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Posts tagged ‘weekly contest’

Kelly: Weekly Challenge…What’s Next?

dog days

The dog days of summer are upon us, and the leaves of my gerbera daisies have browned along the edges, having long given up having the energy to bloom.  These dog days bring about the start of Fall term in my world, which usually brings about a renewed sense of energy for me. Yet this year, it has not.  Today is the first day of Fall term, and instead of feeling invigorated and ready for the start of a new year, I’m tired, hot, overscheduled and, as I set up a tent and lugged around 30 cases of water and drinks for Welcome Back at 7:30 this morning, sorely missing my staff person whose position was recently eliminated.

I spent a good part of the weekend doing what I so rarely do: absolutely nothing but sit on the couch and watch movies (well okay, in between six loads of laundry and a few updates on my website). I really needed that down time.  The girls lounged around with me, and DH took some good long naps, not feeling well.  Over the course of the weekend, I did a lot of thinking about what’s important and what’s not…what’s needed to keep me happy and what just weighs me down.  Being overscheduled is nothing new in my world, and as a working mother, much of it is out of my hands, but I’ve hit the point where I need to take some things back to make the required parts of the juggle a little more manageable.  I find that I probably spend a little too much time online, and while some of that is necessary to manage my online business presence and keep up with good friends who are far away, some of it is voluntary.  It’s those voluntary parts I need to let go of to make room for those more important things…like more time with my kids and more time to make art just for me and no one else, the kind of art I don’t have to worry about keeping an inventory of for the Riverside Arts Market and my juried shows…the kind of art I can make with my girls…the kind of art that just lets me play without feeling the pressure of a deadline.

One of those voluntary things I’ll be letting go of is my role as team leader for our North Florida Craft Revolution Etsy team.  I’m proud of the blog I created and manage for the team, but I’m also tired of having it all rest on me; I spend more time on the team blog than I do marketing my own work, and that seems a bit backwards, don’t you think?  Another of those things is this weekly challenge.  I’ve enjoyed keeping it going, yet submissions have dwindled without that $10 Amazon prize carrot, and it’s become a struggle to make sure there’s at least one entry each week.  I do this with a catch in my heart because I’ve gained much through this community, but my time is becoming more and more precious.  So with this, I bid you adieu, weekly challenge.  Should someone else want to take over the coordination, I’ll participate when I can.  

It’s scary to let things go sometimes, isn’t it? I know it is for me.  Since I’ve started blogging I’ve come across more and more blogs that talk about being true to your authentic self.  I have to admit, at first I thought that was a bunch of baloney.  I’m very much a “what you see is what you get” and “it is what it is” kinda girl.  Yet there are pieces of that authenticity movement, if you want to call it that, that have hit home with me.  And maybe the biggest part is taking charge of your life, doing the things that mean the most to you, letting go of the things that don’t matter, and finding that balance between managing your day-to-day real life while still reaching for your dreams.  It’s in my nature to juggle, so I know that won’t change, but I am working towards not having quite so many balls in the air at once.   

8/24 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

Only one entry for this week’s challenge, “grade school”.   Does the August rush have everyone extra busy?

From Kelly Warren:

Today is my girls’ first day of 1st grade.  Where has this summer gone!?  This morning I’ve been thinking about that and realized that the older I get, the older my girls get, and the more scattered-brained I become.  I suppose it’s the constant juggle of full-time-work-outside-the-home mom, wife, creative artist, friend, sister, and every other role I have in this crazy life of mine.  I’m forever losing and misplacing things these days.  Last week it was my wallet.  After a day and night of panic, I finally found it under my desk at work.  I must have missed my purse when I was trying to put it back in there, and it just ended up on the floor.  DH has found the peanut butter in the fridge and the milk in the pantry on many occasions (well, okay, I’ll admit I’ve had that strange form of dyslexia for as long as I can remember…I’ve also been known to sleep walk and move furniture in my sleep but that’s a whole other story). 

