Little Bears With Big Dreams

241843373_3113730025523426_428657764942243873_nI am having the best time working on my new book, “The Pillow Guardians.” The very first line is enough to terrify you!

“He couldn’t believe his big, purple ears! He was being thrown away! Tossed in the trash!”

What I love most about working on a new book is the excitement that comes with wondering what happens next, how does it end? Much like someone binging a TV series, I take each chapter with the same unknown unraveling that you experience when you read it for the first time.

I really want to take my time with this book, but not too much time. I want three versions ready to go well before the Christmas season: a hardcover picture version, a paperback, and the kindle, of course. I also want to have a few sets of “character bears” ready to go with them. If I’m able to spend a little money, I’d like to advertise this time, do a legitimate book launch, have this little children’s book available in every book store you can think of. Not a problem at all.

I’ve always sort of hindered myself by trying to move too fast. I get eager, I want to share my work….now I need to start doing that more methodically, at a pace that allows the book to grow long after I’ve finished writing it. As a matter of fact, I caught myself doing a silly timeline to show that I could have “The Pillow Guardians” written and published within two weeks. WHY???? Why, Gregory, why? Spend some time with these little bears, give them big broad personalities, and let them walk you through their story at their own pace. Don’t rush the story. SLOW DOWN.

242160777_404637134663431_5085094369432010747_nI have 6 limited edition hard cover copies of “The Madam and Mr. Brown” left. I’d love to get them out of the house and then use those funds to help cover the printing costs of the next book, a little savings account that I can set aside for manufacturing “The Pillow Guardians” the right way. Those funds, plus any other income, would give me an amazing war chest to push my little book about teddy bears into the mainstream. Again, maybe this time I’ll have saved enough money for some advertising.

Since there are only 6 signed copies of “The Madam and Mr. Brown” left, I’d get one fast. They’re in the shop, the price has been reduced and I would love to sell out all final 6 copies so that we can put the Madam and Mr. Brown to bed for now, work on “The Pillow Guardians” and hopefully, this Christmas will be the big break I’ve been waiting for. So! Head to the shop and grabbed a signed copy of my book!

(UPDATE! There are only 2 copies left)

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The Pillow Guardians

I love to be inspired. I love when an idea just smacks you up side the head.

241542250_4257563427697013_7297199330953077402_nI was taking a picture of this purple bear I was trying to sell yesterday. The weather outside wasn’t accommodating, so I propped the little purple guy up on my bed. As I was taking pictures an idea for a new children’s book began swirling through my head. Quickly, images and scenes began to produce themselves as I raced to my laptop to begin scribbling notes. Imagine, a secret network of teddy bears that place themselves (they find a way!) in the homes of lonely kids, kids that have yet to make friends, kids who seem so sad. There is one particular young girl they are desperate to help. They call themselves, “The Pillow Guardians.” 

I couldn’t stop myself. After a few hours of taking notes, I started writing the first couple of pages and WHAT FUN this book is going to be! And I’ve already started playing with all the different teddy bears, their different quirks, personalities, looks. For instance, one bear is missing an eye, is stitched up the front because he was attacked by a dog, and has a little rip in his left ear. He helps run away or tossed away bears find their way to Mr. Smokey, who teaches them how to be Pillow Guardians. 

241693635_371254487883735_599139520920525211_nOnce I finished the first pages, I sat down to begin knitting up a few of these bears, beginning with Mr. Smokey. He’s available in my shop. There is only one for now, but if this book starts kicking into high gear, expect many more in the future. I’m also going to start playing with some of the other bears, too. Like Fred. (Don’t ask, don’t want to give too much away just yet!)

I’m looking forward to spending the weekend writing out the rough draft and I’ll give you more info on Monday, and probably another character bear or two. But, for now, go visit the shop and grab Mr. Smokey! He’s also signed with a card, “#1” so that you know he’s the first one to find a home. 

I LOVE being inspired!

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Autumn in the Air

241536712_943562656223078_7054072907180655998_nI have had the best time working on this piece. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to play with all of those autumnal colors. This is my latest pillow case cover. I love dipping into embroidery, love messing with thread. I’d love to find this piece a new home tonight, so if you’d like to have this one of a kind handmade piece, click here.

The Bears and a Printer

Today’s blog post won’t take very long. I have a million things to do and a bazillion places to be today, so I thought I’d go ahead and post before I head out. My printer has died, and for someone who prints postage on a nearly daily basis, not a good problem to have. There are ways around it, though. For the meantime, I’m going to email all my postage to Staples, have them print it, then go pick it up. But, I’d really rather focus on getting my own printer right away. I loved the one I had. It was very inexpensive, black and white laser, no frills, printer. Perfect for what I do, so I plan to look for a more updated version of the one I had (which was already heading to the 7 year mark).

