An Artful New Year

We are getting along quite nicely over here. Jay is in good health following his bout with pneumonia, the hiccups haven’t returned, and we are focused on preparing for an end-of-January special occasion requiring travel.  I’ll happily share all about that later.

My to-do list feels long, but I’ve noticed the December adrenaline spike drained my battery a bit. I could plug back into high-gear if I wanted to, but I don’t think I will. Not yet anyway.

There’s no need to push, but I have many interests and some new family requests I’ll attend to–just slowly.

Sophia would like me to teach her to knit. My grandmother taught me, and at one time knitting was a creative expression I really enjoyed. I’ve been pulling out all my needles and bits of yarn and patterns and even some of the notes left behind by my grandmother. I’ve read them over and over with her handwriting bringing back warm memories. Teaching Sophia feels important to me.

And Karina has been asking me to teach her to play the piano. I taught piano and worked with children’s music for years. I play well–or I did at one time. I don’t practice any more. Why? There’s a discipline to it, I suppose. It takes time and I’ve moved away from this being a priority. I think this is the year to reinvest in my personal practice, but I’m probably mostly motivated to teach a five-year old who loves music like I do.

I can’t do it all,whatever “it” happens to be, but these are some slow-me-down interests that have reawakened.

I think if we pay attention we recognize an artistic spark that we either encourage or extinguish. I was thinking about that while at the Natural History Museum last week. I slowly ambled through a special exhibit of Iberoamerican Folk Art, enthralled with  the beautiful colors, patterns and features in over 800 works by artists from 22 Latin American countries.

It was an exhilarating experience. I enjoyed studying the extraordinarily detailed pieces of clay, wood, silver, natural fibers and textiles. Some were quite simple and reminded me of the art projects I introduced to my preschoolers. Most, however, were intricate and complex. Each represented creative expression.

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I’m not capable of anything too exciting in papier-mâché , straw weaving, woodworking or clay, but I don’t waste any time envying others’ talents. I just want to get my own fingers busy.

How about you? Do you think you’ll be making some time to let your creativity out to play a little more often in 2015? What would you like to do to get your fingers busy?


“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

50 thoughts on “An Artful New Year

  1. I have been away from my art journaling for too long. That is what I want to get back to in 2015…and card making…and book binding… 😉 Glad you are getting back to old loves.

  2. December drained your battery a bit. How could that have happened? 🙂 Slow-me-down interests that have reawakened — I just like that phrase. Sounds a bit like tempered desire and that’s a good approach to things when you’re allowing your battery to recharge. I can see you as a teacher, simply through how you express yourself and share insights via you blog. Those young girls are very fortunate to have you interested and willing!

    To your interesting question, I’m looking forward to my fingers finally finishing writing my first book and to dig more deeply into significant volunteering. Lovely post, Debra.

      1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Eric. I think my two granddaughters are probably just about as busy in their own pastimes and hobbies as I am with work and other responsibilities, so I’m not at all sure how I’m going to proceed with the lessons! But you’re precisely correct, and I do have a very strong desire to prioritize and make that time. And I certainly look forward to the finishing of your book! That is a very significant creative effort! It will be a good year. 🙂

    1. You are very creative by my definition, M-R! I have no doubt you were a good editor, but I also know you are a very good writer. I think you and Stringer shared a very creative life and you continue to be an original and independent thinker–that’s creativity. I won’t let you argue with me! 🙂

  3. I know what you mean about the batteries being drained… we are back to work this morning and although I had a relaxing break, I am daunted by a very long list of things to do! On a positive note I want to read more this year – a pair of reading glasses last autumn made me realise why I had neglected books for a while – I couldn`t see properly! So now I have some catching up to do. And on the creative side, maybe a crochet project, as my sister showed me the basics last summer and since then I have been busy practising. Love the idea of you teaching your grandchildren something. It will mean a lot to them too, especially later in life. Hope it’s a fruitful year for you Debra, with lots of creative projects and lots of fun!

