Monday, March 31, 2014

Ring in Spring Workshop

Ring in Spring was the name of the all day art/sketchbook/journal workshop presented by Brother Brian, a Marianist. The location was at the Marianist Retreat Center in the Marycliff House. Brother Brian made me want to smile more with his own non-stop enthusiastic smile. There was no doubt that he absolutely loves what he does, and that spills over… in turn, inspiring the group.

We started with breakfast. After we ate, we gathered at the table, and we all introduced ourselves and why we came. Such interesting and lovely people.

I had learned about this workshop last year from my sister Ruth and her husband Buddy, but I was unable to go. When I heard what I missed, I made sure I jumped on it this time. It was interesting for me because earlier in the week, I had visited another monastery (The Abbey) in Conception, Missouri for a few days of writing. Two beautiful places in one week... how blessed I am.

Buddy is nephew to the late Brother Mel Meyer, artist extraordinaire. My best friend from grade school, Susan is Buddy’s sister. (Are you confused yet since Buddy is also my brother-in-law?) I grew up around the family, in the presence of “Uncle Mel” not realizing what an amazing, prolific artist, and man he was.

Brother Brian worked with Brother Mel, so I knew this workshop would be awesome and inspiring.

After introductions, it was time to play and have fun – a requirement of the workshop. And that we did with a warm-up exercise.


Then we did blind contour - you're not to look at your paper, only keeping your eye on the object while drawing.

blind contour

Brother Brian took us step by step with basic shapes to draw a cartoon. Boy, my Bugs Bunny is no reflection of his direction, but I ended up having fun with my bunny anyway.

basic shapes - cartoon

We did ‘imagination and abstract’ by free drawing and then filling it in. I remember doing something similar to this as a kid and always loved it.


Brother Brian shared parts of his personal journals and went through all the different ways you could keep a sketch journal. I journal everyday with writing, but never thought to incorporate drawing with it as well. I’m so inspired.

How quickly time flew by, and a delicious lunch was served. After we ate, we were free to explore the Marycliff House and the grounds. We could go wherever we wanted. When Brother Brian said there were swings on both the porches, I knew where I wanted to go first. I love swings. Now this swing was the swing of all swings—handcrafted, and it was more like a ride. Jessica, Rita (my two daughters) Buddy and I swung and drew. Even though it was a little chilly, it was so worth it. By the way, Ruth had another commitment and had to join us later.

Here are my sketches from the swing. It's kind of hard drawing while in movement. Bud has the "Mel" gene and clearly, he had no problem.

  Jessica and Rita on swing

 cartoon on swing

I could have stayed on the swing the entire two hours of free time we had to explore, but I made myself get up and roam around the house. I ended up on the upper porch to check out that swing. It was more like a regular porch swing, but the view of trees was awesome. As a lover of trees, I did a blind drawing (sort of – as I’d look up now and then). I filled it in with some free drawing.

tree one

While doing the above “filling in” it was quite contemplative and I had a lot of ideas rushing through my head which made me want to stop and draw another tree, but I heard “patience” and “be in the moment” and so I finished. I also wrote: “It doesn’t matter which way we go, as Soul, we all make our way home to God. Our journey is to experience LOVE.”

My next tree, I stole the design from my friend Sioux and her zendoodling. But I knew I had to finish this later or I wouldn’t have time to explore outside. I recalled seeing this cool old stone structure when we pulled up and I wanted to check it out. (When I got home, I finished filling in the tree.)

 tree two

I walked around the house and ended up sitting on an old stone bench while sketching this cool birdhouse.


Then I looked to my right and in the wall of the stone was a chain. Inspiration from a chain, go figure.


It was pretty chilly, so I made my way back inside, but before I got there I spotted a group of daffodils. I plopped down on the sidewalk and did some blind drawing.


Blind drawing, for me, allows me permission to draw without feeling the need to be perfect. Not that anything I draw could ever be perfect, but it sure took the pressure off. It was so much more freeing.

I went back inside to the first (way cool) swing and filled in one of my windows (abstract) that I had drawn earlier on the swing. (I filled them all in when I got home.)

windows to spring

Brother Brian had a T-shirt on that said: Earth without Art is just “Eh”

And isn’t that the truth?