241434156_1132137397314136_5048963449264906032_nI have one bear in the shop that is ready to go. Now, the other two bears are already sold, but if you’d like for me to make one of them for you, please let me know. I figure if I sell two bears that’ll be enough for a printer and all will be back in business. Just let me know if you’d like one of my bears and I’ll whip one up for you. Or! Let me know if you’d like a custom bear.

Ok, I have to run! I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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Good Job, America…

Phillip and I had a friend over the other evening. They brought a bottle of wine and I was able to procure a pizza for us, thanks to Papa John’s. While over dinner we started chit chatting about the state of affairs in America, the situations that seem to be discussed in the media. Cancel culture. Racism. Insurgents. Then my friend said with sincere gratitude, “I’m glad we can talk about our thoughts on these things. We certainly can’t do it in public. People are afraid to say anything.”

“Amen,” I said. “I know I can’t. Not with my blog. I’ve already been told that I should be scrubbing stuff I wrote 5 years ago because it makes me a target. They’ve already banned my twitter account.”

“Why?”

“For something I wrote. Not for something I did, mind you. Something I wrote that was used as a weapon against me, to prove that I was hateful and vicious and mean and shouldn’t exist.”

And the whole mood, the whole conversation, the covertness of it set my mind back to 1989. 

I began to tell my friend about the night the Berlin Wall fell. I was there, as some of you have heard me mention before. I was a 17 year old Goth boy, a senior in high school, drunk out of my mind that night. My shenanigans really should be penned into a book, for the whole story is quite fun. But, let’s skip to the end, where I am toasted, lit, pissed drunk and stumbling around with a broken bottle of Sekt. The gorgeousness of the evening, the total surprise and brilliance of joy in that evening can never, ever be scribbled with the best clarity. It will always be this moment of human triumph that happened oh, so fast, and so intoxicatingly perfect. These were one of the few moments in history where the world collectively celebrated the demise of tyranny and oppression. 

I stumbled back with laughter that famous night, fell onto my back and just relished the moment. Thousands of people strolled by, partied on, or reveled past my limp body as it smiled with bright glee.

241210223_244210447708720_7258586787245970880_nWe had done it. Gone were the days of censorship, of spying on your own citizens. Gone were the days of neighbors snitching on each other because of their dissenting beliefs. Gone were the days of media propaganda machines. Gone were the days of erasing history for the sake of the Party’s narrative. Gone were the days of strangled art, of artists stifled by rules of permissible messaging. Gone were the days of when artists were afraid to say, sketch, pen, paint, or sing anything that did not promote the common ideologies of the masses, rather than the individual spark in the soul. Gone were the days of imprisonment for political belief, of forced medications on its citizens, of absolute control over every aspect of your life including where you live and where you work. 

“We saved the world,” I whispered with a slur. “We did it….We saved the world from tyranny.”

Then my drunken shell stood to yell, “Good job, America!”

I passed out not long after. 

I then said to my friend while grabbing another slice of pizza, “It never occurred to me that it would only take 30 years for people to forget all that….It never occurred to me that I would be sitting here 30 years later waiting for that same liberation to happen all over again, but now for my own country.”

I bit into my pizza, sat back on the couch and sighed with disappointment. “Good job, America….”

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An Update on my Weight….

I had all but given up on scales, on weighing myself. It was always depressing, heart-breaking to look and see that all the eating I was doing was worthless. My weight had dropped to 98 pounds and I was left devastated. Then a little less than two weeks ago I was blessed with a Papa John’s gift card. The minute I received it I ordered the biggest pizza I’d ever seen in my life. Then I kept using the gift card, over and over. So, for the past 10 days or so, I’ve had half a large pizza and half a tub of ice cream for dinner.

A friend of mine told me earlier today that I looked better, not as sick. I looked like someone on the mend. “Any idea what you weigh right now?”

“Nope! I’ve given up on trying. And as long as you say I look better, then I trust you and I’ll leave it at that.”

But, I was so curious to know if I had started gaining weight, because the majority of my problems with food are stress related. If I’m stressed, I don’t eat. So, while I’ve been blessed with an abundance of pizza, I’ve also been cleaning out my head and my spirit of any unnecessary stresses. The stresses of the world are not of my concern right now. No, not until I’m at a healthy weight. Let me worry about myself, get all tidied up, get healthy again, both in the body and in the mind.

