Studio Tour: Stephanie Estrin

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

My creative space is my haven. I’ve taken over the upstairs game room and turned it into an art studio.

stephanie estrin writing

Before I begin painting, I sit down at one of my worktables that I have dedicated for the purpose of writing, reflecting and setting intentions for the session. I start by lighting sage and some incense. I feel it cleanses the air and myself.

It’s grounding for me. After that, I will pull a card from one or two my oracles decks. I feel that too sets an intention for me not just for painting but for my day in general. I will sometimes sit and work in my art journal or write in my writing journal. I use that to either work out something I want to try on canvas or dump out my thoughts to have a clear head to paint.

After that, I’m ready to begin painting. I select music to match my mood and get going. Music definitely informs my painting. I will listen to African drumming music, meditation type music, to top 40 hits or R & B/hip hop. I have a varied range.

stephanie estrin corner

In the left corner of the room I have a little altar with some talismans that are personal to me. I have a creative crystal grid laid out as well as some other crystals and stones that have special meaning to me.

stephanie estrin studio

I paint small pieces on the floor. I like to spread out with my paints all around me and just go for it. For several years that’s how I painted all my paintings regardless of size. My knees started to get sore from hours of either sitting cross-legged or on my knees. A few years ago as a birthday gift from my husband, I received a windmill easel. It has been a great asset to me now that I paint large most of the time. No more sore knees!


stephanie estrin full

The other side of my studio is filled with blank canvas ready for paintings to be born. My walls are filled with finished paintings and other paintings stacked against the wall. I’m quickly running out of room! At the bottom center you can see a painting started by one of my children. I have an open door policy with them to be able to create whenever the mood strikes them. I have all my supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice.


stephanie estrin worktable

Painting for me is a way for me to process my feelings and thoughts in the present moment.

My paintings are an expression of whatever is going on for me. At some point in the process, I get into a flow state where time seems to stand still. I become completely open with no active thoughts and become deeply immersed into the painting. I paint from my intuition with no real forethought about the outcome.

Paint is my language of communication. By using bright and bold colors I try provoke emotional responses from my viewer. My hope is that they will be uplifted. Painting has become a very important part of my life. If I don’t get a chance to paint for several days, I feel myself becoming uptight and anxious. Making art is good medicine for me. Art definitely heals!

About the Author: Stephanie Estrin

Stephanie Estrinstephanie_estrin_bio is a self-taught artist living in Austin, TX. Over the last several years she has been exhibiting in and around Austin, TX in juried exhibitions and group shows. In 2014, she had a painting published in the book Inspirational Quotes Illustrated, Art and Words to Motivate by Lesley Riley. She has 2 paintings to be published in the upcoming September 2016 issue of Incite 4: Rest, Restore, Renew – The Best of Mixed Media. She’s currently represented by Off the Walls Gallery in Shelton, Washington and Adams Galleries of Austin, Austin, TX.

Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Family Date – by Patricia Wellingham-Jones


The family goes on its regular date,
this time to a thrift shop
out of the neighborhood.
Dad gives each child a dollar bill,
says spend wisely. Mom heads toward
the shelves of household items,
fingers the waffle iron, sees the frayed cord,
moves on. She laughs over lava lamp memories,
chooses an intact game of Monopoly.
Dad and son gravitate to guy things.
The dollar bill goes at once to a samurai sword
with enough left over for the lone boxing glove –
he might luck onto its mate. Dad hefts
the bowling ball, decides it might do. Little sister
falls in love with a rubber ducky in hockey clothes.
At the register she solemnly hands
her change back to Daddy. Each happy
with the results of the spree they top off
the celebration with ice cream cones.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

What’s Next? Change. Or maybe not. by Kerstin Martin

“Bad news. The landlord pulled out, we are not getting the apartment.”

When I got this text message from my husband I felt the sense of disappointment wash over me. I had been so sure that this apartment was meant for us. We wanted to downsize and save money for our big move back to the US in a few years and this apartment fit that plan perfectly. Sigh. “Maybe we need to have a radical rethink on everything,” I messaged back.

