REAL social networking

This afternoon was the inaugural meeting of the Buffalo Babes Book Club.  Fourteen women, most of us strangers to each other, met to make introductions, choose our first read, and to establish the ground rules of the club.  As I drove home, I felt connected to a group of women, most of whom I did not know prior to meeting, but who are all interconnected through at least one friend in the group. 

The word “community” is screaming at me right now as the best way to describe what happened this afternoon.  We don’t live in the same towns yet we have all now expanded our network of other like-minded women.  Hey, we have to have at least one thing in common, right?  Books!  We don’t all like the same genre of literature yet we all are open and willing to read what the group’s majority wishes to read.  Most of us said that one of the big reasons we chose to join this group is to get to know other women.  We also all decided that one of the important outcomes from this book club is to have fun.

So here we were, 14 women, some connected to each other but most not.  We came together as strangers and/or acquaintances and left as members of a group.  We are going to be going into each other’s homes for meetings-a scary thing if you’re like me and aren’t a neat freak, ( oh, there’s another thing: most also said they live in a “lived-in” home.  Yeah for me!).

By the time our meting had ended, my spirits had lifted from the day and I felt engaged again.  I was a part of something.  Sometimes I forget that working from home can lead to more isolative tendencies than I care to admit.  It is good to get out.  It is good to socialize, (and not just via social networking tools provided for us on our computer).  It is good to have human contact; a slap on the knee from the person sitting next to you can make one feel so befriended.

No matter how computer savvy we have become and no matter how “connected” we are, there is still nothing like personal one-to-one conversation, making eye contact,  a slap on the knee, or the seemingly ever-elusive hug.  Ummmmmmmmmmm.  Nice!


Clear the Vessel

Yesterday, I blogged about my inability to have one simple creative thought that could be put down on paper or entered into my computer’s new journaling software program.  Try as I might, nothing but crap transferred from my body to the paper.  As a runner, we call these downtimes “junk miles;” you’re just going through the motions, admitting that your effort is producing junk.  Not to worry however, this too, shall pass.

It Passed…

My one hour massage yesterday afternoon was the tip of the iceberg for what I needed-refueling of the vessel of my soul and spirit.  8 weeks of nonstop running and taking care of everyone else’s needs had left me not only physically askew with a knotted back and neck, but had worn my right brain down to the core. 

Now feeling relaxed and calm, and with a quieted spirit, I moved through my day with an open mind and a watchful eye.  I again saw beauty in the common element and awe in rarity.  Thoughts jostled for position with each other competing for space in my mind.  I was becoming engaged again in life.

I was inspired and not alone…

I received a number of comments from my social networking sites yesterday encouraging me to plug along knowing that the emptiness and void I was feeling was common.  Thank you to everyone who told me that they too, share at times in what I was going through.  I really needed to hear that I was not alone.

 What happened…

As the sun set on the lake tonight, I watched the hues in my writing room change from a bright and invigorating shade of goldenrod to ones with a softer and more muted pallet.  The cool spring breeze floated into my space and reminded me of the newness of life all around me.  Nothing smells as beautiful as a crisp, spring evening.  I had to stop and close my eyes to take it all in; to try to be whole and complete in my surroundings.  Slowly, I picked up my notebook and began to write.  Not junk, but first thoughts, feelings, joys and sorrows.  It was pure and had purpose.  It was again my spirit on the page.

 And what have I learned?

I have learned a lot by consciously wandering through this period of grayness that had taken hold of my work.  The more I forced change, the stronger my void held.  It wasn’t until I stepped away, replenished a tiny bit of my being, and solidified the fact that I was not abnormal, that my mind opened and what was natural to my being was allowed to come out and play again.

I need to not push the envelope.  Rest and revitalization are important.  Clear the vessel.  Replenish.  Listen and follow your body and mind-they always know the truth.

I am human, (and sane), after all

For what seems like an eternity now, I have been trying soooooooo hard to write something-anything-but the words just won’t get out onto the page.  I even set down my notebook and pen, (my personal choice for writing), picked up my little laptop, downloaded Windows Live Writer as well as some journaling software thinking that maybe my blockage had something do do with my tools and not my brain.  Unfortunately, nothing has worked.

Could it be stress keeping me from getting the words out of my noggin and onto the page?  “No,” I told myself, “that would be just too cheesy of an excuse.”  It was definitely me.  All me.  I was a dumb butt, an idiot, and I was definitely not made to write.

Then, by sheer fate, (not really because I don’t believe in “fate” but rather in “faith-more on that in another post), I got my sorry ass out of bed this morning, waddled into my office wearing my tattered bright pink, terrycloth bathrobe, and I checked my RSS feeds for updates.  There were only two, but one of them in EXACTLY what I needed.

Let me preface what I am going to do next by saying that I am really not up on the ins and outs of social networking, (if that’s even the correct acronym to use).  I don’t know if it is acceptable for me to copy someone else’s post into my blog even if I do give them the props for doing so.   So, in an effort not to anger anyone here, I won’t copy the post but rather refer all of you to a GREAT blog post by  Rosanne Bane.  Her post lifted the weight of the world off of my shoulders, (OK, not that big, but close!), this morning.  I see now that my inability to write anything more than a grocery list is not necessarily atypical.  I have been stressed beyond belief, (graduating a kid from college, getting her on a trip to Norway, USA hockey commitments up the wazoo, wedding planning for the other daughter, Boston, a broken foot, household chores, and let’s not forget my “little” job), and this stress just could be the reason I can’t get any word on the page.