240950346_198938288893843_887809155438231520_nSo, the minute I hit Publix I jumped on the scale to see that my weight had gone from 98 pounds….to 104! Woo HOO! (I actually did shout, “Yes!” Which I guess people rarely do when they pop on a scale, so I got some looks 🙂 )

I was so encouraged by that plop and drop of the needle as it bounced between 95 and 110 before finally bobbing on 104. I dashed into Publix to add some new items to my diet. Potato salad, Pulled pork, more ice cream, Hawaiian rolls, fried chicken….wow. I nearly broke the bank, but who the hell cares? I’m gaining weight! FINALLY!

With a full belly I pen this post. With a big smile I write about this little success. With a warm heart I thank all of you for helping to make that happen. 🙂

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Maybe The World Will Get Better

I was walking home this evening.

I passed a raccoon and her family of three as she led them out of their tree and off to dinner. I smiled and said, “good evening,” to a woman who was walking her dog, using her poop bags to also pick up any trash she passed. The electric cry of the cicadas was charging the air with a wiry pulse. The charming scent of passion fruit and crepe myrtle cling to the humidity that coats my cheeks. The leaves of the trees that dangle gently above my head rustle only when woke by the soft breeze…then tenderly fall back to sleep. The glare of the street lamps give the strong, massive oaks a lacy shadow on the pavement.  I take a seat on the stoop, having the aroma of cut grass come to greet me. I breathe it all in, grab some of the moment for myself, then exhale it back with gratitude.  My body softens. 

I could have stayed out there all night. And I still don’t know why I haven’t found myself a hammock. 

These days of ours, all of ours, are filled right now with a lot of bad, bad influence. In 23 hours out of 24, the world, the media, society at large will fill it with nothing but the most horrendous, disastrous, anxiety driven messages. We are barraged with bad news. And if you’re not aware of whatever bad news is happening, then everyone wants to get you up to speed, so that you can feel as good as they do about the bad news they’ve been hearing all day. 

Talking bobble heads screech all day about all the terrifying things that happened to the world and you just want to ask, “Did anything GOOD happen? Anything? Anything at all?”

It’s too much for the soul to take. And you become a prisoner to this nonsense when you decide you need to hear bad news all day to make you feel good.

People will spend hours upon hours, a huge chunk of that 23 out of 24, lapping up bad news like a feral cat on a puddle of spilt milk. They can’t get enough. They thrive on it, spin all their conversations around it, think about it while driving, role play arguments in their heads. They’re always right and you’re always wrong because they’re more informed about all the bad news going on than you are….

Somehow, I feel blessed with that obliviousness.

I’m blessed to walk home at night, sit on my stoop and breathe in all the beauty around me, let it swirl through my soul, then give it back. That is where I’d rather spend my time; appreciating the grandness around me, rather than the grotesque. That may lend some to think to think that this is a callous, uncaring way of feeling, that I’m not being empathetic to all the horrible things that people experience every day, all across the planet. That I’m not spending as much time as other people are, sometimes 23 hours out of 24, wrecked about the state of the world! 

Actually, it’s quite the opposite approach. I’m spending only a small amount of time on the pain and suffering, getting hold of it, then spending that other vast, swath of my day focused on the greatness of nature and the goodness of people. (Head in the sand? Well, then I’ll be damned).

There is a danger in sacrificing our own appreciation for goodness in order to adopt the hardships of another, that their suffering is now ours, that we should feel equitable in their pain. But, the truth about love is that it does not relinquish to suffering. Love purifies suffering, it is immune to it. Love lifts the soul from suffering, it doesn’t join it.

Hostility breeds the need to see someone suffer, while love pursues the end to suffering….

240816825_909636366634905_4397645994519380951_nBeing out there, outside listening to that gorgeous orchestra of cicadas, crickets and frogs, I felt enveloped by the world, loved and comforted by it. That calmness in my spirit felt so much better than the chilling shrill of calls to arm blared at me through megaphones all day.

Sitting on that stoop, so at ease, at peace, I understood that I couldn’t save the world, or very many people in it, by being mad at it. But, maybe by being in a place of silence, in a place of prayer, and in a place of peace, maybe the world will get better….

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Dancing Away My Drear

I thought I’d spend a few minutes with the keys this evening. I haven’t pounded on them in a while. I’ve been knitting, I’ve been embroidering, but I haven’t been writing, or rather, I haven’t been blogging. I have felt awfully quiet, not really willing to share anything. I contribute it to anyone who needs a vacation, especially if it’s a vacation from your own head.