Radical rethink. My husband took these two words literally and before we knew it we quit our jobs in London and planned our relocation to the Pacific Northwest. All we had was a very modest amount of savings and the kind of kerstin martin lake viewfaith that makes you persevere through the challenges that inadvertently show up when you decide to completely uproot your life before you even thought you were ready to do so. We were in our early 50s and financially it was a huge risk but we knew: without risk you cannot create the life you want. And we wanted that life to be in the Pacific Northwest.

When we told our families and friends that we were moving back to the US, no-one was very surprised. Since my husband and I got married in 2005 we moved every single year, from England to Massachusetts to Washington State back to Massachusetts to Germany to the UK. And a few local moves in between. I got a green card and eventually my U.S. citizenship. My American cat got a European pet passport and my car traveled across the U.S. twice and then to Europe and back again via the Panama Canal.

It seems that this is what I do; I’ve moved more than thirty times in as many years and after all these decades of traveling and moving around my gypsy soul still gets excited at the thought of new beginnings and all the possibilities they bring.

So when you ask me “what is next?” this answer is usually this: change. A move, a new job, a different furniture configuration, a new creative project. Perhaps this is how I survive the hard times in life, like the recent unexpected passing of my mom, I move on by redefining my environment and creating new opportunities that sometimes merely serve as a distraction but never fail to lead me to fresh opportunities down the road less traveled.

Last month we reached our one year anniversary in our new home here in the Pacific Northwest and the familiar itch to move is making itself known again.

We want to stay in our beloved town but how about exchanging our condo for a house with a small garden so I can grow some vegetables? I don’t have much of a green thumb but surely I can learn that, right? And hey, why don’t we build a house, something we’ve been talking about for a long time! I will admit, we get quite excited about these ideas KerstinBalconyand we could probably pull it off if we really wanted to.

However. Lately I have noticed something else mixing in with the excitement: a longing for stability and grounding that makes me want to stay right where we are. We currently own a lovely and spacious condo with a nice balcony and lots of light from our big windows and south-west exposure. After one year everything is dialed in and organized, all the pictures are on the walls and we are very comfortable. Our condo is also affordable and we could potentially pay it off in the next 6-7 years which I know would give both of us a lot of peace of mind. And I will admit, that peace of mind looks very appealing to me right now.

And so I said to my husband “Let’s just stay.” No change.

And so that’s ‘our next’ for now: no move and enjoying what we have here and now. Oh, what novel concept! But it feels good and right. Until, of course, we change our mind 🙂

About the Author: Kerstin Martin

kerstinmartinbioKerstin Martin is a Blogger and Squarespace Web Designer who specializes in creating stylish and affordable websites for small businesses and solopreneurs.

Originally from Germany she now lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her American husband and fluffy grey cat.

So You Won’t Wonder by Pat West

Twenty years from now,
mochabrowncoffeemugsyou might be the one
to empty my house.
The dishes can go
to Goodwill, they’re not fine china.
I know you never liked
the mocha brown coffee mugs,
but find someone who appreciates
well-crafted pottery. For years,
they’ve been something
to hold onto in the morning.

Next to the sink in the mudroom,
the red wing crock I used to brine olives,
deserves a special home.
And when you go through the boxes
in the attic, toss what you don’t want
of the LPs but keep the Pete Seeger album.

Tucked in my mother’s cedar chest,
bundles of cards and notes
from your father dating back to the sixties.
Feel free to read whatever you find.
I take them out every so often,
run my index finger over his handwriting,
communicate by Braille.
The box of his ashes,
flecked with white slivers of bone,
rests at the bottom under the flag.
They should have been scattered
long ago. You’ll know what to do
with them and mine.

