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Time Management

Time Management

This is a topic we would all rather not think about. When we have a young family and a job, managing to get everything done can be a huge headache, and we long for the time when we will have time to do the things we love and enjoy. Once we reach that place, it can be a wonderful time if we are healthy and have enough income to meet our needs.

But there comes a time when many things take longer to do than they once did, and require more creativity in how to do them safely. We try to simplify our chores or find someone else to do them. We get engrossed in a project and can’t believe the day is over so soon. Managing our time becomes important once again.

Work table with spools of gimp

At the moment I have three projects on my three work tables. Last week, I worked with the palm bark I have been picking up in my yard all winter, stitching pieces together to make a shape, or combining the bark with circles of hand made paper. I’m using gimp thread to sew them together. This is a shiny round cord, probably rayon with some kind of center string. I remember my mother crocheting handbags out of this stuff. This isn’t her leftovers, I found it in south Stockton some years ago, in tan, blue, green, black, brown, and yellow.

Two pieces palm bark sewn together

After I make a few more, I will add feathers and beads to the cords. My other two projects are barely started.

Palm bark with hand made yellow paper

Even though we are still having winter storms, spring is proceeding in my yard. The apricot tree has finished blooming. The plum is in full bloom and the peach and nectarines are starting to come out. Weeds are popping up everywhere. The trick is to do the weeding and cleanup whenever we have a dry day, which makes every day’s plans tentative. I managed to get the iris bed cleaned up last week. This week is focused on the strawberry bed, because one of the weeds that invaded last year is just days away from starting to bloom.

As I wrote at the end of January, I have begun working on my shell collection. The shells are arranged in drawers by family, but many of them have not been identified as to their species. I print out my electronic record for a family, and check off each shell number. I also have shells in the drawer, that are not on the list. I have to figure out where the shell’s data is and move it on the computer to it’s correct place in the list.

Scallop shells to be identified

There are shells that I collected fifty years ago that clearly do not belong to this family. Many of the older shells are not in plastic bags, but scattered about in several drawers if it’s a large family. This has become a fascinating endeavor in my evenings, recalling the beaches where they were found. I get caught up in the process, and needless to say, I’m not getting to bed when I should.

Where all of this is leading is that I must make choices in using my time. I have come to the point where I don’t have new art to write about every week, and if I want to make better work, I need to let things develop on their own schedule. Spring and early summer in the garden always means more to do than time and energy available. I also have two out of state trips between now and the end of June.

I have been writing blogs each week for almost two years, and the time has come to write less often. I don’t have any particular schedule in mind, but when I have something to show I’ll post it. If you already get my posts in your email, they will show up there. If they don’t come to your email, sign up in the form on the lower right side of this page.

Palm bark with hand made pink paper
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The Feeling of Being Unconnected

The Feeling of Being Unconnected

Sunday morning, the Stockton Record’s front page story, of the one-year old Honduran boy’s court appearance before a judge in Phoenix, who was embarrassed to have to ask the child if he understands the proceedings, has compelled me to share my thoughts.

I generally don’t discuss political issues with friends or even family because I don’t have all the information about things, and I don’t know what is true and what is hype, among all the noise.

The article says the boy was silent and calm during his one hour wait and during the hearing, until he was handed off for a moment, from a worker he knew to another person, as they were preparing to leave the court, when he cried hysterically at the brief separation.

It is likely that the boy was separated from his mother when his father brought him to our border, separated from his father who has been sent back to Honduras, and separated again and again from employees who must meet his basic needs.

That feeling is like being in free-fall, with nothing familiar to grab onto. Some adults enjoy that feeling and engage in activities that produce it. But I think most people, and especially young babies, want to feel they are connected to others in some manner.

I was not physically separated from my mother, but there was an emotional separation due to my mother’s episode of depression late in my first year. The effect of this was not apparent to me as a child or young adult. I developed the habit of keeping busy which I continued after I was married. Short periods of having nothing to focus on, such as waiting in long lines at the grocery store, or at a medical appointment brought up feelings of anxiety. I started carrying a book with me everywhere.

