Thursday, January 28, 2010

We create the world ...

...With our thoughts

Have been playing around with ideas for New Year's wishes cards (only 2 days to go. YIKES!). These, as you can see are the badly scanned, first drafts and all that I have left; the finalised ones went off this morning to my calligraphy class and I raced out of the house clutching them tight to my chest, without a second thought to scanning or photographing them.

All the while though, this phrase got me thinking... about thoughts and what I could think ... to create a world for me, my family, my friends, you ... all of us.

And then I got to thinking more, about not only MY thoughts... but YOURS too. So this card doesn't just represent my own thoughts and dreams (of peace, encouragement, success, love, joy, health, and wealth) set in ink to be sent to you. But also it is a call for you too to think about your thoughts...

Below are a list of thoughts I thought it would be nice to be thunk, and think out loud together - sort of like forming a global think-tank for creating that world we all want so much for ourselves, our loved ones and let's face it: even our not so loved ones for they are the ones that need our thoughts the most... Every one still following? Think so ;-)

Think Positive: A lifetime will always last a lifetime whether you spend it laughing or crying
Think Healthy: A healthy mind helps make a healthy body (ok, ok - still looking for proof of that one!)
Think Rich: Make each moment rich just by being where you are when you're there (are we there yet?)

Well - that's a good start for a group of busy people! What do you think?

I'd like to dedicate this post to my dad, affectionately known to me as BudBud. Admittedly we called him Budbud more for his lovingly cultivated belly than for his zen attitude to life but never-the-less, he's the man who is single handedly responsible for instilling in me down to a cellular level that it is my own thoughts that create my world. Proof that brainwashing children actually works ! ;-) Wasn't all tea and cupcakes that adolescence but I'm reaping the benefits of it now...

Joyeux Anniversaire for Saturday Budbud...
Thoughts of thanks for setting me off on the right path.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

80% of success is just showing up

Thank you Woody Allen for the encouragement - but there's still 20% to go which I think I'll have to build up slowly.

You see, I'm still basking in the joy of my whirlwind trip across the ditch to England from where  cyberspace seemed soooo far away... between Red Red Buses, Red Red Wine, Green Green parks and tales of Pokemon's Blue Blue face when he attempted (and thankfully succeeded) to swallow a marble in my absence.

Excitement is the key word here at la Rivière; one gleeful mix of zen and adrenaline rushes. Especially when I'm away.

Time now to spend a few days catching up on housework and ridding the house of marbles calligraphy. Arghhh, only HOURS to go before the end of January which marks the official deadline for sending out New Year's wishes so better get those cards done. For those of you who felt guilty sending your Christmas cards out late... You may officially start feeling better now!

 Sense of humour fully restored
Let the music play...

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let me too be called a traveler

"Dogen reminds us that to raise the mind of compassionate awakening is none other than the whole of daily activity with no concern for one's self, no thought of outcome, no sense of self-gratification. It means that whatever is, is the best that there is at this moment. Just this, wholly this, only this.

Engaging in the Way, in the life of continuous practice, means that we are constantly awakening with each new moment. Awakening is not a single event in time. Rather it is a continuous event through time. Basho wrote: Let me be called a traveler. He did not mention any destination. Just a traveler."
- Joan Halifax

I know it's another Whisky River find, when I'm behind in 3 or 4 Paris episodes and should be spouting forth my own words, but it just seemed so APT, seeing I'm travelling later on today (it is today now possums, as Tuesday passed nearly two hours ago). 

However, simple traveler that I am, I do rather have a couple of fixed destinations in mind. First...
Bristol to see mon cousin the lion stalker, and then the wonderful friends who took the above photo last time I was there... They make a fabulous cup of tea! 
Then, London Jeeves (and don't spare the horsepower!), for a weekend of 'wholly this' moments, exquisite vegetarian fare with an equally as exquisite close friend and campaigner for women's literacy, champagne celebrations. To top this all off I shall be treated to HILARIOUS giggle time with Lulu who has somehow managed to find herself a job cooking in a kitchen that boasts an enormous white marble slab! I'll say no more... Except this - I may be bringing her back here to cook for me! She is an AMAZING chef, she would brighten up my kitchen no end, and I would of course have more time to paint!

