20 October 2016

Ch-Ch-Changes: Saying Goodbye to La Belle. . . .

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.
There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want.
You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing.
We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it….I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
~ Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

hange.  More often than not, I have viewed change as a dirty word.


Tradition, on the other hand, was always viewed as sacred.


You find more of this lopsided outlook in families where there is emotional or mental instability, I would wager.  I certainly grew up waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It’s only natural then that for many years, I viewed change as something to be avoided at all costs.

After I turned forty, I began to see change as cleansing.  Always slightly chaotic at first, but with the potential to grow into something quite necessary and beautiful.

Not all traditions are worth keeping. 
Not all changes are worth accepting.
But both are worth exploring.

When I began this blog in October 2005, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had the desire and the need to write and share my thoughts, but no clear direction.  I wrote whatever I felt like writing about, hit publish, and went on to the next topic.  And while the pieces of all my true passions are still here, the overall picture they form isn’t as coherent as I’d like it to be.

© lilkar_123rf.com
Still, I struggled with guilt and doubt.  

Was I failure because I no longer wanted to keep writing on this platform?  Is this just my ADD talking and will I regret starting something new somewhere else?

I suppose I could simply do another re-vamp of the site like I did a few years ago.  But the canvas doesn’t feel like the right size anymore.  I feel like using different paints and techniques this time around.  And I really want to start from scratch and build something new.

So I won’t be updating this blog anymore (big shocker, I know).  I don’t know when the new one will be up and public, but I will post one last time here to let you know.

It has been an incredible learning and growing experience here at La Belle these past eleven years and I'm so grateful for each of reader and friend that has accompanied me on this journey.  
I hope you will be with me as I begin the next phase of my writing adventure.

See y’all on the other side!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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Posts on La Belle are written with the following fonts: Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, Edwardian, and occasionally Baroque Script.

26 July 2016

The Un-Contained Garden

Comparison is the death of joy.
~ Mark Twain

interest is an enabler. 

Every time I go on there, I am reminded of how messy and imperfect my life is.

A couple of weekends ago, some friends and I sat and re-wrote and discussed our writing projects under the shade of an apple tree. And we declared it good. Then I looked up gardens and entertaining in the garden and drooled over pictures and photographs of pristine English gardens.  And I declared my back yard a disaster. 

Standing several feet from my garden last weekend, it was undeniable.

Because the grass was so high after days of rain, that I was forced to stand several feet away or risk getting attacked by ticks or the very remote possibility of stepping on a copperhead.  (Haven’t seen one in years but it would just be my luck.)

I quickly became morose.  How was I ever going to make my ratty backyard look like something out of Downtown Abbey?  It would take a landscape designer, a mason, a construction crew, and a mountain of dirt and crushed gravel to make it happen.  Not to mention since we try to live as organically sustainable as possible, I would have to hunt down organic flower growers.

My vegetable garden | © Mikaela D’Eigh
And then the rain stopped, the lawn was mowed, and I was able to spend time digging in my gardens, weeding, transplanting, and getting dirt under my manicured nails. (Who says you can’t look pretty while getting down and dirty?) 

And standing on the freshly swept patio, looking at my herb garden and the orchard beyond, it struck me like the scent of a hay field after a storm: this is the view my heart needs.  

A proper English garden is lovely, yes.  But the confinement, and the straight lines, and trimmed hedges don’t fit my personality.  I’m all about curves mixed in with straight lines.  

And when my straight lines meander carelessly, I let them.

My patio would lose the open view of the side yard and orchard if I put up trellises and walls.  The view from the picture window in the kitchen would feel dark and dreary if we added a covering.  And paths are well and good, but what mysteries and views would I lose if I allowed a path to force me in a certain direction?

In that moment, I fell in love with my gardens and my yard for the first time all over again.  My beautiful land, with her lush curves and soft edges, is more French Impressionism then English River School. 

And that suits my un-contained heart just fine.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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Posts on La Belle are written with the following fonts: Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, Edwardian, and occasionally Baroque Script.

12 July 2016

Reading Can Be Detrimental

If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.
~  Anne Tyler

ometimes reading can be detrimental to your health.  Your creative health, that is.

Take this blog for instance.  There are just two posts for 2016 and although I have been writing off and on for the past six months, I have not been sharing any of my thoughts or musings except with a small circle of writers.

And I think one of the reasons is because I read too much.

The majority of writers ~ most certainly all the writers I know personally or have interviewed ~ write because they cannot help themselves.  To put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard is to breathe fresh air.  If we do not write, something precious inside withers away.  Of course, as with any passionate pursuit, there are days when writing is more of a chore, when no word seems right, when the ideas and thoughts flow like a mud-swollen creek.  Yet even then, if I do not write something, I go to bed feeling incomplete.

Yet even on those days when the words simply won’t dance in unison for me, even when writing is something I have to force myself to do in the moment, the joy I experience when I write is still there.  Because once the words are being written, joy kicks in. 