Brother Brian conducts these workshops throughout the year, so if you’re looking for some creative inspiration, I highly recommend you check it out. He has a blog: abz paperless sketchbook journal. Even if  you just sat and watched Brother Brian, you’d be inspired just from his beautiful smile.

Thank you, Brother Brian!

Saturday, March 29, 2014


My dear friend, Tammy at Message in a Bloggle tagged me in this blog chain, and then I found out that Val at Unbagging the Cats did too! It started with Margo Dill and this thing has been going around like wild fire. So much so, I think everyone has been tagged. Oh wait, there might be a few peeps I know...

But first let me tell you that Tammy, who is part of the critique group that I'm in (who was tagged by Sioux who is another member of our critique group). Tammy has jaw-dropping prose that on some occasions makes me want to quit writing. At least quit writing the way I do and make it better. And Val is so funny with her writing, that I will have to give up on humor writing. Period. Each style is different, but oh, so good.

I’m to answer the following four questions:

1) What am I working on?  I will keep this simple. Nothing at the moment. I’ve been on a little hiatus from writing... other than the 'occasional' letter.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I have no idea how to answer that other than, my work is epistolary and most epistolary types are a back and forth type. Mine is just one-sided, like a diary, but it’s not a diary.

3) Why do I write what I do? Because I love epistolary. What’s more fun than writing letters? And then using that form to create stories. I can thank my niece for that idea. (Maybe it was just a way to stop me from writing her so many letters.)

4) How does my writing process work? It’s different each time. Depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m structured and have a routine. Other times, I jump in when I’m feeling the flow. And when I'm not feeling the flow... I write a letter.

Now to drag this chain to the next authors… Claudia at Claudia's Page was the brains behind Storm Country, and how I became to know Claudia. Not only does she write wonderful prose, but she's a poet too. She's always reading some interesting books (that I have to add to my long list of reads). Claudia has a big heart.   

Estrella at Life's a Stage is a creative gal and a writer. She just recently posted Five Great Reasons to be a Writer, and what's not to love about being a writer? I find out about all kinds of cool things from Estrella in the way of creativity. When I was participating in the Month of Letters, she asked if I'd be willing to write to someone and told me about More Love Letters. Estrella has a big heart too!

And very soon I will share a way cool art/journal workshop I had the pleasure of being in... stay tuned!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Star...

If you can't tell by the title of my post... you can get a hint... who is the star.

My friend, and writing critique buddy SIOUX ROSLAWSKI has been selected to read her story LIVE in the 2nd annual Listen to Your Mother presentation. Last year, friend and writing critique buddy, Linda O'Connell and another friend, Kim represented St. Louis' Listen to Your Mother. The show was great and I'm looking forward to the presentation this year. I already bought my ticket and you can too, check it out: Listen To Your Mother

Congratulations Sioux!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

The title of this post is a play on words, but it can mean many things. Lots of people in my close circle have lost loved ones—some expected, some not so. It’s difficult and my heart goes out to them.

The loss of my dear friend, Geoffrey still lingers as I prepare his memorial service. With all these deaths—or translations into a new life (them leaving this physical plane of existence) the details of what continues here falls on loved ones, which is why it’s important to express your wishes before you go. Sure, no one knows when that will be, and it’s not something we all like to think about. But I have, and I’m working on getting that in order. You may think, ‘oh, I’ll be dead, so who cares?’ A lot of people care, and laws and such don’t make matters as easy as you think.

Fitting that yesterday I decided to finally post. It’s been a while. Last night, after midnight, my husband said, “Love you the mostest.” A game we play.
I asked, “What day is it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is it March 12th?” (even though technically it was March 13th)
“Yes, why?”
“Just realized tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of my momma.”
“Oh. How long?”
“44 years.”
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Even though my mom’s death was 44 years ago, I can picture it like yesterday.

Today’s the fourth year that I began this blog because of her. A reason to blog… I started the posts, “Dear Mom,” as I felt it was easier to write to someone rather than randomly writing.

It’s been a crazy month, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If I turn it over to Spirit, the outcome is a better way.

Memorial Service
Dr. Geoffrey Hilton
Saturday, March 22, 2014
1:00 p.m.
The Joplin Association for the Blind
311 S. Schifferdecker Ave.
Joplin, MO  64801