To quote dear Lulu: "Life's a very funny thing Ange - it is like trying to wrestle jelly!"
Yes, yes!  I feel the Paris Episodes would best be written with an awakened sense of humour... 
See you all next Tuesday 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Les Chefs d'Oeuvres

... ne sont jamais que des tentatives heureuses.
Georges Sand
(romancière Française: 1804-1876)
J'ai passé une soirée entière à écrire la lettre
Première et dernière lettre de mon prénom.
Je tente... des centaines de fois

 Mais pas encore de chef d'oeuvre.
Que des tentatives donc ...

Celle ci-dessous est la plus heureuse pour l'instant...
Et ne n'ai pas encore fini..

Finalement - ce sont toutes les tentatives que j'aime le plus!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Words to live by

There's a Bleu/Gris horizon out there today...

"If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days."

– Kent Nerburn

Letters to my Son
Text found at Whisky River ...

Photo: Fishing nets at dusk,  Port Joinville, L'Ile d'Yeu

Today is for quiet reading then boisterous baking with the messmonsters.
How can I inspire them?
By shaking off my routine?
Yes - I shall not bake.
I shall hand them the recipe book (in English none the less)
and let them discover for themselves, while I blog.
The unknown need not involve leaving the house...

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 - L'année du bonheur!

La Conscience est le meilleur livre du monde.
 C'est celui que l'on doit consulter le plus souvent
Note to self: get my kids to read about Blaise Pascal too. He was homeschooled!!!

This is the book that keeps me sane at the moment.
It is by Isabelle Filliozat, a very insightful French psychiatrist who has written numerous books and studies on happiness and relationships (all types, not just Mars and Venus ones) So when when I first discovered it in Nature et Découvertes. I grabbed it!

By the way, j'ADORE this shop too because I can even stick to my Dottie Angel Challenge and buy in here as some of the products are made by hand en France by French artisans, some are fair trade too... Mind you, books fall into the Essentials category. Buying them new ensures authors get paid!!

So aside from Dottie Angel's challenge and the Creative Every day challenge, not to mention the general 'living in a house with Beaker and 3 messmonsters' whilst trying to paint challenge - this is another that I have set myself for the year:

365 'exercises' for life - day after day...

Du sport? Non! Well, pas vraiment
(c'est bon, le sport j'en fais déjà ;-)

Inside here,
pas d'agitation, mes amis.

Today, while I lunch with my 3 sweet girlie friends. I shall be mindful of my breathing, how I sit, how my body feels inside and out. Hmm, j'ai un idée... As I feel the weight of my body in that chair (please Isa, make lunch light so I don't feel too heavy), I will make special note to get to the bottom of what a laugh feels like. Seriously possums, deeply conscious laughing is one of the most fun things a girl can do!
Quelle inspiration!!

Speaking of inspiration, I'm going to be starting a new blog! It will be the hilarious account (and I promise I am going to make this humorous, because I like you all too much to see you ripping your hair out like I do) of our buying a beautiful old stone house in the Luberon in Provence, and subsequently trying to sell it.

There will be a real plot and real characters: In fact, they are so unreal that I don't even have to make them up!! The mind-blowingly incompetent real estate agent, the shady property lawyers, the very brilliant trainee surgeon turned sweet wood turner, the 'A Year in Provence' style French farmers and their protective SAFER (local, hands-on tentacle of the Ministry of Agriculture) and last but not least the quiet Dutch gay plastic surgeon dermatologist, and his fabulously boisterous designer/artist friend living in Aix en Provence...  And a beautiful stone house that was built over top of a Roman villa and possibly temple ...with all the 'magnetic' consequences that can have...

As I don't have to invent the cast and characters, you will have to allow me the liberty of inventing their names. The 'baddies' don't live happy lives, they don't need me to make it worse for them as they're digging their own hole all by themselves. They may be vindictive enough to call their  lawyers too so I'd better not be too blonde about that!

