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Posts tagged ‘books’

How She Does It: Meet Jane Gilheaney Barry

Jane Gilheaney Barry is a writer, creativist, and curator of the lifestyle and creativity blog That Curious Love of Green. She is seeking representation for her first novel, a modern gothic tale, Cailleach, and editing her creativity book, A Complete Coming Out Guide For Creatives In Hiding, due for publication this year. Jane lives in Co. Leitrim in the North West of Ireland with her husband and children. You’re going to enjoy this bolt of inspiration from Ireland.


At Home with Jane Barry

SM: Please introduce yourself and your family, Jane!
JB: I’m a writer, creativist, and curator of the lifestyle and creativity blog That Curious Love of Green. I live in the North West of Ireland with my husband Adrian, our children Shaylyn, Saoirse, and Sadhbh, and our cat Ernest Hemingway.

SM: Tell us about your artwork/creative endeavors.
JB: I’ve always been what you’d call highly creative but a few years ago I became deliberate with it and that changed everything.

creativity book cover

I started the blog and within a year started writing my first novel, a modern gothic tale Cailleach, meaning witch, hag, or goddess. Since then I’ve taught myself to paint and written the first in a series of e-books on themes of creativity, food, and home. That Curious Love of Green: A Complete Coming Out Guide for Creatives in Hiding will be available for pre-order on Amazon in October.

SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
JB: My goal is to be the best writer I can be and right now, to bring my books to publication. I’m trying the traditional route first with my novel and self-publishing my creativity e-book in October. My life’s work is to create, write, challenge, and inspire.

SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
JB: I don’t think it has. What I will say is I have an opportunity to impart a certain spirit to my children which might have been lost had I not embraced my own creativity. I’m certainly conscious of and grateful for that.

SM: Where do you do your creative work?
JB: It used to be wherever was cool, or warm, convenient, or quiet. For a short time I had a room of my own; that’s now a child’s bedroom. My current mode is wanderess. I create a space — right now it’s in the eaves of our bedroom — that moves according to the season. I find it helpful to have a dedicated space, but the stimulation of change is also important to me.

SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
JB: Yes. I’d never have finished the books otherwise. It’s too hard, even when you love it. You have to create a habit. Since our youngest started school I spend two to six hours a day, five days a week. It was more difficult when they were babies. While writing the first draft of my novel I was getting up daily at 5:00 am to get the hours in before Adrian left for work. But I’m always creating, thinking, or talking projects to myself, the children, and Adrian. All day, every day of my life.

SM: What does creative success mean to you?
JB: For 39 years I dreamed of a writing life, a freer, more creative life. I only had one thing on my bucket list, and that was to write a book. And I knew I wanted to paint. At the point when I started the blog I felt blocked from all these things, from even the most basic of creative writing. I had no background, no training, no frame of reference. I thought this kind of life belonged to other people, “artist types.” I could not have been more wrong. That this is my life now, that I had the power to create it, I believe everyone does, and the democracy of it all. That is creative, is life success, for me. Plus I’ve learned how to slay creative blocks, that’s a success in itself.

Jane_Gilheany_Barry

SM: What makes you feel successful as a mother?
JB:
My eldest girl will be 22 this December. And when I look at her I feel successful, so, fingers crossed for the next two. We had an art day yesterday with everyone sitting around the table writing, painting, and working on various projects. At different times both small girls headed outside, “for inspiration,” they told me. That felt good. I think I will feel successful enough if they can be themselves, think for themselves, and do what they want to do.

SM: What do you struggle with most?
JB: Protecting myself has been a learning curve; my time and energy. And rest. My tendency is to not rest or take care of myself, because I’d rather just work. Which is a way of taking care of myself. But not enough. I’ve improved, but I need to do more for my physical self.

SM: What inspires you?
JB: Everything inspires me, nothing is wasted, nothing is lost. High on my list is colour, nature, beauty, women, houses, weather, wild landscapes, creativity, thinking, and sibling relationships.

SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
JB: Not very different to how it looks now. More books I should think. And when my ship comes in to winter abroad; now that would be nice.

SM: What are you reading right now?
JB: My novel writing style has been compared to Daphne du Maurier. In my shock and delight I’m currently reading everything by her. Next on my list is Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner because I love witches, women, rebels, and irreverence.

SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?

SM: What do you wish you’d known a decade ago?
JB: How wonderful life was going to be.

SM: What advice would you offer to other artists/writers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
JB: Look at your day critically and see what, even small changes, you can make to support your creativity. We get so caught up in habits, routine, and with a set script for our days that we don’t make improvements. You have to become really conscious and solutions focused. Also, when planning your day schedule your creativity first. Everything else gets done anyway. Trust the process and put your faith in the work. All the answers are there. The answers to fear, doubt, worry, frustration. Just prioritise and do the work. The tendency is to focus on problems, on outcomes, and what people think, but the joy of your life is the work itself. It’s hard when children are small but every little bit you do adds up. So don’t wait. If it’s important to you you’ll find a way.

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Connect with Jane here:

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ August 18, 2014

Thich Nhat Hanh quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

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If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ August 11, 2014

Julia Cameron quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ August 4, 2014

Ursula K. LeGuin quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ June 17, 2013

WH Auden quote

Commit, or recommit, to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Meme of the Week

Nerd Girl Problem

Happy Friday.

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Miranda: For the Love of Books, Before and After

During August, I’ll be sharing a few choice tidbits from the archives. Enjoy!

Warning. This post contains an unusually intense degree of navel-gazing and otherwise raving on and on about one’s home library, books, and related minutiae. If you find such material nauseating, turn away now. 

