Creative Lent

Restarting this blog has been harder than I expected.  The desire to write and connect is there, but so is much of the baggage from the past eleven plus years. I’ve been attempting to rebuild my life these past five years and I’ve made a lot of progress emotionally, relationally and spiritually. I’ve faced down and tamed many of the negative voices inside my head.  It’s harder though, when truth is entwined with the negativity.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  But I’m not the kind of perfectionist that does everything well and wows you with her success, the one you to whom you are constantly saying “Chill out!”  No, I’m the one that starts something, can never get it perfect, so never finishes it. (Can you hear that negative voice emphasizing the ‘never’? I really need to get rid of her.)  In the end, either many projects are started and few/none are finished or projects are never started in the first place.  After all, I don’t have time to “do it right” so why start?

This blog falls into both those categories.  And today I declare war on both fronts. (Actually, my life these past few years has been a war on both fronts.  It’s just now this specific conflict is clearer and closer. And it helps me to verbalize, so this is me verbalizing. 😉 )

Those who know me know that my faith is an integral part of who I am. I regularly evaluate my thoughts and actions by what I believe is right according to my understanding of what the Bible teaches. One thing that I’ve done occasionally is to observe a kind of Lent. I’m not Catholic so I don’t observe it in the same way that Catholics usually do. However I do often use this time to evaluate my life.  Occasionally, I realize that the best way to draw closer to the God I worship and to become more like the ideal person I desire to be is to give up something for a short time.  Its absence in my life prompts me to fill it with time and thoughts of my God and that ideal person I want to become.

In the past, I’ve given up things that were detrimental to me, such as sodas or candy or spending money on luxury items.  This year however I felt no need to deprive myself. On the contrary, I’ve sensed the Lord reminding and teaching me I am loved and cherished, that my task was to enjoy all He’s made available and to live life with abundant joy. The God who created the universe, created me, gave his life for me, intercedes for me and gives me his power to enable me to be the best that I can be. So I’ve not felt the need to deprive myself or do penance.

Then I came across Will You Join Me in Preparing For Easter? The idea intrigued me.

I thought of my years-long struggle to reignite and nurture my creativity. I want to draw more; I want to paint more; I want to do crafts;  I want to write; I want to create ebooks and print one; I want to create beauty.  That desire keeps butting heads with this erroneous internal belief that I must get “work” done before I get to “play.” Work being defined as anything other than play; play being defined as anything I enjoy doing.

The truth is God created me to create. He created me to find joy and beauty and to learn how to recreate and share it. In creating, I am working at His purposes.  I need to create. In the process of creating, I’ll rediscover and re-create myself; I’ll find healing; I’ll reconnect with my Creator God and I’ll plumb that well of creativity He placed inside me. God created me as a creative being. To join Him in creating beauty, particularly beauty from the mundane or even ugly, is draw closer to Him, to become more like him.

So my idea for Lent is to create something every day.  For at least  30 minutes  each day for the 40 days of Lent, I will create something. I will draw, I will paint, I will write, I will create digital art. Every day. Not as a to do list task, but as a way to connect to the God who created me to be like like Him, to create beauty in my world. My offering of this art is my mindful, deliberate act of worship.

Note:  As usual, this took longer to write than expected.  I started it on February 28.  Every day so far, I’ve painted on something.  I’ll be sharing those items in the future, but for now, I’m posting this declaration.  Join me in celebrating the Creator by creating something of beauty!

Next Step . . . Routines

Five years ago I walked away from a decades-long controlling, manipulative relationship. Each day holds new opportunities to discover and combat residual effects of that dysfunctional control. Slowly, I am analyzing and evaluating my thinking processes and choices, intentionally taking back true control of my own life.

One of my first independent choices (after the major one of “No more!”) was to go back to school to get a degree. This one decision enabled me to find a path toward orchestrating and controlling my own life. I worked hard and often spent way more time on projects with less spectacular results than my talented classmates. but I succeeded. (Take that, self-doubt!) I graduated with a 3.62 GPA. (I’m not listening to you, negative voices from my dysfunctional past!)