The goodies are very much innocent, and have become entwined in a tangled mess that I'm sure even they could never have imagined could actually exist. And how am I coping with all these characters? Thanks to ZEN books like Isabelle Filliozat's up there, I have learnt to observe the whole situation with detachment  and wry humour. But it's just too precious not to share! Will you join me? It starts tomorrow...

Keep your eyes peeled for 'La Fontiane: gentle guidlines for Australians (substitute with your nationality - even French) on how NOT to buy and sell a house in Provence!

PS - It's time to bring the Paris Episodes back... for there is a link between the two... The plot thickens hahahahhahahahaaha!!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One has to be oneself...

The creative person not only respects the irrational in himself, but courts the most promising source of novelty in his own thought...

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, crazier and saner, than the average person...
Frank Barron

Could this explain my equal attraction to mud and finery?

I had never considered myself creative, or not creative. I have always been, just me. But I stumbled upon Mr Barron today and, to my utmost surprise, recognised myself...
Yet surely I am the average person. For that is what I've always considered myself to be...

It's Wishcasting Wednesday and Jamie asks us, "How do you wish to Shine?"
So I answer, "Jamie, I just want to shine at being myself. Hopefully, one day that will be enough to offer some glimmer of light to any soul that stumbles across my path." Sounds trite - but it's true.

My blue shutter has received it's final touches. Thank you all for your suggestions...
Egmont, the artist within you has left his mark there... A heartfelt Merci!

And Julie... for my award that helps me to shine,
and your wonderfully creative interpretations of my work!
 Je te remercie infiniment aussi!!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's your type (face)??

I couldn't help it, I promise. I was planning on writing something inspiring. But, faced with a blank page, I couldn't resist a quick peek first at some other blogs to see what was going on today and I found this quirky test from Pentagram, over at How About Orange? (love that name)

It's not so much that I have an addiction to quizzes. I don't even really like doing the magazine ones on the beach in summer - rather be in swimming! No - it's my unbridled attraction to letters, in keeping with my extreme calligraphic tendencies that piqued my interest in this psychiatrist's analysis of my ...type! 

I'm meant to be a Dot Matrix by the way - but a slip of the mouse made me answer a question wrong and now I'm not sure what TYPE I am ;-) You can only play your answers once and if you try a second time, you are gently reminded that you will become confused about what type you really are if you replay.

That suits me! I need to be all types to suit all those inspirational words that accompany me round in my head! 

What type are you? Dying to know ;-)


PS - password 'character'

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Jackie at the very London chic blog HOME nominated me for this award the other day! Now awards are a bit of a pass the parcel affair and not always welcomed by bloggers far and wide. But I must tell you that I quite like them (at a rate of one or two per year max!!), for the following reasons: They give us a chance to get to the essential of who we are, tell a few secrets and reveal a little more about the person behind the writing. And for me, they give me a creative challenge. What in heaven's name am I going to write about? Goodness, now I have a theme, how do I approach it and how does it fit in with me and the essence of what I am trying to communicate? And this one is just up my alley I must admit.  So here we go for 10 things that all make me equally happy !

Being alive. I don't think there is one day in my life that I have ever woken up without being full of gratitude for living (Although, nobody knows the trouble I've seen...). This is not due to any particular faith, other than the one that naturally bubbles out of me. I just can't help myself. It seems as natural as getting out of bed in the morning. And can be quite annoying I'm sure but I try not to be too chirpy all the time and let my joy out in my art instead.

Finding new ways of doing things. I love it when a new solution to a problem that has been niggling at me pops up out of the blue. You could call it 'Epiphany' happiness if you like and it runs from finding new ways to talk to my messmonsters through to accidentally discovering the hidden qualities in a calligraphy that I was thinking of ditching. Nothing is quite as rewarding as when the 'AHA' light goes on!

Having a bona fide project that I want to accomplish! I've been mulling over it for 2 years now and just having a project of my own, that is uniquely me, brings me intense happiness - whether I meet my goal or not. It's the journey towards it that brings the joy... Is it not the same for you? These wise words express it better than I ever could (Thankyou Serendipity for the quote):

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” 
santiz Patanjali quotes

Getting older! I am really enjoying not being a kid and having the confidence in myself that comes with approaching 40. I don't feel I have to justify my actions anymore, although I am currently making a bullet proof case for homeschooling my own children as the 'intuition' argument doesn't pass in France AT ALL. And "what will other people think?" is a question that belongs back in my 20s.

