Friday, May 12, 2006

better than a sharp stick in the eye

We went into the studio Wednesday night and emerged with five songs from which to choose for our demo.

Generally, I DREAD the recording process. I hate the pressure of having to be perfect. I hate hearing precisely where and how much and how often I sing entirely wrong notes. I guess playing any instrument is equal parts physical and mental, and probably emotional too. I've always found my voice to be a rather unpredictable instrument. No matter how much I practice, I can't always depend 100% on what will come out of my mouth. Sometimes that's bad, sometimes good. I love hearing what I/we sound like, though, and it's handy to have a demo.

We did between 2-4 takes of each one; it wasn't too incredibly painful. God, the recording process is SO much easier with an experienced sound person. And laid back doesn't hurt either. I am ridiculously lucky to have access to this situation. What's more, Bob (friend and recording engineer extraordinaire) offered to do this for us; I didn't even have to beg. It took us less than three hours to record the songs, and then there were several hours of listening and commenting and mixing and cleaning up.

In general, the songs sound great. Our voices blend very well and there is so much potential there considering we've only be singing together for a few months. There is at least one mishap in each song, but the question is: does it matter? Onward.

We're going to post a few on MySpace soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 08, 2006

li'l roadie

born to the breed
Tessa, 4/8/06

I just love this photo. It was taken a month ago at our friends' very cool art gallery. I opened up for Steve's band. It was a fun, low-pressure gig.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Rehearsal wasn't incredibly productive today, but we did a fair amount of strategizing. There are a couple of open mic nights that we might try to do, and Alex and Mary both have upcoming shows in which we could appear as guests.

The most exciting news is that we have some studio time set up for next week. The plan is to record a 4-song demo and use that to get gigs. Hooray!

Also, while we're waiting for Mary to construct our website, she is going to set up a Birth of Venus page on MySpace. We recorded a song that doesn't sound too bad, so we can put that up there along with our photo likeness and voila. We're out there. [UPDATE: Here it is!!]

I'm really itching to work out some new stuff, and also to write something. We'll focus on the old stuff for next week's recording and then I've got to get a few charts written out so we'll have fresh material.

Friday, April 28, 2006

making love to the camera

IMG_0640Last night we had a little (translate: long, laborious, amateur) photo shoot in the hopes of getting an image or two for a Birth of Venus website.
IMG_0639Now. I hate being photographed. This is probably evident. It is a deep-seated phobia. It's not even that I think I'm bad-looking, but when a camera is pointed at me I just become someone else. Not myself. Completely unnatural.

These are some of the better shots. Although I don't think I could possibly feel more vulnerable and self-conscious about the whole thing, I would like your opinion. Which of these shots do you like? Or not?
Birth of Venus Mosaic

Go here to view the whole set. Comments welcome!
(In case you're wondering, I'm the bighead with the glasses...)

Monday, April 24, 2006

could I be more absent?

Yes, I'm still alive. (If anyone is still checking in here...)

Haven't written anything whole and/or complete in awhile. Tessa has been quite the nightowl lately so I've been feeling sluggish and grumpy. There are moms out there who have overcome, so I know there's a way, but I just get so mired in childcare and housework that I can't get anything fun or creative accomplished. Sigh...

Birth of Venus skipped a week of rehearsal because we were all (!) sick. I was worried that we'd lose momentum and everyone would be like ah ferget it, but no...we met last week like long lost friends. Alex said "My quality of life was seriously lower last week because we didn't meet." Aww! Love those gals.

I've been making Spring greeting cards. Behold:

spring cards

Saturday, April 08, 2006

state of affairs

Monday night I had my gig with Birth of Venus. It went pretty well, considering the (small) amount of time we spent on Sentimental Gentleman. We got together earlier in the day to go over it with the band and I wasn't feeling solid about it, but it all came together rather nicely in performance. I had trouble finding a good place in the mix and wasn't as strong as I wanted to be, but I chalked it up to a combo of technical difficulties and performance anxiety. Historically, I struggle with both. I need to find some kind of guru for that.

Tonight I am playing a one-hour set at an art gallery. The gallery will be filled with friends and others who appreciate folk music, which is what I do, so theoretically it will be a safe place to practice not being nervous. I am trying to fill my mind with the positive, glowing things people say about me and my songs, instead of the scathing, critical loop I typically have playing in my head when I'm onstage. We'll see how that goes.

