Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's your Six Word Memoir

Let's continue the creative journey by writing Six Word Memoirs. Can you tell your story in six words? Well I never thought I could, and what I have attempted is by no means perfect, but for a first blush I'd say it's not too bad.

This exercise is also compliments of Kim Klassen and Beyond Layers. Kim recently came across the Six Word Memoir in I believe the latest edition of O Magazine. I, however, read about this form of memoir in a writing magazine - I believe Writer's Digest and I just glimpsed at the story, thinking I couldn't possibly do that! Again with the negative energy and fear leading the way.

Well no longer. This is the year of FOCUS and The Year of Possibilities. So when the prompt came on Monday I pondered it a little and in between cooking dinner I wrote out a few:

Giving to a fault; reassessing this.

Tired. Determined. Perplexed seeker.

Walking through Life. Yearning to Live.

After creating those I came to the conclusion that a Six Word Memoir captures a moment in time. I was convinced of this tonight when I wrote the following after a lovely conversation with my 10-year-old niece:

Bubbling. Overjoyed and Loving that Girl!
So now it's your turn, capture a moment in your life in six words!

For more on Six Word Memoirs check out Smith Magazine, the creative minds behind this form. You can find them here.

My Creative Story

As I peel back the layers and expose my creativity in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class one of the challenges or prompts is to tell my creative story. This was our first prompt last week, but it has taken me almost a week to conceptualize this story and sit here to share it with you.

I hope you'll grab a nice cup of your favorite beverage and take this journey with me.

As a youngster I did my fair share of coloring, but I was not one prone to start an art project - give me a book and I would be lost for hours. One of my favorite photos of me as a child is of me lying on the floor with my legs bent at the knee with a book in front of me. At first glance you see a child reading, but if you inspect that photo closely you will find I have fallen asleep!

Now my Mom was one to have you involved in several activities and having studied Early Childhood Education she also had many projects for us that included painting and creating. I eagerly joined in, but I can't say I was pleased with the outcome so I concluded art was not for me.

Early on I did have fascination with cameras and even had a Kodak Instamatic that I used to capture early memories. This would be the closest I came to being creative - or so that's what I thought at the time. I'm not sure if it was my efforts to emulate my Dad or an early notion of recording history, but photography planted itself in my life and has since become a fixture. By the time I was about 13 or 14 my parents gave me my first and only 35mm Nikon FG that I still own and use from time to time today.

As a voracious reader it would naturally follow that I would love the written word and follow some sort of literary path. My path was not literary, but journalistic. I'm not sure when, but I was fascinated with the news and newspapers specifically. So I took all the English classes offered in school including AP and studied journalism in college. While seeking out English classes I avoided Art classes if at all possible. Unfortunately, I came up during a time when Art and Music were still a part of the curriculum so I really didn't have a choice. I toiled through the assignments and my Mom even displayed my art.

Creative - not me. As a journalist with a weekly newspaper I used my camera to help tell my stories, and to document family events and my travels. I never looked at this as being creative. Over the years I learned how to do page layout and design at the newspaper, which I used later to create computer generated cards and invitations - creative, not me.

I didn't take to crafts either. My Mom and sister loved crafts from needle point to sewing and finally knitting - not me. When my Mom took up knitting she and my sister tried to get me to join but my response was "I have two left thumbs." I did give it a half-heart try, but to no avail. Then a few years later my sister announced she was pregnant with her first child and I decided I would try knitting again. I knit a cute, but imperfect blanket for my niece and I was hooked. Creative - not me.

About a year later when I was planning my wedding I created the invitations and a friend of my Dad's - a tenured Art Professor and Artist received the invitation and was so impressed he framed my "artwork" and gave it to me. Creative - maybe I am.
My framed "Art" Wedding Invitation
Since that time I have taken up card making, I knit regularly and I have created wedding invitations for a few people. I have also taken up photography again. Today I still struggle with the designation of "Creative" but I'm working on accepting the "Creative" in me with Beyond Layers and renewed confidence.

