Some times the hottest fires are found in dark glowing coals.

I’m having a rough week.

It happens to the best of us.

For a lot of reasons I haven’t been able to make any kind of art for a few days. It is frustrating me. I know there is a lot of different art inside of me that I want to get out but I have only so much bandwidth in a day to give my energy to and other responsibilities have eaten most of it this week.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about my art. It is there. Glowing like the hot coals of a fire banked for a later time. When I make the time to get to it I will find it easy to reignite.

This did pose a problem for this blog. I am determined to keep sharing passionate things out into the world. I can’t do much to make this world better but I can do this, and we need refuges from the horrors of the world right now. Even if they are just small blogs.

I’ve just decided to share with you a passion of mine I have often felt was to “silly” to tell people about. It seemed pointless and even childish. I’m going to share it because it is the one thing I can think of this week that I feel excited about and I think there is a good lesson to be shared from it.

I like rocks. The bright shiny polished stones you can buy for lots of money all the way down to the tiny pebbles found as you walk down the street. In fact I like the pebbles more than the fancy carved and polished stones we call precious or semi-precious. I like them so much I collect them.

Anywhere I go that has a lot of small stones you can be pretty sure that I put some rocks in my pockets. Mountain streams, small walking trails, and of course beaches.

Just this past Saturday in fact I was at a beach and found many such pebbles that I call my treasures. This is a picture of my finds.

The reason I don’t often tell people about this is that they are “just silly little stones”. A collection that many children might have but what adult would do the same? I think they are all very pretty in their own ways but most people just see dull pebbles. They can’t imagine why on earth I would take up so much space in my life for stones. I even buy boxes just to keep my rocks in (Like the one in the picture). They are never going to be put into some “great art project” (at least as of this date there is no such plan, things can change). They are more than likely never going to get tumbled to be any more polished or shiny (rock tumblers and the grit for them are not cheap and they are very noisy, I live with roommate who might not appreciate that).  I will never make any money off of them, unless someone wants to buy pictures of them ( know anyone like that?) as I will not sell them. I might give them away to someone I think would want or appreciate them for what they are.

What are they?

They are pretty little stones that make me smile. Not just because they are pretty in themselves, and I do think they are. They make me smile because I remember how I felt when I found them, even if I can’t remember were each of them came from after a while. (Right now I know all those in the picture came from a beach near Bodega Bay, Ca but in a few months or years they will just be mixed in with all the others I have tucked away.) It’s not important where I found them but that I found them. I like the way I feel walking along a beach looking down at the pebbles that most people just walk on without a thought. There are some real gems to be found there. When I find a very nice looking one I get a rush of excitement and when I put it in my pocket I am filled with a happiness I can’t really explain. It’s my new pebble that I will take home and enjoy having. When I give them to others I hope that they remember the feelings they had when given a gift from someone they consider a friend. That way you feel inside when you know someone took the time to think about how to make you feel good and they offered you that as a gift. No expectations just a “I was thinking you would like this, here you go” gift.

That is the point to my “pointless” collection.

Feelings, emotions, passion.

I may never get any material return from my little pebbles but what they give me is far grater. For me when I am feeling like I am this week, “thin… like butter scraped over too much bread.”(Tolkien), I can look at my little stones and know that it isn’t always that way. I have a physical reminder that I felt that spark of excitement and peace and happiness. I even got excited last night when I found the perfect boxes to keep them in. (yes boxes, these are only a very small portion of my collection).

When I get this way, when the ability to make art is gone due to life getting in the way, I sometimes worry that the drive is also gone. To be able to look at my pebbles and be reminded that there is passion still inside me is a great salve to get past those days.

Right now the fire of my passions is burning a bit low, but that does not mean it is out all the way. I still have it banked in hot coals just waiting for when I can stoke it back up to a beacon of inspiration to keep sharing with the world.