In other news, I mentioned a while back that I submitted an article to an online magazine. This month's edition of said mag is online and evidently my piece was not chosen for publication. Yay! My first official rejection! Truly glad that's out of the way. The piece that was chosen is totally stunning and far superior to mine. I am left to ponder: how can I develop my style? what can I write about that will reveal my particular strengths? is it even topic-related? Good writers can write about anything. I find myself in this discouraging position of learning about good writing through a process of elimination. ("Well, that wasn't good enough...") I'm excited to get on to the next submission but I'm struggling with lack of inspiration. I know I can't let this stop me. I need to alter my approach to writing, I think. I believe I have the's just a matter of guiding and shaping it.

I'm constantly torn between writing purely for the sake of writing and writing for someone else's approval. And by someone else's approval, I mean an editor, an audience, any reader other than me. Both have rewards. I have experienced the rewards of personal, journal-style writing for many years. Now I wish to reap other rewards. Rewards that come from hard work and resourcefulness. Rewards that will sustain me fianancially, not just spiritually.

The thing to do is start the next submission. Whether I'm inspired or not.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


30th birthday gift for li'l sas
I made this for my sis for her 30th birthday. I draped it in disclaimers, about how it was craft and not art, that it was amateur and I really need to get a straightedge, that I wouldn't be offended if she didn't hang it.

She loved it. She said it was her favorite present she'd ever received. I told her if she was just trying to make me feel better, I was sufficiently duped.

Monday, March 27, 2006

music meme

So what you do is put your iPod or music player on shuffle and answer the questions below with the songs in the order that they are played.

(Thanks Daru!)

How does the world see me?
Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris

Will I have a happy life?
Thinking Amelia - Deb Talan

What do my friends really think of me?
Beautiful Freak - The Eels

Do people secretly lust after me?
Hello, It's Me - Todd Rundgren

How can I make myself happy?
If I Could Only Win Your Love - Emmylou Harris

What should I do with my life?
Jolene - Dolly Parton

Will I ever have children?
When I Was Drinking - HEM

What is some good advice for me?
Big Strong Girl - Deb Talan

How will I be remembered?
When You Looked at Me - Jenifer Jackson

What is my signature dance song?
Good Life - Richard Julian

What do I think my current theme song is?
Dreadful Selfish Crime - Robert Earl Keen

What song will play at my funeral?
Salva Nos - Medieval Babes

What type of men do I like?
A Laura Viers song that I don't know the name of, but I call it "Cheshire Grin"

What is my day going to be like?
Wayside/Back in Time - Gillian Welch

Saturday, March 25, 2006

and we have a name!

my favorite mug
Originally uploaded by tessa's mom.
Birth of Venus is the name we came up with for our group. It has all the associations I wanted: feminine power, divinity, love, beauty, creation. Yay! And this name will work for us whether we're playing a jazz club or a wedding or whatever venue comes along. At rehearsal Thursday night we learned an old song called Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia. Think Andrews Sisters. Alex fronts a small jazz ensemble and we are all going to perform it at her upcoming gig. A WEEK FROM MONDAY. I'm not too nervous about the performance as much as the fact that I have nothing to wear. I need a serious ambush makeover.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

rather productive week

Today we had rehearsal #2, we singing girls. We are trying to come up with a name for ourselves, as my ensemble-mates are quite enthusiastic about taking our act on the road and we can't really call ourselves Singing Girls. It was a good rehearsal. I recorded it, which was GREAT because now we can hear what we sound like. You can't really hear what you sound like while singing. Not completely. I listened to the CD all the way home and liked what I heard, in general. nothing that can't be fixed with practice, practice, practice by ourselves and then intense rehearsal together. (Sounds fun, right? It is!) Some things I was hearing I positively swooned over, and at the other end of the spectrum, my classical voice sounds like a rusty old tin can. We are working on a Monteverdi madrigal, plus a gospel song (Note to Self: practice singing and clapping at the same time. A lot.), a sweet love song by Gillian Welch and Because by the Beatles. The girls want to sing somewhere publically in April. Yikes! (That's a happy yikes. Be careful what you wish for!)