Just when you’d think I could cruise down this new Life Path of mine, I run smack dab into yet another road block. There is a part of me that craves being told what to do next. That dysfunctional thinking still needs reshaping. I need to own my own choices, not just do what comes naturally, or is the thing expected of me. If I do the expected thing, it needs to be because I chose to do it, because I want to do it, because I have specific reasons for doing it. Those last few semesters, I chose to jump through the hoops of the required course of study (even though I chafed at some of it) and get that degree. I finished well. Now it’s time to create my own hoops and expectations.

In this new life of of choices, I’m trying to start a business (SaRoseDesign) as I also create art and rediscover storytelling. I’m being pulled in many different directions. At the same time, my intense self-doubt melds with my natural procrastination to cause a disconnect in both my thinking and my productivity. I get stuck doing things that are the equivalent of a hamster wheel. Like journaling, but always saying the same things, never making any connections to the themes I journal. Or writing blog posts that never get posted. Or making business plans that never get enacted.

To break this trend of procrastination-fueled self-sabotage, I decided I needed some easily accomplished goals for each day that would build a foundation of success, which in turn would bolster my self-confidence and start me on the path toward my dreams . . . Or at least to the map that would help me choose which dream(s) to pursue.

    I chose two routines:

  1. making my bed each day (here’s an article similar to the one I read that inspired me to chose this habit); and
  2. writing 500 words in my journal. To keep from writing the same things over and over again, I set guidelines for choosing a different daily prompt. The journaling could serve two purposes, create a daily writing habit and maybe make progress on at least one of my project ideas.

I started on May 5. I have missed three days in three months. Success! It might be safe to declare that routine established. Out of that success, new paths are opening up. My imagination is tentatively coming back to life. Ideas are burgeoning and blossoming. My enthusiasm and motivation is overpowering that procrastination inertia. (Notice, two blog posts in as many weeks, both here and on my blog for writers.)

And that’s the next routine. Posting to Routines for Writers and here at Stephanie’s Musings. My goal: post a new blog post at least weekly on each blog. See you next week (or sooner!)

Stephanie Arises

This blog has been silent a long time. It’s about to wake up.

I disappeared and stayed away much longer than I’d planned. I ran into my scaredy-hole, created a tunnel network down there and am having a hard time finding my way out. Reigniting this blog is just one way I’m re-entering the online world.

Briefly, my husband and I separated and divorced five years ago. I was buried in the pieces of my broken life and dreams. In the process of picking up those pieces, I decided to return to college. The past four years have been an intense, overwhelming, healing, stretching, challenging, I’m-not-going-to-make-it adventure (torture?). I finally graduated in December (2015) with a a BS in Graphic Design, and a Communications minor.

The self-doubt and lack of confidence and just plain I-don’t-fit anywhere-what-do-I-think-I’m-doing-what-could-I-possibly-do-that-matters feelings have pommelled me since graduation. I’ve alternated between being convinced I’m not really qualified to do anything (they only awarded me that degree because they felt sorry for me) and glaring down those doubts and trampling them with physical proof (such as a recitation of the difficult classes and what I learned earning that degree). All that angsty feeling results in a lot of procrastination. (Anyone else get frozen when their emotions go dark?)

It is well past time to stick my head out of my scaredy-hole and re-engage with my dreams. So here I am. Not sure my dreams are the same as before. (How could the be? I’m a different person.) But it’s time to explore, re-discover and re-ignite them.

That’s what I’ll be doing here. Posts may be about anything or nothing. My goal is to establish the routine of posting, of sharing my thoughts on a regular basis with anyone who listens.

One refrain that I intuitively embraced for my healing was “Be transparent . . . With discernment.” I was escaping and healing from a lifetime of trying to please others and hiding myself (and from myself) in the process.
This blog will be about me being transparent.

I’ll be talking about a lot of things at first. Eventually, some topics may spin off into their own blog, but for now, if it interests me, I’ll be writing about it here. I’ll also be posting to my fledgling business site, SaRose Design and the writer’s blog, Routines for Writers. For the most part, though, my personal blogging life will be on display here.

Looking forward to re-establishing the conversation.

An update . . . and a request

(An abbreviated version of what I sent to my email update group.)

I disappeared, didn’t I? Sorry about that. I’m swamped! As a friend of mine puts it, “I’m paddling as fast as I can!” I’ve been feverishly creating visuals that describe my project in preparation for the mid-review that happened on Oct 2 and researching and writing the 12-page paper (due Friday). Not much time for anything else.