Comtemplative Sarah

Car keys are also a big thing for me.  I’ll leave them in the typical absent-minded professor places like on top of my van, in the front door after unlocking it, or in the bathroom sink.  But I must admit that the strangest place I’ve found them is probably the freezer.  And no, it’s not the girls putting them there; I’m quite certain it’s my missing brain.  A few weeks ago, walking out to my van after having lunch with a friend, I couldn’t find my keys yet again.  I finally found them…in the van…with the van still running.  I should have just left a banner in the front windshield that said, “Free van!  Here for the taking!  Already started and nice and cool for you!”  I’ve caught myself almost doing that same thing more than once. I guess my brain is just thinking about other things when I park and I just get out…  Thank God for OnStar.  It’s a little creepy the things they can do, but their service is one of the main reasons I drive a Chevy.

Contemplative Livvie

I don’t remember being this scatter-brained before I had children.  But then I guess my life is far fuller and far richer than it was before I had children.  Funny that I didn’t decide to take on a creative business on top of my full-time job until after I had children.  Though I’ve always been creative, I do know that having children has brought out even more creativity in my day-to-day life.  These top two pictures are two of my favorites from this summer, and they seem appropriate for today…almost like the girls are saying goodbye to summer vacation.  The bottom one I took this morning, saying hello to a new school year with their new teacher.  Yes, where does the time go?  Those tiny little babies that were born no longer than the length of my forearm are getting taller and taller every day.   Any first day of school memories you’d like to share?

1st day 1st grade nolan      


This week’s prompt: “dog days of summer”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 30, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

8/17 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

Thanks to Cathy Coley and Kelly Warren for this week’s “old friend” entries. Two very different takes on the same subject…

From Cathy Coley:

Old Friend

I’ve reached an age where most of my friends are old friends.  I’m not pointing out their age or mine for that matter here, rather noting that I have known them for at least two decades.  Anyone who has stood by you and you by them for more than a decade qualifies categorically.  I have been thinking a lot on this topic lately.  Between Facebook reconnections, and the fact that I am still regularly in contact with a couple of my old Boston buddies after leaving the area three years ago, the endurance of real friendship has really been on my mind.  It helps that I was just visiting my old stomping grounds and was able to reconnect in person with a number of people I either hadn’t seen in years, or who I at least email with or talk with regularly.   I’ll only mention a few here.

I’ve known one since second grade, 1973-74.  That’s thirty-six years.  Granted we were not really in contact for many of them, but when we regained contact around our 20th high school reunion, we fell right back into easy conversation via email, and have maintained that for the past five years on a daily basis.  Big topics and small, often in the same conversation.

I moved to Boston after college in September of 1989.  I met my longest continuous friend then, and another a year later.  It took me about 15 years to get the two of them to hang out together, and now that I’m gone, they regularly lunch and shoot street photography together.  People who don’t know us really well, are always surprised by my friendships with both of these men, but they are my brothers in spirit. We are very different in many ways, but the essential heart of my friendship with both of these guys is the stuff other people wish they had.  We are just there for each other.  No question about it.  Ever.

When I was a freshman in high school, I made friends with two girls, and the three of us were nearly inseparable for the rest of high school, into college and beyond, we’ve had our times living away from each other, and of living too closely together over nearly thirty years, but to this day, though we don’t talk often, I know when we do talk, the conversation easily picks up where it left off.  For now, one of these friends has been estranged for a number of years, and I think sometimes it is too painful for the other two of us to talk knowing the absent one will invariably enter the discussion.  We both still feel betrayed, not by her, but by our friendship with her, how we always defended her to others, how we put up with so much nonsense from her for so many years of really tried and true friendship.  I think we both still question why we didn’t lift the veil from our eyes sooner, and still hope that she can change, be what we had imagined her to be for all those years, but have each witnessed the opposite.  I want to speak with the standing friendship more frequently than we do, but I know, I am always there for her when she needs it, and I believe the same is true for her.  Again, when we get on the horn, little gets in the way of our old ways of speaking deeply one moment, laughing our faces off the next, and covering trivial domestic details in the next breath.   There’s no need for explanation of background and meaning because we were there when it happened. 