I actually got up (okay, it was accidentally) at 7am and went for a run this morning. It's so much easier to go on my own, although I have run pushing T in the stroller and it's totally do-able. It was sunny and cold this morning; really beautiful. I got a few cheers from neighborhood buddies who probably thought they needed new glasses to see the likes of me jogging around the corner! It felt good. :)

And the real highlight of the week: yesterday I submitted a piece of writing to an online magazine. I am trying to let go of any attachment to the outcome, but of course I am fantasizing about being published and what a rush that would be. I have to take to heart everything I'm sayng about how it is not necessary that I be published to be good, that my piece might be spectacular but not what they're looking for, that it might come in a close second to another piece that's completely brilliant and that's okay. Or the editor might say, uh, this is crap. And thats okay too because I'm not crap. I am just proud of myself for doing it. I added about 300 words to something I had previously written, and spent a few hours getting it just so. I had a wicked knot in my stomach as I was typing out the email, including my bio, which is so tiny you might miss it if you blink. Then I sent it. It was a high just to send it, to be perfectly honest. It's all good. I'll do it again, whatever happens here.

Tomorrow hubbie has a pretty major gig - his band is opening up for the one and only Ralph Stanley. This week has been the closest in a long time, if not ever, to what I want my life to look like. It's been a good week.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

wings spreading

We had our first rehearsal Thursday night, this little threesome that has resulted from my call for singers. The two woman who have stuck it out through weeks of email coordination and informational meet-and-greets are pretty much exactly what I was looking for and more. I'm still shaking my head at the good fortune. We had prepared a few songs for rehearsal and blew through them, so we learned a few more on spot. We were all reeling over the sounds we were making. Yay chemistry! Lots of possibilities here. I'm so grateful to feel excited about singing again!

Monday, March 06, 2006

hello? (tap tap) is this thing on?

Remember me?

Never in my blogging history have I gone more than two weeks (eeek) without posting! I have been avoiding Saint Teresa. It's just that I have completely fallen off the Artist's Way wagon and I'm just not inspired to come back. I have to be honest with myself. I have to stop making myself wrong for it. I still read lots of BTAW blogs, still get totally excited at others' progress, discoveries, lists, etc., still marvel at others' discipline, stamina, attention. I just don't feel called to come back to the program. I'm here to officially tell you (really, to tell myself) that IT'S OKAY.

What's not okay, though, is the little creative rut I've fallen into. (Coincidence, ladies and gentlemen?!) You know what I want? What I really, really want? I want to WANT to write. I want to WANT to create. Instead of regarding creativity as a homework assignment, which I avoid and then feel guilty about and deem myself a FAILURE because of, I want to feel a natural inclination to write or sing or create because it's on that list of things that feels good and because it is one of the main ingredients in The Life I Want.

Why do I watch TV at night instead of reading a book? Why do I eat things that I detest? (Like Eggo Waffles. FD&C colors in a waffle, people! Terrible!) Why do I remain silent when I have something potentially controversial to say to my sweetie? Why do I keep avoiding calling the mortgage lady? Why, after saying a million times that the only thing keeping me from running was finding a running bra that fits, am I not running in the great running bra my sister gave me for Valentines Day? What is the payoff of staying stuck in all these ways?

I know, I know. I could (and should) explore these questions in the morning pages. Damnit, there's that should. Shoulds just do not motivate me.

What does motivate me? My crying baby. She calls. I'll ponder all this while I nurse.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I had a meeting today with two of the women who responded to my call for songbirds. It was pretty amazing. First, there's the fact that I stepped outside of myself and facilitated a meeting of total strangers. This is VERY unlike me! I can get very hung-up and nervous when it comes to being with people I don't know. So this was sort of like getting ready to jump into the ocean in winter: I was bracing myself, standing on the edge saying I don't wanna I don't wanna I don't wanna but I knew I had to and knew that it would probably be really invigorating once I got past the initial discomfort. And that it was!!

On first impression, the two women could not have been more different from each other and from me. They are both younger than I, one by 10 years (I'm 33, she's 23) and the other is probably in her late 20s. It was especially apparent that there was a generation's difference between us when I remarked (in context) that Eric Clapton was hot stuff - and I meant in his youth, although I still think he's pretty yummy -and they both shuddered and said "Ew, that's like talking about my dad." Uh, hehe...right...

But as we went on talking about what we liked and what form we wanted our musical dreams to take, I got very excited. It was a whole new conversation, with different people in a different language. It was as if I'd been eating cheeseburgers three meals a day, everyday for the past five years and then suddenly, I was eating Indian food. They had never heard of music that I consider essential - stuff I knew they HAD to hear - and they were introducing me to stuff I would ordinarily overlook or dismiss. From Imogen Heap to Bobby McFerrin (wicked cool website, btw) and more. Plus, there were a few artists we solidly bonded over, like Patty Griffin and Alanis. LOVE THIS: I noticed that there was no attitude over the hip-ness (or unhip-ness) of artists; any song or genre was fair game, whether maistream or ecclectic, big name or small, classical or Bjork-ish. It was all there for considering. As it should be.

They both sing and write songs like I do, but in totally different ways. And they both play piano, which I do not, and I'm sooo used to hanging out with all guitar players. Male guitar players. Women just have a different vibe when it comes to collaborating and sharing music. It was quite refreshing.

My agenda is to stir my musical pot by doing something that doesn't look anything like what I usually do musically. (What I usually do is sit around with my guitar and wait for a song to happen. It gets pretty boring after awhile. Then it gets torturous.) I haven't really done any singing, other than singing Tessa to sleep (which -Nerd alert!- gives me a venue for the showtunes I love), since I got pregnant. Eek! That was over a year ago.

I got this news flash from the universe yesterday: I've been looking at all these art blogs, wishing I were artistic, that I could draw, that I had a cool camera, that I had the money to buy batik supplies, whatever. Feeling inadequte and inferior. Totally forgetting about the fact that I SING REALLY WELL AND I LOVE DOING IT. Sorry to shout, but this statement needs to be drilled into my fool head. Being with these women today reminded me and inspired me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Prodigal Daughter

with giraffeOriginally uploaded by tessa's mom.
A great song by Michelle Shocked, but also a pretty accurate label for moi when it comes to the Artist's Way.

I havn't done mps for (gears grinding...grinding...) almost two weeks and I didn't have an artist date last week at all. Unless you count going to my favorite bakery and sitting in a beautiful window seat with coffee and biscotti. But you really can't count that because it was just one in a series of mini-binges I had that day trying to numb out thoughts that should have been cleared in the morning pages. I haven't even read this week's chapter. And how lame, after I declared myself the Possibility of Self-Discipline last week! Duh!

What the hell is going on with me?
February apathy.
Teething baby.
Unconfronted demons.
Not enough sleep.

I have also been freaking out over money. Lack of it, specifically. Thanks, Sam, for bringing this to my attention, from Finslippy:
"Please don’t tell me I should write a book to make money. Or rather: tell me to write a book, and thank you for having faith in my abilities, really, but understand that such an undertaking takes years, years of nonpaid work, and also no one should write a book for the money. It just doesn’t work that way."

I have been working on some creative projects, however. I have the first meeting with my vocal ensemble on Thursday; I designed a business card (that I'm actually very proud of!) for a business that I'm creating with a friend; I have been playing in Photoshop and writing poetry. (Ha!)

And, this weekend is a big deal because I am going on a date all for me! All by myself, no baby! (Yikes!) It is a three-hour workshop at a local yoga studio with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. She will be reading from the book and talking about her experiences and there will be writing and sharing of writing and the whole thing is right up my alley. The book looks so incredibly juicy. It will be the first time I've been away from my bebe for that long. Leaving her is like waving goodbye to a vital organ, then scurrying back ASAP so I don't have a systems meltdown. I know it must sound ridiculous to people who don't have kids, and even to some who do, but it's just now that I feel okay about it. She's 7 months old. I feel pretty broken down from extreme mothering, so I know Saturday's date with myself is just what the doctor ordered.

Maybe I'll take a look at Week Six. Hope you will all still love me despite my blatant non-participation.


Saturday, February 11, 2006


A meme passed on to me by Eliza. (Pronounced meem, sources say.)

4 Wishes, Dreams, Desires
~I wish I could find a way to make money using my talents.
~Alternately, I dream of a world where money isn't so important or necessary.
~I dream of owning a home.
~I wish I could read my husband's mind.

4 Imaginary Lives
~a wacky, wise, bachelorette art teacher living in Nova Scotia
~an Olympic skier
~a chanteuse (the kind who lounges on a piano in a slinky dress and sits at the bar after hours drinking G&Ts and smoking Camels)
~an eccentric, prolific, reclusive novelist living in Ouray, CO

4 Things I Could Change
~I could eat something green every day.
~I could read to Tessa every day.
~I could get up earlier and have me time.
~I could watch less TV.

4 People I Admire
~My father, for his love and devotion, for taking responsibility
~My friend Trish, for her authenticity, for being smart, strong, sexy and entirely unpretentious
~Anne Lamott, for her honesty, empathy and humor
~Jane Siberry, for her originality and creativity and brilliance

4 Things I Like about the Artist's Way
~all y'all!
~an excuse to make lists, which I find so satisfying
~the opportunity to shine a light on my inner conversation
~the reminder that life is to be created, not endured

4 Things I Still Hope to Get Out of the Artist's Way
~disciplne around the morning pages
~the idea(s) that will bloom into my first book
~the courage to follow through and grow my little vocal ensemble
~faith in myself

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

art journal

See more of my art project here. You can watch a slideshow, or just go to my photostream to see the photos individually with some comments.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

W5: I am the Possibility of Self-Discipline

Well hello, all you good doobies who didn't read last week! I confess, although I had a lovely, creative week, I flat out ignored the instruction not to read. That was very unlike me, I am a rule follower almost without exception. I hope everyone will bear with me and my rebellion.

I am going to seize the AW this week wih renewed vigor. See what happens. I am famous for building momentum at the beginning of a project and then walking out on it. Let's see what's possible if I dive back into this. (Aha! Possibility is this week's theme! Uh, Universe to Teri...get with the program!)

In other creative news, I have one really good catch as a result of my craigslist ad. I'm really excited about meeting with her and scared at the same time. This is tyipcal. I led a writing workshop a few years ago and the same thing came up: I was psyched and honored to be doing it but every week I would be filled with dread on the day of the meetings, afraid that I wouldn't be interesting enough, that everyone would conclude I was a fraud or look at me like who-does-she-think-she-is? Same fears here. But I'm just going to show up, be honest and sing.

You can read about my artist date here. Nothin' fancy, but so good for the soul. One thing I got out of it: the reminder that if you slow down and look at the same old scenery from a different vantage point, there is a world of beauty to be discovered.

Welcome back everyone!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My Ideal Environment

rockport sunset
The ocean is very close. The air must reek of brine and history. The seasons must change. Places I’ve felt very good: the north shore of MA, Cape Cod, the Maine coast. Even Burlington, VT would work because of Lake Champlain. Proximity to Canada is also appealing. Ithaca, NY would work. Mountains and water together are a big plus.

I live in my own house. Must haves: a yard for dog, kidlets and garden, a porch, a large kitchen and at least one large bathroom with a tub big enough for me to immerse my entire body while fully reclined, a soundproof barn for my husband’s amplified noodling, a hammock, an outdoor shower, a plush bedroom with one of these.

I would be able to walk into my ideal town from the house. In town, there would be a good bakery, good coffee, a good used bookstore and a big co-op/farmers market. I would be able to have a good meal, see a movie, rent a movie, buy something to wear, get gas and go to the bank all in the same neighborhood.

That’s about all I require. (!)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

Week Three

I am so glad this week is over. I want to be the kind of person who finds blessings and grows from a week like this one, but I'm sticking to my story that it sucked and I'm glad it's over. I just want to get in bed and sleep all weekend. If I didn't have a baby to take care of I would get really wasted.

I mentioned that there was a lot of anger and scarcity going on for me this week. My husband and I fought almost every single day. Every day was jammed with business and busy-ness. I did morning pages two out of seven days. I just could not find time to devote to them and when I did find a little parcel of time here and there, I simply was not called to write the pages; one day I ended a half-page in with "I cannot sit here and write and drink chai while my baby cries..."

Though I pretty much blew off the homework, I kind of felt like I was doing the AW this week in an experiential way. Example. A friend of mine came upon some great good (and well deserved) fortune recently and got some writing published. Like a complete and total child, I had a private tantrum to the tune of Why not me? Why not me!!! I got angry and I realized that my anger is at myself - for not trying. For making lists of ideas and pieces to work on and submit and then never following through. So I made a committment to submitting 10 pieces of writing per month to different venues: contests, magazines, etc. I went web surfing and found only 3 venues that seemed worthwhile and bookmarked them. Sigh. I realize 10 is ambitious but if I do 5 that will be a lot more than I'm doing now.

So there was that. Then, on a more positive note, a friend called yesterday to tell me that the company she works for is interested in hiring a freelance writer and she plugged me and they are very excited to see my writing samples! Hello synchronicity! (Have I put anything together and mailed it? No! WTF is up with me? I will do it this weekend.)

Had an artist's date today at the art supply store. I was looking for a few things for the journal I'm working on (that's almost done and I promise I'll get pictures up ASAP) and I had great fun looking at all the colored pencils and crayons and sketchbooks, though I'd have no idea what to do with these items. I cruised the batik section with a touch of nostalgia, remembering the steal-your-face I batiked for an old flame more than 10 years ago. Batik is something I'd do in my ideal life. I know this means I should get to it without futher ado, but seriously, I really can't get into it without S P A C E. Lots of space and supplies and time and planning and care is required for batik. And there's the scarcity: I don't have access to those things right now.

Intention: I was thinking today of finding three other women to sing harmony with, most likely in the form of a small ensemble that sings sacred music, chants, the occasional Jane Siberry song. We would be an all-girl, a cappella group, with no fuss over instruments or gear. We would sing in the park, in unexpected places. I have no idea if I could pull this off, but I long to make harmony with women in some way.

I made some kick-ass chili tonight. Also, I had great walks this week and have been eating consciously. These things are very important to me and lifelong struggles. The fact that I showed myself that kind of consideration during a week full of drama is a sign that something is shifting. Oh it's good.

I'm sooooooooo glad this week is over. I'll be a better recovering creative next week. Really I will.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Little bit for now

Just ducking in between chores...struck by Eliza's statement:

I am afraid that if I start dreaming I'll want a different life.

That really stuck to me. I'm pretty sure I do want another life. I want to keep most of the key players in this one, but I think to myself: What's the sense in dreaming of moving to northern New England or going on solo writer's retreat in Ireland or whatever when I can't see a way it will ever be possible?

I know this attitude is bullshit, but I didn't realize how full of it I was. Ha!

This week has been very activating for me. The theme of Anger and also Scarcity is hitting me right between the eyes. Damnit! I'll write more later...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Week Two in Review

Let's see...I did morning pages 4 days this week. Didn't feel too inspired by the reading, I admit. But, my journal project is on the drawing board and I also redesigned my other blog, Blueberry Pie. It just had a standard Blogger theme going on before (not that there's anything wrong with that...) and I was sort of getting tired of it. So I designed a new header and changed the template, which took more bravery than it did skill or creativity. I was holding my breath as I clicked Use This Template! I like it for now. I felt so crushed this week; it seemed as if every day was comprised of seamless running around and multitasking.

My blog has been my main creative endeavor for the last four months. It started out as a record of my daughter's first year and has expanded a bit to include my philosophical musings and post-partum angst. I love writing it, and I have to remember not to get too hung up on Is it good? I just want it to be honest. Honest, entertaining and highly readable. (Is that too much to ask? Is it wrong or inauthentic to want my writing to be read and loved? Am I supposed to be doing it for myself? I've been wondering about these things.)

I would like to go on a writing retreat, or do a writing workshop. Or take a class. Or something to breathe some new life into my writing. In the shower the other night I was trying to think of words I rarely use that make me feel good. Peony came to mind. It all started because I was thinking how I couldn't wait to get up the next morning and have homemade chai and hemp waffles with peanut butter and honey. The language alone was nurturing. But I digress.

1. sing, esp with other people
2. walk in the woods
3. go to museums
4. lounge in coffeeshops and bookstores
5. have guests over for a lovely meal that I cooked
6. write
7. watch Six Feet Under
8. go to music festivals
9. write letters
10. take road trips
11. read books
(I never make time for books. Just magazines and blogs.)
12. make movies
13. be around plants
14. sleep in
15. talk philosophy/God
16. collage
17. watch movies
18. have a massage
19. batik
20. listen to Irish music

(Lists are so neat and tidy, aren't they?)

1. I would like to learn Italian.
2. I would like to go to Italy.
3. I would like to walk every day, work up to running
and run a 5K in April.
4. I would like to learn Appalachian clogging.
5. I would like to have a garden.
6. I would like to sing with Jane Siberry.
7. I would like to make a documentary about mothers and daughters.
8. I would like to paint Tessa's room.
9. I would like to sell a bunch of my books to a used book store.
1o. I would like to spend more time with my girlfriends.

For my Artist's date this week, I went on a long walk in the woods. The weather has been so mild and the relative warmth awakens this ambrosial, earthen scent. It smells sort of vernal, sort of peppery, somewhere between freshness and decay. Completely intoxicating.

On to Week Three...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I've been very spotty with the daily pages this week. Done 'em some days, not others, partially some days. And the tasks? No, haven't really gone there. Sure I've daydreamed about five more lives (a botanist, an Italian contessa, a biodynamic farmer/surfer in Hawaii, a midwife, a trainer of service dogs)...but I do that outside of the AW, so it hardly counts! Artist's Date has yet to happen. Am I even qualified to say I'm doing The Artist's Way this week?!