In my office, you’ll find notebooks
filled with research for my many moves,
San Francisco, Miami, Carson City, Las Vegas
and Portland. Crime statistics, walkability scores,
names, numbers for realtors
and moving companies, it’s all there.
The lies I told myself because I believed
the next city would be the one
where I could finally sleep at night,
get up in the morning
and like what came next.

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBioPat Phillips West lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, San Pedro River Review, and Slipstream, and some have earned nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Sunday Sanctuary: Laundry Day


Every Thursday, I strip the sheets off our bed. If possible, I open the bedroom windows and invite the fresh spring air to waft across the now naked bed. The sheets are tossed into the washer with warm water and a cap-full of Downy Unstoppables.

I gather the towels.

The chocolate bath towels from the master bath, damp after Thursday morning’s preparation to face the world. One singleclothespinfrom John’s towel bar and two from mine. I grab the matching chocolate hand towels, a toothpaste dotted one from the ring next to his sink and make-up smeared one from the ring by my sink. In the upstairs bathroom, I seize the maroon towel, usually tossed next to the sink. And in the downstairs bath, I find two blue towels, one plaid and one cornflower.

This assembly of towels is added to the collection of washcloths waiting in the laundry room. One last survey reveals the orange and yellow striped dishtowels in the kitchen.

Yes, Thursday is my Linen Day. By the time John returns home from work, there will be clean towels in each bath and fresh sheets on the bed. Linen Day makes me feel skilled as a housekeeper. More significant, it makes me feel nurtured and loved. Is there anything more delicious (and nurturing) than that first night of sleep on clean sheets?

It wasn’t long before I discovered the wisdom of designating Thursday not just as Linen Day, but as Laundry Day.

Thursday means hot water, bleach, and load of thick white undershirts and cotton handkerchiefs. Thursday results include clean workday wear – his polo shirts and my warm weather “uniform” of golf clothes – washed in cold water and Tide Ultra Stain Release (due to my propensity to spill). I round out Laundry Day with one last load. Warm water, Tide Plus Febreze Sport Active Fresh, and those colorful cloth stink magnets: gym shorts, boxer briefs, black socks, and sweatpants.

This litany of laundry may seem too boring, incredibly rigid, and have nothing to do with my creative pursuits. But I share this with you because it helps fuel my creative life. Having a household schedule provides the structure I need to care for my home and doubles as a way to squash the excuse that the pile of laundry is the proof (excuse) that I am “just too busy” to devote time to writing.

Back before the ease of modern washing machines, the traditional day for laundry was Monday. I’m sure the clothesline-804811-byJill-Wellingtonbackbreaking task of tending the family’s clothes is why housewives called it “Blue Monday”. It also explains the traditional Monday meal in New Orleans: Red Beans & Rice. An easy dish to put on the stove in the morning for dinner when attention would otherwise diverted.

I know that it sounds easier to do a load of wash a day, thus spreading out the chore. It was the norm during the years I worked in an office, tossing a load in the washer as I left for work and finishing the drying / folding part before bedtime.

For the quality of my daily life, my work life, and yes, my creative life, only doing laundry once or twice a week has actually meant freedom.

Laundry Day has helped free my thoughts. No more trying to remember if there’s a load in the washer waiting or worse a Mount Washmore pile growing daily. And no more wondering if everyone has clean clothes for work. This means I focus my thoughts on what to write in a work blog or which direction I want to take a fictional character.

It’s freed up my time. I remember many sad discoveries of an almost dry wad of clothing in the washer complete with a slightly musty smell, which had to washed a second (or third) time. And rather than needing to make time to do a load each day, a rhythm emerges allowing me to focus on writing or coaching while a load spins and a load dries.

My Thursday Laundry Days have also been a part of freeing up my soul.

During those years of no household schedules, untidy rooms, and mountains of laundry, I felt ashamed of my inability to be a good housekeeper. And there was the guilt, too. Taking time to create rather than tend the mess and piles always was guilt ridden.

Talk about harming your creative soul, guilt and shame do numbers on them.

