Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The World's Best Blogging Friends

Do you ever go though phases where you're emptying closets, repainting rooms, sorting drawers, and then suddenly look in the mirror and realize that the long hair just has to go?

I'm at that crossroads.

I want to dye it dark and cut it short.

Will I feel naked or liberated?

I don't know if I'm brave enough.  I feel like cutting my hair and also this blog.

Here I am standing at the edge, wanting to make a big leap into fresh air.  While I might be ready to graduate to a new writing space, what will this mean for the connections I have been blessed with here?  Does moving mean I have to say goodbye to people who I truly care about?

Besides painting rooms in my real house and clearing the clutter, I'm also experimenting with a new blog space on wordpress, but it's in its infancy and not ready to reveal. There's a new idea percolating in my mind for a bigger writing project, but Knees and Paws still feels like home. It's difficult to stop walking in the comfy shoes and break in new boots.

This week it's Thanksgiving. Truly I am thankful for my life and this journey.  Every year it feels better to be alive.  I am blessed with the world's best blogging friends. Each one of you have enriched my life by your posts and comments and by sharing life through these windows.  Here I've found an extraordinarily positive community, and because of you, I've made a shift in my perspective.  With your loving attitudes, I peek above the clouds and discover so much more beauty that I could see from my hole in the ground.  I don't have control over the people whom God chooses to place in my life, and I'm glad that I don't.  There's something completely wonderful about discovering the magical kindness in the hearts of people all over the world. 

For those who visit and comment, for those who visit and stay silent: blessings of abundance and peace to you this holiday season!  It's a time of compassion and sharing, but also stress and tension.  I hope to take things at a slower pace so that I can really contemplate my interactions with people, and my drives to give gifts.  I hope to find a place of peace about what I can afford, and what would be thoughtful, meaningful and not wasteful.  I also will be practicing a new approach to conversations, focusing on the present moment or the future.  The past is connected with happy memories for some and angry, painful experiences for others.

And in a last side note, I'm sending good intentions to the misguided spammers who have stopped by, and the hackers to my email account.  May you have a change of heart and spend the rest of your life making the world a better place!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

At the intersection of frugal simple and rich abundance

I find myself standing at the intersection of four roads: frugal, simple, rich, and abundant.

Have I been limiting my thinking, my writing, my creativity because of frugal living and simplicity?

While gaining control over compulsive spending and debt, I've noticed that my home and clothing have begun to look plain.  My choices for decoration do not truly reflect what I really want to be immersed in.  The same conflict has occurred in other areas of my life, such as in our home school.  I want it to be a rich and vibrant place, full of interesting things to immerse oneself in.  I want it to be rich in poetry, art, science, music, great long stories or simple fables.  I want there to be colorful paintings on the wall, like the kind inspired by Marc Chagall and Franz Marc.  I want poems to be read and written every day.  I want there to be so many books laying around that it becomes a buffet, a feast for the imagination.

I want it to be a place for making things, like handmade Christmas gifts inspired by Hans Christian Anderson.

I want to keep writing deeper, more complex thoughts and not stop just because what I was initially thinking would fit into a status bar.

For example, I recently realized the potential for re writing an entire academic paper about Genesis.   All these years later, I finally have an interesting thesis statement.  Dear Becky Gibson,  I'm sitting here with my hand raised to offer my thoughts that the garden of Eden is a metaphor for childhood.

Too late, she is retired, and I no longer feel the need to be graded.

  At the time of the assignment, I felt like my head was a dense brick where no sensible, clear thoughts could move.  Back then I was standing at the crossroad of single motherhood and food stamps.  I collected cigarette butts in an apartment complex to pay my rent. I had bigger problems than trying to write deep probing thoughts about classic literature or scripture.

  Now things just seem to flow out of me like a river.  I could be writing for real, for serious pursuit.  Some days I feel like that.  I'm in this place of rich inspiration.  I no longer stand in the middle of the stacks at the library and find myself unable to make a choice.

 I used to stand on my porch and smoke and ask that great frustrating question:  Is this it?

I want to tell that person on the porch that there's so much more!  There's so much more in every moment, to do and to be and to think about and to make.  Don't limit yourself because you think you don't have enough money or time or patience or solitude.

Make one little thing and just keep on going.  The thing you made on the sewing machine will turn into a thought you can keep writing about.  The painting that you worked on yesterday will turn a whole room into a new space.

Just keep on going, there's so much more.  I want to tell that young woman on the porch feeling bereft and lost that there will be so much more, like going to see Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend perform your favorite songs while you stand in the arms of the love of your life.  I want to tell that person who decided to let go of her wishing to be a professional that Hans Christian Anderson escaped a dreary life by telling stories to children and making art.