Recently, I posted this on Facebook:

I’m staging a serious overhaul of the home library/office today, with Mom’s help. The question is — and please don’t cringe, fellow bibliophiles — shelve the books by author last name, or by jacket color? I know, I know….but I peruse and admire many design blogs and must admit that books shelved by color look fabulous. Although I’m not sure I can bring myself to mix genres…..help!

I was amused by the considerable volume of responses. People feel VERY strongly about how to organize their books — as well they should. This is serious business, people!

rainbowWhen I first heard of organizing books by color, I thought the premise was among the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard of. Not to mention sacrilegious. The whole idea sounded like “book as prop,” in the way that a professional decorator might buy small decorative things for a client’s room simply because they look nice against the wallpaper; nothing whatsoever to do with the item’s meaning or symbolism or its emotional value to the owner. Just “stuff.” Books, of course, are not “stuff.” Ew.

But over time, I came across more instances of books organized by color that really looked beautiful. Not just a stack of three yellow books next to a yellow vase, but shelves organized wholesale by color. Still, how would you ever find anything if you didn’t organize all of your books by genre and then by author last name?

When we moved into our new home, I was thrilled to unpack my books and various possessions into our new library. I very vaguely segregated the books by nonfiction and fiction, intending to properly sort out the shelves, alphabetize my collection, and arrange all of my non-book items in the near future. Eight months later, the time finally arrived. My mother had given me a birthday coupon for a day’s worth of organizational help (and, most importantly, moral support) so I booked my sitter for an extra day, and on Friday my mother and I tackled the library. (It seemed indulgent to pay for babysitting in order to overhaul my library/home office, but considering that my mother and I worked all day long on Friday, and then I spent the better part of the weekend finishing the job myself, I know that this never would have happened if I hadn’t paid for the extra help.)

So, alphabet or color? I was intrigued by the color principle, and I had to try it. (Obviously, by the photo I ran above, there isn’t much question about which way I went.) I can’t believe HOW LONG it took to sort all the books, but we did it. (All those “taupe” books — are they gray? Are they brown? Are they off-white?) It was a LOT of fun, I have to admit. And I came to realize fairly early on that finding a specific book was not going to be a problem. But more on that later.

I also went through ever drawer and bin, sorting out all of my office supplies. I weeded out tons of stuff I don’t need or want. I filed every stack of paper. I found (or created) logical homes for all those little things that you pick up and say “what do I do with THIS?”

I now have a desk that I can actually use! I paid bills sitting at the desk last night, and everything I needed was in arm’s reach. My art supplies are organized in the hall closet around the corner, as there just isn’t room for everything in one place. But it all works.

The basic footprint of the room hasn’t changed (months ago, we tried many different arrangements of the furniture, but nothing else worked). I did change out a yucky fiberboard bookshelf for a marginally better, longer bookshelf made by my ex-husband. (No, you can’t have it back!) Please ignore the hospital-style table on wheels (it’s one of the most practical things I own, and I use it all the time).

BEFORE

B_before

AFTER

B_after

Desk corner before:

Desk_before

Desk corner after:

Desk_after

Considering that relatively little actually changed, aside from clearing out all the clutter, I can’t entirely explain the magic that this room now holds. I FREAKING LOVE IT. I want to be in here all the time. Yes, I’m in here now, typing on my laptop at my desk. I swear, it’s as if Mr. Roy G. Biv turned the room into a bowl of M&M’s. Very cozy at night, too:

night1

night2

So here’s my case for organizing books by color. In the first “after” photo above, fiction comprises the vertical shelf on the far right and the white shelf up the middle. That’s not really so many books. If I’m looking for a particular title, it’s not going to be hard to find even if I can’t remember the color of its spine. This is the only place I have adult fiction aside from my “to read” shelf on the other wall. The books to the left in the same photo are general nonfiction (biography, autobiography, and history). Again, these are mixed together, but it’s not a lot of shelf space for me to peruse if I need something. The fifth shelf is poetry.

On the other wall, books are broken down by genre. I have a shelf for editorial reference, a shelf for art reference, a shelf for books about writing, a shelf for books about creativity, a shelf for parenting, a shelf for self-help & metaphysical (yes, I have that many self-help and metaphysical books). There’s another shelf of semi-mixed nonfiction; a little chunk of current political books, a chunk of animal-related training books, a chunk of sports-related books, a section for gardening. Then there is the to-read shelf, as well a short fiction and plays. And so on.

For each of these subsections, I organized books by color and shape, depending on what looked best for each shelf. Again, I’m not going to have trouble finding anything because I know what each subsection is, and no single subsection is more than a shelf long.

So, now that I’ve dealt with the question of “how will you find anything?” I’ll get to why I think this is such a fabulous way to organize your books. First, a book is so much more than words on a page, or the author’s position in an alphabet. A book is a piece of art — even an old Bantam mass-market paperback — and to my mind, organizing books this way is something that honors each book as art. Positioning each book on a shelf in a way that maximizes its beauty (almost as “paint”) rather than by the name of the person who wrote it seems to me a more potent way to celebrate the beauty of a personal library. The shelves are pleasing and peaceful, without losing the vaguely chaotic and cozy look that is inherent in any library. The color progression is so eye-catching that I think it actually calls more attention to the books, not less — without dominating. What do you think?

The downside to having a dream library/work environment is this: There is pretty much no excuse left on the planet for not coming up with something brilliantly creative. I seem to have run out of excuses. And I DID just use an entire weekend’s worth of “free” moments to finish the room. Time to get to back to the writing 🙂

What do you think?

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