 

 

*The things I have mentioned in here about over used bandwidth and being stretched are ways I talk about my depression. I am well aware I live with this metal illness and I do my best every day to keep fighting and living my best life.

**I”ll be perfectly honest I had no idea what I was going to write till I sat down to do it. Took me about an hour and not only am I happy with what I wrote I feel better for having written. Writing is one of my art forms and I feel good when I am able to do it. I hope you enjoyed it.

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Trial by fire.

Some times it feels like a trial by fire this week.

Why is that?

This week I am participating in a crazy event know as GISH. GISH is a kind of complex thing but I’ll do my best to explain it here. At it’s core it is a scavenger hunt. There are two unique things to it from my point of view. First, the money that is put into it from those who register to be part of the hunt, goes to help different people around the world. Each year there is a different cause to support. This year it was removing bombs from farms in Laos. Secondly the list of “items” to be found is pretty crazy in fun and silly ways.

Actor Misha Collins , known best from Supernatural, created GISH and he has a track record of being a pretty eccentric guy. Mostly he he seems to enjoy having fun and helping others to have fun as well. I think that often the items on the list also involve making art. Being silly and creating something are both very good things for the soul. So not only does this help a large humanitarian cause it also helps the individuals who join in.

One of the “commandments” of GISH deals with “normalcy” it says “Boo. Yuck. Gross. We hate it! We really, really hate it. We abhor it. We are normal-intolerant, and all gishers are too. We highly suggest, at least for the week of the Hunt, that you become normal-avers. Be weird. Odd. Different.” I think that this kind of advice is great. It gives those of us who do GISH an excuse to be different for a week. When was the last time you asked someone to help you do something out of the ordinary like make a house out of mashed potatoes?(note this is not an actual item from this years list, it might be on past ones I don’t know but it seems like a thing they would do.) It always starts of being odd but it always ends up with people laughing and having a good time.

If this at all interests you, you an look up more information about GISH as it’s main site www.GISH.com there is some information about its history here on wikipedia. 

The reason that I am writing about this for this weeks passionate thing is how it has made me feel. I have made some things this week that I NEVER would have made other wise. I have learned some skills that I had always wanted to but never tried. I also did at least one silly thing on the spur of the moment because I realized I could. All of that builds up to the feeling that even if the thing I want to do is silly it might be worth trying. If you never try you never know. I have been better at things then I expected I would be. It has not be easy sometimes but it has been fulfilling. I feel I have grown a bit as a person. I’m not even worried about winning, just doing it has been fun.

Pursue the things that you think might make you happy if you did them. You might also help others feel happy to, either by including them in your creations or showing them what you made. We are often worried what the world will think about what we say or do. We fear that people will criticizes us and shame us. There are people out there who will do that, the internet proves this, however I have found that more people care than you realize if you give them a chance.  There are awful places on the internet and sometimes terrible people out in the world, but it is not the whole world.

This week in GISH has shown me that even though I may not see them all the time this world is filled with people willing to be weird, silly, creative, and compassionate. Forces for good are out there and it is worth the work of this week to be reminded of that.

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I found a new spark to try and grow.

This weeks passion is a new artistic endeavor I am diving into and want to share that with you.

I am a writer. That is one of the reasons I keep this blog. I have found that I often express myself best when I am using the written word. There is however another art form that I have always been interested in. That thing we refer to as “art”. You know when you make a drawing on a piece of paper and then maybe color it in of shade it in some way. Perhaps you just use a brush and put paint on a canvas. I have always been interested in that world of visual creativity. Some where in my childhood I got it stuck in my head that it was not worth the money it would take for supplies to learn to make art. The people who raised me are probably to blame for this. My grandparents never seemed to have much time or money to waste on things that didn’t serve a use to their way of thinking. My grandmother loved to read and write herself so I was lucky enough to get journals and pens or pencils all I wanted. I never felt like I could ask for paints or canvases. Yes it is true that I could use the pencils and paper to work on sketching with line drawing and shading. I did do some of that. Yet I still always felt that I was “wasting” paper on the many attempts that were not “good”. As any one of any art knows you have to practice over and over again to get good. Writing never seemed to feel like a waste to me but my families disregard for art seemed to make the other feel like a bad thing to be doing. After a long time since I didn’t practice often I got better at sketching. I have a few things I am pretty proud of.