Image: © Luisa Vallon Fumi
Not so much with publishing my writing.  And that is because I have read and taken to heart too many articles about writing and publishing and blogging.  The authors of these articles are writerly vampires, sucking the joy completely out of the creative act of writing.  Their intentions are good, but for them, it is all about clicks and likes and views and “quit your job and make $$ writing!”  

Writing then becomes the platform or stage where I perform rather than the writing itself taking the spotlight. 

So I became obsessed with publishing only those pieces that were “relevant” and would “get the most likes.”  But because I’m an intuitive feeler, that translated into “nothing I write is relevant or good enough and no one is listening anyway.”  Well, Mikaela, maybe people have stopped listening because you never hit the publish button anymore.

I think that the more we try to be ‘relevant” the more our art suffers.  And this applies whether we express ourselves via the written word, on canvas, in clay, on the dance floor, or in the recording studio.  Honestly, have you ever seen or heard a work of art and thought, “Wow, that piece of art is so relevant right now!”  Of course not!  We experience art and take it in and say things like, “That painting speaks to my heart in some way,” or “His music moved me to tears,” or “I was mesmerized by her book and couldn’t put it down!”

Something I say will move you or touch you or enrage you or calm you or make you cry.  But that is immaterial to the creative act itself.  I hope my words elicit those reactions, but I would still write even if I were the last rational being on the planet.

Because I write for the sheer joy that the dance and play of words brings me.

And that joy packs its little bags and goes on vacation if I’m too caught up in clicks and likes and number of views.  For a while that meant that I wrote sporadically and only my writing group saw my work.  For the past month, I’ve been writing daily and still my writing group has only seen the results.  But that re-discovered daily writing habit opened my eyes to what I’d been missing ~ the joy.  And suddenly, I don’t care if I hit publish and still no one reads my words.  I don’t care if what I write and publish here will only get five or six likes ~ all from my writing group. 

The most important thing I can do here is simply share the joy of my art.  And hope that by sharing it, I inspire that joy in someone else.  But if not, the Muse will not leave me because no one reads what I have written.  The Muse only grows sad and leaves when I cease to create and share the joy.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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Posts on La Belle are written with the following fonts: Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, Edwardian, and occasionally Baroque Script.

13 January 2016

Good Enough is Great: One Word for 2016

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
~ T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

link.  Blink. Blink

The cursor pulsates.  Steady.  Measuring.  Judging. It waits for my Muse to say something.  Anything.

I want this year to be different.  I want to end every day with at least five hundred words on the page. I want to be pain free and overflowing with energy.  I want this year to be perfect.

I want the impossible.

Oh, five hundred words a day is doable.  Pain-free is attainable if I avoid inflammatory foods.  But perfect? Not so much.

My clay dragon was doing so well...
Usually by now I have a word picked out for the year.  Last year it was Adventure.  Although I kicked my writerly Muse to the curb around mid-May and stopped journaling, I did at least try to find adventure throughout 2015.  In August, I took up kayaking – dragged into it moaning and complaining, and then promptly falling madly in love with the river. 

In October, I went to a writers’ conference in Wisconsin, where I managed to kayak the swells of Lake Michigan.  It wasn’t a conference in a remote part of Alaska, of course.  But I still managed to have an adventure of the heart there.  And I rediscovered my passion for writing.

So did I live out Adventure to the fullest?

Only I can determine that and I am my own worst critic.  Some inner demon – installed on my hard drive in childhood – keeps pulling me back three steps for each one I take forward.  It’s exhausting and discouraging.  And such weekly or daily battles drain me.  Make it difficult to even hear the Muse, much less live out what she says. 

L.M. Montgomery once said, “Despair is a free man, but hope is a slave.”  Sounds cynical but it’s true.  Hope may keep you going, yes, but it also keeps you tied – and when that something isn’t healthy or sane or doesn’t give you joy or add to your life in some way, then you have become a slave to anticipation.

It is, however, a new year and there’s something to be said for setting realistic expectations.  For too long, I’ve set them high -- too high for anyone to reach – yet I expected to reach them.  And fell into despair and stagnation when I failed.

Good Enough…is Great!
....and then he just fell apart. :(
Whether or not 2016 is “epic” (as I hoped 2015 would be), is no longer the measure of whether December will find me a better person or a more prolific writer.  This year, I’ve set goals with my ADD, depression, work schedule, and health in mind.  And that means setting my expectations to Good Enough

Not in the sense that I don’t put forth my best effort.  Rather, I will work to silence that inner demon that demands perfection from every single thing I undertake by doing the task and allowing the result to be good enough.  Even becoming comfortable with failure. 

Write every day
Kayak as often as I can
Visit old friends
Follow the Paleo lifestyle to heal my body
Continue making pottery
Send one card or letter a month

If I can do these things and learn to allow myself to be good enough, then 2016 just might end up an epic adventure after all.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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Posts on La Belle are written with the following fonts: Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, Edwardian, and occasionally Baroque Script.