    1. You reminded me of one of the reasons I stopped practicing the piano, Cathy. It’s been quite awhile now, but I went through a long period when I, too, couldn’t quite get my reading glasses to sufficiently support my needs while at the piano bench. I was always frustrated! But after a long break I find I am missing the discipline of practice. I’d like to read more, too, and after I tally up all the things I still hope to “fit in” I may need to give up sleep. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderfully creative year, and I think crochet is a wonderful art. I only learned how to do a simple edge on knitted projects, but I have so many of my friends make the most beautiful crocheted pieces. There’s something relaxing about working with yarn, so I hope you get to it. 🙂

  4. I so love the pictures you included in this post, Debra. Thank you very much for sharing! And I think it is great that you are willing to teach the granddaughters. I was taught knitting at age 9, piano playing a few years later. But I did not persevere with it. I learned to type. I always preferred this to handwriting. Rather than sending out hand written letters, I would type them on my typewriter. These days of course I got very much used to computers and keyboards. However I am never able to catch up on all the reading I would like to do. I think deteriorating eyesight may be partly to blame. Even with wearing a new pair of glasses for computer work my eyes seem often to get sore. I usually try to take frequent breaks. I still like book reading, but to my regret do by far not as much reading as I keep planning to do.
    It is good to hear that Jay is in good health again.
    You say: ” . . . we are focused on preparing for an end-of-January special occasion requiring travel. I’ll happily share all about that later.”
    I am looking forward to you sharing later what this special occasion is all about!
    Sincerely, Uta 🙂

    1. I will mention my special occasion now, Uta, and talk more about it later. I’m very excited. My son is getting married at the end of the month in Kauai and we are going over and spending a week on the island. You’re the first to know. 🙂 I do understand about the desire to read more and then having trouble with your eyes. I find my eyes aren’t as strong in the evening, and that’s the only time I have to read. I used to read for hours at night, and I can’t anymore. Your comment about typing reminded me that when I first started learning to type in high school I was really fast! I think it was the strength in my fingers and possibly dexterity because of piano practice. The funny thing is that my typing teacher called attention to the fact that while I was typing my foot was also going up and down like I was pedaling. Here’s to a happy and creative year, whatever our pursuits! 😉

  5. With the new camera I’m not sure I have time for anything else… lol… and it is such an effort to get out there with it… now I’m talking nonsense…

  6. Your December was quite draining, so great to note that all is improving. Cheers to you teaching Sophia & Karina to finger arts, and I know you will relish the time. As for me, I imagine my fingers will be busy on the keyboard.

    BTW … I like the new look. Well done!

    1. Thanks for the compliment on the new blog look, Frank. I was needing a change. Your fingers must sizzle on the keyboard with all the blogging you do, Frank. 🙂 I really loved your recent autobiography–THAT was very creative!

  7. Just go make some stuff and don’t compare it to others. I’ll bet you’re better at making than you think. I have a number of shop projects planned, a video I want to make and finish my book. I was able to get a few days rest after Christmas and am ready to get back at it.

    1. You have a lot of creative pursuits, Andrew! A video and a book–those sound like big efforts and I hope this is the year to finish both! Thanks for the encouragement to go “make some stuff!” I love that. I don’t think a paintbrush will be of much use, but I do like fabric and yarn, and photography. I still need to just jump in! I tend to think about projects far too long when I just need to get busy. 🙂

  8. Beverly

    Teaching your grand daughters the things you are good at and sharing your gift for music with another generation is wonderful and a blessing! I know my daughter benefited from your patient teaching and has enjoyed playing the piano for most of her life….thanks to you and the many hours you spent with her. Karina is a lucky girl!

    1. Thank you so much, Bev. I did enjoy those days of teaching. It feels like that was a long, long time ago…maybe that’s what I’m yearning for, eh? LOL! Turn back the clock? Karina is very musical, but it’s yet for me to determine if little Miss Independence will take to practicing. I’m curious about that! 🙂

  9. I go through phases. This is my writing phase. I played piano (classical no less!), rode horses, made candles, crocheted a coat, painted with water colors, then oil. With each one there came a point when I was no longer interested. I am hoping that doesn’t happen with writing. You are far more creative than you say. So glad Jay has recovered.

    1. I think I may be more creative than artistic, but sometimes I do think creativity of any sort is squelched if we compare ourselves to anyone else. I was very much at home as a preschool teacher. I could play with clay and paint and never have to worry about my abilities. 🙂 I do agree with you about phases. As I look back, I think that’s been true for me, too, and now I’m feeling like I want to return to a few! I think it’s wonderful that you’re really enjoying a “writing phase” and if you continue to have the time I am sure the enjoyment will continue. 🙂

  10. Oh, Debra, from your enticing ocean view heading your new look, to your, well, your new look, I’m loving this post. It is easy to breath a bit lighter with an ocean breeze and sunshine to look at, your fabulous photos and desire to hand down what you have in your hands to Karina and Sophia.