These are copies I made by sight, no tracing, and I am still very happy with them. I just never took it any farther. (the first is from a deck of oracle cards called The Faeries’ Oracle, art work by Brian Froud, the other is from the comic Witchblade)

Recently I realized that I am an adult and can spend my money how I like and yet I still had a block on buying supplies to “just” practice art. What if I failed? Also I really had no room to keep things like that. I have been living as a roommate for many years trying to take up as little space as I can. So I still found reasons not to try making art aside from my writing. That was good enough,right? Then a few months ago my partner, who I live with bought a fairly cheap drawing tablet and pen for his computer. He likes photography and digital manipulation in Photoshop. He asked if I wanted to play around with it. I said sure. Why not? Something new to experiment with and if it wasn’t something I was interested in all I had wasted was my time. He had already bought the thing and the only resource it uses now is some space on my hard drive if I save things.

I played around with it and realized I really liked it. I had in the past tried digital painting with my mouse and keyboard and that is okay but not great. I had some success with it. Getting the table and pressure sensitive pen made a world of a difference. I was watching Bob Ross a lot at the time and these are my attempts at Bob Ross style. The first one is with only the mouse, the second is with the tablet and pen. Both use added on pens that are not in the basic Krita software I use. (its like Corel or Photoshop but free open source.)

I found I was enjoying working with it and wanted to do more. I found it very easy and once again wasted no space or materials except my time and that I was enjoying.

I was trying to think about how to get better at this new art skill. So I thought about it and decided that the way I had learned to draw and color as a kid was using coloring books, so why not try that again. I found a simple PDF of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. (one of my favorite movies as a kid) It looked pretty simple to try to color in.

I knew a little bit about using things like Photoshop and digital manipulation already. I made a few layers and started figuring out how to color it in. I got just a little bit into and realized that it was going to take far longer than I realized but also that I was doing far better than I had ever imagined. I was able to apply a lot of art knowledge I had picked up from artist friends over the years and one intro to art class. I still haven’t finished it but this is where I am right now.

I might have finished it by now if I had not gotten distracted by more art stuff. I realized how well I was taking to this. Not just because of my own opinion others also said this was going really well. I decided to look up resources to learn to do digital art. I found a great one that has a lot of free videos that are really short and simple lessons about not only digital art but the foundations of art as well. You can find those here at ctrlpaint. Following a lot of the lessons I have made a lot of improvement on my basic skills.

The part of the videos that is for art foundations the guys asks you to do it with real paper and pencil but my brain block doesn’t like that, and I want to learn these skills on my tablet. Most of these skills are thinks I have already learned by hand in the intro to art class in college.

(this is a still life I did on the tablet. It looks a lot like ones I did by hand for class 2 years ago) I still have a long way to go but I am having fun with all of it. I try different methods I come across and I also try some of my own things. I can’t wait to get further into this new avenue of art.

I wanted to share this passion with you this week not just because it is a new thing I am having a good time with but because of the story behind it. This is a way to come at a thing I have wanted to do for most of my life and thanks to a lot of nay-sayers when I was younger I never really went for it.

I am so excited to have found this way of doing something I have always wanted to do. I don’t know that this will ever turn into something “important”. I don’t know that I’ll ever be paid for this art, is what I mean. Really at the end of the day I’m not paid for my art of writing, not yet anyway, so why let that be a reason to not try this thing that brings me joy.

If there is something you want to try, do it. It might not go as you think but it might work out better than expected. Even if you have to come at it from a different direction, like I did, if it gives you joy to do, go for it.

