An elementary guide to the creative process

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“Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be–and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway…A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” – Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

At the elementary school my son attended and my daughter currently attends, one of the major projects the 4th grade kids participate in revolves around the American presidents. Each child chooses a president to research and present. It’s a pretty big deal. My son chose Dwight D. Eisenhower, my daughter chose James Madison.

Each student will present, in full costume, facts about their president. Since girls are given the option of dressing as the first lady, my daughter will be Dolley Madison. They are also required to create a visual representation of their president through some type of artistic medium. My son chose a poster. He’s easy like that.

My daughter decided she would make James Madison out of clay. She’s creative like that. I tried to talk her out of it, telling her that while I could help her paint a picture of him, I have zero knowledge of working with clay, and with the exception of a couple of rudimentary clay projects in art class, neither did she. So, yeah. She opted to make James Madison out of clay. She’s stubborn like that. (She must take after her father.)

What I came to realize while helping her with the project is that the creative process is very similar regardless of the medium.

It's often messy

It's sometimes very messy

Sometimes what's in your head doesn't translate well...

and you have to start anew from scratch.

There comes a point in the process where you must give up the pursuit of perfection and trust your vision of the end result. No matter how ugly the work in progress appears to be.

Perfection should not be the goal of the creative process. Rather, the goal is to convey a concept, and interpretation or representation from the artist to her audience.

I think this process varies from person to person. What is your process? Do you have one, or does it just sort of happen?

P. S. -- Does that James Madison bust remind you of anyone? Just a little? "

“James Madison loves Harry Potter!” – Jeff Hogan


At the end of a day dedicated to mothers, with gifts both store bought and hand made

the very best gifts are not from the ones bearing gifts

but the gift bearers themselves.

Feeling very blessed and grateful. Hope you are as well.

Oh, you shouldn’t have!

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Did y’all know it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday? Just in case this is news to you and you’re still looking for gift ideas, I thought that rather than giving you a list of things moms might like, perhaps it would be helpful to know what moms might not like.

Now, I realize all women are different, so a gift I could live without might be the perfect gift for your mom, wife or grandmother. But then again, maybe not so much. Here are a few items you (men folk in particular) might want to shy away from.

10. Monster Truck Rally tickets. (Unless they're for you and the kids while she goes to the spa, with the gift certificate you got her.)

9. Remote controlled foot bath (Does anyone actually use one of these things more than once or twice before it gets shoved in the linen closet?Although a gift certificate for a pedicure would be great.)

8. A bathing suit. (Unless a woman tells you which one she likes, the size she needs, and the name of the sales associate at the store that put it on hold for her, never EVER buy her a swimsuit. There's just not many scenarios where this will end well for you. Why risk it?)

7. I'm fairly confident no man of sound mind would buy this as a Mother's Day gift for his wife, but if this looks like something you think she might enjoy, see Number 6

6. (See Number 7)

5. A vacuum cleaner, or pretty much any household appliance. Sure, the woman in the picture looks happy, but she's a model. Or drunk. Or both.

4. The mass produced "I Love You Mom" plaque with glass rose. She probably already has one, and that's one too many.

3. Mother's Day brunch at Chuck E. Cheese (See Number 6)

2. A carton of cigarettes. Really never an appropriate gift in my opinion. Especially if they happen to be YOUR brand. And she doesn't smoke.

1. Mommie Dearest on DVD or blue ray. Unless, of course it's her favorite movie. In which case finding a last minute Mother's Day gift is probably not your biggest problem.

I hope these ideas were helpful, and I hope all you moms have a wonderful Mother’s Day!


Navy SEAL Special Ops members do not seek recognition

“Perfect Valor is to do, without a witness, all that we could do before the whole world.” ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

The death of Osama bin Ladin

My friend Billy Coffey wrote a very eloquent post today about the death of Osama bin Laden. This one won’t be nearly as eloquent.

I awoke Monday morning to a strange question from my husband, who was already dressed and heading out the door:

“Have you checked Twitter this morning? What are they saying?”

“What are they saying about what?” I said.

“They got him. Special Ops took out bin Laden. He’s dead.”