    Good for you for staying in slow gear and for knowing exactly what speed you need right now. Three cheers for your renewed interest and thank you for the gentle nudge to seek our own creative muses.

  11. I know what y0u mean about the adrenaline spike of December — I got sick on December 17 and I am still sick. I went to a doctor this week (didn’t want to go when there was a chance I would be told I just had a virus) and was given antibiotics, but I am no better. I just want to feel normal some morning when I wake up and get back to work. Since most of my work is singing I enjoy it. I have a new CD to promote as soon as I have the energy to do so, but, for now, it is bed rest and reading.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re ill, and have been for a couple of weeks, Sharyn. I know that singing is your livelihood and so illness can really set you behind! I hope you feel better soon, and I’m pleased you finally got your CDs! I was following your FB posts as you were trying to find where they were. I do hope your strength returns quickly and you can get back to your work–and promoting the new CD. That is an accomplishment! 🙂

  12. Have a blast teaching the girls to knit and play the piano ~ what FUN for them and you. Adored the shots from the museum ~ what a smorgasbord of colors and textures.

    1. I thought of you with the folk art, Nancy. Some of the pieces were very reminiscent of the Dia de los Muertos objects you’ve previously shared. I had dozens of photos to share–but decided not to make the blog impossible to load. 🙂 I was so taken with the variety, and there was something that would appeal to every artistic taste. We have some travel at the end of the month and then upon return, the lessons will begin! 🙂 We’ll see how we do!

      1. Yes! The lady with the birdcage definitely has that day of the dead look to her skeletal frame. I hope you have a wonderful time planning for your trip to Hawaii. Enjoy the wedding!

  13. Debra, is this a new theme? I really like it. Clean and simple.

    My grandmother was also a big knitter/crocheter. Her hands were never idle. I inherited that tick from her, because I’m so nervous with my hands. I used to cross stitch, but I could only do it while I watched tv. Since we don’t have a tv……….

    Like you, I also used to be proficient at piano. When I sit down now and try to play, I get so frustrated. I know how I used to sound, and I can’t achieve that anymore, not without lots of practice.

    I’m so glad the girls’ interests in these things will bring you back to activities you enjoyed. You’re building memories with them that will be just like yours of your own grandmother someday. You value those things because of her, because they bring her closer now.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Andra. You’ve validated for me what I feel is so important–a bit of legacy that comes down from my grandmother and then is passed on to a whole new generation. It falls into the category of my own “making a memory.” I have been thinking about that quite a bit in response to your prompting, and since I am not prone to adventure-seeking, I tend to forget that it’s the little things in my own memory that continue to give me a warm feeling–decades later. I do want to pass that on to the children. Thank you for so sensitively reinforcing that, Andra. You have mentioned your “busy hands” before, and I think its very sweet you connect to your grandmother remembering her flying fingers. You ooze creativity, my friend. This is going to be a very busy year for you with much to show for your time and effort. 🙂

  14. You do sound so very creative, Debra. And I’m loving the new look of your blog! I used to knit really well – knitted while doing night-duty shifts as a nurse. But I’ve lost that skill. It’s good you’re able to teach your granddaughters the skills of knitting and piano playing. How wonderful that you used to teach children the piano! And I bet you still play really well! xx

    1. I can’t imagine you having any time at all for something like knitting, Charlie! My goodness…you’re creative in the kitchen and I’m sure that isn’t all. I have definitely lost a lot of ease with patterns and cables and all, but it will come back with practice. Practice seems to be the key to so many things and that’s where I tend to fall down–discipline. I wasn’t patient with my own children and a nag about practicing, but you know how they say grandchildren are all about giving parents a second chance. Thats me. 🙂 I’m glad you like the look of the blog, and thank you for stopping by while you’re on your wonderful vacation. ox

  15. It’s funny you should bring up this topic, because my daughter and I just reinvested ourselves in our writing. We’ve missed creative writing, which is an important outlet for us, because of all the other priorities we’ve allowed to take over our lives. Now we decided to do those things we know we’d regret not doing, and it’s amazing what a wonderful difference it makes.

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that you and your daughter are both writing. What a wonderful shared interest. It’s really difficult to prioritize creative efforts when there are other responsibilities and I truly hope that 2015 is peace-filled and without the major bumps that take so much time. I do like the way you acknowledged that we often let circumstances take over our lives. That’s a good reminder and one I need to hear! I have a tendency towards wandering away from the goal. 🙂

  16. Anonymous

    I never learned how to knit so that is a wonderful thing to pass on and of course the piano is a must. These are things you can do with them living with you. It makes things alot easier. I am looking forward to a new year with Madison I think it will be lots of fun, as she heads towards 3. New things to see and do with her. You have an interesting Jan ahead of you. Keep in touch

    1. I would have figured it out, Sandy, with the reference to Madison. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. And yes, a preschooler is all about creativity and you’re a good one to keep up. You’re one of the most creative people I know, my friend! Happy 2015! ox

  17. I started guitar lessons almost two years ago and intend to stick with that. I don’t do it well. And I love it. I’m just not ‘good’ at it. 🙂 But I’m okay with that. I like that it makes me stretch my abilities. I’m glad Jay is doing better! And I think we all deserve a little wind down, or at least not-wind-up -as – much- time! 🙂

    1. Sticking with it is the key! It’s mostly about the enjoyment we get from music. If we make progress along the way that’s a bonus to the pleasure of practicing. Stretching our abilities is good for our brain functioning, too. And most of all I think your guitar is a good way to be more artful this year, Colleen. 🙂

  18. I’m an artistic spud, Debbie, but I love your fresh new look! Part of your artistic experimentings? I’d love a dabble with painting, before it’s too late 🙂
    Have a relaxed and happy weekend!

  19. We need to get back to piano as well it’s been a year since we had a lesson! Good luck to with all your 2015 aspirations! So glad to hear Jay is better…it takes a lot out of you!

  20. I love that you are going all out for a new artistic style of 2015 my friend, starting with a lovely new blog layout 😀
    It will keep you relaxed but on your toes no doubt!
    Happy Belated New Years mon amie!

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. Sounds like you have a busy year already planned out Debra – even if you hope you don’t 😉 My first task of this year is accomplished… A new dining table has been assembled and polished – from now on we eat in the dining room; Not in front of the Television!!!

    Next I have to sort out a new passport for me and the lad… Not that I’ll get past the US border force being a photographer and all that 😉

    You push on with your creative ideas – I look forward to seeing drawings, knitted scarves, cloth place mats and all sorts of other excellent works 🙂

  22. You are always such an inspiration to me Debra. You know how to listen to your soul, your imagination, your heart, your body…I aspire to that. I’m getting there, albeit slowly. I think your slow down activities for this year sound tremendous. Mine is less creative, but restful. I’m picking up more books this year. I love to read and have recently bought several books to keep me busy for quite some time (in between everything else). I look forward to those me moments. Best of luck teaching the girls piano and knitting. I think that is wonderful! My grandma taught me to cross-stitch and sew. I still have the little sewing kit she got for me. I pull it out whenever I need to sew on a button and I’m always reminded of her. She was very excited she found one with little fold-up scissors, just like she had and she knew I loved. Your granddaughters will cherish these times with you!

  23. How wonderful that your granddaughters want you to pass onto them two of your creative skills, Debra. You will really enjoy doing so. Nearly 40 years ago I taught DD to knit and she is now a much more skilful and creative knitter than I am. 🙂

  24. It is clear to me you fulfill a critical role, Grammy! Your question is certainly a “mind thinker”. It seems there is never enough time in the day…especially if you are trying to “write”. In addition to converting my Marathon sod front lawn to totally drought tolerant, I’ve been earnestly trying to translate Japanese text addressing WWII. Man, it’s more than I bargained for! How is Darwin and Zena???

  25. You are right, we can do it all. We have to make priorities – which is often the hardest part. But if we don’t circumstances make our choices, which isn’t really better. And I do agree with you, we should recognize the creative spark in us. As for me, I will keep taking photos, keep writing, keep doing what I like to do. I guess it doesn’t really qualify to keep my fingers busy, though. More the whole of me.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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