I want to tell her to stop comparing herself to everything and everyone else and be who she really is, totally flawed but kindhearted.  To keep that part of herself even if she abandons all those pursuits that once made her happy.

Keep thinking about new things and old things and imagining what if.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grandiose Notions

In my youth, writing was a career path that only the extremely intelligent, imaginative, well educated, gifted, inspired people dare travel. We didn't have self publishing, and mostly wrote longhand in paper notebooks or typed our thoughts on a typewriter.  To be a writer meant that you first spent agonizing years writing and crafting a manuscript of value, nervously sharing it with a trusted friend, then knocking on many doors, searching for an agent, praying that your first lines would be read by an editor sitting in a high rise in New York City.  During months of no response, you felt certain that either your manuscript was

 A. Never Read, or
 B. Quickly scanned with a smirk of distaste and thrown in the trash, or
C.  In the process of being rejected by an official letter to try again next time.

 Years later, I discovered that many people carry an unspoken desire to be an accomplished writer.  Many would-be writers start out dreaming of being published, discovered as a new and brilliant talent, instantly famous and constantly traveling for research and book tours.  Remember how Ralphie in A Christmas Story imagines the teacher's response to his essay?  I was am like Ralphie, a big dreamer, always hoping for gold stars and praise.  Like Ralphie, I often have to deal with reality after my grandiose notions are crushed like pop cans in a parking lot.

I admit that in my young adulthood, I fantasized about being interviewed on Oprah for writing a book that influenced millions.

Grandiose notions are a way to escape the dull gray days of winter and the boredom of kitchen work. As a child, I remember mentally recording domestic scenes as if I were in a movie based on the story of my life.

"There, in the brown and yellow kitchen, Jenny stood over the plastic can, peeling long strings of carrot that never landed squarely on the pile of trash, but draped over the sides like limp, wet socks on a clothesline.  Her father, who missed his true calling as a French chef, commented on the sloppy job performance."

It was fun to imagine that people would be watching this scene in a dark theater, munching on popcorn, totally entranced by a child peeling carrots.

In my final semester of college, my writing tutor, who was a poet, asked me what I planned to do after graduation.  I sucked in a big breath and let out my secret desire.  It came out like a squeak:  "I um, was, um, thinking about writing, err something like that..."

This poet, who later became my friend, said that I would know if I was a writer if language fascinated me so much that I read everything, everywhere I went.

  He said,  "if one day you find yourself intently reading the tag on a mattress, you are probably a writer."

God bless you, Doug, for encouraging me without adding an impossible criteria. You didn't know that I had just been told by my intimidating professor and academic advisor that I was more of a "reader" than a "writer." 

Many times I've heard that on the road to sustaining oneself, you must focus on the things you do best, and the subjects you like the most.

I started out like that.  I thought I was best at caring for children, so I became a licensed child care provider.  I thought I was best at cleaning, so I became a housekeeper.  I thought I was best at reading, so I became a librarian.  I thought I was best at being a mom, so I got married and started a family.  I thought I was best at gardening, so I became the manager of a garden center.  I've never been great at taking criticism or being rejected, so I never became a writer.  Grandiose notions got in the way.

Writing is more than being interested in mattress tags.  It's about thinking with your brain exposed to someone else.  Doug forgot to add that I needed to first be okay with that part. Writers have to be brave enough to show their minds and hearts. They have to relax and realize that the whole world is never going to even know that you wrote something. Or care.

Lately I have not been here, practicing my craft.  I haven't been visiting my fellow writers.  Life has been so full of things that I have avoided recording the carrot strings of daily living.  I often wonder if my blog is dead.

Then I remember that it still lives as long as I want to keep writing.  And relating to people on a deeper level than can be achieved in face to face conversations or in status updates.

For me, being a writer is now more about practice than results.  I just keep going on with it, never sure if it matters to anyone.  I'm okay with that.

It's just me, peeling long strings of carrots. 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Elliot's Ninja Giveaway! Free Vinyl Graphics

This week we are excited to announce that Elliot's Ninja Art: Helping the Homeless One Ninja at a Time has received vinyl decals for vehicles and we're GIVING four of them away!  

If you would like to help people experiencing homelessness and join Elliot's mission to raise awareness and provide needed items, please leave a comment or send an email message to Jenny at kneesandpaws@yahoo.com. 

The graphics measure 10" x 10" and come with instructions for application and removal.  They are easy to apply and can be removed by using a hair dryer.  If you'd like a totally free way to spread kindness this holiday season, sporting this decal helps us spread awareness and continue Elliot's mission to give.

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