However. I am working on a art project! It's a jornal for my friend's 40th birthday. It's a very fine, handmade, leather-bound book that I picked up at Jazz Fest a few years ago and inside I am collaging (is that a word?) selected pages. I am in the layout phase right now; no glue has been spilled although scissors have been wielded with abandon. It's my first project of this type and I am LOVING IT. Oh, the paper. The words. I get so turned on by paper and words, text and texture, color and context. I am staging imagescapes that I think will resonate with some of my friend's passions: Italy, flowers, and our shared love of the film A Room with a View.

I'll post some pictures of it when I have a chance. Until then, wishing you all beauty and inspiration.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Notes from Week One

I play guitar and sing. When I was 20, I played one of my first open mic nights. I did my three songs and stepped down. There was a dude there, an older dude who played guitar in a band, a real band. He said to me:

Yeah, uh, keep it up. Keep practicing guitar. I really admire a singer who can play her instrument.

This seems completely innocuous now, but at the time, and for too long a time after, I made it mean:

I can't play guitar. I will never be good enough. Voice is my instrument and that will never be enough; I must be an act to have an audience. The music scene is a boys club. There is no place there for me.

I did an erotic writing worksop when I lived in Northampton, MA about, hmmm, 6-7 years ago now. It was very powerful for me; I wrote wildly uninhibited pieces and shared them. It was a really good exercise to write about sex. It forced me to give myself permission around an obviously taboo subject and embrace whatever came out or came up in the process. I was writing from a place of pure pleasure and constantly reminding myself, Go ahead, write it! What's the worst that could happen? That permission is an act of self-love and essential to authentic expression in any medium. I treasure that lesson! The leader was a huge champion of my creativity and though we've lost touch, I miss her and think of her so fondly.

Connected with that workshop, I spoke with a woman who had some of her erotic writing published. I thought maybe I'd be interested in getting some of my writing published - someday. I asked her about her experience. How did she do that? Did she have an agent? I was completely naive about such things (still am) but it felt safe to ask, fresh out of the arms of this wonderful workshop. Well, her response sort of felt like a bucket of cold water in the face. She basically told me that not just anybody can get published, that you get rejected a lot before you maybe get accepted, that pulishers aren't just looking for the same old hackneyed thing that most people submit...on and on like this. She never answered my questions. And, she offered all this without ever reading a word of my writing.

I took this really personally at the time. Maybe I only heard what I was afraid I'd hear, since I have always had this resistance to asking for help. But I pretty much made it mean that my writing was not good enough to be published, and that there was some magical, mystical formula to getting your words in print that I would never have access to because I was not cool, educated, credentialed, connected or talented enough. And I never would be.

Today, I can honestly say that the echos of these creative buzzkills are oh-so-faint. I do not believe what I heard them say. Now I believe that anything is possible. It's just a matter of setting my mind to it! (Now I'm just trying to dislodge the block that prevents me from setting my mind to it, damnit!)

On a lighter note, an incomplete list of who I'd be in an alternate life:

A farmer's wife and mother of 6 in Ireland
A boho writer/photographer in San Fran
A singing/dancing sensation on Broadway!
A Buddhist Nun
Natalie MacMaster

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Artist Date #1

You can read about my Artist Date here. I'm off to make a decorated journal for my friend's 40th birthday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My first .psd!

Image hosted by
After declaring my fear of Photoshop recently, I jumped in.
Simple, but a major victory for me!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Weeding the Garden

So far, my morning pages are home to lots of petty, useless complaining. What a reality check: you mean I carry that shit around with me all the time?

Wanna hear some of my negative core beliefs?

I don’t have good enough ideas.
I will do bad work and not know it and look like a fool.
I will never have any real money.
I need money to be an artist.
I can’t write fiction.
I’d need a gimmick to sell a book or a CD.
I'd never be able to sell an honest representation of myself because while family and friends say I'm good, I'm basically a watered-down version of ___. (Insert name of someone who has already made it.)
I can’t ask for help because no one wants to help me and I don’t want to hear “No”.
S/he can write/sing better than me and there’s no place for me out there.
There is a limit to what I can create in both quantity and quality.
I'm not cool enough to have a successful book/recording/blog.
I'm not original/unique enough to attract an audience.
Successful artists live in New York or LA or Taos.

I had a revelation yesterday while reading from Week One. In past trials of AW, I have really resisted the blurts and affirmations part. It just seems so hokey and new agey. (Bear with me here, I know I'm being a cynical asshole. I hope no one minds that I swear a lot.) My blurts are usually some version of Who do you think you are?, born out of the negative beliefs above. In theory, I know affirmations work. But when I try one on - I, Teri, am a fabulously original writer - the same thought always follows: But I don't know that to be true! How can I speak something FALSE into existence?