My messmonsters. I openly admit that children were not high on my list of things I particularly yearned for when I was younger and I felt, at 28 that I was still far too young to even entertain the thought. Then I had them. Every day since then they have been a source of happiness and wonderment for me. As much for who they are, all 3 individual characters, as for the source of daily challenge they provide to their parents! 

Change. Change makes me happy. When things don't change around me, I set about making them change: Country, job, house (no it wasn't me that took a match to the last one), furniture... husb...! To me nothing natural is eternally static, which means a certain amount of ...change. This means I have been known to paint the bathroom a bright shade on a whim because it hadn't changed in a while. Beaker used to leave the house in fear of what he would come back to. The landlord lives in eternal fear that I will calligraph on the walls in electric blue. I have of course reassured him that my rebellious streak and need for change is tempered both by a small element of common sense, a profound respect for other people's property, and a slight matter of good taste... But change definitely makes me happy.

Mud. I love mud. When I am adequately dressed for it of course. Splashing through a large, muddy puddle on my mountain bike is one of the most happy and exhilarating things I can do. It's a thumb your nose at convention way of saying I can be a 'pretty girl' and 'live' too! Mind you - a day spa mud bath is just as good for the soul as a tomboy, wind in your face, mud splashing mountain bike ride. I'm not picky! Both make me equally as happy ;-) 

Photo courtesy of Issy Aventure

Silent Solitude. Because it brings me peace. I never feel bored or alone in my own company. I get an excited sense of happiness when I am all alone in the silence of a house, or outside in a forest. It is the major reason we live in the country other than giving fresh air to the messmonsters. Solitude makes me happy as it brings me balance. I naturally love to be with people and have to force my self not to put other people first all the time. Solitude gives me the inner resources to spend the rest of my time enjoying the company of all my wonderful friends and family. Which brings me to the next point ;-)

Friends and Family. Well, even in her struggle for solitude, a woman is not a hermit! I am blessed with good friends and a family who cares and who I would do well to call more often. Unfortunately, with my tendency to be equally as happy in my own company as in other people's, I tend to forget to phone. Naughty girl.

GIVING. LIke Jackie, I too love to give. More than anything because I am happy making other people happy around me.  And to that end, with no further ado let me give you the winners of my 'give away.' The messmonsters had a great time picking the winners again. I do believe they are getting used to Mum's crazy blog addiction! Girls please stand up and make yourself known!

Mme Photoblog, aka Elizabeth Avedon
And Mme Brismod at Fun and VJs! 

As much as giving makes me happy, I'm always left with a sense of disappointment after a competition in that I can't give something to everyone who participates. All I can say is, luckily I didn't have to choose a favourite quote from the pile or I would still be here deciding! 

I suggest, if you're looking for more Sunday secrets, you visit the Altered Page while I announce the wonderful bloggers I'm sending this HAPPY 101 award on to as a consolation prize. Their blogs are both inspiring and rich, and I personally would love to know 10 things that make each of them happy...

Lisa at The Wright Stuff
Meredith from Count it all Joy
Julie at Being Ruby (Because she sent my very first award to MOI!!)
Faerwillow at Serendipity
Sophia at Blue Chair Diary
Laura at 52 Flea
Leeann at Fabulously French
Kimberly at Mimi Charmante

There's another TOME finished, and now "It's goodnight from her, and it's goodnight from her!" - Once again!!
PS I am normal you know, other things like singing and dancing and eating out and sparkling all make me happy too... But I mean, I had to stop somewhere!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Si les hommes n'étaient qu'une bande de frères... ferait si chaud qu'il n'y aurait plus d'hiver!

Par cette journée bien hivernale... 

...pendant que la neige tombe ...

... légère comme une plume...

... et froide comme un frisson...
Je prends le temps de contempler les belles cartes de voeux

fabriquées et offertes avec joie par mes camarades de classe

du cours de calligraphie à Colomiers.

