Travis Triplett walked his mutt of a dog four times every day, from his small cottage home tucked back in an early 20th century neighborhood to a nearby park, and dutifully picked up the piles of shit she left behind along the way. He didn’t mind it at all. After five years of this routine, he honestly didn’t even notice that he was doing it anymore as he walked along beside her all while kids and women stopped to admire his black Labrador mutt named Katey.
Katey had shown up one day after a viscous storm had blown through and sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and hungry and so Travis gave her some scraps of ham that he was going to have to throw away soon anyway. The next morning she wasn’t there. He didn’t even notice her absence until that evening when he arrived home and found her by the front door wagging her tail and greeting him warmly. As he approached to enter his house, after collecting his office papers from his rather plain gray yet sensible hybrid car, he scruffed up the top of her head and said, “I don’t have any food for you today, dog,” he told the yet unnamed pooch. She just turned her head sideways and kept wagging her tail. Travis stood up and measured this situation with a similar head tilt. “Well, I do need to run to the store. Maybe I’ll get you something while I’m there.”
This went on for a few weeks until finally, as cold weather approached, he did the responsible thing and took the dog to be spayed, tagged and groomed. The vet had informed him that she had already been spayed and he spent the saved money on a rather stylish and slick bright green rhinestone studded collar. He decided to name the dog Katey for no particular reason, except perhaps her rich black fur color reminded him of his aunt Caty’s hair.
Katey was a funny breed of dog. She barked at odd things and often at new things in her environment. If Travis brought home a box from work, Katey might come around the corner, hunker down and bark menacingly at the intruder. Other times, you could put something new in a room and she never acknowledged it’s existence at all.
Five years of time had passed and Katey had never wavered as being less than a rambunctious dog. She frolicked and played with kids, other dogs and any playful teens at the park that was always busy no matter the time of year or the weather.
On one day, in the late afternoon, as a storm rolled in and the sky turned green with gusts of wind threatening to take down branches, Travis and Katey rushed to get their walk in before a deluge occurred or alerts and sirens start going off interrupting their normal schedule. During storms was about the only time that people avoided the park except for him and Katey. This day was no exception.
Thunder rolled in the distance and Katey dropped her head and ears as well as tucked her tail between her legs looking back at Travis to make sure he was still with her. A moment after Katey dropped her business in the grass, Travis turned out a doggie bag to pick it up and was ready to dispose of it in a nearby trash bin, when a thunderclap and bolt of lightning struck nearby causing both of them to jump. Katey turned back to the cottage and as Travis began to turn, he saw a wall of wind picking up leaves and debris right towards the two of them. Behind it was a wall of water pouring down and obscuring everything behind it in sight.
They both began to run, but within a moment, the wind caught him causing him to lose balance, spin around and knock him to the ground where he hit his head against the concrete so hard he felt dazed and unsure of what happened. The next moment, as he lay on his back looking towards the sky, buckets of water poured over him causing him to choke and have to sit up. It was so strong that it stung his skin. He sat there not quite sure where he was, water pouring across him, as lightning criss-crossed the sky above him causing such thunderous roars that he was unsure if there was a tornado coming or not.
Suddenly, it stopped.
Travis sat for a moment staring at the ground between his crossed legs where he sat and noticed something red dripping down from his head onto the ground. He reached up carefully and felt a painful and tender spot on his head. He pulled his hand back and found it covered in blood.
After a long while, he finally attempted to stand and noticed he still had Katey’s leash and that she had snapped her rhinestone covered green collar loose. She was no where to be seen. He decided she must have run back home. Slowly he woozily made his way back home as well.
Upon arrival, the first thing he noticed was that his car was no longer in the driveway. “Where the hell is my car?” he said confused. Some relief came, however, when he noticed Katey who sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and, strangely a little bit hungry. Normally she spotted him a mile away, but this time she stared longingly towards the driveway.
As Travis started to cross the road, he saw his car pulling up into the driveway. “What the hell? Who took my car?”
It was then that Travis watched as a man stepped out of the car. A man that not only looked exactly like Travis, it was Travis.
Travis sat down hard and reached up to touch his still bleeding scalp and watched himself enter the house leaving Katey outside. She had tried to enter the house, a fact Travis now remembered he had quickly closed the door to keep her out five years ago. He looked down at the leash he still held and tried to figure out what was happening. He heard his front door open and watched himself toss some scraps of ham out to Katey who, once again, happily devoured them.