After I had my first child, keeping busy was easy. When we moved from state to state for two years in the early 70’s I felt unconnected because I truly didn’t know anyone beyond acquaintance level. Then, in Virginia, the friendly south, I became close to a number of people.

Moving to California in August 1978, with it’s fenced in yards, was difficult, but I soon found weaving friends, and I kept busy. When I went to college at age 42, I didn’t feel close to anybody in classes, and lost time with my other friends, but I was very busy with two young teens, and a household to run, plus homework. In graduate school, I tried to discover what caused people to feel connected to others.

But the gut level feeling of being all alone hit me unexpectedly one day when I went to a funeral home to get information about a package deal my mother had made with them costing $900 a month, which she had no way of paying. I was told someone would see in a few minutes.

Sitting in the empty lobby, I had nothing to do. No magazines available. I had nothing with me I could write on. No one else was in the building but the one woman who had gone back into her office. My mind reeled. It had nothing to focus on. I felt like I could disappear and no one would know. This was before the I-phone. The wait seemed endless. I didn’t know that the person I needed to talk to was driving across town from their main office, until he walked in the door.

Some years later, while working at the University of the Pacific Library, I found information about Adult Attachment problems and came to understand that if a baby in that first year or two of life does not experience a secure bond with their mother or primary caregiver, they will have difficulty with feeling close to others throughout their life.

My concern is wider than just what is happening to this child in Phoenix and all the others caught up on this mess. Remember those pictures we used to see of a mother carrying her baby on her body until the child could walk? There was important bonding going on.

I am concerned about all the mothers and children already in this country who are so easily separated from each other for almost any small mistake. Are the children, now being protected, being set up for social and emotional difficulties they won’t understand throughout their lives?

What will our culture look like when the babies who have parents who are constantly focused on their phones, the internet, or working several jobs, grow up and do not feel a sense of closeness or connection to others? Will they join a gang to feel connected? Or, will they choose numbness with drugs, or even death?

What will our world be like when displaced people all over the earth have no feeling of belonging?


If you want to know more about my search for connection, my memoir “Looking for Connection” is available as an eBook on Amazon here.  

Checking Connection

Checking Connection

I made the unpleasant discovery last night that the blogs I had written and also appeared on my Facebook page the morning they post on my website have been LOST.

So lost that when I look at my timeline for years back nothing has been posted unless it was shared there from another I guess Facebook page such as my son’s page.

I have not found a way to repost the blogs to Facebook. I am writing this to see if it will post to Facebook.

If you would like to follow my blogs by having them sent to your email, you can scroll down on this page and enter your email address.

The Quiet Joy of Picking up Sticks

The Quiet Joy of Picking up Sticks

In September of 1990 my family and I were in Ohio for the funeral of my grandfather on my

Jack Paine

mothers’ side. John Henry Paine, who everyone knew as Jack, was the last of his six brothers and one sister to pass. He was about half way through his 98th year when he died.

He earned his living as an upholsterer. He worked for the streetcar company in Cleveland during the depression repairing the worn seat covers. By the time I knew him, he was working for the Hotel Westlake. This was a residential hotel, where he reupholstered the furniture in the lobby and public rooms. He could also lay carpet and fix it if it got stained or otherwise damaged.

When I stayed overnight with my grandparents, my favorite game to play with him was Battleship which we played with a pad of graph paper and two pencils.

He made new covers for a rugged stool my dad sat on at his work bench. Now I sit on that stool in my studio. When I was doing graphic arts in Cleveland in 1963 he made me a seat cushion for the hard wooden chair I sat on all day. He made me a case for carrying my expensive steel rulers, too.

In his later years he often told everyone of his love for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

After the funeral, as we were leaving my parents neighborhood for the airport I noticed an older woman in her yard picking up branches that had fallen off trees at the back of her lot. It was just a short glimpse, but I got the sense that she was happy to be there gathering sticks. I recall thinking that someday I wanted to be like her.

It’s funny how certain things take up residence and hide somewhere in our brain. A few years ago, I was out in my yard cleaning up after a storm like we had last Thursday, when the memory of that woman picking up sticks came to mind. I hadn’t thought of her since that day in 1990.