Rosanne’s post was great, but the question remains: what should I do to fix the problem?  She isn’t giving out solutions until her next post so I will have to wait for those words of wisdom.  However, I suddenly recall my Ideas Intensive teacher, Sarah Tieck, who taught us of the importance of balance.  If one area of life is depleted then we get a wee bit catawampus.  For me, I need REST in order to fill the well for my CREATIVE PROCESS & RESTORE MY ENERGY.  I learned this in class, I wrote it in my notebook, we spoke about it numerous times, BUT I didn’t have a point of reference to use it so it didn’t stick.  Now it is stuck.  I get it.

Rest.  Relax.  Clear the vessel. 

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I definitely know what I’m going to do!  Look out for what happens next if this works; I have a ton of ideas boppin’ around in my head and they will get out!

Oh, the places your writing can take you…

I now know what Natalie Goldberg means when she talks about just sitting down to write “first thoughts” and letting the pen take you anywhere it deems necessary.  I began my morning writing time in the present moment and by letting my mind take complete control, I found myself remembering back to high school band.  From high school, I digressed even further to the 4th grade when I was the new girl on the block and unfortunately made up a story about being a baton twirler in my previous 9 years of life.  I wanted so badly to be the drum majorette for the homecoming parade so I lied about my past experience. 

Unfortunately, this experience caused a competition between me and another 4th grader that lasted way too long.  It wasn’t really a competition because she was “perfect” in everything she did whereas I focused more on the social aspect of my education and extra-curricular activities.  Unfortunately, there was a bigger reason besides the competitive nature of this girl.  I didn’t find out until years later, but as I wrote about her morning, it occurred to me that maybe she was competing with me on a level much different than I would have imagined.  Maybe, just maybe, my life, along with all it’s chaos and spontaneity, was something that she desperately wanted and that perfectionism and being top-dog wasn’t necessarily such a spot to be coveted.

Full Circle Creativity

Six weeks ago I started another class at The Loft.  This Ideas Intensive class was something I approached with great trepidation yet knew I desperately needed.  When our instructor, Sarah, told us that we were even going to “collage”, my heart started to palpitate and my underarms began to drip with sweat.  I made it through the collaging class.  Not only did I “like” collaging, I actually started thinking of doing more of it on my own time.  I scoped out a couple collaging blogs and made travel plans to go to Colorado to collage with my mother-in-law.  She’ll call it “scrapbooking”, but I’m sticking to “collaging.”

I noticed through the 6 week class that I really did have neat ideas buried in my little noggin and that it was OK to let myself engage my creativity.  On a beautiful spring day last week, I took George, (remember, my new Nikon D-90?), down to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where I allowed my mind to openly view the sculptures and to shoot for the fun of it.  Letting loose and eliminating perfectionism is what I’m calling it.

Enjoy the garden through my eyes:








There’s Nothing Like a Baby


A baby girl was born yesterday in Loveland, Colorado.  She isn’t just any baby girl, she’s my niece, and being the good and unbiased aunt that I am, I dare say she is the most beautiful little being that God created!

 Baby Katherine (Kate) Elaine Ward

 It’s such a precious gift how a tiny little baby can make our hearts soften, put a smile on our faces, and make us talk in high voices.  Yesterday, baby Kate did just this for me at a time when I really needed it.  My world stopped; everything that was hustle and bustle came to a screeching halt as I squealed in joy when I found out she was finally here, and later as I saw her very first picture.

The lesson I learned yesterday from baby Kate was that nothing in life is so important that it should prevent us from seeing the everyday joy in our surroundings and the overall beauty in life.  Kate’s arrival filled my heart with such joy for her parents, brother Ryan, grandparents, extended family and friends, that I decided I want to feel like that every day, and every moment-not just when a beautiful baby comes into my life.

So thank you Julie & Don, for bringing baby Kate into this world!  May we all talk in high voices every day, and may we all squeal in glee at the “little things” in life. 

I already love you, baby Kate and cannot wait to meet you!

Love, Auntie Joni

Is it possible to be TOO tired?

It’s 2:26 pm and I still sit at my kitchen counter with hair stuck out on end and in my favorite PJ’s, Birkenstock’s, and sweatshirt.  I can’t do anything else but sit and stare at this computer screen.

I managed to get out of bed this morning at the normal hour for the sole purpose of getting Mikey off to school and Chris off to his first business trip for Capella.  They were gone no more than 2 minutes when I ran back to the bedroom and crawled into my beautiful bed with my beautiful and warm pooches.  I don’t think I really went back to sleep, but at least I was prone and relaxed.

For 10 days now, my life has been a whirlwind of events, planned and unplanned, which has caused me to lose a great deal of my precious and much loved sleep.  The weekend before last was the Advanced Hockey Tryouts and I worked 49 hours in 3 days with that program.  Monday of last week, Tonya came down to finish final preparations for her wedding which took place on Saturday, so there was a great deal of excitement and work here at the Bonnell home that caused me to reduce my sleep intake.  On Thursday, the cooking began and it didn’t cease until Saturday.  Well, when you feed nearly 150 people and you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, it doesn’t take long for chaos to arrive.

The wedding went off without a hitch so all I need to do now is sleep and regroup.  I have done NO writing which just pisses me right off, but I have mentally planned out my office space once Adara leaves the nest next Monday, so I am all jazzy-pazazzy about that.  I suppose I can hold off just one more week before getting what I want and need.  I can write, make my little collages to help with the creative process, (thanks a ton, Sarah!), and maybe even attempt to start the scrapbook I wanted to make to remember Adara’s engagement/wedding.  I’ve signed up for a Photoshop class to start working again with my digital pictures, (oh how I love George!), and who knows what else I will create in that little room of mine.

So, maybe for now I’ll allow myself a nap.  I generally beat myself up and feel wimpy when I need to rest during the day, but today it really can’t be helped-I am shot.  Goodnight.