Courage

IMG_0820I think a lot about fear. Fear of flying, situations, world events. Sometimes it’s crippling.

I also believe in stories. The stories we tell ourselves help us learn, live, and relate.

The phrase “the courage to own your own story” is one I’ve seen for years. But lately the words have resonated even more. It is far too easy to believe what our thoughts tell us is truth. To me, figuring out my story means letting go of rigid memories, thoughts, or beliefs about my past or who I am.

Fears can block us from being creative, pursuing projects, and even putting ourselves in new situations. I mentioned to someone that I tend to be a person who leaps and then looks for the net. But the last few years, not so much.

Now I am working my way back out, and that’s freeing.

Last week I took some of my letterpress printed cards to a lovely gift store in town called Heather Boutique. I am really delighted they are going to carry my line. (That sounds cool, doesn’t it? “my line”) Yesterday I began working on a series of 5×7 posters, inspirational and motivational, to frame and sell.

But I want to keep my focus. I began printing the words I wanted to see on my own walls. Now that I’ve begun to sell them, I want to continue that, not be swayed by what might sell. What matters is doing the work I care about. And that’s my story.

Working Together

I love working on teams, sharing ideas, making something happen.

Truth is, I am more of a big picture person than a detail person. But sometimes things happen because someone says, “Why don’t we try…”

Recently I worked with a friend, a graphic artist in town. I printed some cards and passed them along to her for watercolor touches. Wow, I was impressed. I LOVE the work she did.

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Sometimes I wonder why it took me so long to realize how much I like making things. Getting my hands dirty, playing with ink and type, this keeps me going for hours. I wish I’d been able to study design, the weakest link in my process. But I’m willing to learn, put in the time. It’s the problem-solving that keeps me going….

 

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Friends in Far Places

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I have loved making real connections online since I began blogging ten years ago. I’ve ended up with running friends, teaching friends, and now letterpress friends all over the world.

The other night a friend from Australia (whom I’d met online and subsequently in person) tweeted me, and we chatted for a few minutes, catching up since we’d last seen each other in D.C.

These days, I connect less with teachers and not at all with runners. But I’ve discovered another community that feeds and supports me in many of the same ways. Letterpress printers. Whenever I have reached out, someone has been there with help.

Tonight I was reading about rubber mats that can be placed on presses to help the printing process. I was confused so I called Fritz at N.A. Graphics in Colorado to see if this was something I could buy. No, he said. They are for Vandercooks (my dream press, by the way).

But then he took time out from his busy day to ask me questions and offer some possible solutions to my problem. Tomorrow when I get back in the shop, I’ll trim my tympan paper and the rest of the packing to be sure it’s not causing the platen to hit the rails and not allowing the platen to touch the type fully.

He also suggested a “thumb test” to be sure I’m getting appropriate inking from the rollers.

I love this problem solving– made so much easier with good friends and folks willing to share so freely.

#letterpress #troubleshooting #nagraph

 

I Need Snow

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This is it.

All the snow we’ve had this year.

Now, I’m not a snow person. Give me a beach, warm sun, and cawing seagulls anytime.

But I do love the occasional snow day, the tucking in, the lazy sit-in-front-of-the-fire day that is usually unexpected and a delicious surprise. So I’m waiting. And waiting.

In the meantime, my energies are going to Valentine’s Day cards for the shop, more volunteering with Fredericksburg Main Street, and working with young folks after school on writing and writing strategies.

I’m trying to be patient.

The Sky Late

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I love the sky late in the day. Here, I caught the sun lighting up the trees on the river bridge behind the studio. Often the clouds melt into pink cotton candy. And then there’s the teal blue water reflecting off the setting sun at Turks and Caicos.

It’s my favorite time of the day, especially when I’m alone or deep in thought. Annie Dillard says, “Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

 

Thinking About

 

I read this today online– and it has me thinking…

“Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.’” –  Marianne Williamson

2014 What Have I Learned?

 

I never want to stop learning. Yup, that’s what I learned.

When my hands were full of ink and my new press was giving me a fit, I had few moments of angst. But I wanted to figure it out. I’m not sure I was a learner when I was younger, but the adult me loves to problem solve.

I also learned:

  • how to make a tasty beef brisket and sour cream potatoes
  • I really do have anxiety issues (plane, relationships, food)
  • how to balance writing rejections with the joy of acceptances
  • I want to keep my hair short
  • some things never change (dislike of cold, love of sugar, need to be near the beach)
  • I can still overdo social media (it’s a great place to hide sometimes)
  • how to let go of expectations (most of the time)
  • not to listen to the voice in my head (most of the time)
  • how much I enjoy being creative, even reading about creativity!

Let’s see what 2015 has in store……

 

Serendipity?

 

I’ve had several lucky things happen to me lately.

But if I were to analyze each one, I’d find that when events happen, there is always a triggering event or a connection. I participate in social media for the same reason- serendipitous moments that are born out of simple connections. Or working with our new downstairs neighbors because they are just so darn nice.

Today I was inking my press when I heard voices from the front of the studio. Our friends from River Rock Outfitter had sent up two men looking for mittens for a present. We happened to have one pair of fingerless gloves left, so I left Elizabeth to talk with them. Then I leaned around the corner and saw them, the fathers of two former students.

Within minutes, I’d corralled them back to my shop to show them my presses. After much ooing and ahhing, one of them suddenly looked over at me.

“Where do you want to take this?” he asked.

I didn’t know how to answer, so I stumbled around for a few seconds. Then he explained that he owned a building a few miles away filled with printing equipment. The printer had died, and he now rented the space to a local printer who wasn’t using the equipment any longer. He wondered if I’d be interested. As he talked, I could feel my heart racing.

Visions of printing presses and type danced in my head, and I sprang to my feet, shouting, “A community print shop!”

Ok, I’m not going to abuse Clement Clark Moore’s poem. But I did get as excited as an 8-year-old seeing his bike under a tree.

Once I’d calmed down, I had second thoughts. It’s not in Fredericksburg. I’m not ready to leave Water Street Studio. And, frankly, I don’t know enough about letterpress equipment to be in charge of anything.

But he did say he would give me tour, and maybe, maybe sell me some type. Hey, even if all I do is walk around and touch the presses, I’ll be happy.

Who knew my day would take this turn? Lucky.