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Sparking fire inside others.

Keeping my promise to bring my passions to this blog I kept my mind open to noticing the things in my life that made me feel passionate. It has been a pretty nice exercise in keeping focused on good things with all the bad that is in the world right now. Doesn’t make all of that go away but it does make it feel more manageable somehow.

I should not be surprised that the first thing that I really focus on in this blog is Amanda Palmer. The passion that woman has for life is ecstatic. So how did Amanda Palmer influence my life this week? In many ways and pretty much every day. Probably more than I realize but there was one thing that stood out to me this week. I don’t remember how but the subject of nudity of women in our society came up between my partner and I. We often go down rabbit holes of conversations about all kinds of topics from geeky joy to dark political things. This one was a bit closer to the later. Anyway, I remember that what ever we were talking about made me think of a video I had seen from Amanda Palmer.

It is a song titled Dear Daily Mail. She performed it and wrote it up one day on a tour in the U.K. due to an article put out by The Daily Mail. That article was about her show a day or two before ( I forget) but it wasn’t about the show, not really. It focused on the fact that one of her boobs had been shown on stage. I say it that way because though The Daily Mail article said that it had “escaped” there was nothing about nudity that Amanda Palmer finds shameful. That is what the article tired to add to it. It tried to present this appearance of a woman’s’ breast on a stage as something shameful. That women should not be showing their bodies like this.

In a very typical Amanda Palmer fashion she wrote up a quick song set to a 3/4 time waltz and sang it at her next show. This link will take you a YouTube video of it. Many were taken and she encourages that kind of behavior because she just wants people to see her work. She worries about getting paid for it later, and it seems to be working for her. This link will take you to her site where the song and lyrics can be checked out.

I hope you go to those links and enjoy it.

Anyway, I showed it to my partner and he enjoyed watching it. We talked about it a bit, how she used her platform to not only share what was her passion but to also tell others, The Daily Mail and her audience, that there is no reason to let some one tell you how to present your body to the world. If they try to you can tell them where to shove their opinion. That kind of message is powerful and good. Like much of what she shares in my opinion.

I don’t know that I would ever be the kind of person to preform on stage naked,(depending on the right venue and reason, maybe) but I do know that I admire Amanda Palmer for putting her self out there. Not just in the literal sense that she got naked on a stage to make a point. She puts her self out there in every song she writes and ever post she makes to her fans. I only really started to follow her this year when she released her newest album, There Will Be No Intermission (click on the link to go to her page of this music. It is worth your time). I then read her book The Art of Asking. It is an emotional trip to read and it made me think a lot of things. (you can find it almost anywhere, I rented an audio copy from my library, she reads it, it’s good.) I need to read it again and keep a journal next time. I love Amanda Palmer for her passion but what I really love is how she inspires others to be their passionate selves. Not by preaching at us that we should be but by showing us what her life is like living so fully in hers. She doesn’t say that her way is the right way to be. I don’t have to get naked on a stage to emulate Amanda Palmer. What I have to do is to keep living this messy sometimes painful life and find the joy in it. Most often to be found by the contact we make with other people.

Also, just to note, when I say I love Amanda Palmer I mean it. I have never met her, and I might not ever. I have spoken to her on Twitter and to me that counts. But I don’t have to know her well for there to be love in my heart for her. Love is an amazing thing that does so much for us and we in the U.S. limit ourselves often to just one type of romantic love. Be kind to yourself and love all that you can.

I am a bit of an introvert. Unlike Amanda Palmer I am not just going to run around the world meeting thousands of people and falling in love with them over and over. What I am going to do, what I do already, is make the connections with those I am already close to stronger. I go out to lunch with a friend, I have late night philosophic discussions about Lord of the Rings with my partner, I write this blog and hope it reaches just one person, I read other blogs and twitter and reach out where I think I can make things better in some small way. These are the kinds of passions that make my messy hard life a life worth being in.

This weeks passion I took note of was Amanda Palmer’s fire that lights so many others fires out there. Like my small fire, she is one of the things that keeps it going when its hard.

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The night is dark and full of terrors, so bring your fire.

I have seen a lot of energy lately going coming from a place of fear and hate. I will admit that much of what I have done in the last few years has come from such a place. That kind of energy has a place, well at least the fear part does. When you are fighting for your life and liberty. I’m not so sure hate has any place really, not a good one anyway. Fear may motivate some great changes in our world. People fearing for their lives can and have done amazing things that have changed the ways we all live. However it is not the only motivating factor out there and I feel that too much of it can do the opposite and freeze people from moving at all.

What then is the alternative motivation? I say we add more passion to our lives. Please understand that I am not saying we should ignore those things that cause us fear. Not at all. We need to stand up for ourselves when our lives are in danger. What I am saying is that we do not and should not spend all of our waking moments buried in a nightmare worse then those we have in our sleep. Take time to acknowledge the bad things in the world, do what you can about them. Then accept that you cannot do everything and do something else. Something that fills your soul with joy and excitement. You will need that fullness to go back into the fight against all the evils of the world tomorrow and next week.
Be passionate. Share that passion with others. Find people who have the same passions or who encourage and inspire yours. Be passionate about their things.

What ‘things’ am I talking about? Anything, really. Art, do you like to paint? Sketch! Doodle! Use a canvas or a notepad or a computer? Crafts, can you sew amazing costumes, make jewelry, crochet cute animals, knit fun blankets? Geeky crafts, can you fabricate weapons from video games and movies? Writing, poems, stories, songs. Music, playing an instrument, singing, dancing. Videos, make short movies, fan music videos, funny commentary on animal antics. How about a pod-cast? I don’t care that there are thousands out there, yours isn’t. The passions I am talking about can be anything. This list so far is about making things that might seem tangible but it can also be something less visible. Set up a book reading group, or maybe a group that watches a t.v show together.

What I am saying is find a thing that sparks your imagination. That makes you light up from inside. Then once you know what that is find someone to share it with. Not everyone is going to share your passion. That’s okay. The really cool thing about the Internet is that it can help those who share passions come together. I have a community of people who I have never met in real life who I am very close to and they bring me such joy all the time.

What is the point of all this? Share your passions with people in anyway you can, what for? Some kind of self gratification, personal glory? No. Passions like these, art and philosophy and community are some of the core things that make us human. You share your passion so that someone else out there sees it and realizes “I like that thing too, I am not alone” and when they tell you that, you now know you are not alone. We have a way to connect like never before and we mostly end up using it to share fear and make each other feel more isolated and alone. Is that ‘just the way it is’ ‘humans suck’ and will inevitably lean toward the darker side more often than not? I refuse to believe that. I see too much good and love and joy in the people I know to believe that. The companies that take up major real-estate on the Internet profit from you staying involved with them. Fear is the most base of our motivations as an animal. We respond to fear because we have to if we want to stay alive. They use that against us and then their analytics tell them that this is what we interact with the most so they give us more. Its a horrible feed back cycle. Lets try and break from it and be the beings of joy and passion I know we are capable of, if even for a little time. I promise the fear and hate and dark will be waiting for you when you come back.

Go and make something. I will take my own advice. I am making a few things. Getting back to this blog is one of them. Every week I am going to write a blog about something I am passionate about. A project I’m working on, a new book, or music, or show I have found. Something that makes my heart sing. I challenge you who read this to do something similar. You don’t have to write a blog about it. Just go and do it. Find a thing that gives you joy this week and take the time to focus on it. Really give it space in your mind. Not just a passing smile or soft laugh. Take notice of the art you make and step back from it to really look at it. Acknowledge that you made a thing and acknowledge how it makes you feel to do that. Acknowledge when you spend quality time with another person, weather it be in a coffee shop, watching movie with your sister, or just chatting with an internet friend who lives miles and miles away from you. Take a moment to feel that feeling you have then. See the good of that moment. It wont make the bad moments an less bad but it will give you something to hold onto when it gets really bad.