Something is to be said for the ability to maintain friendships, or the ability to choose friendships that can sustain all the verities and varieties that life and tests of time offer.  Some of it is pure loyalty at work.  I like to think I am fiercely loyal.  It takes not one, but a series of serious dramas to really test my friendship.  Admittedly it used to take a lot more.  I don’t have the time or inclination to deal with unnecessary drama in my life anymore.  I have enough of my own.  I’ve gotten past most of my own even, and that took some doing.  But as for friendship, once you’ve got mine, I’m pretty hard to get rid of. I think the rest is about choosing to keep the people in my life who have added more positively than negatively.  Those who I know, if I’m ever in a dark alley with a bad guy, they’ve got my back.  If I ever get into a whacky relationship, these are the people who will tell me to open my eyes.  These are the people I can laugh with the hardest, and who if I cry or wail against the world, will be there to help pick up the pieces, or to tell me I’m overreacting.  Hopefully, they believe the same of me, because it is true, I am there for them, and always will be.


From Kelly Warren:

Though I’ve weaved in and out of various art mediums for as long as I can remember, the one thing that has remained a constant for me is photography, my old friend. 

old friends

I took my first “real” photography course my freshman year in college.  This one didn’t include darkroom techniques, just shooting techniques, so I just learned the real basics.  My instructor still teaches adjunct at the College that has been my place of employment for the past 16 years!  It was for this class that I got my first “Big Girl Camera”, a Pentax A3000, on the right in the picture above. When I transferred to Florida State I was able to take more photography classes, including two that taught me dark room techniques. I can still remember sitting in that little black booth, learning the feel of taking my film out of my camera and prepping it for development in that pitch blackness. 

I worked as a professional photographer in college for a company that photographed all the sorority and fraternity functions on campus as well as 90% of the high school and college graduations in the state of Florida. The sorority and fraternity socials were actually the most fun….nothing like being the center of attention at a large party simply because you had the camera!  I have to admit, I knew a LOT of people at Florida State (or at least a LOT of people at Florida State knew me) simply because of my camera. I was one of only two female photographers on the staff for quite some time, so you can imagine Evie and I were often requested by the fraternities.  Summer always meant grad season and, since Jacksonville was home, I was usually scheduled for all the Jacksonville schools….long days in the old Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum photographing grad after grad as they walked across the stage to shake their principals’ hands. 

Shortly after DH and I got married, I upgraded to a Pentax Z7 with built-in flash so I could finally get away from that cumbersome top-mounted flash.  When the girls were born, I bought my first digital camera, my trusty Fuji Finepix A-210.  To this day, I use my little Fuji to photograph my jewelry for my website.  Three years ago, I finally coughed up the cash for my digital SLR, a Nikon D40, near the top of the line at that point! Now Nikon has shot on up the line with the D700 and D3000, waaaay out of my price range. My D40 suits me just fine. 

Somewhere along the way at a random antique shop, I picked up the Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex you see pictured on the left here.  It’s in pristine condition short of one little part I’m searching for. The Ikoflex was made in Germany between 1939 and 1951, and best I can tell from the body and case, mine was manufactured in the earlier part of that span. I keep it on a shelf in my bedroom to remind of my quest for that missing part.

I have a large camera bag in my closet that contains all my cameras, including all the little point-and-shoots I’ve had along the way, some functional, some not.  Just can’t bear to part with them.  When I picked the bag up to prepare to take this picture, the weight of it struck me as quite heavy yet very familiar.  All my old friends happily tucked away together, just waiting for me to find the right time to break them out again.  Kodochrome may no longer be in production, but the images he left behind will be timeless. I think Paul Simon said it best; take a listen.


