just my thoughts

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Photography is an extension of every thought that I have. – Trent Parke

I love social media.  Where else can you have conversations with people who fire your own imagination to new heights through an ongoing exchange of fresh ideas and innovations?  For years I have watched people online who brought their own thoughts to life through their art, and by sharing their work inspired me to areas of thought I would never have experienced without the exposure to social media.  This has been what has driven and influenced my own work.  I am passionate about art in all its forms.  The one thing that makes being human unique is the ability to experience and enjoy creativity in forms too numerous to mention.

As a child I got that exposure through books, then movies and television.  With the advent of the computer age, there has been a veritable explosion of sharing, at a speed that is mind boggling.  I can’t say mind overload is unique to social media and computers, because even as a young child I would read so much so fast that my eyes would go blurry.  The main difference between past and present is that I am now more keenly aware that there is no way to experience it all.  For someone who loves to see and do new things, this has created anxiety and sadness at times, the fear that I will miss something, the knowing that I do miss so many things.

But juxtaposed against the anxiety and sadness at what I can’t see or do, is the joy I find in everything that I get to experience and learn.  The joy greatly outweighs the negative emotions, and keeps me pushing myself to use my imagination.  The joy that has led me to try to capture my life and thoughts, to share with others, but most especially for my family to have.  I find a lot of comfort in the thought that someday my grandchildren, and their children, will be able to see what I saw, and know me through what I have done.  That is my hope.

It is why I write my thoughts, and put what I see and think on canvas and in photos. It is an extension of me.

Just my thoughts….

…imagine life is good, and it will be… ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

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my too late friday reflection

By now, if you read any of the words I throw out on this blog, you realize that my writing doesn’t have much of a theme, and I bounce around.  Which is ok, because that is the way I’ve always been.  I learn something, then move on.  For me, learning isn’t about becoming an expert at anything.  The joy is in the learning.  One thing I am learning, and that the #Friday Reflection prompt supports and encourages me toward, is to take time to reflect.  Learning cannot impact your life if you don’t stop to reflect that learning.  As far as I am concerned, if you wake up every morning and are breathing, you have the opportunity to learn.  That is why I chose the second prompt to respond to this week.  My Friday reflection is coming after a busy weekend with 3 of my 4 grandkids, with not much time for reflecting or writing.

I had some time to reflect, time to read a bit this weekend and think about the prompts as  I was racing around.  The prompt that resonated with me the most was the second one:
What is the most influential book you have ever read?

That is a hard question to answer, because there is no one book that has influenced me the most. That would be an impossible task.  I thought about this all week as I transitioned from one position to another in the organization I work for, and decided I would have to share a few, maybe three or four.  I could easily list 25 or more, but this is supposed to be a prompt for a post, not a novel.

Byzantine icon

The first book I remember was a coffee table book of art history.  I don’t remember the title, but it was one of those beautiful, large, printed books you display on your coffee table when you want people to think you know something about a subject you know nothing about.  This book was located next door, on our neighbors’ coffee table.  Frannie and John were good friends of my parents, with John and my dad stationed at the same Air Force base.  While the adults played pinochle in the dining room, I sat in a living room seldom used (back in those days we had dens, or family rooms, where the TV was located and real life occurred).  I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9, and was already drawing. What that book did was show me what art was about, the creativity of artists through the ages.  Where I saw my first Pieter Bruegel, Jan Vermeer, Michelangelo Buonarroti and so on.  My strongest memory was of my amazement in the difference in art periods, and especially from the Byzantine period to the early to late Renaissance.  My love of Impressionism and Modern Art came long after that first book, but what that book did was show me world history through the eyes and hands of artists.  I can still close my eyes, and feel the smoothness of the pages as I carefully turned them.

Pieter Bruegel

The second book I think about is one that was required reading during my Baccalaureate program in nursing.  From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing by Patricia Benner, PhD in 1984, it was a thin volume, and I started it with the intentions of getting through it because I had to.  But soon found myself taking in every word as I read about the acquisition of skills and experience in nursing.  Written for her dissertation by Dr. Patricia Benner, a nursing theorist and academic leader in nursing, it had such an impact on my understanding of the experience we gain as nurses, and how we go from being greenhorns straight out of nursing school to expert practitioners.  Benner’s theory and research was qualitative, rather than quantitative, and she has been criticized for that, but I have found that the model she provided describing the acquisition of skills through experience have been mirrored by my own practice and transition through the five stages she described.  That particular book was a priceless gem to me as a nurse.