Wrist Warmers I knit for a friend.
As I close I want to give a shout out to my "Cyber" friends! Over the past year I have met many women who have offered a wealth of advice for free, but more importantly have given me and many others the confidence needed to continue honing our skills. Also, the many participants in e-classes who have offered their kind words when viewing my work - it gives me hope and inspiration! The ladies I speak of include but are not limited to Shutter Sisters, Karen "Chookooloonks" Walrond, Kim Klassen, Kat Sloma, and Big Picture Classes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What happens when you focus!

2012 is my year of Focus and boy has this been an adventure and we are only 23 days into the year! As I allow my chosen word to marinate and resonate with me I am finding that focus is a very broad and general term.

When I decided to choose a word focus just kept coming to me because while I don't think I have a problem focusing all the time, I can get sort of scatterbrained - jumping from one thing to the next. This happens primarily with creative ventures and I think that's because I have developed a number of interests over the years. So I was/am determined to focus on the key ventures and see them to fruition.

To that end I have enrolled in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers e-course. Now one of the difficulties I have found with e-courses is that life just gets in the way of creative endeavors, but I'm determined that will not be the case with Beyond or with Ali Edwards One Little Word e-course.

So at least once or twice a week I make sure to check in on both sites and to produce a little something related to the prompts.

These are examples from last week's Beyond Layers photo prompt. The goal was to take a simple image and add a layer, but always keep it simple. I think I nailed it! What say you?

Daisies to brighten your day!

Another take on the daisies
For the One Little Word January prompt you are encouraged to take a self-portrait or have someone take a photo of you. I had not gotten around to this portion of the prompt, so when Kim's prompt suggested either using a self-portrait or something else I decided to try both for my "keep it simple" assignment.

Selfie leaving white space
Still leaving white space, but a fuller view
Not sure what I think of the selfies, but they're done! Will do more as the weeks progress.
Thank you so much for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Day of Remembrance

Today many in the U.S. celebrated the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by attending various events or by offering a service to their communities. What a fitting tribute to a man who died in service to others - to give of oneself for the betterment of others.

I unfortunately took today to reflect on myself and try to get my "house" in order so that I might be a better servant. This year I have started a new practice of choosing a single word to lead my life. This started as a plan to infuse some life into my creative endeavors and my work on "Plan B" but is involving into a life plan.

A day of remembrance and reflection in front of the fire.

The warm glow of a fire.
My chosen word is focus and according to Merriam-Webster this is what it means:
fo·cused also fo·cussed fo·cus·ing also fo·cus·singDefinition of FOCUS
transitive verb
1a : to bring into focusb : to adjust the focus of (as the eye or a lens)
2: to cause to be concentrated <focused their attention on the most urgent problems>
3: to bring (as light rays) to a focus : concentrate
intransitive verb
1: to come to a focus : converge
2: to adjust one's eye or a camera to a particular range
3: to concentrate attention or effort
— fo·cus·able adjective
— fo·cus·er noun
 See focus defined for English-language learners »
Examples of FOCUS
  1. She has an amazing ability to focus for hours at a time.
  1. I wasn't able to focus the camera.
  1. I wasn't able to get the camera to focus.
First Known Use of FOCUS
Related to FOCUS
Synonyms: centerfastenconcentraterivettrain
As I take my journey with this word I will use it as an intransitive verb, most specifically it is my goal this year to concentrate attention or effort on being a better me in 2012. This means in a nutshell that I plan to look inside and make the changes I need in order to have a positive effect on my personal, professional and creative lives. 

So today I worked on my plans for improvement this year, because Dr. King had a dream that he worked hard for and gave the ultimate sacrifice for; therefore it is only fitting that I work hard on my dreams while remembering him. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

365/66 Photo Challenge - Day 15

For today's installment of the 365 Photo Challenge I thought I'd go back to the park and shoot my favorite tree seen here, but unfortunately I couldn't find it during today's brief walk. Bummer! Not to be deterred I will return when the temps are a little higher.