And then came my epiphany: So why do I take the negative core beliefs, the blurts, as gospel? My blurts are not the truth, but I have no trouble repeating them over and over to myself. I don't necessarily know that I can't write fiction or that there's no room for me in the world of successful creatives because I'm not special, but somehow I choose that thinking over a positive, self-affirming inner soundtrack.

Fascinating, Captain.

There are an infinite number of great ideas available to me.
There are enough ideas in the universe for everyone.
I, Teri, am a fabulously original writer.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ready Set Go

january sky
Originally uploaded by tessa's mom.
As vast as I've found the blogosphere through my familiarity with mama bloggers, I am bowled over by this whole new wonderful branch of artists and writers I stumbled upon as a result of Blogging the Artist's Way. Thanks to Christina at My Topography, where I first saw it mentioned. I am soooo happy to have found all of you who are participating. My reading list has grown considerably!

So, I've been reading the first 24 pages and encountering some familiar resistance. But I realize that's okay and I intend to push through it and give myself to the work with a beginner's mind. (As much as possible.) No MP out of me yet, surprise. I spent the morning cleaning the house so I could sit down guilt-free and do some creative work, whether that was writing some pages or posting or whatever. I was pretty distracted, with Tessa peeping and playing and requiring my intermittent attention, so finally I nursed her down and instead of writing, I continued cleaning and fed myself lunch and before I knew it, she was awake and Me Time was over.

I think this is going to be one of my obstacles: feeling guilty about Me Time. It's been a rocky transition from gainfully employed to SAHM. I LOVE being a mother more than anything and I actually do get little bits of time to myself here and there during the day. But when I have a little chunk of time to myself, I always feel like I should spend it cleaning or otherwise contributing to the household, especially since I'm not contributing financially. In fact, if I did have a paying job, I wouldn't feel one bit of guilt about writing or playing or going to museums or on walks. I would feel entitled to those things. Now, I don't. That's how much value I have assigned to money, and how little I assign to my creativity.

But these are just more reasons to do the work. I'm convinced that the fruits of my creativity could provide for my family, it's just a matter of nurturing the soil.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fuck yeah!

OMG. So, after publicly declaring that I was going to do The Artist's Way, I awoke the next morning and the FIRST thought I had was WTF was I thinking! I simply cannot add one more thing to my day. Especially morning pages! Not only have I announced my commitment to the blogosphere, I've launched a recruiting effort. There's no going back. I'm screwed.

On top of that, I could not find my copy of The Artist's Way. I've had the book for many years. I think I got it sometime in the mid-90s, when my life was so different I might as well have been another person. I had no attachments. I barely had expenses; I think I paid $236/month in rent. I had oodles of time to devote to an intensive writing program, though I didn't realize it then. Silly girl.

This morning I was determined to find the book. I can't purchase another copy - I'm that broke. So I went spelunking in the mammoth third-floor closet. I dug and dug and dug and dug some more and finally, in the farthest corner of the closet, buried under a bunch of crap was a box of books and in it was The Artist's Way.

I had a considerable rush over this. I'm psyched that I found the book and delighted over the metaphor of it all: that this wonderful tool I've had for so long was buried away and I went searching for it, not stopping until I recovered it, that I overcame my usual apathy to inititate the search and follow through with my stated intention, that I discovered my deep desire (obscured by laziness and scarcity) to unearth my creative flow, and that I actually found what I was looking for in a pile of old shit.

I was having an inner debate about how to do the morning pages. At first I thought I would prefer to blog them, since for some reason this medium really calls to me. I was sort of preparing to defend myself (against whom!?) because I seem to recall that Julia insists the MP be handwritten. So I reconsidered and decided to do them longhand, a) because no one wants to read my MP, b) making them public would kick up the volume on my Inner Critic and the writing would likely be hyper-edited and inauthentic, defeating the purpose and c) because since I got my laptop last December, I have pretty much abandoned pen and paper. And we used to be so close. So it will be good for me to use some of the blank paper I have sitting around just waiting to spontaneously combust.

Disclaimer: I am not going to pay TOO much attention to spelling/grammar in this endeavor. This will be very hard for me. But I just want the writing to flow without getting too hung up on mechanics. I must remind myself that technical errors and bad form can ALWAYS be corrected later.

Okay. Time to read the first 24 pages.