The third book I think about is the book that I enjoyed with my last baby.  Or rather that she enjoyed with her grandmother, my mother in law.  The Grown-Up Day, written and illustrated by Jack Kent, was written in 1969 and acquired by me for my children somewhere along the line, when I was collecting books for them and 45 singles for me.  Reading and listening to rock and roll were two things we did almost every day in my house.  I think that is a solid foundation for any kid, and it paid off with mine.  But The Grown-Up Day belonged strictly to Ma and Deb.  She was barely speaking when that became her favorite book, but after sitting in Ma’s lap (we lived right next door) every day and hearing the book a thousand times, Deb had it memorized.  Ma would turn the pages as Deb recited it from memory, making it appear that she was some child genius who could read at the age of two.  What I learned from that book is that books have a way of connecting us as human beings.  They are a way of spanning the gap of generations and passing along knowledge.  As well as love.  That book was the love between a grandmother and her grandchild, and the joy it brought them both is something that I have never forgotten, even though that baby is 36 now.

And that is how books have influenced my life.  One at a time, each carries a message, and is an opportunity to go to a new place, learn new things, think new thoughts.  To expand our minds, and connect as human beings.

…laugh, life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


she’s all that and more

I am a Type B personality.  They don’t come more laid back than I am.  I am the one who got lost in Disneyland when I was a kid.  The one who got lost at the State Fair as an adult.  The one who gets caught up in what is going on around me and totally forgets everything and everyone but the moment.  The one who can read a book in a noisy crowd, and tune everything and everyone out.

Two of my kids are a bit like me.  One is the polar opposite.  My oldest, Jen.  The accountant who loves numbers and organizing.  The kind of stuff that makes me break out in a sweat.  Her twins were going to be like me I decided before they were born.  The type of people who would experience the world completely, and not try to organize it.

Duncan is sort of like that.  Since he was put on medication for ADD he has become focused and is a different boy.  He can finish tasks now, but that doesn’t mean he likes doing them.  The art stuff that is.  He did do a great job on his birdhouse, but I think he saw it as a chore.

Oh well, that leaves the girl.

Maddie has drawn pictures since she could hold a crayon.  They have gotten more intricate as she got older.  I chortled to myself in glee when I saw that.  Ok, here’s the one who will be like me I thought to myself.  I loved her drawings, and had all these plans in my head for helping develop her into an artist who would set the world on fire with her talent.

Then she started making lists.  Of everything.  And I cringed.  That smacked of her mom’s OCDness.  I thought I might be wrong.  So I kept encouraging her art.  And she drew, but she was making more lists than drawings.

Being the optimist that I am, I refused to give up on Maddie.  The boys were all lost causes, but I still had hopes and dreams for the girl.

Until Jen told me about the project they worked on for her Brownie Troup.  Something about healthy snacks.  What struck me was that Jen was trying to make Maddie be neat with the art part of the project, to protect her expensive table from glue and glitter.  Maddie decided to do it her way, and they got into an argument.  Jen told me she didn’t realize how much Maddie is like her (which means she isn’t like me) until she saw her at the Brownie meeting and watched her getting her fruit ready to be made into kabobs.  She showed me the photo and asked me what I noticed.  Now I may be Type B, but it jumped right out at me.  Right in my face.  And my despair climbed as I hollered:
She’s got that damn fruit lined up perfectly!
Jen started laughing out loud.  Then I started laughing.  If you look at the photo, you will notice Maddie is the ONLY girl with her fruit organized.  Grapes lying side by side, not end to end, pineapple lying end to end, and a banana in the middle at the top and bottom to divide the fruit.  Even the look on her face is intensely OCD.  She is doomed I thought to myself.

As I left the next day, I noticed the orange tree poster.  Perfect.  I just sighed.  Then I remembered the letter Maddie wrote to her mom after their argument during the project.

The last line is what I noticed.  The one right above I love you.  It said: “besides, it doesn’t have to be perfect.”

There is still a faint little glimmer of hope burning in my heart for Maddie.

I just hope her mom doesn’t snuff it out.

…life is really good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


the creative spirit

painted when I was 12 years old

I was asked one time to share what creativity meant to me.  I thought it would be a snap. After all, I’ve drawn since I could hold a crayon, and painted since I was 12.  Art has always been part of my life.