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Thoughts on A recent fandom controversy.

So this is going to be a really fangirl geeky thing and it’s going to be really long about supernatural please tune out at this point if you’re not interested

Last weekend there was a supernatural convention in New Orleans. And there’s been a lot of supposed controversy about Jared Padalecki making a off-color joke about rape. What he specifically said was an answer to a question “what is your favorite pick-up line” he said “does this rag smell like chloroform to you?” He specifically said this after telling people that his jokes were not appropriate more than once.
A lot of people got up in arms after seeing this on video from the convention. People who had not gone to the convention. One article I read even specifically said that they felt bad for his co-stars such as Misha Collins who would never do such a thing. Jensen Ackles got thrown under the bus as well because he went along with Jared at the time.
I have a lot of issues with this.
first of all many of the people getting up in arms have not even seen the video they’ve only read these articles crucify and Jared Padalecki.
Secondly, and my biggest contention since this “controversy” broke,  is that these guys are filming right now and I bet you that Jared Padalecki is sleep-deprived at the moment. And we all make stupid jokes  when the filter between our brain and mouth stops to work. Myself and many of my friends of all genders have made the joke about does this rag smell like chloroform to you. So he was probably just not thinking and neither was Jensen.
Lastly, now having watched some more videos from the con, I’m getting the feeling that the entire cast of their knew their audience in New Orleans. Almost all of them were making sexual innuendo heavy jokes. Even the Angelic Misha Collins that the article I read put on a pedestal. He called up an audience member to get a massage at one point. This was after making jokes about how A wife saying you don’t get sex unless I get money was prostitution.
All of this for Jensen Jared and Misha was prompted and pushed by the audience that was there present in New Orleans. All of these so-called controversy is coming from people on the internet who weren’t even there and probably have not watched the videos.
These guys are all humans just like anybody.  They have a right to be tired, they have a right to be stupid and they have a right to do what they think their audience wants them to do because that’s who they are they’re performers.
I’m not trying to defend rape jokes. Rape culture is a thing. what I am saying is that context needs to be taken into consideration before crucifying somebody who is a good person.  He probably didn’t want to be there because he was tired as hell from filming and he definitely didn’t want to answer that question in the state of mind he was in you could see it.  but he is an actor And so he gave his audience what he thought they wanted and the reaction of the audience present showed that that was fine by them.
yes we need to change attitudes about women in our society and rape and sexual assault but we don’t need to go after an attack everyone who  Says something without thinking. That’s not how you teach somebody to be better that’s how you get people pissed off at your cause.
Also once again like I said None of the people who are riding this controversy were there. How many of you all live in New Orleans? I don’t. I don’t know what that culture is like. I know it’s different.  I’m willing to bet the two biggest factors here are sleep deprivation And knowing your audience.
Yes I’m defending the guy cuz I like him. I like him for a lot of reasons beyond the fact that he’s sexy.  he’s actually a really decent person from what he shows his audience.  I try not to objectify him. In my opinion the question that started this whole problem what’s your favorite pick-up line. Is just another form of the fans objectifying him. I’ll bet you he was practically groped all day at photo shoots before he got up on that stage. I’d like to give someone a chloroform covered rag too at that point.
If I have offended you in anyway with this post be an adult and talk to me about it. Or don’t and fuck off smartly . #supernatural#SPNfamily#AKF#jaredPadalecki#NOLAcon

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Different Creative Endeavor.

I am still working on my next podcast episode for Geeks About History and some day I will actually get back to writing my blog.

For the moment however I started to work on a craft that I had been wanted to try my hand at for a long time.

Fan music videos.

Specifically Supernatural.

I’ve got three finished and I’ve got a few ideas for some more in the future.

Hope you like them.

 

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