I’m no longer telling myself little white lies about schedules, either. That’s soul freeing because writing fictional tales is one thing but lying to yourself is another.

As a chronically messy person, I tell myself that clutter is a sign of my own creative genius. Research shows that while this is a common trait of creative genius, I’ve learned that a cluttered environment makes it harder to finish projects. To lie to myself and say that my mess is ok all the time actually harms my ability to focus and makes my thoughts feel cloudier.

We creatives often shy away from structure. We tell ourselves that it will inhibit our artistic expression. We tell ourselves that we want freedom and schedules will make us feel shackled. We tell ourselves that true creative people do not need systems as it will keep us from our ability to be original.

I’ve learned that structure, schedules, and systems are actually a way to protect my creative life.

Imagine (if you will) that I am a happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever with daily visits the local dog park. All those structures are like the fences, and within that safe space, I can let my imagination and creativity run free. My systems keep from running out into proverbial traffic. My routines allow me to play to my heart’s content within the boundaries of my work, and still tend the other important pieces of my life. My schedules open up space for work, play, and dedicated time to create.

I know that having a laundry day is a luxury thanks to my ability to work from home and control my schedule. What isn’t a luxury, though, is how laundry day (and the rest of my household schedule) has come to represent a sense WritingOnTheDeck_DebraSmouseof freedom for my creative life.

Because as wonderful as drifting off to sleep while nestled in fresh laundered sheets feels, it pales in comparison to the reward of guilt-free time for creation. So, yes, thanks to Laundry Day, I have the space to spend more time focused on creative living.

Like spending a random spring morning writing encouraging letters to a friend and love notes to myself in my journal. Freed from the shame of being a poor keeper of my home and released from the guilt of waiting chores. Bathing in pleasure, I dive into the luxurious opportunity to create.

What about YOU? How might a schedule for your household chores or other routine help give you more freedom to create?

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Your New Moon Creations (Full Pink Moon)

When it came to the desire to build connection and community here at Modern Creative Life, we decided to offer prompts to inspire creativity. Our #NewMoonCreative Prompts  are shared with you as the moon cycles to “new”… this is the traditional time to launch new efforts and open ourselves to creativity.

And we circle back on the date of the Full Moon to see what was created.

The full moon will bless us tonight, which means it’s time to celebrate how our creative endeavors have come to bloom. We have a tiny offering this month in response to New Moon in Aries and here is a taste of what was created in response to our “New Moon Creative” prompts:

Was inspired by this:

@kerstinmartin I had your wonderful egg pancake for breakfast. Yum.

A photo posted by Becca Rowan (@becca.rowan) on

Which was inspired by this:

Eierpfannekuchen, German egg pancakes, were a staple in our home when I grew up: cheap, quick and tasty sweet or savory. I’d often just eat them sprinkled with sugar. I’ve been craving them recently but couldn’t quite remember the recipe and normally I would have just called my mom and asked her. But I can’t call her anymore. I’ve been missing her a lot, it’s like it’s only now sinking in that I will never see her again. Never. Then, this morning, I remembered the recipe. Because it really is that easy, it comes in two’s: 2 eggs, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp milk. I also added a bit of water and a dash of salt. Melted 1 tsp butter over medium heat and the pancake cooked perfectly. Served with maple syrup and blueberries. I sat down at the dining table, with a good cup of coffee, and thought of my mom and savored every bite and memory.

A photo posted by Kerstin Martin (@kerstinmartin) on

I am sometimes in awe of how creatives are fueled by other creatives.

Sometimes, a moment captures us and we see how life plays into the prompts…

And our regular contributor, Kolleen Harrison  posted this inspiration to #shine on the day we asked what #shine meant….

We all shine on ✨ #shineon #piecesofhome #johnlennon #peace

A photo posted by Kolleen Harrison (@kolleenharrison_) on

Our next New Moon Creative is May 6th .

We hope you’ll join us and share your creations with us.

The Longing for a New Adventure by Christine Mason Miller


I thought I knew what I was going to write about, but as soon as I typed the first words and saw them appear onscreen in perfect synchronicity with the movement of my fingers on the keyboard, my attention took a sharp left Bud_ChristineMasonMillerturn. I found myself inexplicably, surprisingly fascinated by the sensation of having all my thoughts swoop out of my brain, down my arms, and into my fingertips as if the words were swishing down a slide carved out of ice. How could this possibly feel so weird? I mean, I just finished writing a book. Seeing the words inside my head immediately appear onscreen as I type should feel as mundane as buttering toast. Instead, it felt like magic.

I finished writing the bulk of the book earlier this year.

Since then, I’ve been focused on copy editing, fine tuning, and formatting. This last lap to publishing has taken longer than I’d anticipated, one of many surprises the book has had in store for me along the way. I can’t say I had a many specific expectations when I set out to write a memoir about the spiritual journey I’ve taken with my family, but I’ve still experienced one surprising twist after another, all the way up to right now.

One of them has to do with the phase I’m currently in—getting the book ready to be published. I’m getting a small project_ChristineMasonMillerquantity of hardcover editions printed independently for this first round, which won’t be sold or offered to the public. I made this choice for a number of reasons, most especially because my goal was never to write a book so it could be published and sold to the public. My goal was to write the best book I could write, and I knew this could only happen if I kept the entire process out of reach of anyone but myself, a trusted editor I hired at the outset, and a handful of readers along the way.

I know how things go—when a manuscript or proposal is presented to a potential publisher, the powers-that-be may or may not like the way a story is told even if they like the story itself, at which point a conversation begins about how the book can be revised and re-arranged to suit an editor’s vision. I understand this. Book publishers are in the business of selling books, so they want to do everything they can to reach a broad audience.

But, as I said, my goal wasn’t to write a book in order to sell it to a broad audience. I simply needed to write the book, oridinarysparklymoment_christinemasonmillerand I needed to write it in my own way, on my own terms, in my own voice.

A friend recently asked, “What do you think about most when you envision your book being real?” My answer: “That I did what I set out to do: I wrote the best book I could write.”

Which is why I’ve been startled to observe myself dragging my feet on these final steps. I’m so close! The writing is finished! The only items remaining on my to do list are technical and organizational, and I love organizing! So what’s the problem?

There’s no problem, really. It’s just life. It’s a husband, a family, and a dog. It’s houseguests, laundry, and work. It probably also has a lot to do with my own impatience. After spending more than two years writing the book, I just want it in my hands—now. All this in-between work has felt kind of annoying and, in my irritation, I’ve put my book-related tasks on the back burner most of the time. I wrote the book, I think, Shouldn’t that be enough?

Progress has been slow but steady, and I’m having to practice patience, both with the needs of my home and family as well as my own messy, human ways. I haven’t marched boldly toward the end of this journey. I’ve shuffled along, mandala_christinemasonmillercomplaining frequently. And I’ve let myself get easily distracted in an attempt to avoid thinking about all the little things that still need to be done. But today I turned another corner, which has me mapping out a timeline that ends at the actual finish line, the one that involves holding the book in my hands and giving a private reading in our home. Where the book will take me after that is anyone’s guess.

Which brings me back to my wide-eyed reaction upon seeing the words for this story pop up onscreen like tiny, obedient soldiers with perfect posture. I am surprised to discover how much I’ve missed writing. I thought it would be a long while before I’d have the inclination to dive into any new writing projects after finishing the book, but the ideas are already whispering in my ear. And the sensations of taking a thought from my mind and sending it immediately to the page have apparently been missed as well. I feel the pull of this dance—of the clickety-clack of the keyboard, and the creation of a brand new story.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy her book on Amazon. Go on Retreat . Hire her as your Mentor.