For mid-review, each student in Senior Thesis set up what we had created so far and explained our project to the professors who came through. Those professors gave us input about how well (or not) we were presenting our project visually. They also made suggestions about how to make it stronger and portray what we wanted. My mid-review was weak. It takes me a long time to get what is in my head onto paper (or screen). I got some exceptionally good advice, though, that should help me create a visual presentation that does justice to my idea.

My goal is to demonstrate one way a person can “glean” a small revenue from the Web. One of my main project goals is to show how an affiliate program can be such a gleaning opportunity. When a person signs up as an affiliate, they get a code to insert into their website. They then create links to the various products they wish to recommend. When someone follows these links and subsequently purchases the product, the one who recommended it gets a small percentage (usually 2-10%). Everyone benefits.

Amazon Affiliates is relatively easy to join and to use, so I registered this website with them as an affiliate. I have many books I have reviewed or planned to review on the Review page. If you want any of those books, please consider visiting Amazon through the Review page on this website. I won’t get much (about 4%), but it would provide me with some empirical evidence that this idea works.

Also, if you are so inclined, you can email me items you would like to buy from Amazon. (Or even comment below this post.) I will put them on my site with a link to Amazon so you can buy them through here. It only adds the step of going to Amazon through my link. There is nothing else you have to do. As I said, it isn’t much, but it would mean a lot to my project.

I plan on several more updates here, in email (go to my splash page to sign up) and on Facebook. Stay tuned!

New Current Focus

Hello Loyal Blog Readers (all 2 of you? Hopefully, more coming soon.).

This site is about to be redesigned and repurposed. I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming activity and new glimpses into my life and thoughts.

Some of you may realize, either by following me online (here, Routines for Writers, Facebook) or because you were/are part of my everyday life, that five years ago, I emerged from some devastating personal circumstances and began a journey of healing. Part of that journey included my return to college. I had some experience creating web pages and wanted to explore that possibility as a career. Intuitively, I was drawn to explore and expand my creativity. That’s why I chose to major in Graphic Design rather than Information Systems, which would have focused more on the back-end of web development.

Now it’s time for my Senior Thesis Project, a combination research project and art exhibit, meant to showcase my skills and give me experience creating a project from start to finish. I have to write a research paper addressing some social, political or economical issue and then create a body of art work that addresses that research in some way.

My project will incorporate my love of helping people, my desire to communicate and my passion for social justice. The working title is The Gleaning Project, although I probably need to change that because there is at least one organization, in Pennsylvania, with that name. In agricultural settings, gleaning is to gather what is left of a crop after the regular harvest is reaped. In many areas, this provides aid to the poor and disenfranchised, giving them a means of providing themselves with some economic and social stability. My project brings this concept into the technological age and shows just how easy it can be to find and create gleaning opportunities. If you want more details, you may read SrThesisProposal_2015-08-21, which I submitted at the beginning of the course.

This website and blog is part of that project. This blog will be both research for and an example of gleaning in the technological age.

I am experimenting with some of the many ways to glean, most notably open source programs and affiliate opportunities. WordPress is a wildly successful example of open source technology, providing almost unlimited possibilities for creating professional looking webpages. This site is created with WordPress.org software. Affiliate programs give a small percentage of sales to those who refer others, after they purchase the product. Amazon Affiliates is readily accessible and well respected, so I’ll be using them to create a possible revenue stream by recommending books, e-readers, accessories and anything else I find useful or desirable.

If you would like email updates of my progress, sign up for my MailChimp email list (another aspect of my research). You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Eventually, you will be able to see me on LinkedIn and Behance.

Or just come visit this page periodically. I’ll be here.

Issues

It looks like I’m not participating in the ICAD, doesn’t it? Well, looks can be deceiving. 🙂

I’ve discovered some internal issues, probably because I’ve been inactive for so long. One issue is I can’t seem to upload media files. I’m working on resolving those issues. When I do, I’ll upload the photos of the drawings I’ve done.

See you soon!

Another Start . . .

. . . Let’s go!

In later blogs, I’ll share more (at least some) of why I’ve been absent all this time. It’s been an emotional journey through some dark times.  In my journey out of the darkness, I’ve rediscovered the importance of including creativity in my everyday activity.

And that is my segue . . . .

I’ve decided to join Shonna Slayton in an Illustrated Word Index Card a Day Challenge.  This is my way of intentionally adding creativity into my life.

