Art & Writing

They’re Just Words

It can be hard to say the right thing at the right time.  How many times do we sit and say nothing and then later wonder why we didn’t say something?

I can’t count the times when I’ve wished later that I said something other than what actually came out.  Words taken then wrong way can be damaging and hurtful.  Words not spoken at all can lead to hurt as well because sometimes we give the impression we don’t care, or are preoccupied. 

I love words, but sometimes they have been my enemy.  I have struggled and fought with them to make them share my thoughts in a way that might make sense to someone else.  I don’t always succeed.  Sometimes clear communication can be elusive. 

It’s times like those, when words just aren’t enough, that I am thankful to be able to reach out, hold, hug, touch someone’s hand, or just share a smile.  At times when words won’t come, tears or a look can say far more than anything I could manage to say out loud.

Communication is far more than just words, with some people it comes easy, while others are a bit more of a challenge because we are all different.  Yet communication is a gift that can bring together people of all ages, all nationalities, and from every circumstance given the chance.

Cherry Coley (c)


Designs and Being Creative

I love watching shows like House Crashers, Room Crashers, Yard Crashers, on and on, all kinds of shows about designing, both using new and fancy items to decorate, and using everyday things creatively. 

I used to like the show, House Swap or Room Swap, but they got to where they were a bit ridiculous (for my tastes) when they started gluing grass and cd’s to the wall.  Really?  Grass?  My luck a ton of bugs would move in and eat the entire wall before I could figure out what to do about it, not to mention my allergies would pretty much kick me out of that room.

I saw a show last night that used a stack of logs, bundled together, cut even, and fixed with a glass top to make a large and unique coffee table.  It was an interesting and rustic looking coffee table and I liked it, but was distracted at how much it had to weigh.  While I love the look, I wouldn’t want a table I could never move. 

I have wound up with a lot of mismatched furniture from my parents house that needs help.  I have become somewhat stuck trying to decide whether to fix it, paint it, stain it, keep it, or sell the furniture.  The truth is I just don’t know yet.  I think I might wind up doing a little of each, but right now it just bring back memories.

These last few weeks proved to be really trying because mom’s birthday was in April, mine plus Mother’s Day is in May which seemed to create an emotional roller coaster that I really didn’t expect for some reason.  I wound up having to just clear the house of the unpacked boxes and extra furniture by putting it all in the garage. 

This isn’t an answer and I will work on pulling some of it out to go through each day, but I couldn’t stand having it all over the house anymore, it’s easier to have it all in one location and to shut the door and walk away when it starts getting me down at times.

As for me, feeling rather dark and gloomy for weeks seems to have brought out a need to be artistic.  Interesting since usually I tend to write more when I get down and this time the words seem to want to hide from me and the need to photograph, paint and draw has grown stronger. 

So, I’ve decided to pull out the art supplies and draw up some room designs, jot down some ideas, and also begin a daily doodle just to see where the creativity leads.  Why not?  You never know what will happen until you open the creative doors.

 I will follow the lead and see where it winds up.  Life is a journey that continually changes and leads down different paths and this is no different. 

Cherry Coley ©

To Write or Not To Write?

I have spent part of tonight writing letters.  Yes, letters – those things we used to write a lot of long ago, put a stamp on and send off in the mail.  Why?  Well call me a bit old-fashioned, worn out or whatever, but I enjoy receiving something other than bills and junk mail.  I LIKE writing letters; they are just a bit more personal, they take a little more effort than an instant message, a text message, an email or posting on Facebook.  Yes, it takes longer to get there, but it’s still nice! 

I even miss the letters written in handwriting.  I still have cards my grandma sent me when I was a child and we wrote to each other.  I confess I don’t usually write in handwriting, for a few reasons, but mostly because hand writing any length of time makes my wrist hurt.  So I will normally type the letter and then sign it – unless it is a card, then I will write on the card. 

Think about how much have we lost in letting that personal, physical touch fall by the wayside.   Even the kids now days resort to text messages – I bet some of them have NEVER written a note in class!!  Sacrilege!  (I apologize to all the teachers out there.) 

What about all the handwriting analysis people and theories?  If you don’t handwrite much and the person is somewhat out of practice, or has trouble writing by hand – does the analysis still hold true?

So, I am going to start writing more letters this year, just because I want too.   I miss getting cards in the mail, but confess that I haven’t sent any in a while, so what better way to start than to get re-acquainted with the notion of sending a smile by post office?  Strange notion, huh?  How funny to pause and think that some people will actually say, “that’s silly,” or “it will never catch on.”  Maybe not, but I will try anyway.  