My yard features an enormous sycamore tree which is constantly shedding something. After a windy storm the yard looks like a war zone. So, I spent last Sunday afternoon picking up everything from huge branches to tiny sticks and seed balls.

This is an aerobic activity for me, bending over, breaking branches up smaller, walking about, digging the occasional weed, and listening to the birds chatter.

I feel better when I’m outside in the fresh air, busy with whatever is calling for my attention.

How does this happen, that we glimpse an image of what will bring us joy years later, and without any conscious intention, we one day are amazed to notice we are living that image?






On Thanksgiving 75 years ago, I entered the world In Cleveland, Ohio. My father told me in 1996 that he was at work when I was born and he was so happy to hear that he had a baby girl.

I remember Thanksgiving at my grandparents place with the big round dining room table under which my brother and I played. As a teenager I watched my grandfather carve the turkey every year.

One memorable Thanksgiving, when we lived in Virginia, found me on my knees in the garden digging up sweet potatoes because we’d had frost the night before and I had to get them harvested quickly.

Today I’m thankful I can still be out working in my garden on a daily basis. Thankful that my family and friends are healthy and busy with their lives. And that I’m able to share my home with my best friend, Robert.

This has been a very busy year for me, and I’m so grateful for the many people who helped me with my memoir. I’m so thankful it is finished!

To celebrate my birthday on Sunday, November 26, my eBook, “Looking for Connection,” will be available at no cost on Amazon. If you forget on Sunday, it will be Free on Monday, November 27, too. Here is a direct link to Amazon.

Get it this weekend — read it when you have time.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.



I spent three days in Albuquerque, New Mexico last week at the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) annual conference. A year ago they announced that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of “Flow” would be the keynote speaker, and I decided I wanted to attend and hear him speak. The conference also offered an evening at the Albuquerque Art Museum.

I read an early book by Csikszentmihalyi when I worked at the University of the Pacific Library, in which he detailed a study of college art students where the subjects were in a room with art materials and various diverse objects, tasked with making a unique drawing using some of the objects on the table. Ten years later these students were interviewed again about the work they were currently doing to earn a living. He found that the students who had made the most innovative drawings were now earning their living as successful artists, but those who had composed a standard still-life of the objects were no longer making art.

I discovered that Csikszentmihalyi had continued in the positive psychology movement to study “flow” and why some activities give us a high when we do them. Having experienced a few of those moments in my own art making, I wanted to understand how they happened.

In his book, “Finding Flow,” 1997, he explains the conditions that lead to that experience where you become so immersed in what you are doing that you lose track of time and have the sense that everything works perfectly. The research method he uses is called random sampling, where subjects are given a beeper which goes off at random times and they write down what they are doing and how they feel emotionally at that moment.

In his remarks last Saturday at AATA, he discussed a study he had done with teens that showed that while they may complain about doing art projects, they self-rated their highest good feelings after they had made something creative like art, music, acting, or sports. He said we enjoy making art because we feel so good afterwards.

In my new eBook I write about some flow experiences I’ve had and how I’m looking for a way of working that produces more flow. The timing of finishing my memoir, “Looking for Connection,” just prior to the conference is no accident. I seemed to me that attending the conference would give me a good opportunity to promote my book. So I designed and had printed some post card size handouts to distribute at the conference.

In one session of about twenty people we were asked to share about our digital experience, so this was a perfect opening to mention my website and new eBook. I put out cards for class members to take.

At the event where attendees sold their crafts, I engaged with the artists and gave them a card. At one end of the room authors were available for book signings, so I introduced myself to each of them as I looked at their books and gave them a card.

But the most amazing encounters happened while waiting in lines and on the two flights going home. I was flying Southwest and selected an aisle seat. A woman would take the seat next to me and I’d introduce myself and a conversation would ensue. This is not what I usually do, but as I was talking there would be a question, usually “How does art therapy work?”

Each conversation was different, but as I gave them each a card and talked about the themes in my book, these women related to what I was saying in a personal way. It was as if the Spirit had directed them to where I was sitting. It was truly an amazing trip.