You can follow her adventures at

and he sleeps by Æverett

and he sleeps
with the View in his Eyes
sinks into an Abyss
the safe Darkness
a numbing Cold
they kiss him goodbye
the Night is soft
a tender kiss
he dreams of that Sight
his waking Eyes remember
his Breath comes easy
but soon not at all

he sinks in the Water
cold River
the Stones kiss his nude Feet
the Current caressing his Rest
and between the Stars
the Moon is weeping
her dying Son swept away
his Skin as pale as hers
Tears hide in Water on his Face
take him to the Fall
a Roar – he cries out not
in weightless Envy his Wings don’t work
a Stone falls though Water
drenched upon the whirling Surface
the Eyes no longer open

moored upon a rocky Shoal
River-stones sing to his naked Back
his Head laid in the Grass
a Lark is singing
his Brother dead
and the Clear-river kissing
the Body run aground
eased upon the warm Bank
and he sleeps
the Reality is a lovely Nymph

Image Copyright: arsgera / 123RF Stock Photo

About the Author: Æverett

ÆverettÆverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

Sunday Salon: A Love Affair With Keyboards

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan


My love affair with keyboards began in 1959. I was three years old when my dad brought home an old Remington manual typewriter that had been discarded from his office, and put it on a desk in our attic. Sitting atop a mound of pillows for height, I tapped away for hours – at first putting only gobbledygook on the page, but then beginning to craft words that led to sentences that led to stories. The writer in me was born at that keyboard.

Toy_piano_keyboardBut that same year, another keyboard entered my life, one that would turn out to be just as important in my creative future. A tinny little toy piano, with only 24 keys, every one of them I’m sure was painful to the ears of the adults in my family, but equally glorious sounding to mine. When my short stubby fingers weren’t busy on the smooth black keys of the Remington, they were pounding the “ivories” on that miniature upright.

As important as writing is to my creative well-being, music is the outlet for my emotions. I have always turned to the piano when I’m excited or in a celebratory mood, when I need a physical and mental challenge, when I want to lose myself in beautiful melodies and harmonies.

When I was a teenager, I spent many hours relieving typical teen girl angst by playing everything from Chopin Nocturnes to Simon and Garfunkle. Even now, when I’m troubled or sad, playing the piano is the ultimate healer.

Never have I been more aware of this than in the past month. On March 24, my mother died. Her loss has left such a deep void in my life it sometimes threatens to swallow me whole. A few days after her death, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson Connor came to attend her funeral and spend a week with us. Connor, who has just started preschool, has recently fallen in love with his weekly music class. Called Music Together, it is a curriculum designed to foster children’s love of music as it brings together elements of song, story, and physical activities. Connor brought with him the CD of songs, and a music book complete with piano parts. He couldn’t wait for us to have “Music Time” together. We headed off to the piano, where he snuggled beside me on the bench, and we played and sang through all 25 songs in the book. This process became a daily ritual, sometimes even multiple times during the day. Whenever I asked Connor what he’d like to do for fun, “Music Time!” was always his enthusiastic answer.

In the ensuing hard days following my mother’s death, this little boy seemed to ken the way music could ease and soothe an aching heart. Some of the songs provoked laughter, while others brought tears. “Are you thinking about Mamoo ?” Connor asked once, when I couldn’t hide tears running down my cheek . The music touched places in both our hearts, lifted our spirits, and helped us forget our loss for a little while.

The act of making music engages the mind and the senses in a magical way. “Melody is an almost unconscious expression of the senses,” wrote composer Edward McDowell in his 1912 essay. “It translates feeling into sound. It is the natural outlet for sensation.”

Since my grandson went back home, my days seem long and lonely. I find myself wandering aimlessly through the house, lethargic, unable to focus. But then I remember the power of “music time” and wander over the piano. Through the fast-running scale passages of a Mozart Sonata, the precision of a Bach fugue, the gentle flow and intricate harmony of Debussy, I access the mystical union of sensation and intellect required to make music happen. My despair is lifted, and I walk away feeling easier in my soul.