 Cherry Coley ©

Peace – A Personal Perception

What is your perception of peace?  It’s an interesting word isn’t it?  Some think of peace and they are thinking about there being no hostilities, no war, or arguments.  I think of peace and it brings to mind pictures of serenity, which for me always turns to nature.  I love the quiet walk in the woods, or sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in and the seagulls playing in the air.  I love walking at the duck pond not far away from where we live on a nice day.  The sounds of the ducks and geese as they waddle along in the park give me a feeling of peace. 

I love the serenity that can be found in a garden, walking among the flowers, listening to the rustle of the leaves in the wind, hearing the occasional song of a bird, watching a squirrel scamper up a tree then turn and peek back at me. 

 Peace for me is also found in front of a fireplace, propped up on a pillow and reading a good book in the winter.  I love taking time to meditate with candles and/or incense, releasing the anxiety and worries of the day and letting them drift away in the smoke as it rises.

 Van Gogh had the right idea when he created Starry Night too, I love watching the stars and moon at night.  I miss walking at night so bad sometimes it’s like a physical yearning, but it’s just not that safe to walk at night, and since I no longer have my wolf, I just don’t do it anymore. 

 For the most part I find that peace is simply a state of mind, and when the world is racing frantically around me, building up to some crash level of highly stressful activity, I have been known to “check out” go outside or even just to the car at lunch time and take a moment to close my eyes to escape to one of my peaceful places.  If I’m at home I might do some yoga or Tai Chi.  It just puts me in a better state of mind and helps me to be able to go back to whatever I am doing with a smile on my face and calm in my spirit.   Inner peace is something visualized, a spiritual connection, a gift that I am greatly thankful for.

 Cherry Coley (c)

Never Give Up On What Matters!!

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
Ayn Rand

 Problems are not stop signs, they are detours. Obstacles are not put in our path to discourage us, they are there to challenge us and sometimes to teach us to seek help and make new friends.  

I have heard that all creativity comes from a giant pool of thought and that those that are so inclined are linked in to that pool, using its resources as they need them.  When I first heard that notion I thought it was weird and didn’t really give it much thought.  Then I wrote some stories and drew up some ideas for inventions only to later find them already done by someone else in a slightly different way, but basically the same.   So the thought that all creativity comes from the same place may not be so far-fetched as it first seemed, after all we are all human and though we come from different backgrounds and live in different environments, we are all capable of coming up with some of the same conclusions if we are of that like mind.

 I confess there have been times when my imagination has gotten me in trouble.  Often in grade school classes, my mind would wander and I would find myself doodling a masterpiece, writing a poem or short story, or writing my friend a seven or eight page note complete with illustrations.  I’ve been laughed at for my odd point of view on some things, and learned to stay quiet and listen to the different personalities present before offering comments as a result.  As I get older I don’t seem as affected by others snide remarks, or small-minded jabs at me as I once was.  I suppose we get more secure in our beliefs and reasoning as we get older, or maybe we grow a thicker skin and ability to repel the negative remarks.

 I tell my children creativity is the greatest gift we have and combined with an analytical mind with a good dose of common sense, there is no dream you can’t reach if you have the self-discipline, the determination and the belief that you can make it happen.

 Never never-never give up on something that matters to you.

 Cherry Coley ©

In Defense of Journaling

I love journaling

Journaling is a great way to work out problems, get a better look at things, track progress, relieve stress and remember events. 

 A journal is a wonderful thing to give your child later in life.  Not just a scrapbook, but a journal of things you experienced with them, events in their lives, struggles you went through, it’s a wonderful gift of love. 

 I personally keep different journals for different purposes.  I have one that I use generally for just daily rambling thoughts, problems and occurrences.  I have a journal where I write to my mom.  I was very close to my mom and the urge to share things with her and dad is still very strong.  It’s not something that will ever go away, so I created a journal specifically to share those type of things, it doesn’t serve any other purpose, but it does seem to help a bit with the grieving and some part of me feels like I am still sharing with her. 

 I love to read travel journals.  Those people who travel and share pictures, thoughts, experiences are terrific!  I have done this on occasion and intend to again in the near future.

 I also like the parenting or mommy type journals too!  The mommy and daddy experiences can be entertaining, laughable, informational, and priceless all at the same time. 

 I love the grandmother and grandfather type journals as well.  Those are often deeply thought out, full of resources, clichés and insight that only comes with a life full of experience. 