Join me?

Changes are a-comin!

I’ve been dormant for a looong time. There’s probably no one paying attention, but just in case there is . . . .

I’m going to be doing some experimentation on this site, checking out and refining my knowledge of WordPress.  Eventually, I plan to reactivate and update this blog regularly.  For now, though, only experimentation is going on.

If there is anyone actually reading me, stay tuned.

A Face in the Clouds by Marianne Evans

          A Face in the Clouds follows one man’s struggle to reconcile the claims of the Gospel with his rational mind. Paul is a radio reporter. His job and his mindset demand he deal with facts and all things tangible as he investigates and reports on current and community events. He’s in love with Sandy, a co-worker at the radio station. Faith is a cornerstone of her life. Faith in a God that is real and active in her life, but one that Paul has discounted and rejected. Until now. In this Easter short story of hope and redemption we get to see Paul’s doubts and distrust collide with inner longings he’s barely sensed before now and outward events that bring him to a crossroad, a major turning point of decision.

          He and Sandy attend an Easter-season church service led by an artist who claims to draw for God. She prays and draws while music plays and the congregation watches. In the interview before the demonstration, she tells Paul she doesn’t know what she will draw when she begins. She allows God to lead her mind and her hands to create. During her conversation and her later demonstration, Paul is confronted with facts and tangibles that scream to be acknowledged. By the time he leave the church, many of his presuppositions have been challenged, analyzed and re-oriented. He’s ready to consider . . . only consider mind you . . . the reality of God.

          Marianne Evans crafts a heartwarming, believable story that peeks into one man’s heart and mind as he he comes face to face with the living God. If you enjoy reading stories of burgeoning faith, you are sure to enjoy A Face in the Clouds by Marianne Evans.

Fettuccine Alfredo

          Chicken Alfredo, Fettuccine Alfredo, Alfredo ala Anything. Even the names make the dish seem exotic and difficult to create. The truth is, the hardest thing about Fettuccine Alfredo is the sauce. Maybe I’m missing something and maybe my alfredo sauce is “a peasant’s version,” but it tastes great. (Or so others say.) And it is not difficult to make.

          The key (I think) is in using butter, olive oil and whole milk, but I’m not sure. I just know it works.

Fettuccine Alfredo

          Fettuccine

  • Approximately 3 quarts of water
  • 1 Tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1 pound fettuccine

  1. Bring water, with oil or butter, to boil
  2. Add fettuccine.
  3. Stir occasionally to keep the noodles from clumping together.
  4. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until fork-tender. (This means you can easily cut it against the side of the pan with a fork.)
  5. Drain well.
  6. If you are not putting them into the alfredo sauce immediately, rinse the fettuccine. If left sitting hot and unrinsed, they will clump together. It is best to rinse them in cold water, then in hot to reheat them. Instead of rinsing, you can toss them with 1-2 Tablespoons of melted butter.

          Alfredo Sauce
enough for 1 pound of fettuccine

  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Melt butter with oil over low to medium heat. Don’t let it burn, but do let it heat thoroughly before adding milk.
  2. Add milk and heat through. Do not bring to full boil, but do allow to simmer.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese. Stir well and heat thoroughly. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir often.
  4. Remove from heat. As the sauce cools, it will thicken. If it does not thicken enough, just return it to the heat and add Parmesan cheese, a Tablespoon at a time.
  5. At this point, I mix the pasta with the sauce and serve the chicken and/or vegetables either separately or arranged on top of the pasta.
    • Many people prefer to mix the chicken and/or vegetables in the sauce and serve over plain noodles. If you do that, be sure to rinse the noodle and/or toss them with a small amount of butter. This will remove the starch and keep them from clumping together.

What to serve with Fettuccine Alfredo

          Fettuccine Alfredo can be served with anything, but it’s most often seen with chicken and sometimes with vegetables, such as broccoli or green beans or asparagus. I usually steam or stir-fry these items and mix them with the noodles and sauce. As I said before, you can serve them separately if you prefer.

          To stir-fry the meat and vegetables, just add a Tablespoon oil to a wok or frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Add meat. Stir constantly to keep from burning. When meat is done, remove from heat. Repeat the process, adding more oil if needed, with the vegetables. When the vegetables are cooked, add the meat to the pan and mix to reheat.