“Music was my refuge,” Maya Angelou wrote. “I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

Here at my keyboard, I curl my back to loneliness and am comforted by melody, rhythm, and all the spaces between the notes where harmony and peace reside. It’s why my love affair with this keyboard will last my whole life long.

About Sunday Salon:

The Sunday Salon is a monthly column that explores the intersection of art and real life, looking at ways the creative arts inform, enhance, and invigorate our emotions, our intellect, and our experience of daily living.

About the Author: Becca Rowan

beccarowan_bio2Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

100 Days Project: What Would YOU Do With 100 Days of Making?

100 Days Complete

100 Days CompleteIt began with a question: What would you do with 100 days of making?

I’d seen the posts on Twitter and Facebook, but hadn’t really paid attention to them because they seemed aimed at people who painted or sculpted or took pictures of something other than dogs and morning coffee.

But then my friend Deb said she was thinking about participating in this project – The 100 Day Project, in order to stretch long dis-used fiction-writing muscles, and would I consider doing it, too? (This is usual for us. Partly, I think, it’s because we often respond to similar things, but also it’s because committing to a project is a little less daunting if you’re doing it with a friend.)

I told her I’d think about it, and then ignored the invitation for a week, after which I went to the web page where the project founder, Elle Luna, was interviewed, and I read more about the whole thing, and finally I committed to the project.

I’m going to tell you a secret: I’m a little bit phobic about commitments. I mean, I was the girl who never wanted to get married when I was younger, and when Deb and Becca and I were in the pre-launch stages of this very ezine, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be part of it. My brain just gets weird like that sometimes.

I’m going to tell you another secret: I think we creative types need a little bit of external accountability. At least, I know I do. I started blogging over a decade ago, because I am incapable of keeping a journal. I mean, what’s the point of writing things no one will ever read? But my secondary motivation was that if I had to put my writing somewhere public, I’d have to stick with it.

That’s why I love The 100 Day Project.

It provides accountability, but not a lot of it. It’s finite – slightly longer than three months. It’s also flexible. You can draw, paint, sculpt, collage, write, shoot photos, knit, sew, embroider, sing or play music, or cook. Basically anything that can be repeated daily fits into this project.

When I signed up to do The 10 Day Project last year, it was just before the start date, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. A few of the people I follow on Instagram, where this project lives, were posting snippets of prose or poetry, apparently typed on paper, and I loved that concept, but didn’t know how to execute it. (Now I do know, but it’s too much work.)

I also have a great love of micro-fiction, flash-fiction, and American Sentences (17-word sentences that are emotionally truthful.)

I chose, then, to commit to writing one really good sentence, scene, or story, whatever would fit completely onto a typical 3×5 notecard, which I would photograph and post on Instagram, per the project rules. To make it more interesting for me, I bought a multi-pack of note-cards in five bright colors. Even better? They were Post-It ™ notecards, so once a photo had been uploaded, I began sticking themWant to Play on the front (and eventually the side) of my fridge.

It got to the point where friends who were visiting would go directly to my kitchen to see what had been added since they were last in my house, and I can’t deny that watching the columns of colored cards expand to fill so much space was kind of cool.

That each of them was covered with my words, was even cooler.

But that was last year. The 100 Day Project begins again on Tuesday, April 19th, and while I’m definitely participating again, I haven’t quite decided how. I’m already writing so much that adding another writing project, especially one I’ve already completed seems counter-intuitive. I’ve been doing a lot of kitchen experimentation lately, so I might try a food-based project. Not a whole new meal, every day, but definitely a featured daily recipe.

I guess my Instagram feed will be filling up with food-porn this spring and summer.

As for you… dear reader… wouldn’t you like to participate in The 100 Day Project with me?

What would you do with 100 days of making?

About the author: Melissa A. Bartell

Melissa A. BartellMelissa is a writer, voice actor, podcaster, itinerant musician, voracious reader, and collector of hats and rescue dogs. She is the author of The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Holiday Tub. You can learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.