 Journals for stress management, weight loss, career and personal development are all effective ways of getting things down so you can chart progress, mindset, and emotions and see patterns that might be holding you back.  Journaling is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. 

 If you aren’t a journal person or have never tried it, then I urge you to try.  People do journals in all kinds of different ways including: photography, sketching, painting, graffiti, writing, and computer illustration or photo shop.  It doesn’t really matter how creative you are or aren’t, it’s your life, it’s also your decision on if you want to share your experiences or just create something for yourself to look back on. 

 Here are a few links to other articles on journaling that you might find interesting:

 Don’t be intimidated, just have some fun.  A journal is a record of your personal journey and where you are right now, and it can be as personal or public and for whatever purpose you choose. 

 Cherry Coley ©

Lessons From The Land Of OZ

Ruby Slippers

I love great writing.  It is something I enjoy and respect.  So many times writing whether it’s novels, short stories, articles, or non-fiction, has many lessons included in the story.  Yet many times we don’t really think about the lesson part, we just enjoy the story and go about our business and never really take time to glean the information given.

For instance one of the greatest stories takes place with a girl named Dorothy who gets transported to the wonderful land of OZ.  Back home in Kansas Dorothy has problems with a neighbor that is hateful, mean, and wants to take her dog.  She tries to talk to her Auntie Em and Uncle about her, but they are too busy going about their lives to stop and listen.  Dorothy tells Toto that there has to be a place, way up in the skies where everyone is nice and the world is a better place.  Then the storm comes and Dorothy and Toto find themselves whisked off to experience the land of OZ.  However, the same problems that plagued her in Kansas, follow her to OZ, except that it’s not a nosey neighbor trying to get to her and kidnap Toto, but the wicked witch. 

So many times in life when things seem out of control, overwhelming, and just depressing, we think that a change of scenery will change everything.  We want to take some wonderful vacation away from it all and escape the reality of the problems we face every day.  Unfortunately, like Dorothy and Toto we find that the vacation or change of scenery doesn’t really solve anything.  Those same problems that plagued us before tend to follow us to the new location, what’s more is many times the situation adds additional worries along the way as well.

Sadly I have seen this play out in relationships, including my own, where it was thought that some down time away from the everyday schedule and togetherness would help solve some of the relationship issues.  It didn’t.  The added togetherness magnified issues that we had not worked through and what should have been an enjoyable vacation just became a trip away, struggling with the same issues and knowing that soon we would have to return home and deal with the rest of it all as well. 

So what’s the real lesson from the land of OZ?  I believe it’s a number of things, the first being that sometimes we need to step back and get a different perspective sometimes and realize that we are too close to the situation to see it clearly.  At times we need a friend to talk too, or an unbiased third party to offer a new look at the situation and put things better in balance. 

The second is that running away from problems does not solve them, they will still be waiting to be dealt with later one way or another.  Even if you were to completely escape and never return, you still have to deal with the emotional aspect of decisions made, so better to take the time, face your fears and mistakes, make amends where you can, and get things back in sync.  We do not live in a perfect world, but our world can be much less stressful and pleasant just by dealing with things as they come up and being proactive when possible. 

The third lesson from the land of OZ is that in stopping to deal with issues, often we find that that the answers lie within ourselves.  It’s well worth the journey to discover our own strengths, weaknesses and make some life long friends along the way.

Cherry Coley (c)

The Quilting Bee

photo by Cherry Coley

Every childhood has ups and downs.  Too many times we remember the downs and let the good times just fade away.  Take time to walk down your own memory lane now and then and remember the good things that helped to shape who you are. 

 I can remember being about 4 years old and being at the church / daycare where my mom was the principal.  I had asthma as a child and there were many days when I could not go outside.  Those days I went up to the quilting room on the second floor of the building.  It was at the end of the hallway.  In that room there was a large quilt hanging on a frame that was parallel to the floor.  When the ladies were there they lowered the quilt to work on it.  In that room there were 6-8 little ladies that would sit and chat all day long.  They were my flock of grandma’s and I loved each and every one of them. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday I would go up to that room and lay on the pillows and blanket they had on the floor underneath the framed quilt they were working on.  There I would draw and color happily for the 4 hours or so until lunch time.  I learned a lot about life, about people, about how important it is to stop and listen to the people in our lives. 

On that floor I could lay down and look up through the colored cloth and see the lights shining down.  I thought about how they stitched the quilt and how it looked like a giant puzzle.  Sometimes, before they put the backing on, it looked like a giant stained glass window with tiny dots of sunlight shining through.  Many times I would become mesmerized and take naps right there. 

