, a soothing voice, expressive eyebrows, the best tush the world ever saw (my friend W), the loveliest round female tummy of all (my friend M, here she is below… gorgeous and confident, with roundness that some women would wish to dissolve… yet my, she is pretty).

Curves mean we are mature. The Hollywood ideal is very close to pre-puberty, and I see this as hurtful to each of us as well as our society. We can look good at all ages.

Your Differences are your Good Parts

The very things that make it hard for you to fit into “normal” clothing may be your best asset! Those are the things where you are different and noticeable.

Don’t cover up… instead find a way to celebrate. Delicate hands deserve bracelets. Eyebrows want lovely eyeglasses over which to peek, or perhaps bangs that let them take center stage. Strong shoulders are queenly and elegant, and beautiful in a halter top or drapey shawl.

Beautiful “grrl” curves beg for a scooped neck or v-neck. Hips love a good shirred wrap to make them more shapely and alive. Don’t hide your special features!

Take a Deep Breath of Kindness for Yourself

It is the holiday season. We can spend it enjoying company of friends or worrying about our weight and whether it’s OK to eat that hand-made gingerbread cookie. Balance and proper portions will make us feel healthier, but guilt for enjoying special treats need not be part of our six-week holiday experience. Be kind to yourself, OK?

ALL OF US ARE BEAUTIFUL. I love you. Consider loving yourself, too. Please.

Homage to My Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

Lucille Clifton

Keep Walking

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I love to walk and I love our earth. (I don’t love camping… so my walks are relatively short, but frequent.)

I just found an eloquently-written story at National Geographic. This man is starting a 7-year walk in Ethiopia. (I visited Ethiopia during holidays 2004-05, which makes this extra fascinating. I took the above photo in northern Ethiopia while I was there.)

An Afar proverb: It is best, when you are lost or thirsty, to keep walking under the sun, because eventually someone will see you. To be tempted into shade, to drop under one of 10,000 thornbushes, means death: No one will find you.

Keep walking. This is a metaphor for many inner journeys as well.

I loved reading this short story. I wonder how he can write like this in the middle of a powerful journey. When I’m traveling, I tend to get sucked into the moment. I’m glad he can write for us.


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.

Adios to Being Perfect

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Imperfection can be outright beautiful. I didn’t know this for most of my life.

I still struggle. Part of me is a kind of imperfect I am not proud of. Part of me is very good but I always wish those strengths were stronger yet. There is no way to make that work. The only way to make peace is to let go, not to attain that perfection only seen in my own head.

There is No Perfect

I have a saying these days: “There is no perfect” (…except perhaps in tiny emotional moments.) The concept of perfection is not useful in living life. Discovering this was profound for me.

No person, place or thing can ever be perfect. Never. And really, isn’t perfection what manufactured items strive for? I’m no longer interested. I want to be handcrafted, not machined. As Joni Mitchell said in Big Yellow Taxi, “give me spots on my apples, but give me the birds and the bees.”

Striving to Avoid Criticism

That said, letting go of the possibility I can be perfect enough to never be criticized? It’s very hard. I work with kids and they seem to get grumpy and fragile about 6th grade. They try to blend in or at least look like the others, or the cool others (whatever seems cool at the time). It’s no wonder this is a time when they start making social judgements about what is good and what is undesirable.

I have a good handful of Godchildren. I’m not a traditional Godmother but we chat about standing tall. We discuss figuring out who we are and what we believe, then staying strong with those beliefs when others poke and prod and tease.

At least one kid came back to me with an example of how she took that lesson into her life and felt stronger because of it. I was delighted. One life a little more centered (especially in middle school) is a gift to not just that person but those around her. The child is now in her mid-20’s and still doing a great job of being her true self. (Photo of me with her at age 15, together in Montreal.)

‘Fessing Up: the Theory

I think opening up to our imperfections and mistakes is really hard. Starting in Middle School, it seems that we become so insecure of ourselves that we don’t want to have weak spots in our armor. Actually speaking out loud about those weak spots is scary!

