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.






On the afternoon of my debut as a bartender at Hot Tin Roof, I met a member of The Bottom Line Burlesque & Comedy Troupe, who was having her nails done next to me. Turns out she was dancing at the same charity event. Sadly, I missed her performance that night because I couldn’t leave my place at the bar. From the laughs and  applause, it sounds like everyone had a roaring good time.

Here is some information provided by Ruby Martini about the creative, energetic, and giving ladies of the Bottom Line Burlesque Dance & Comedy Troupe.

The Bottom Line Burlesque & Comedy Troupe is a Hillsborough-based, all volunteer Community Performance Troupe that was founded in 2012 by Hillsborough resident, Ruby Martini.


The Mission of this talented, sassy, fun group of men and women is to align with Non-profit organizations and assist them with their fund-raising events.  The primary alignment for Bottom Line Burlesque & Comedy Troupe is The UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, (  for whom the Troupe holds an annual fund-raiser.  2016 brings a Habitat for Humanity fund-raiser on board, our annual UNC CEED show,  as well as two shows at Common Ground Theatre to support Marketing Missions for the Troupe.  More dates will continue to be added.

This Troupe of performers welcomes and embraces diversity – not only within the Troupe, but in the causes they support and their enthusiastic audiences.  Most of the Troupe members fall into one of two categories;  those who performed at “younger” ages and now miss the stage, or those who always wanted to perform but were perhaps too bashful or never had an opportunity.  The Bottom Line Burlesque welcomes anyone who is interested in performing, singing, dancing, providing make up or back stage support.  If you are interested in learning more, get in touch with Ruby Martini.  She will invite you to come to a rehearsal so you can feel the energy, the synergy that makes this Troupe so successful!
 The Troupe is always open to helping Non-profits with their fund-raising efforts, as well as community groups with theirs.   You can find more information, including performance dates and photo shoots on Facebook at this link.  If you or anyone you know is involved with a non-profit that would like fundraising assistance from this fun, sassy Troupe, please contact Ruby Martini at

The Changing Light Bulb of Menopause


Cliff helped daughter Laura change a complicated light bulb on our last visit to Dallas. And talk about complicated! Read the types of light you can get nowadays from various light bulbs. Who knew? I was so impressed that I snapped a photo of the light bulb packaging.

Which bulb would I pick? They all sound wonderful. In contrast are the not-so-lovely moods of menopause. The roller coaster ride can bring on some nasty downward swoops, putting you in unhappy light.

WebMD is one of my favorite health sites because it’s clear, calm, and consistent. They list these emotional troubles that are often brought on by the changing hormones of menopause:

  • Irritability
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Tension

Many doctors are still reluctant to point to menopause as the cause of emotional issues. My friend Jessie was instructed to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Another friend suggested Jessie’s trouble might be menopause. She found a different OB/GYN, and HRT changed Jessie’s gloom into gladness in just a few days. A happy light bulb went on!

WebMD goes on to say:”If you are feeling irritable and sad, there is a good chance it could be related to menopause, but the above listed symptoms are not linked only to menopause. There are a number of conditions that can cause you to feel downright irritable.”

So sure, look for other reasons behind your moodiness, but do consider menopause as the culprit.

Here’s the full article on WebMD.

To go a bit further with the light bulb theme, I found a timeline of light bulbs:


I don’t recall the 1982 version at all. But I don’t remember much about the larger world of the eighties. I was too busy raising little kids. Talk about roller coaster emotions. Me and them!


Christmas Blessings (and a Christmas Book Giveaway)

CHristmas gift Suggestions

This may be the last Christmas in our big old yellow house. I’m pulling out all the decorating stops!

Cliff and I lugged down a boatload of boxes from the attic. Angels, Santas, bells, Christmas houses, reindeer, sheep, and camels are prancing about. The empty tree stretches high toward the ceiling, and a gazillion ornaments are calling, “Me! Me! Me!” The decorating, yet to be finished, is making my world feel chaotic.

So when I picked up Christmas Blessings: Prayers and Poems to Celebrate the Season,  June Cotner’s lovely new volume, I was touched by the book’s sweet small size, and most of all, by its shortest selections.These poems speak to the simple yet important thoughts of Christmas. They calm me!

December Birdsong

Christina Rosetti


Thanks to June and her publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing, one Friend for the Ride reader will win a copy of Christmas Blessings. Please enter your name by December 12, and I’ll select a winner using random integer generator.


Christmas Blessings makes a perfect gift. Here’s the Amazon link.

June Cotner is the author of  34 engaging and insightful books and products bringing “A World of Inspiration!” She’s sold over one million copies of her works. Follow June on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Check out June’s website at and her author page on

I’m pleased my poem, “The Year the Christmas Tree Fell Over,” is included in Christmas Blessings. (The poem was also printed in an earlier version of the book.) I’ve got a short holiday toast in Christmas Blessings too.

Check out June’s post on Friend for the Ride about hiking with her rescue dog, Indy.