While I did not find the tree I did have a nice brisk walk and communed with nature just a bit, and that in and of itself is a milestone for me! I am not opposed to walking totally, but when the mercury hovers around 25 degrees you are more likely to find me next to a fire as opposed to traipsing through the snow.

It was actually somewhat invigorating so I may try to make this a weekly habit - just have to bundle up a little better than I did today!

Take a peek below! Enjoy! Also I love comments, so if you're so inclined let me know you stopped by!
The water keeps rolling...I wonder if it ever actually freezes. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

365/66 Photo Challenge Check-In

Winter has finally come to the "north coast" so I spent a relaxing day with my laptop. No need to venture out into the blustery cold - been there done that (maybe tomorrow).

Started the day of relax with Ali Edwards and a video chat for One Little Word. What in inspiring way to start the day. The group offered up tips for a successful year and some great humor too! During an exchange about apps for the Iphone one respondent said "I'd give up my right arm for my Iphone", now if that's not an endorsement I haven't heard any!

After the chat I was supposed to get moving on my word and a number of other projects, but I got stuck working on the post processing of some photos. Oh, I did stop and take a few shots, but after that it was the laptop all day.

Between playing with photos and "Words With Friends" I can say it was an enjoyable day.

These are the highlights:
Fresh popped - OPD-13-JAN 13 2012

Inspired by OLW chat and preparation for Beyond Layers  with Kim Klassen

OPD-14-JAN 14 2012

Inspired by this week's Picture Inspiration and the chill outside!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

365 Photo Challenge - Playing Catch Up!

I'm playing catch up with my posts, but not with my shooting! I have taken a photo a day for the first 11 days of this year; however the last several evenings have left me weary and unable to post. I didn't want to go another day without posting so here's a three-fer!

Longing to be here for several hours at the end of the week!

Drawn to the lights and quiet at the end of a long day.

Just love the colors in these daisies, hoping they'll brighten my evening.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

365 Photo Challenge - Day 8

Feeling refreshed after a wonderful Sunday! It was a gorgeous day on the north coast, the sun was brilliant and the air was brisk but not bone chilling - what more could you ask for in January in Cleveland?

The highlight of the day was a meet-up with two of my Literary Sistas at Starbucks. It's always great to see Kim our founding Sista who now resides overseas and only gets home once or twice a year. Just love her, she is such an inspiration and just an all around great person. I get to see Angela more often, but she is just as special - she has a great heart and is a pleasure to be around. Love them both.

As we parted Kim made note of the moon which was kind of eerie and reminded me of the old TV show "Dark Shadows". So there you have it, my Photo of the Day!

Have a wonderful week!

Angela, a great friend and Literary Sista

Literary Sistas founder Kim

OPD-8-JAN 8 2012, the Eerie Moon

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Thursday, January 05, 2012

One Little Word 2012 + 365 Photo Challenge Day 5

As I approach the end of the first week of 2012 all I can say is WHEWWW! I hope that translates into a very heavy sigh!
This has been a very busy week on the work end (what pays the bills) and not a bad week on the personal end (means the creative future work that WILL pays the bills). Not to be deterred I have kept up with my 365 Photo Challenge and working on One Little Word 2012.
My word for 2012 is FOCUS. I chose this word to help guide me into the new year and new ventures. For a number of years I have been less than regular with my postings to this site primarily because I haven't taken the time to focus on what I want to say, and most importantly what I want this site to represent. I can't say that I have found the answer, but I believe if I take the advice of so many people and begin to plan I will find the answer.
My plan was not to write about the One Little Word project today, but with such a hectic day at work I was struggling to come up with my photo for today when I began concentrating on my word. Before I go much further I should explain OLW for those of you unfamiliar with this annual project. The brainchild of Ali Edwards, a guru in the scrapbook and photography communities, OLW is the practice of choosing one word that will act as your beacon throughout the year. This is my first time using the practice, but based on what I have read on other blogs, it really helps free that inner spirit striving to come to the surface.
Ali leads you through monthly emails, videos and assignments that help you incorporate your word into your daily life. One of the first assignments is to define your word, find synonyms and explain why you chose the word.
This evening while checking the thesaurus I came across CENTER and experienced an `aha' moment. Focus does draw one into the center, and if you are truly focused you are Centered! Thus, the photo below. Talk about focusing!
One Little Word 2012 - Focus
Enjoy and do stay FOCUSED!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