“How is this possible?” he thought as he slowly faded away leaving only a dog leash, collar and a bag of dog shit.
As part of my ‘beginning of the year’ reflection and goals, I really wanted to get back to my core strengths and passions. It’s pretty easy to pinpoint, actually. I love creating. And this isn’t in just one area.
- Designs for print and web
We’re ALL creative in one way or another. Some of us can write epics of adventure and the next person can create poetry from computer code. We all have the ability to creatively find solutions. Many people don’t believe they have an ounce of creativity within them, but they are wrong. Creativity comes when you have experience in an area and can come up with solutions. From making clothes and meals to fixing cars and building bridges. “I just used a pattern I found.” Uh…yeah…but you can use a sewing machine and I can’t. “Oh, but anyone can learn.” Yeah…but they don’t. YOU did.
I have a tendency of citing sources in my writing to let you know I’ve done my research before spouting information like in the paragraph above, but that is one thing I’m letting go of this year. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. If you find different research disputing my information, that’s fine too. Why is that okay? Because we create our lives and our realities every day.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is About Creating Yourself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
How Do You Live a Creative Life?
The trick to this is that you already do. You may not be a published author, have a gallery opening, sell your music or crafts, but you are being creative and, thus, a creative life.
Don’t make the connection of creativity and money. Let this notion go and you will be infinitely happier. This is not to say that you can’t make money. Any creative person can. In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she helps you break the notion and belief of the ‘Starving Artist’ syndrome.
And if you really want to learn more about how a creative life looks, check out Twyla Tharps, A Creative Life. I did a review on her book a while back you can check out. But the idea she has is how you let the creative ideas out and how you get them done. So many of us have unfinished work, but what might surprise you is that that work may be ‘done.’
A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.
~ Paul Gardner
I should probably take this lesson to heart more often myself.
But back to Tharps idea on getting your ideas out. In the review I did, I mention another book called Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality. It’s angled more towards the Graphic Design field, but it gives great strategy and steps to plotting out and accomplishing your creative ideas. What does this have to do with Tharps “A Creative Life?” I read Making Ideas Happen after Tharps book and discovered her strategy for getting ideas out was exactly what the researchers discovered in Graphic Design. Keep in mind that these are tried and true pattern that successful creatives follow whether for their own enjoyment or for commercial careers.
But all that is interesting, but isn’t the main thing keeping most of us from living our creative lives. And if you are reading this article, and aren’t doing the creative play you want, you probably have a few thoughts going on in your head: “I don’t have enough time/money/experience/stuff,” or “What if nobody likes what I do or they think I’m weird?”
To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
We’re all afraid of rejection. We’re all afraid of being wrong. I am. But I’m losing that fear.
Destroy the Old and Create Something Better
What’s that burning idea you’ve had for years and probably sketched, written, or tinkered with for years? You know exactly the one I’m talking about. And each time you see a piece of artwork, read a book, or see a movie that has some similar ideas you think, “Oh, no use in creating that now. They’ll just think I’m copying them.”
Here’s a fact: There is no way that you can create something exactly like someone else.
Oh sure, you can be really really close, especially if your entire goal is to copy it exactly, but it still won’t be exact. No one sees things the exact same way you do. No one has had the exact same experiences as you’ve had. No one looks exactly like you. No one has the same exact nervous system, neural connects, or DNA as you. NO ONE in nearly seven billion people on the planet.
When it comes to ideas, there is the possibility of similar ideas coming to people. Two movies about a meteor striking the earth in the same year. Two apps that do similar things. Two solutions to curing polio. But they will never be exactly the same.
So why do I say “Destroy the old?”
If it doesn’t serve you, if it isn’t moving you towards the life you want…blow it up! Painters reuse canvases. Materials from various types of projects can be reused or re-purposed. But the important thing is that you must remove what isn’t working and don’t think that one day in the far future, maybe, hopefully, it will work or be used. Here’s a hint, if you’ve had it for more than two years (and that’s being generous), you probably are NEVER going to use it. Sell it. Ditch it. Give it away. DESTROY IT! It’s holding energy that is keeping you from doing something else.
What’s Your First Step?
Here are some thoughts to get you going. You’ll have to adapt ideas depending on what area of creativity you want to explore.