Yet, look at the yarn bombed trees here. The pieces we had to cover the tree base below were imperfect at best. They were the right color but did not “match” in size or type. The shapes were odd. This photo was taken a few months after the initial installation, and the pennants at the base of the tree clearly were blown by some stiff winds. Yet, the tree still has its decorative sweater. It still is a sunny counterpoint to the monochrome winter colors around it.

I might even argue that its imperfection gives it more interest, more value. If it were “perfect,” it would not catch our eye. It would not look handcrafted. It would not have the desired energy.

‘Fessing Up: A Personal Story

I’m starting to believe that my becoming a true adult was when I learned to admit my mistakes. When I’d say “Wow, I wish I’d done a better job of this but I messed up. What can I do to help the situation as it stands now?” It never stops feeling fragile and scary to speak my imperfections out loud. However, when I do, at the end of the day I have no secrets and feel good about my integrity.

Once I made a very big mistake at work, one which required phone calls and paperwork to correct. A task I needed to do was so confusing I put off doing it past a deadline. I tried to hide it from myself and others, but of course the missed deadline was discovered in spite of me.

Wholehearted Living

I’ve been reading Brené Brown, a woman who researches shame and wholeheartedness. Oprah asked her the difference between embarrassment and shame.

Dr. Brown says that embarrassment or humiliation might be saying and acknowledging “I made a mistake.” Shame, on the other hand, manifests as the belief “I *AM* a mistake.” Wow. I clearly was confused on that count at that job, when I didn’t know how to do this task. I felt ashamed to ask for help.

In that situation, I was gifted with the right boss. He knew I was not the mistake and treated me respectfully. He had me sit in his office while he made all of the phone calls to make it right.

I got to see what a person who wasn’t afraid of imperfection would do. I watched a grounded, fully-adult person ‘fess up to making a mistake and ask how to make it right. It was a powerful lesson.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
— Brené Brown

Saying it Out Loud

I now admit my weaknesses to the room, though sometimes I wish deeply that I didn’t have them. I admit I can get loud (a good feature for a singer/teacher but not so good in offices or some mellower public spaces).

I admit I can be distractable. I tell classes that I can get so into teaching the material that I can forget to give them a break until late in the class. I let them know that they can ask for a break if they need one.

I admit that being on time can be very challenging for me (this is related to being distractable). These days I use my iPod to set off a series of alarms for me all day long, to make sure I change gears when necessary. Admitting this coping system might just help others who fight the same tendency.

Our Strengths are also Our Weaknesses

All of these weaknesses no longer define me. All of them are less of a challenge now that I speak them out loud. They are part of the package. Part of why I’m distractable is because I am passionate and creative. I see things everywhere that inspire and interest me. I also can get into a flow with a task so that I don’t think of the time.

Our best features are also our worst. Being bold can be perfect at a networking event, and a challenge at a funeral. Being focused on relationship is great for teachers and restauranteurs but a challenge for jobs where one works alone or has a constant stream of people coming through that they will never see again.

The hardest part still, is when I mess up things that impact my beloved Brian. Telling him that I messed up is still horrible. However, I’m glad our relationship is so precious to me that I am not willing to have any shame secrets in it. I may put off the telling for a little while, but I choose to let him know. I regard not telling as a “lie of omission.” I value our relationship too much to keep secrets. He needs the whole me.

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.–Anna Quindlen

Except, ironically… you are perfect just the way you are. Stand tall, my friend, and go forth with truth and courage!


If you want more on Brene’ Brown, Oprah interviewed her two weeks in a row for Super Soul Sunday. I had trouble streaming the video after the fact, but it is worth the hiccups to listen. Highly recommended.

You have No Competition

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

If you’re able to be yourself, then you have no competition. All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence.–Barbara Cook

A Dose of Hope & a Smile

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

It’s gloomy today in Lansing, Michigan, USA. I’m staying in all day, working in the silence… just me and the click of the keyboard. It’s time to ponder the world and community around me.