This week’s prompt: “grade school”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 23, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

8/9 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

We had three entries for this week’s “sprout” challenge, all from the same art table!  Kelly Warren and her daughters created the pieces below on an art-filled Sunday afternoon.  Kelly’s piece is on the top, then Sarah’s and then Olivia’s.  Guess who the diva of the household is?  Yes, those are rhinestones. 🙂

sprout kelly117

sprout sarah119

sprout livvie118


This week’s prompt: “old friend”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 16, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

8/3 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

Thanks to Miranda Hersey Helin and Kelly Warren for this week’s entries. Miranda shared some poignant commentary with her zoo thoughts and photo below.  I think it’s fascinating to put ourselves in the minds of those caged birds, or any caged animal, and read their thoughts. Fascinating, and probably a bit sad. Great point to “fly anyway!” and make the best of your situation.

From Miranda: We took the two little boys to Southwick’s Zoo on Saturday. We had a great day — although I’m not a fan of zoos, and this is why. The best spin I can give it: Fly anyway.

miranda fly


From me (Kelly Warren): I’ve been working on my first art journal, and this is one of my recent page spreads. I love making the “art” part of this journal, though I’ve been really hesitant on the “journal” part, I think because I’m so afraid I’m going to screw up the “art” with my basically illegible handwriting! I have mapped out things in my head that I’d like to write in there but have not yet had the courage to put pen to art. I think part of that is also because the things that I’m wanting to write about are very personal and not meant for sharing, so I guess I’ll just be sharing the art portion of my art journals before I do any actual journaling.

journal page 4a

journal page 4b


This week’s prompt: “sprout”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 9, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

7/27 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

Two last minute “rushed” entries for this week’s challenge…I think we can probably all relate to Miranda Hersey Helin’s feelings behind her picture below.  Maybe it’s a message for everyone to take a moment, slow down and breathe deeply.

“The past few months have kept me in a nearly perpetual state of being ‘rushed.’ It’s an awful feeling — and over an extended period of time, definitely results in burn-out. Last weekend, I had a long and leisurely walk with my littlest child in the stroller. We stopped for photos, snacks, and smelling the roses, as it were. (The current photo header of clouds was taken that same day.) This waterscape–taken of a stream right near my house — captures for me the peace and beauty of living in the moment that afternoon, and is a reminder of how I really want to live.”

rushed-miranda


From me (Kelly Warren): Miranda’s photo commentary hit a chord with me.  I, too, go through phases where I constantly feel rushed with so much to be done that, at times, I completely lose my words.  Literally.  I remind myself of my grandmother going down the list of grandkids’ names until she finally stumbled on the right one.  Nana had Alzheimer’s, and I’ve often read that one of the ways to stave off the disease is to keep your mind sharp.  Yet sometimes, my mind is so scattered that the only thing that becomes sharpened is my sense of helplessness as I throw my hands up in the air and walk out of the room, having forgotten what I came in there for.  I’m certain the constant rushing and the amount of things on my plate is the cause of that.  It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?  As mothers, whether creative or not, juggling is one of the constants of our lives.

I took this picture in Times Square Saturday night about 1:30am.  Rushed.  All those people. All those cars.  All that noise.  At 1:30am.  Where are they all rushing to?

Rushed


This week’s prompt: “fly”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 2, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

7/20 Weekly Creativity Challenge and New Prompt

Another beautiful poem from Cathy Coley for our “finger prints” challenge.  This is so lovely, Cathy!

Finger prints

I awake in the daylight
still feel them,
tingly aftermath
a reminder of our love
after the arguments,
the kids,
the dishes,
the bedtimes,
the laundry,
the taking for granted.

In the stillest hours,
he leaves finger prints
all over my skin.


From me (Kelly Warren): “It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.” Dorothy Evslin

I stumbled across this quote on a friend’s Facebook page and the clarity and truthfulness of it has haunted me ever since.  I thought this picture I took of my girls, running away, suited it well.

FLK DSC_0279


This week’s prompt: “rushed”
Use the prompt however you like – literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by midnight eastern time on Sunday, July 26, 2009. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly challenge, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

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