- Artists: Get an index card or some stiff card stock and take 10-15 minutes. Find some object in your house (or some idea in your head and…)
- Sketch with a pencil (any…#2 or from your art pencils)
- Pick one color of acrylic or watercolor and paint
- Grab a marker or crayon and let your inner child draw
- Writers: Get ONE sheet of paper and pencil and set a timer for 10-15 minutes and try one of these.
- It’s the end of the year and I did these three creative things…
- If money, time, or experience wasn’t an issue and I wasn’t afraid of anything, I would…
- If I could destroy one thing/aspect/part in my life, it would be… and I would feel like…
- Cooks: This is a bit more time, but take 10-15 minutes to find a NEW recipe from another culture to create. Many folks fix meals for others and may have finicky eaters, so plan to cook for you and a friend or loved one who is willing to try. Set a date. Go buy the ingredients. Put on some music from that culture on Pandora or your favorite streaming music and make a night of it.
It’s your life. Create what you want. It takes practice. It may take some time. But you must work on it every day until the habit is strong and those around you will respect your time and efforts. Remember, NO ONE has to like it but you. And remember, you can be a painter, writer, chef, designer and NOT be paid to be one. Those are referred to as “Professionals” (and really just means they’ve been paid at least once. You can still be all or any of those things.
At the end of your life, won’t it be great to look back and think, “Man…that was fun.”
Some days, you just get pissed off. Something little might even trigger you and send you into a spiral.
I never used to be angry. But seeing Anger Management years ago made me think maybe I was.
Over the past few years it feels like it’s gotten worse, though, lately…it’s fewer and far between. But when I do, MAN! It sets in for hours.
Luckily, I’m not physically angry. And I don’t lash out too much at others, but my tolerance does drop considerably and some people may get the brunt of it. I don’t lash out like Steve Jobs did to his staff, and I try to NEVER say anything I’d regret later.
The fires that cross my chest and the “Anger Sharks” that swim in my head are very unpleasant.
What Works for Me in Dowsing the Fires and Scaring Off the Sharks?
- Walk away and keep going (a short walk to blow off steam.)
- Go to a quiet place (dark or void of a lot of distractions that might trigger you)
- Ten minutes (plus) of meditation or some soothing music
- Scream (but only if no one is around…and careful, you’ll make your throat REAL sore)
- Listen to some comedy
The biggest thing is not to react in the moment, but respond. It’s also good not to stew for too long if it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Well, that’s my lesson for myself tonight. I did do some art therapy when I got triggered today. I call it, ‘Anger Sharks,’ of course! (See below and click for larger image)
Speaking of Anger Sharks, I did snag that from Anger Management. “The Anger Sharks are swimming in my head!” Here’s the scene (start about 20 seconds in):
So…all together now, “GooooosFrabahhhhh.”
Got any tricks of your own? Share below!
I’ve had a hard Holiday season this year for some strange reason, and I’m not entirely sure why.
While a few things aren’t where I’d like them to be, most things are pretty great. And the gratitude, faith, and love I have around me is pretty spectacular.
So why should I be experiencing a rash of bad dreams and a touch of melancholy?
I heard on NPR the other day, that while holidays are supposed to be about celebrating, we also often remember those who are gone – either from passing or simply passed from our lives. I think that may be a huge part of it.
While trimming the tree this year, I found myself having waves of sadness. At first it was the usual suspects: mom (who passed in ’97), friends I used to chat with, real vacation days playing video games or watching movies, even tons of cookies baking in the kitchen and milk cooling in the fridge. But upon reflecting some more, I’ve come to realize that it was more of losing the magic of the holidays.
At 47 years of age, as I hung the small parrot that was one of my mother’s first ornaments on her first Christmas trees as well as a small gold ornament of a drummer boy that was my first ornament, I was thrust through time remember all the years where I hung the same ornaments. All those years flooded back into my mind of a huge live pine tree with a root ball in a wash tub covered with a tree skirt atop a plywood train table. The small village that sprawled across the table with lights flickering inside each one, a small figuring of a skater on a mirrored ‘ice rink’ and a train circling it all. Tinsel reached out and shocked me with static electricity (after the lead tinsel was no longer used for obvious health concerns).
But most of all, it was the magic that my parents created for us each year.
And while I know that some of the ‘magic’ came at the cost of perpetuating the fibs that occur regarding the big jolly fellow, that they often went into debt and ran up credit cards to get presents, and probably didn’t get much for themselves some years, the sheer magic of waking up early, sneaking out to the living room, and seeing all the lights of the tree on with packages below the tree (or circling the train table) gave me enough memories for a lifetime of experiencing awe and wonder of Christmas.