Et quand j'aurai fini de les regarder avec tendresse...

...Ce sera à mon tour de faire une jolie carte de voeux
pour chacune de ses adorables femmes
qui m'apportent autant de chaleureuses attentions.

Et dehors, toujours la neige tombe...

Ce soir...le tirage au sort pour le giveaway

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Challenge of the Utmost Kind...

I love a good challenge don't you??

France has started its 1/2 yearly SALES.
But I am true to my word.
Mind you, my favourite shop in Toulouse
has fair trade, hand sewn Cashmere...
there would be too much other temptation
For I have joined the

And, like Tiff, I shall not falter for 365 days.
Day 8 - so far so good!

Apart from food and essential items
I too have resolved to buy only products
made by hand or recycled for at least the next year!
Probably forever.
Mind you - does organic, hand picked food count too???

This is of course a guilt-free and very cheeky way
for me to SPLURGE in the vide greniers and brocantes
this coming spring.
And to support all those wonderfully crafty artists and creators out there!

And to remain resolutely CREATIVE.
(Anyone got a recipe for fabric ink? I have some fabric ideas brewing)

And heavens! Maybe I could even make a small impact on this beautiful Earth of ours!

Now Chickpea who is nearly 11, has sprouted like a bean
and I must get her some jeans.
As I have as much creative ability with a needle as a hippo,
I imagine I shall be hitting Etsy, Big Cartel...
and the thrift shops in the next few days!

In the mean time - don't forget I'm drawing the
 giveaway competition this evening.
6 little mitts will be delving into a big box to pull out 3 lucky papers
graced with inspiring words
There is still time until 7pm in Toulouse that is!

A tout à l'heure ...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter inspiration for a Wednesday

What inspires? For me, it's virtually everything I can hear, see, touch, smell or taste - at some time or other and depending on what I am tuned into. I guess that makes me like 90% of the world's population, or at least the world's artists.

For the moment Toulouse is having a rainy, grey winter which dims the natural light inside my little farm house at La Rivière, making painting and fine calligraphy work a tad more of a challenge.

That makes it the best time for 'bricolage' (sitting inside wiring up my lights, made from the bits and pieces of 'junk' I find through out the year), and lots of blogging READING!

Flicking through my numerous books of calligraphers from around the globe and drinking in their style, precision, compostion and colour, is one of my favourite rainy day activities aside from running or mountain biking ;-) This little bijou of a book is my most recent acquisition and a constant reminder for me to look more deeply into shape and shadow, form and counter form, and composition - my personal bête noire!

Click on the image above and you will see the lettering that forms the intricate, twig-like pattern more closely.  It reminds me of the bare winter branches of the oak trees that pepper our grounds.
Doesn't it make you feel peaceful and zen?
The photo below is the back cover of her book ... Sand (read BEACH), now that's an inspirational idea for these cold wintery days. Recreate with ink the spotty texture of sand patterns. Now - how can I recreate a bit of sunshine and warmth using nothing but some astutely arranged splashes of ink? I may have to study this book a bit longer for that so don't hold your collective breath - the best I can do is offer my customary splash of ORANGE!

Denise Lach is a well known European calligrapher (to those of us who love calligraphy at least ;-), and teacher of lettering design and screenprinting at the Basel School of Design. She has a sharp eye for rhythm and balance, especially in nature, that I would love to capture by some form of telepathic osmosis, as well as the amazing talent of being able to replicate it with inks and various types of tools including plastic forks, medicine droppers and cola pens, over and above the usual nibs and brushes. Practice Ange, practice!!

Go on - you want to know what a cola pen is don't you???

Well, once again it's past 1am and I should think seriously about taking my new wee book, available on Amazon, to the quiet confines of my feather doona. I'll be back later to add a piece on Wishcasting Wednesday and Change the World Wednesday!

I can just tell it's going to be an inspirational day!!
Hope yours is too!


P.S.Don't forget!
 I still have my 'inspirational giveaway' going on here until Jan 9th
when the lucky winners will be announced!

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