Monthly Archives: December 2015

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (and a Book Giveaway!)


Big Magic

I’m an Elizabeth Gilbert fan. Anyone who goes to Italy to eat all the pasta she can while she learns Italian and meets men sounds pretty fun to me.

But the first third of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, didn’t speak to me like those scenes of the author gobbling pasta did. A mega-successful author’s tales of struggle often fall flat with this oft-rejected author. Happily, as I read on, the book’s charms took hold. Here are some of the lines that swooped me up:

As the saying goes, “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.”

How many times do we defend our limitations? Send those excuses sailing far, far away.

The most evil thing about perfectionism, though, is that it disguises itself as virtue.


While it may seem lonely and horrific at first to imagine that you aren’t anyone else’s first order of business, there is also a great release to be found in this idea. You are free, because everyone is too busy fussing over themselves to worry all that much about you.

I sometimes go to a party where I don’t know many people and think everyone is watching me flounder as I decide where to sit or whom to talk to. Nope. Nobody is watching and nobody is worried what I decide to do. And so it is for most of life, luckily.

Be careful of your dignity, is what I’m saying. It is not always your friend.

Here’s to letting our dignity slide in 2016. See ya, Dig!

I believe that curiosity is the secret. Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.

My mom told me how pleased she was to be in her late eighties and still learning new things. Elizabeth Gilbert finds curiosity to the highest calling of the creative spirit. 

And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it. 

Me too. What about you? What are your favorite ways to be creative? Any creativity goals for 2016?

Giveaway: To win a copy of Big Magic, enter a comment by January 20, 2016. Thanks!


Facebook: I’m enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert’s page. Follow it here.

New York Times: Here’s a review of the book, with a much more in-depth analysis than I’ve given you above.

More Quotes!

What is Creativity


Be Brave

Creative Person

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Eighteen


Candace photo

From reader Candace: fishnet stockings at the Eureka in San Luis Obispo, California. That’s some risque door!

From Judy on a trip to Nova Scotia: the Halifax Coffee Shop. Judy reports there’s an ocean scene at the bottom that you can’t see very well.


From a friend of a friend of my friend Lisa: this unisex door can be found at the Medical College of Wisconsin/Green Bay Campus.


From Jim: the Lucky 32 in Greensboro. Hooray for another man willing to photograph a ladies room door!


An old time sign over the ladies room door at Max’s on Broad in Richmond, Virginia.

Max's on Broad

From reader Susan: the Spotted Dog in Carrboro, North Carolina.




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These are from a rest stop just over the North Carolina border from Virginia. The glass gives this sign an arty touch.


I’ve never seen a broom closet door as part of the ladies room sign.


Finally, my friend Justin, who teaches English in China, sent these doors from the Howard Johnson’s in Ningbo.

IMG_5745And the men:IMG_5746

That’s a wrap for bathroom doors of 2015. On to the new year! Lots more doors to be discovered by you and me in 2016.


Thanks for being a friend for the ride, and thanks to all of you, guys and girls, who sent me great doors in 2015.

Holiday Dots!



A few days ago, as I finished up the Christmas tree, perfect white dots appeared on the wall and ceiling nearby. I’ve lived in this house for thirty years and have never seen dots.

I love polka dots. They represent the random and the upbeat. Yet they represent a sort of order, too, in their careful roundness. And so I looked for a message.

Were the dots a sign from my mother? Mom liked dots, but she wasn’t one to wear dots, and she didn’t put them in her art work very often.

Were the dots a sign from God or from the universe? If so, what’s the message to me? I couldn’t decipher one.

Did the tree send the dots? Was the tree, or the light shining through the window behind it, trying to tell me something? But what? All I know is these were dots of delight. They charmed me by shining bright white on my blue walls in the midst of a hectic week.

Speaking of dots, I wish you delightful holidays, whichever holidays you celebrate, dotted with good food and conversation and friends and family. And maybe a few presents.

May dots of delight randomly pop into your festivities!

Square of Dots

Here’s the wiki entry on polka dots. Read up!

Losing Mom: First Christmas Gone



My mom died in March, and so this is my first Christmas without her.

Every year, when December came around, I’ve wondered: What will it be like the first Christmas when I unpack Mom’s things, and she is gone? Our Christmas treasures include decorations she created over forty years in a variety of mediums.

So this is it. This is the year.

Above, you see Mary and the Baby, done in spools. Below, a Santa ornament of paper mache.


Mom made this  angel from a tissue tube. The angel slips over a tree branch.


Mom had the patience and skill to fold Moravian Stars.


This angel is watercolor on brown paper.


This felt angel on velveteen is one of six Christmas banners Mom made for our Lutheran church in Towson, Maryland. She’d visited the Vatican exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and admired the banners there. Mom’s banners graced our church before banners even caught on as liturgical art in the U.S. She was cutting edge in the banner world!


Mom and the ladies at church turned eggs into ornaments. They sold enough of these, at 75 cents each, to put a kitchen in our church.

Mom’s art projects were a hit with the Sunday school kids. Here’s a three-dimensional angel ornament she made with them. I recognize her style, so I imagine she painted this one as a sample. The paint has faded over the years.

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Toward the end of her life, Mom painted with acrylics. This is the Holy Spirit watching over Mary and the Baby. Mom liked to envision the Holy Spirit as a colorful bird, capable of influencing folks quite convincingly.


My mother didn’t like a lot of mushy gush. She avoided sentimentality in words and on greeting cards. But since I had warning the cancer would soon overtake her, I was determined to say my piece, my happy piece before she died. So these were some of my last words to Mom: “Your creativity has inspired me since I was a little girl and made me the person I am.”

This is what I know about the death of a parent, especially written for those of you yet to experience this sad time:

 You never lose the person’s legacy to you. You never lose their spirit.

Your mom or dad won’t go away. Not all the way away.