My first reaction? Relief.

Was I happy he was dead? Absolutely.

I turned on the television and saw people celebrating in Time Square and outside the White House. I can’t say I was completely comfortable with seeing these images, but I also understood that the death of Osama bin Laden was a victory for the United States. A big one. On Twitter, I saw some tweets comparing Americans celebrating the death of bin Laden to the images of celebrations in the Middle East when news of the Twin Towers burning got to them. I disagree with that assessment:

Celebrating the successful execution of a planned military strike against a long sought after enemy is not the same as celebrating the death of 1000’s of innocent people. #BinLadenDead – @katdish

Perhaps I should mourn his death; be saddened as a Christian because based on my faith I believe one of God’s children will spend eternity in hell.

But I don’t and I’m not.

He chose evil. He was not executed. According to news briefings from the White House Monday, he was shot in the head while engaged in battle against an elite Special Ops team. He was given the opportunity to surrender. Instead, this mass murderer chose to resist. According to one White House official, he used one of his wives as a human shield against the soldiers’ bullets to no avail. She was also a casualty.

In the end, this man responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, this man who encouraged young men to die in the name of Allah, this man who only valued one life–his own, died as he lived.

As a coward.

May God have mercy on his soul.

As for me, I will not mourn his death. The world is a better place without him in it. Instead, I will mourn the deaths of his victims and the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and the freedom of others around the world. People who lived and died with honor.

(I don’t expect everyone to agree with my sentiments here. This is simply an honest expression of my view of these events.)

The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 2

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In the first installment of this series, The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 1, I mentioned that I would be sharing a few examples of the unseen elephants in the room and how to insure said elephants continue to thrive and live indefinitely. The first characteristic mentioned in last week’s post was that the owner of the elephant is rarely its master. In the following short story, the roles of master and owner cross over and change.


The stack of magazines, once hidden carefully between the boy’s mattress and box spring now lies atop his neatly made bed. His mother discovered them while changing the bedding this morning. Her initial shock gives way to uncomfortable understanding. He’s not her little boy anymore. After her mind processes the whys of the situation, she begins to wonder about the where and the who. There will be hell to pay for any cashier who sold pornography to a child who is obviously under 21. She looks at the pub dates on the magazines. They’re 3 or 4 months old. Did he buy them or were they given to him? Or maybe he found them. But found them where?

The separation was difficult on everyone, but her oldest son seemed to take it the hardest. Filing for a divorce was not something she did lightly, but after discovery of the second affair, his promises seemed as empty as his side of the bed. She knew her boys needed a positive male role model in their lives. Unfortunately, their father wasn’t fulfilling that role. She grabbed the phone and dialed her soon to be ex-husband’s office. When she heard her voice–affair number two–she immediately hung up.

No, she would handle it herself. But what could she say to her son that wouldn’t cause them both embarrassment? That’s when she got the idea of putting the magazines on top of his bed. She reasoned that he would know that she knew. Surely that would put a stop to it.

When the kids got home from school, she asked them about their day just as she always did. She also mentioned she had changed the sheets on their beds, her eyes catching her oldest son’s gaze and holding it just a fraction longer than usual. As a cold sweat broke out on the back of his neck, her son said he was going to his room to play video games. He opened the door, his mind racing as he saw the stack of magazines placed so neatly on the center of his bed. What now? What would he possibly say to his mother? Then it occurred to him that she hadn’t said anything to him about them, even though it was clear she was the one who put them there. He knew his mother well enough to understand that there was often more meaning in the things she didn’t say than the things she did. And her message was clear: I know what you’re doing. Stop it now and we won’t have to talk about it. We can pretend that it never happened.

So that’s exactly what he did. He gave the magazines back to his mother’s new boyfriend and told him it was probably not a good idea to leave them at her house anymore. He also asked if he could get some tickets to the ball game. They’re all going together this weekend. Mom’s really excited that her boys seem to be bonding with her new boyfriend.

Good roles models are so hard to find these days.

Her son doesn’t look at pornographic magazines anymore. Not since his dad got him a new computer for his birthday. There’s so much more to choose from on the Internet.

The #RoyalWedding recap

I had no intention of watching the Royal Wedding. I just don’t get jazzed up about stuff like that. Pomp and circumstance has its place I suppose, just not at 3:00 a.m. CST.

But as bad luck would have it, I awoke at 3:00 a.m. CST to the sound of the theme song from “Cops” blaring from my television. And since it seems they show the same dumb, drunk criminal lying to the police over and over again on that program, I figured, what the heck? Might as well watch some pomp and circumstance.

And hey, while I’m at it, might as well post some random thoughts on the twitter at the same time:

This is one long wedding. By this time at my wedding I was already @ the reception doing the chicken dance. #royalwedding

I’m guessing they won’t being doing the chicken dance @ this one, though #royalwedding

I’m going to wait until #royalwedding is over before I make fun of the hats, because I’m classy like that.

The people outside look really happy, don’t they? #royalwedding

I wonder if one dry cleaner takes care of all these clergy robes. Bet they’re easy to spot on that automated hanger thingy #royalwedding

Okay, people. Let’s wrap it up. We have another wedding here at 6:00 #royalwedding

So now what? Reception? They look pretty relaxed to me. #royalwedding

Incidentally, I had no intention of watching the #royalwedding. I just woke up too early.

I think it’s interesting that all the women I saw were dressed conservatively (except some hats) & the most lavish costumes worn by men

Can someone tweet a pic of that tan hat that girl was wearing behind the queen, because Dang. What was that thing?#royalwedding

“If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers” – Homer Simpson

Okay seriously...WTH?

@BigMama247 How can you be okay with that hat? I wonder if she’s going to have a picture of the royal couple put in that frame on her head. (in reply to: @katdish Well, better with the hat than with the make-up. And I like anything that is feather-free.)

@BigMama247 There was a copious amount of plumage & flying saucers in attendance.

@agapeguitars @BigMama247 “Do you like my hat?” “No, I do not like your hat.” – Go Dog Go (in reply to: @katdish @BigMama247 Well, I’m not Alise, but I love the hat for its Seussian qualities. That always supersedes good taste IMO.)

@SBeeCreations @agapeguitars mentioned a certain Dr. Seussian quality to it. I tend to agree. (in reply to @katdish @agapeguitars Do you like my hat?)

Getting ready for the next #royalwedding unstated flashy

Perhaps an environmental statement #royalwedding

And floral is appropriate for a spring #royalwedding

"You wanna a piece of me?!?" #royalwedding

So there you have it. I watched the Royal Wedding so you didn’t have to. Sorry/you’re welcome/TTFN!


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(Sung to the tune of Infatuation by Rod Stewart)

Late in the evening I need sleep
I can’t write and I can’t think
Put it off all day can’t concentrate
Thinking I’m making a big mistake

Laundry lies in the middle of the floor
Sheets and towels piled as high as the door
Laundry day has come and gone
Blaming it on that Psych marathon

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

Should have been dressed bout an hour ago
Got a teacher conference and I need to show
I won’t wash my hair that’ll save some time
Cutting it close but I’ll be there by nine

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

Managing time’s just not my gift
My train of thought is often adrift
I’m jealous of folks who get things done
While I’m goofing off and having fun

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will – tomorrow!” – Gloria Pitzer

Dumping our junk

In our kitchen, the silverware drawer is flanked by a knife/pot holder drawer on the right and a junk drawer on the left. Actually, there are two junk drawers to its left. They weren’t intended to junk drawers. Since the kids do their homework at the kitchen table, I stocked those two drawers with pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, glue and other items the kids might need to do their school work.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, we hosted a pot luck get-together on Sunday afternoon. As people were coming in and setting their dishes on the counter, someone asked me where they could find some serving spoons. Imagine my horror (and theirs, no doubt) when they opened the wrong drawer and discovered this:

The worst part is that this is not the first time this has happened. This is what the other junk drawer looks like:

Clearly, these drawers have become a favorite dumping spots for the kids.

Tuesday evening, with a recent episode of Hoarders still fresh in my memory, I decided it was time to clean out these drawers. Lest you think they really didn’t have that much junk in them, here’s what the contents of those two drawers looked like when I dumped them out on the kitchen table:

That’s just two drawers, people! Oy, vey.

Several years ago, my very organized friend told me about a book called Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life. To call a book about organizing revolutionary may seem like a stretch, but this book truly is. The problem with most books about organization are that they are written by people who are organized. Julie Morgenstern is a former pack-rat herself, so she understands what it feels like to be overwhelmed by clutter and how the stress associated with disorganization can affect other areas of your life. I don’t know what happened to that book. I think I lent it out to a friend. It’s probably at the bottom of someone’s junk drawer unread. But I do remember the acronym she discussed in the book that I apply every time I tackle a messy space, regardless of whether it be a drawer, a closet or an entire room:

  • Sort (everything into like categories)
  • Purge (throw away or put into a giveaway box things that are not needed)
  • Assign a home (to those things you are planning to keep)
  • Containerize (put like things together in containers)
  • Equalize (periodically go back and repeat this process on a smaller scale so it doesn’t get out of hand again)

So that’s what we did, my daughter and me. We sorted the pens from the pencils, the Sharpies from the markers. We put aside all the things that didn’t belong in those drawers and later put them back where they belonged.

And then we purged. We purged a lot of stuff. Dried up markers and nubs of pencils. Tiny little trinkets that once seemed like such treasures but just looked like so much junk in the harsh light of the kitchen.

I think there’s an important life lesson to be learned through this process. Things may appear calm and put together when all anyone sees is what shows from the outside:

But we can only stuff things away in the dark for so long before pretty soon the inward mess starts overflowing to the outside.

I think it’s best to approach life from the inside out, don’t you?

Not just for Sunday mornings anymore

A very different view from Sunday afternoon.

My blog friend Matt Appling wrote a great post Monday over at The Church of No People called The Biggest Failure I Know. In his typical dry and candid way, he questions how much stock churches should put into the number of folks who show up for church on Easter Sunday. You should hop over there and read the entire post, but here’s a brief sample:

“People who boast about their church’s Easter numbers always justify their self-aggrandizement by giving God credit for leading everyone to church or something. Personally, I think most people show up to Easter church because they have a new outfit they need to show off, but I guess the Lord takes many forms, including sundresses. But I have to ask: if God led all those people to church on Easter, is He responsible for them staying home the next Sunday?”

Well dang.

That’s a good question. So often we Christians publicly proclaim that when our churches are growing in membership, it’s a “God thing”. We give him all the glory, don’t we? Of course, when that’s not happening it’s considered poor taste to say, “God is ignoring us. Doesn’t He realize how much we spent on full color mailers?” But do the number of folks who show up on Sunday morning directly reflect how much or how little God is blessing your particular church? I used to think so. But now I’m not so sure. Because as much as I love Sunday mornings at our little church gathering, what happens on Sunday morning is just a glimpse of what’s going on in the life of our church. And as friendly a bunch as we are, the hugs, handshakes and how-do-you-do’s only go so far.

I’m most in awe of Jesus when we have church when we’re not in church.

Easter Sunday we hosted a pot luck get-together at our house for whomever wanted to show up. And show up they did. Some friends brought balls and outdoor games for the kids. Our backyard looked like a school field day. There was plenty of food and good conversation, which is typically the case when we get together. (Unlike me, there’s a lot of chatty people at my church.- Ha!) But what blew me away was that some of the folks that shared their Easter Sunday afternoon with us were people I had just met that morning.

In this era of instant messaging and ability to stay connected with people all over the world, I’m finding more and more people feel isolated and disconnected. People hurt. We need one other. We crave community with each other and with our Creator.

I won’t claim to know what God’s plans are for our church or for anyone else’s. But I do think He is showing us that loving God goes hand in hand with loving people, living in community with one another and serving the world.

And that church isn’t just for Sunday morning anymore. Acts 2:42

When we first planted C3 and met at our home on Sunday mornings, I used to jokingly say, “Be the church because there don’t be no church building.” Funny how that still applies even when we do have one.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.