Those women watched out for me, talked to me like a person and not a child.  They watched over me and made sure I didn’t get cold and was listening when they thought they were saying something  I might need to know.  Each day they would talk about their families, their friends, their children, the struggles with losing their spouses, and one lady always talked about her cats.  Sometimes they would ask me what I was thinking about and then spend the day answering my question.  I learned to love stories and tall tales.  I learned that no matter what age you are, imagination is important.   I am thankful for this memory and the experience.  All the little things throughout our childhood help to shape who we are.  I still love to hear about life stories.  I still love to go and spend time sitting and listening to both young and old tell their stories.  What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, or a morning cup of coffee, just sharing and trading stories. 

In all of life’s busyness, take time to remember the things that made you who you grew up to be and don’t lose sight of who you are.  I did.  Temporarily, too much stress and trying to please too many people, but these memories remind me that each of us have our own experiences and memories of home and childhood.  Take time to write them down, get out the photo albums and write the places and dates.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Nostalgic Moments From Days Gone By

I miss the days of being so young, when life was simple and you never had to worry whether if something was true or not true. To a child it is always true until it’s proven that it’s not.

I always had such a big imagination. It often drove my brother insane. (Sorry, Shaun). I was forever and always coming up with stories, even before I could hold a pencil to write them down.

I had a green chalkboard I would lean up against the bed in my room and then line up all the stuffed animals in rows. There I taught all those little stuffed bunnies, kittens and puppies how to read. They learned their ABC’s, addition and subtraction every day, the same time I did. They weren’t real good at writing on the board. I had to do that for them.

Then at night we all gathered on the bed and I read them a bedtime story. Danny the Dinosaur comes to mind. Then there was, of course, Dr. Suess and the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. Although, Mother Goose often made me run and ask questions about why on EARTH would someone put a cradle in the treetop? And WHY won’t they fix Humpty Dumpty again? Didn’t he know better than to sit on that wall after he fell off the first time? At that point my mom would march me back to bed and turn off the light. Then I would tell myself a story until my brother would tell me to shut up. Guess I was an annoying little kid at times.

Later when we got puppies, I had a puppy named Butch. He was my very first pet. Butch was a little brown dog of questionable heritage, but he was smart. He loved to listen to me and since I never was quiet this was a good thing! I often put Butch in front of the chalkboard too. I tried and tried to teach that dog his ABC’s and math, but he just didn’t see the point. He kept grabbing my little stuffed bunnies and tried to go under the bed. I did finally teach him manners though and we were both glad of that.

We had a candy store in our neighborhood. It was a house that had a big front window and the living room made into a little soda shop/candy store. We loved to walk there on the days we could. You could go in there and crawl up on the bar stool and order a Root Beer float. They had every kind of lollipop you could think of in that store too. I liked the rock candy. It looked like crystals, but just tasted like sugar. Then of course there were pop rocks. You put half the pack in your mouth then your eyes watered from all the popping and sizzling.

There are a few other things that stand out in childhood memory. I remember Tommy, our mailman. He was TERRIFIC! Tommy always stopped to talk to me. He taught me how to do a puppet show and even how to act a bit. He would come in and get a drink at the daycare where my mom worked and hunt me down to listen to my latest tale. Then laugh when I told him about things that happened at school that day. On the day of my first puppet show at the daycare, Tommy was there. He helped me set up the tape recorder for music and gave me a pep talk. Then when it was done he was the person that clapped the loudest.

I also remember Mr. Robert the milkman. He brought milk and half and half to the daycare a few times a week. On those days in the summer, I would run out to his truck and he would give me rides around the parking lot while I drank the little carton of half and half, or ate the popsicle he’d brought me. He secretly gave me my very first ice milk/ ice cream. I wasn’t supposed to have milk because of asthma. Dairy always made it worse, yet the half and half and ice milk didn’t bother me. I really loved hanging onto that pole and zooming at the fast pace of about 5 miles an hour around that parking lot.

I guess by now you are wondering what the point is to all of this, besides just walking down memory lane. The point is, that it only takes a moment to impact someone’s life forever. The people that impacted me the most I didn’t see every day, but they still took just a few minutes out of their busy schedules to be there, to hug me, to offer a kind word, and to encourage me along the way. I will never forget them. These are some of the memories I cherish the most. Take time to make memories each day. You can’t get time back once it’s spent and time on the computer or in front of the television is not the same as a walk in the park or sitting on the porch watching the sunset with someone you care about.

Cherry Coley (c)