365 Photo Challenge Day 4

Daylight dims and traffic increases as we  rush to greet the evening hours. It is a short week and we have reached "hump" day! There are dinners to be made, homework to go over or maybe a cocktail or two. Where were you rushing off to?
Rush hour

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

365 Photo Challenge Day 3

An unexpected Christmas gift and the return of an old friend - maybe
Lately I have had a love/hate relationship with A.T. Cross Pens, well more specifically their pencils. I have owned a Black Classic Pencil and Pen for more than a decade, but only in the last several years have I picked them up again to use on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I have had difficulties with the pencil - my favorite mode of everyday writing and had to return it to Cross twice in less than six months.

The last time I sent my pencil back I began surfing the net looking to find a similar pencil to replace it with, yet always in the back of my mind was the feel of the pencil in my hand and the perks of a lifetime guarantee. Needless to say I found a few mechanical pencils that were working in the interim, but it just wasn't the same.

Today I returned to work after a short holiday break to find a Christmas present waiting in my chair. When I opened the package I found the nice gold Cross pencil pictured in the foreground above! Wow, what a surprise. This was a totally unexpected gift, and one that I am truly grateful to have received.

When I arrived home this evening what do you think was waiting for me - old faithful, or so I thought. Inside the package instead was a replacement called the "Switch-it". This is a pen and pencil in one according to the directions included in the package. Reading the instructions it seems a little more complicated than I would like, so the gratitude for the new pencil becomes even greater.

I am truly grateful for the many friendships I have and particularly for those that know me well enough to pick out thoughtful and most important useful gifts.

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your day/evening!

356 Photo Challenge - Day Two

OPD - 2 - JAN 2 2012 - First snow of 2012
Well the post to this site is a day late, but I am proud to say I posted yesterday to the Flickr pool associated with this challenge. Nothing spectacular, just a shot of the first snow fall of 2012. I will continue to work on capturing the flakes - which was my goal, but hey in Cleveland I have at least three months to master that challenge!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Welcoming 2012 with A Photo a Day Challenge

As I embark on 2012 I have a number of challenges I am attempting to fulfill. I'm opposed to resolutions mainly  because it seems that it is trite and something that most people end of failing to complete - myself included. I don't recall making any resolutions in the last several years. Instead I have attempted to go into each new year with an optimistic view of the days to come and a plan to live a better life.

For the most part I can say that I have partially achieved those goals each year, so this year I decided to take a more concerted approach at self-improvement and making 2012 a fabulous year. The first step was to challenge myself to take A Photo A Day for the next 366 days (remember 2012 is a leap year).

Originally I felt the first day would not be a challenge at all because I would have ample opportunity at our annual New Year's Day dinner at my cousin's house; however a nasty virus took over her household earlier this week and dinner was cancelled, so as not to infect everyone else.

So after a very late night/early morning bringing in the New Year I thought it would be a great challenge to find a photo because I had no plans to venture outside today. Rising earlier than anticipated this morning I set out to complete my New Year's Day dinner and had an aha moment!

Rarely do I prepare New Year's Day dinners and this year I planned to follow the tradition set by my mother and her mother before her and probably many women before that. In the black community it is tradition to prepare black eyed peas on New Years for good luck in the coming year. Below is a photo of the peas before I prepared them.

New Year's black eyed peas soaking.
Another tradition is to prepare collard greens for prosperity in the new year, and who wouldn't hope for a little prosperity in the new year!
Collards cooked with smoked turkey for a prosperous 2012!
Step one in a more productive, creative and prosperous year is complete! Happy New Year! I hope you'll visit again and follow my progress with the 2012 Photo Challenge, your support, encouragement and comments are welcome!