Art Fair Inspirations

2013-Art-Fair-Poster-web-300x300Last weekend was one of my favorite yearly events–the Salem Art Fair. I attended with my best friend and we soaked up a day of creativity, inspiration, and sunshine.

Check out my A Literate Lifestyle board on Pinterest and be inspired by the artists who made this day such a treat



Reading, Writing, Empathy, and Authenticity: Some Thoughts About a Literate Lifestyle

Play With Your Words Writing PromptsIn a June 2013 article, “A Terrifying Grace,” in Christianity Today, Mark Galli discusses the omniscience of God. Reflecting on the common human reaction to this, he writes:

Our entire inner life, our thoughts and desires, our feelings and imaginations, are known to God….The human resistance against such relentless observation can scarcely be broken. Every psychiatrist and confessor is familiar with the tremendous force of resistance in each personality against even trifling self-revelations. Nobody wants to be known, even when he realizes that his health and salvation depend upon such a knowledge. We do not even wish to be known by ourselves. We try to hide the depths of our souls from our own eyes. We refuse to be our own witness. How then can we stand the mirror in which nothing can be hidden?

I found this concept suprising. Yes, we put on our social faces for different occasions, but are we really so frightened to be known for who we are?  How is it that I differ from the average person in that I am not shackled by this fear? And why don’t the people I associate with seem to model it? Could it be because we are a bunch of reading and writing people who are simply fascinated with the human mind, relationships, and how it all works? Is a literate lifestyle a key to breaking free of this fear of being known for who we truly are?

Through reading, one aspect of a literate lifestyle, we come to know so many “people”–including both authors and the characters in their work. As we read, our knowledge of, evaluation of, affection for, and agreement or disagreement with them reveals a lot about us and helps us to extend empathy to others. Rather than seeking to stay hidden from myself, when I read, it is for a journey of exploration.

And writers, like myself and a number of my friends, take this openness to self-knowledge another step further. We need to craft believable characters. As a fiction writer, and a thinking human being, I find the study and theories of psychology fascinating. I read them with my characters in mind, but still must confess, I cannot resist reflection on how they apply to me and my life as well. Freewriting and journaling are likewise adventures into the self and into the soul.

Yes, I admit, I do not reveal all that I am to every person I meet. It is just not practical in terms of time and seems to me rather selfish and self-centered at best. However, I do strive to be honest and authentic in all I do.

And, of course, I write. On the page, or on the screen, I am only too aware that every word exposes what and who I am, whether I am initially conscious of it or not. So be it. That is a price I am willing to pay in order to live a literate lifestyle.

So here’s an encouragement to readers and writers: If we consider, and evaluate, and seek to understand ourselves and others, our lives can become gifts that encourage those who come in contact with us to do the same, to think about their own choices and actions, and those of the people around them, to consider what these thoughts and actions reveal about themselves and others, and to develop greater empathy for all.

Dining Out–Family Literacy Exercise and Fun

7.4 Giovanni's Close upOn the Fourth of July, my husband and I drove out to one of our favorite restaurants, Giovanni’s Pizza in Mill City, Oregon, where we often went camping in the mountains when our son was young. I had remembered that the pizza here was fantastic, and as we ordered and then sat down, more memories flooded in of the fun times we’d had here with our son and his friends. What surprised and delighted me the most, however, was something I had completely forgotten–Giovanni’s table decor.

Each table in Giovanni’s (except for the booths) is covered with two tablecloths–the lower one a warm mix of red tones and the upper, clear. Sandwiched between them are napkins on which diners have documented their dining experience or memories of the trip that brought them to Giovanni’s in the first place. There were drawings of snowmen and tales of skiing and sledding trips, drawings of boats, and campfires, rosters of signatures, and of course notes of gratitude and praise for the food. There was one note from a couple who were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary with a meal at Giovanni’s, and another written by a tourist from Shanghai–both in Chinese characters and English–saying this was the best pizza he had ever had.

I immediately fished in my purse for a pen, which as usual, I didn’t have. My husband went and got one from the car. (He still has not figured out how I manage to be a writer when I never carry around paper or pen. But I’ll let you in on the secret, he just about always has some!). As we waited for our pizza I documented  a napkin memorializing our Fourth of July trip and slid it under the tablecloth.

The pizza was great, likewise Mill City’s fireworks. As we drove home, I couldn’t help but wonder why more restaurants don’t take advantage of free customer-created advertising like Giovanni’s, and I wondered if more would if those of you in the know helped get them started. When you dine out at a place with clear plastic tablecloths, you and your kids or guests can write on and decorate your own napkins documenting the trip, date them, and slip them under the tablecloth.

Or, for your own family memory collection, whenever you dine in a restaurants with paper napkins, pass out the pens while you are waiting for food, and you and your companions can start a scrapbook memorializing family dining experiences. (You can even ask for take out menus to add to your page.)

Make a meal out an event to remember, and savor the opportunity for creative time with your family and friends.

7.4 Giovanni's Wide View

Writer’s Block: Summer Solution

wooded path 7.13Writers, feeling blocked?

This summer got off to a rocky start for me–one week of meetings and professional development and then two weeks of a sinus infection. It’s hardly felt like summer, and I’ve hardly felt like being creative.

Now, as I am semi-recovered, my instinct is to hole up in my office with my nose to the grindstone (err…computer keyboard).

However, my fellow-educator-spouse has had other ideas. “It’s summer.” “We need to exercise.” “Let’s go for a walk.”

Our first walk had me crawling for the couch when we returned home. However yesterday morning, I enjoyed the blue sky and the breeze off the river as we walked over on the old train bridge.

Today, we took my favorite path at Bush Park. Green grass grew wild to each side and oak and Douglas fir arched over it while the creek sang in the background. Ah… Summer.

I came home feeling as though I’d finally been able to enjoy a little bit of summer. I ate lunch, sat down at my computer, and finished working on the chapter for my writer’s group meeting tomorrow.

When I’m feeling low, I need to remember a patch of wild grasses, a freshly barked trail, the singing of a creek, or some cool shade on a warm day can be the perfect antidotes. Now that I have savored a little summer, I no longer felt cheated, but rather rested and renewed and ready to create.

What about you? What gets you going when you’ve got the slows?

Best Books of the Month: Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms Trilogy

Graceling Cover jpegThis month I have read both Graceling, the first book in Kristin Cashore‘s award-winning Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, and Fire, the second book published, but chronologically a precursor, rather than a further installment of Graceling. 

I fell in love with the main characters in Graceling, and was eager to spend more time with them. Therefore, as I began FireI was a little disappointed. However, Cashore’s characters are so well drawn and their predicaments so compelling, I soon fell in love with the cast of Fire as well. That said, however, had I checked the series out more thoroughly, I probably would have read Fire first. I like reading things chronologically in terms of the book’s time.

That said, however, I can’t Fire Dial for bloggerwait to get my hands Cashore’s third Seven Kingdom’s book, Bitterblue. I feel confident it will be every bit as enjoyable a read as were the first two.