Well, nothing snapped.   I could discuss my life as an artist ad nauseum, but I decided to dig deeper and take you in a different direction.  As I thought about the question, I realized that the answer, for me, went much deeper.
In 1993 I was operating a small manufacturing business.  One day I went to the local community college, nudged there by a friend who wanted to apply but didn’t want to take the entrance exam alone.  The person reading my results recommended I apply to the RN program.  I was ready for a change.
But nursing?  Was she kidding?  I pondered what to do.  While I pondered, I had to take an aptitude test, which was required to ensure you were going into a major that was a good “fit” for your personality.  I took that and scored very high in creativity. No surprise there, since I was born with a pencil in one hand and a paintbrush in the other.  The gentleman reading my results told me I might want to rethink going into nursing.  I can still hear him saying: “nursing is not a career that is creative”.
I didn’t listen to him, and I am so thankful I made that decision.  Sixteen years and three nursing degrees later, I know the truth.  My truth, my belief.  
Creativity isn’t just about art and creating artistic things. It’s about thinking outside the box.    
It’s about taking what you know or learn and making something new.  I consider myself creative and versatile.  I love creating art, needlework, photography, and any combination of a myriad of other media I’ve worked in.  
But being a nurse took my creativity to another plane, to a level that working as an artist alone could never do.  For me, being a nurse was an art.  The art of healing.  
Creativity was the hot pack I made from a wet washcloth in a Ziploc lab specimen bag, heated in a microwave to just the right temperature and applied to an infiltrated IV site to prevent infection and ease the pain of swelling.
Creativity was the armboard I taped to a baby’s IV site to give him the maximum amount of arm movement while protecting the site so he could get the antibiotics he desperately needed.
Creativity was positioning a 98 year old woman in bed to make her comfortable and to allow the bedsores covering her emaciated body to heal.  Positions they never taught me in nursing school.
Creativity was applying dressings that couldn’t be removed by a toddler who had been inquisitive and determined enough to pull a pot of boiling eggs off a hotplate, scalding his face, chest and arm.
Every day of the more than 16 years I’ve worked as a nurse, I’ve been creative.  I’ve problem-solved, listened and suggested, and had ideas that come from a place inside my head that is where my creativity springs from.
Creativity is the space outside the box.  The place where a paradigm shift of beliefs takes you from using what you know, to the creation of new knowledge.      
~cath xo

Twitter @jonesbabie


how do you do, haiku

I’ve been asked more than once how I come up with the haiku photos that I create.  I started thinking about  my creative process, and decided to try to explain how these get from my brain to my blog.

There is no mystery really.  Most creativity starts with a spark, and this is true for me.  Sometimes it is something I see, sometimes something I hear, an emotion.  Or maybe a thought.  It starts small, and grows.

For the haiku I did last night, it started with frustration.  All month, I had been posting every day as part of a blogging challenge.  Then suddenly, last night, my well of inspiration dried up.  I thought about it.  About the fact that I couldn’t think of a single blessed thing to write.  And that was when the first lightening bolt hit my brain.  (That is what an idea feels like to me…a big ZAP right between the ears.)

I would write about not being able to write.  Then I thought about it…(thinking does play an integral part in creating for me).

It needed to be terse.  Brief, and able to convey my agony at the void of creativity…

Now wait, I was creating.  But it wasn’t what I wanted to do…it was a stop gap.  So I could meet my deadline, and not stress over it.

So I thought of the words that would put my emotion into type.  And I remembered how on fire my mind was with ideas at the beginning of the month.  And then I thought of how the ideas had come faster than I could write them down for the first three weeks.  I put the first words down, and started rearranging them and changing some out.  Haiku to me is more than 5, 7, 5 syllables.  It is a feeling, an ability to take words down to the bare bones.  Raw emotion, ideas that are spit into the wind one word at a time, and digested bit by bit as the reader takes them in, feeling the thought of the writer, and understanding.  Haiku for me is an aha! and the best ones I have read can sometimes literally slam me back like a physical blow.

At the same time I was writing the haiku, I was thinking about a photo that would enhance the visuality of it.  It had to be a balance, a complement.  The words and photo must carry equal weight.  As though one could not exist without the other.

Last night, when I first posted the haiku, I used a different image.  But the image I used didn’t sit well with me.  It didn’t convey my anxiety, my frustration.  I thought about it in my dreams last night, and this morning when I got up, I changed the photo.  And knew as soon as I added the words, that it balanced.  And this is what I ended with:

When I finished it, I realized the void in my brain wasn’t empty after all.  In my creative furor the stop gap I was trying to fill the void with, became much more, and I didn’t even realize that I was creating.  It just happened.  I focused on the steps of the process, and forgot my anxiety.  Suddenly the frustration was gone.   And everything balanced for me again.
And that is what haiku is for me.  Balance.  Creativity, idea, construct, all come together in the end.  A piece of my thoughts, to share with you.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie