Dixie Darr

Archive for January, 2017|Monthly archive page

Exploring Journals

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

kaizen-journalI love journals. Over the years I have kept a vast variety of journals, both digital and analog, from a diary of the books I’ve read to food diaries and morning pages. I tried keeping a bullet journal, but those things are way too left brain for me, although they did inspire me to keep a small notebook in my purse, where I list everything from books to read and movies to see, to things I want to learn, and interesting words I run across. I’ve used all kinds of blank books and rarely use the same one twice in a row. I prefer unlined pages and colorful Pentel markers, a different color for each entry. Here are some ideas you might like.

One of my favorite authors, Austin Kleon, recently published a journal to accompany his book, Steal Like an Artist. Generally speaking, I dislike writing prompts, so I wasn’t much interested in buying it and since it’s meant to be written it, the libraries don’t carry it. I was, however, quite interested in a talk he gave about the various journals he encountered in researching his book. He covers the evolution of his own use of journals from words only through mind maps (which he calls clustering) and finally to a combination of words and drawings. Then he moves on to the journals ofsketchbooks-cover-250_ Thoreau, Darwin, Basquiat, Einstein, Picasso, Roger Ebert, and Lynda Barry. More about her later.

Lisa Sonora Beam, an American artist and teacher living in Mexico, wrote a blog post about Keeping a Studio Journal , which includes two short videos that inspired me to start my own studio journal or creative daybook. There I keep notes about things I read and watch as well as ideas for my own projects. I’m also a fan of a PDF sketchbook she published a few years ago documenting her creative process.

Cartoonist and author Lynda Barry published the notebook she kept while teaching an interdisciplinary arts class at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A mad, messy journal filled with ideas, notes, and scribblesSyllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor offers assignments and advice for creative people of all ages and in all fields. You can watch an introductory video here.syllabus

These should stimulate you to start your own journal or try something new.


There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Books

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2017 at 8:47 pm


46-rulesI try very hard to avoid buying books. This is partially a budget concern and partially a question of space. I ran out of bookshelves many years ago and started going to the library instead. When I hear of an interesting book, I read about it on Amazon, then check my local libraries. If they don’t have it, I try interlibrary loan. This is almost always successful, although I frequently have to wait a few weeks for the books. That’s fine because I never lack for reading material. Sometimes, though, even these sources fail me.

My plan B is back at Amazon where I can sometimes borrow the book free from their lending library. Of course, this option is most likely to pan out for indie published Kindle books. For “real” books, I check AbeBooks.com and ThriftBooks.com where used books usually sell for less than through Amazon. ThriftBooks was where I ordered The 46 Rules of Genius by Marty Neumeier when all other sources failed me. I told myself for months that I really didn’t need another book about creativity. I’m so glad I got past that issue because I love this book. It frustrated me a little bit because the descriptions are very short and I kept wanting examples to help my understanding, but passages like this make it more than a worthwhile read:

“Genius is a person who takes creativity to the point of originality while creating better and more beautiful things—tools, objects, experiences, relationships, situations, solutions, and ideas. Genius . . . .strives for elegance, ethics, and a level of quality that comes from mastery.”

Now I want to read it again.


In Uncategorized on January 6, 2017 at 8:11 pm


This was a word I knew long before I knew it had any religious connotation. In secular terms, an epiphany is a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you. I’ve had many of those in my life.

In Christianity, this is the day the wise men from the East finally made it to the manger where Jesus was born and the revelation to them that the baby was the son of God.

When they left, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (another epiphany?) and warned him to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby. There the small family remained for twelve years until Herod’s death.

It was on Epiphany in 2002 when I started attending church. The horrific events of 9/11/01 made me start thinking about the need for spiritual development, although I wasn’t conscious then of the connection. Although my involvement with Highlands United Methodist Church has grown way beyond the one hour a week I anticipated, I still don’t consider myself to be a religious person and not a believer in any traditional sense. Church continues to fill a need that I find myself unable to articulate. Maybe someday that will be revealed to me in my own private epiphany.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the last day of Christmas, I’ll leave you with this quotation that may or may not be from C.S. Lewis

“So it was you all along–

Everyone I ever loved, it was you.

Everything decent or fine

that ever happened to me.

Everything that made me

reach out and try to be better.

It was you all along.”

Maybe you’d prefer a song with similar lyrics:

When the moon was young,
When the month was May,
When the stage was hung for my holiday,
I saw shining lights
But I never knew:
They were you.
They were you.
They were you.
When the dance was done,
When I went my way,
When I tried to find rainbows far away,
All the lovely lights
Seemed to fade from view:
They were you.
They were you.
They were you.
Without you near me,
I can’t see.
When you’re near me,
Wonderful things come to be.
Every secret prayer,
Every fancy free,
Everything I dared for both you and me.
All my wildest dreams
Multiplied by two
They were you.
They were you.
They were you.

From The Fantasticks, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones


The Eleventh Day of Christmas

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2017 at 4:12 pm


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are over, but Christmas still hangs on for one more day. The trees and teddies are packed away for another year and my common room looks almost bare, although that won’t last. Somewhere, presumably, eleven pipers are piping. Snow and cold will keep me inside for the rest of the day and maybe tomorrow, too. Snuggle up. Be grateful for warm houses, good food, books to read and even a couple of good TV shows on tonight. Blessed be.

The Tenth Day of Christmas

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2017 at 7:46 pm


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Tenth Day of Christmas

My trees are naked, nothing on them but the lights. I packed away the ornaments and hauled the bins down to my storage unit. Tomorrow I’ll remove the trees and teddy bears and nothing will be left of Christmas.

Everything seems bare after Christmas, ready for the new year. Then it’s only a month or so until Lent. This year, I may make Lent my time to declutter. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy my lights for one more night. That’s what Christmas is all about, right? Bringing light into the world.

The Ninth Day of Christmas

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2017 at 4:54 pm


Monday 01/02/17


My refrigerator is so full of leftovers I may never have to cook again. I have five servings of lasagna, three of ham and beans, one bowl of chile, and one and a half meatloaves. And probably a few things I’ve forgotten.

The dictionary says anything that remains unused or unconsumed is a leftover, so I guess my Christmas decorations fit in that category, too. Today I brought up the storage bins to pack them away, a task that could easily take me through the last of the twelve days of Christmas. In fact, I may have just discovered where the twelve days of Christmas came from. That’s how long it takes to get everything cleaned up and cleared out after the holiday.

The Eighth Day of Christmas and New Year’s Day

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm


Sunday 01/01/17

The Eighth Day of Christmas and New Year’s Day

This morning I learned that my friend Joan died of ALS. It was not a good way to start the new year. I’ve heard that some people believe that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will do the rest of the year. If that’s true, then I will spend the year in mourning, which unfortunately doesn’t seem far off the mark.

Joan was a Sister of St. Joseph, full of joy and curiosity. She loved the Colorado mountains, dogs and genealogy and Venice and music (she had a PhD in conducting). She spent her time teaching, doing research and writing. I can still hear her boisterous laugh.

Rest easy, my friend. I miss you.