While this is not a religious diatribe, it is an exploration of where can we experience that same awe and wonder as when we were children?
This what has me vacillating between happiness of all that I have and sadness of what I am trying to reclaim.
Some people believe it’s up to each of us to make great things happen in our lives, that we make our own miracles. Others wait or ask for something great to happen and ask for miracles. I swing back and forth between the two thoughts.
With only a few days until Christmas and only a day after Solstice, I think I’ll continue to revel in the present and still spend some time in the memories of the past, but I think it’s time to create the future that has the magic of both.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Trying to eat healthier and living with a person who has vegetarian to vegan tendencies is a challenge sometimes. I THOUGHT I craved and missed meat… but a lot of times, it’s just the feeling of having comfort food, familiar flavors and textures I miss from growing up.
Recently I was craving REAL chili. Well, Frito™ Chili pie, actually. Vegan chili at the store was too sweet and just not “right.” So I went searching and here’s what I came up with.
This recipe has it’s root from one I found on OhSheGlows.com although she got it from another site that had zucchini in the recipe. I don’t do zucchini. But isn’t it great to share recipes and experiment with your creativity?
My creative project got good reviews during a Halloween party and some of my ‘mistakes’ have still been well received at home. I recommend making a double batch as it will only set you back about $15-20…IF you get Fritos.
Prep time can be 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you chop.
- 1 Tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 1-3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 Bell Peppers, chopped (I used red)
- 1 Sweet Onion, chopped (I’ve tried both white and red…both work)
- 3 Carrots (recipe said ‘chopped’…I grated it…made it appear like meat…kinda)
Take ALL ingredients above and saute on medium until soft (5-10 minutes)
OPTION: Original recipe called for 1 can organic mushrooms, drained (BLEH!)
Original recipe calls for 1 Can each of:
- Black Beans, White Kidney Beans and Red Kidney beans… rinsed.
- 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
I HOWEVER do not do well with Black Beans and mixed it up a bit. I used:
- Red Chili Beans, Pinto Beans, and White Cannallini Beans (No rinsing)
- 1 Can of Rotel
Mix it all up with the goodies you sauteed.
- 3 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- Pinch of Sea Salt (I did about a tsp)
- Pinch of Cayenne (WARNING: I Accidental did a Tbsp or more once. Christi LOVED IT! But I had to cool it down a bit…well…a lot, actually.)
- 2 tsp Oregano
- 1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Lime Juice (1 lime)
COVER and HEAT on low to medium heat for 20 Minutes stirring occasionally.
Here are my twists on the recipe to finish it up before serving (besides any listed above above).
- Add another Tbsp of Chili Powder, a little more Cocoa Powder, and dash of Cumin.
I learned from my mom’s winning Teralingua Texas Chili Recipe… add additional spices towards the end for more flavor. (Betcha wish I’d share that recipe too, don’tcha?)
- Take the lid off and raise the heat to a low boil so the water evaporates and lets the chili thicken. Stir often or else it might burn and stick!
- Slowly add just a bit of flour (pick your favorite) to allow it to thicken more (NOTE: The original recipe called for Chia Seeds to thicken… I had a Chia pet once… but if you have gluten allergies, you can try it — I’ve also found ground cashews work to thicken too, but tend to sweeten the flavor).
Cook for another 15-20 minutes and you should have an awesome, thick, spicy (but not TOO spicy) chili for a couple of days. Heck! Make it tonight and serve tomorrow. It’s always better the second day.
Serve over Fritos™ for the days of Frito Pie! If you’re only vegetarian and not vegan…go ahead and put a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle some cheese on top. (Frito Lay did NOT pay me to say that. lol)
And if you’re feeling extra creative… save some of the red onion, grab some cilantro and when you serve the chili on top of Fritos, add the onions with cilantro garnish. FANCY!
Bet you can’t eat one bowl.
Let me know what you think or if you come up with a flavorful variation.
Just one of my old sayings. Origins: Misread by a nearsighted person reading, “It’s All Good” and saying “It’s all 6000? What the hell does that mean?” It become a saying amongst our friends and a constant source of ridicule. However, we often would ask, “How are you?” And the answer, on a bad day, might have been, “About 2995.”
What’s your day ranking as today?