I find good everywhere. It amazes me though… people share news of good encounters and acts, as if they were an unusual thing. People are good all over the world. (Here is a photo of a dance friend, Najida, dancing at New Aladdin’s restaurant with her daughter. Good, yes? Totally adorable and loving, if you ask me.)

For example, I lose things pretty regularly. My mind is always on the next thing and I leave creative “rubble” behind me.

Sometimes I leave behind a travel mug, sometimes it’s a handspun/ handwoven scarf from a trip to Mexico (returned to me from a train in Montreal and a park in St. Petersburg, Florida). I had a friend get her SUITCASE back from a subway train in Toronto years ago. And this is just the lost-and-found news in this paragraph.

I follow Twitter and Facebook, sometimes too much and sometimes not much at all. However this week I found three videos through them that are pretty inspiring.

Mitchell’s Day

A high school basketball player passes the ball to a developmentally-disabled kid who is on the other team, with seconds to go. On the OTHER team. I dare you to keep the tears back on this one. Short, but very sweet (click to see video… thanks to C B S Television:

Willing to Work

An 18-year-old boy was willing to walk 10 miles in icy conditions, to try and get a minimum-wage job. Got a job with twice the wages, by a restaurant owner who noticed the boy’s determination and intent quite accidentally. Everybody wins.

Photo by Fox59, story by the Daily Mail (UK)

The two above stories came to me thanks to my Facebook friend Annie Sisk. She’s a website specialist, and you can find her at Stage Presence Marketing.

Saving Lives Quietly

And below is another tear jerker. This man (now Sir Nicholas Winton) arranged trains and homes in England for Czech kids (mostly Jewish) who were certainly going to otherwise be sent to Nazi Death Camps. Most of them lost their parents at Auchwitz.

He saved 669 children and kept logs of their names. He said nothing about it afterward.

His wife found his log book, apparently. In 1988 there was a reunion of sorts. Here he gets to meet a few dozen of the kids he rescued, after they grew up. He did not expect or know this was coming. Wonderful.

You must watch at least the first 2 – 1/2 minutes. Really, you must.

Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong.
Be prepared everyday to try and do some good.
Sir Nicholas Winton

Thanks-giving Quote from Diana

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

My sis-in-love, Diana/Otterwise, sent this quotation for Thanksgiving.

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”
-Tecumseh, Shawnee leader

I am not into pointing fingers or placing blame/fault… but it does seem that there is always something wonderful to be grateful for as long as we are alive. I’m grateful for large things, like no war, flood or earthquake in my corner of the earth. I’m grateful that I can walk and dance and go forth into the world without illness or physical struggle. I am grateful for air to breathe, good food, people who accept me as I am.

I’m also grateful for the smallest things… a smile from a baby, a blooming dandelion or violet in the yard on the third week in November, a chance to notice the sun streaming in to the rather disheveled attic space this morning.

I have more food and clothing than I need today. I have heat indoors. I have a computer and a basic cell phone, and a miraculous ipod for not only my calendar but music and other useful and entertainment programs.

Yes, there is always something for which we can give thanks.

Thanks, Diana.


A Sigh of Relief

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

After a Scorched Season

Mama-bird rain… fat drops
Falling heavy, straight, with intent,
Not a breeze to confuse its path
Into the open mouth
Of the parched, hungry soil.
— Lynn DT Hershberger Hefferan
— July 18, 2012

8 Minutes of Inspiration

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Wake Up Inside

That’s how I write, you see? All these lovers surround me, and they love life, and they tell me about it.
– Ray Bradbury

I discovered Ray Bradbury, the person and artist, about a week before he died. I find myself very grateful for video. It allows me to explore his passion for life, living, working and sharing his passion, even after his death.

At the center of my books is the gift of life.
– Ray Bradbury

I’d read Martian Chronicles in 9th grade (not the right book for one’s first Science Fiction experience). I had no idea that the man behind those stories was such a whole and passionate soul.

When people touch my books, they are alive.
– Ray Bradbury

BrainPicker Led the Way
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts on BrainPickings.org – a site full of inspiring collections. Quotes, books, authors, videos… she’s brilliant at “curating” amazing snippets of content from diverse locations and presenting them as a whole. I follow her (Maria Popova) on Twitter as @BrainPicker, and from there I link over to her newest posts.

BrainPickings often focuses on books and authors. Ray Bradbury shows up regularly. Today, I found myself reading another page on Bradbury, and then clicked on an 8-minute video. Bradbury talks about libraries, his creative process, and his absolute love of life. A must see.

Books are smart and brilliant and wise. …Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. …Imagination should be the center of your life.
– Ray Bradbury

Click Below to Feel Renewed
Please click the image below (it will take you to YouTube). Your day will improve, I assure you.

Believe in Your Magic

Monday, July 16th, 2012

To create anything — whether a short story or a magazine profile or a film or a sitcom — is to believe, if only momentarily, you are capable of magic.
— Tom Bissell

Magical Moments
The summer is so beautiful! It’s hotter here than in any year before, and the grass has been scorched. In spite of this, I’m feeling very alive.

Here’s a photo of our house a few weeks ago. Can you see that in order to sit in the sun I put my (tiny turquoise) chair in the middle of the back yard? Our lot is almost entirely shady, and this particular day I was really in need of some sunshine.

It’s too hot for the back yard this week. I’m typing this from the east-side porch in our front yard.

What to Create in the Heat?
I’m still editing knitting technique videos, and making hot-weather salads. The pile of recipes I want to try is getting fat while I wait for cool days. In the meantime, I’m drinking a LOT of iced tea!

I’m also making plans for the largest knitting pattern project I’ve ever created. I’ll have big news on that in the next week or so!!

With this enthusiasm, I went looking for quotes which seemed to fit. I’m bursting with excitement and enthusiasm right now! Magic seems real and attainable, at least the magic of creativity.

We are all creative, yes? In our culture, we ignore this… even deny it. People who garden well or cook/bake with love, will tell me they “don’t have a creative bone in (their) body.” How sad. They can’t see what is right in front of them!

Unsung Artforms
We create smiles. We create well-told stories. We create safe spaces, songs, impromptu experiences, long-planned home renovations, day trips. Some of us raise children… the ultimate creative endeavor.

Some of us make the perfect cup of coffee… some present an average cup of tea with a smile and an open, listening ear. Some hug us, console us, bring dinner when a frend is too down or exhausted to face making another meal.

Art is “Pretty Objects?”
Some of us make tangible “pretty” things. Some make tangible art objects which some don’t see as pretty.

Some of these creative outlets are designated “Art” by our culture. I would argue that all are artforms… artful contributions to our worlds and the lives of those around us.

You, indeed, are creative. As the Sufi poet Rumi said:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Now what?
How will you create today? How will you stay awake? Can you feel your magic? Can you believe you are capable of your own sort of magic?

I wish a magical, awakened day for you!

What is Art? A Few Definitions

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Art is not a thing — it is a way.
— Elbert Hubbard, 1908

I’m in Columbus, Ohio for the annual June Yarn-Biz trade show, TNNA. It is intense, fun, and exhausting.

The big focus for me is renewing relationships. When I’m lucky, it is also building new ones.

While I’m unable to post much on the road, I’d like to link to a fascinating post on “Brainpickings,” an excellent multi-topic blog. She’s expert at finding related items and presenting them as lists, all worthy of a click.

A few weeks ago, I followed her links to wonderful commencement speeches on video. Great hard-earned wisdom in short form!

Today I read her list re: definitions of Art. My favorite is the lead text here today.

As a blogger who pushes some common definitions of what art might be, I recommend you wander over and read it.

These thoughtful attempts at defining an elusive subject were inspiring to me. Perhaps you, also?

What is Art?


I’ll catch you again when I return to Michigan. If you like, you can tune in to my small updates until then, on my Twitter feed.

You need not participate on twitter to read my posts. Just click here: http://Twitter.com/colorjoy

Artful Contradiction

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

I found this image Saturday in the back room of a very old building in Old Town.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

— Walt Whitman