There has been nothing impressive to say. Weird, isn’t it? I think there is a numbness that comes with a lot of loss. You just sit, stare….try to find an emotion that isn’t sadness. The best one I’ve come up with seems to be some kind of apathy. Which bothers the crap out of me. I’m not….interested in feeling all of sorts of emotions. I don’t want to hurt. Ok, maybe for just a second so that I can go ahead and get it over it and move on. But, that doesn’t seem to be happening and I’m not sure why. I sit paralyzed sometimes with this bland apathy….So, get out of your head, take a vacation from thoughts that freeze you and spend any second you can on thoughts that please you.

That is the PRECISE moment where you simply must do something ridiculously joyful. I’ve tended to my little mindless vacation naked in my boots. I’m not kidding. Loss of marriage, loss of lifelong cat, loss of pants….Bring it!

I haven’t wanted to blog because I didn’t want to discuss any of the things that have been burdening me for the last few months. I just wanted it to be over, done, not have to be explained, not have to be explored. I wanted these things to be accepted, not dismissed, but accepted in a personal, private way, finished with in the best way possible. So, I’ve been dancing away my drear.

With bulky boots that are too big for me I stomp and twirl to my own playlist of classics. Alien Sex Fiend, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, the Creatures (!).

I get to toss off the idea that loss is all devouring. Because, I feel joy. I feel good. I feel. My soul said, “Can’t let you feel like this anymore. No sadness. Joy. Only joy. Put your boots on.”

“Why my boots?”

240624883_261128182522887_7626814158556823812_n“Because you’re going to dance….and stomp….and laugh….and giggle….your arms will reach as if to stretch for better things, your heart will start pumping life back into you. The life you want is going to come at you fast, so have your boots on, because you’re going to want to be ready to experience that joy of stomping….and laughing….and giggling….and always wanting to have your arms outstretched for better things, with love pumping life back into you. You’re going to want to do that all the time. You need to experience JOY right now. So, go! ….DANCE!”

So, dance I did….

Because I was reminded that the wallowing in a sad feeling can lead to an uninspired place of lethargy….and the only way to push past that is to boogie.

(You all want to know about my weight issues. I was gifted a lovely gift card from Papa John’s, so when I’m not dancing I’ve been eating pizza and ice cream. 🙂 )

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Big Eyed and Ready to Cry

I don’t feel like myself right now. I could stammer with an excuse, a reason, but I blurted it out with absolute honesty to Phillip earlier today. I told him that I feel trapped. “I’ve been making an effort to change things, move my life forward….but, it’s not working. Nothing has changed.”

Some things have changed. I finally said goodbye to Mario yesterday. I will leave that there, will not remark anymore on it, because after 17 years I cannot say another beautiful thing about that cat. We had a wonderful two decades together that rivals anything any person could ever claim. I had that cat in my life longer than I’ve had most people….

20210815_122905Reading my blog, you’ve seen that my appetite weakens when I am stressed. I have a tendency to get so pulled into my thoughts that I neglect to eat. We’ve discussed this often. But, I didn’t think that I was under a monumental amount of stress until I stepped on that damned scale. 98 pounds.

So, what is it? What’s bothering me? What’s got me so upset? Other than Mario? Other my divorce? Other than a schedule that I can’t seem to keep up with? Other than my finances? Other than obligations that I can’t seem to meet? Other than every day waking up and realizing I’m not moving towards my vocation? Other than? Other than? Other than?

In my head I find ways to ease pain, because I do not experience pain often. (You see what I did there? I screamed, “Denial.”)

I think the problem is…..I have not grieved over all of the loss over the past few months. I’ve internalized, written a little, painted a painful picture or two to depict those losses, but never gave myself the time to accept them, never gave myself time to mourn.

So a good cry is in order…Maybe that’s all I really need: a pint of ice cream, a sad movie, and a good cry.

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Seen By Every Star in the Universe

With my current schedule, It looks like Sundays just might be when I’m doing most of my writing 🙂

I’ve always been fond of Sundays. I believe in a day that is mandated for resting, introspection, and thoughtfulness. With the way the world is at the moment, it’s very difficult to have any time of quiet, personal self reflection. Of course, I blame the cell phone. I don’t carry one. I have one, but….truthfully, I use it as a camera and a clock.

The fear of missing out has people frantically scrolling through media feeds as if their lives depended on it….ironically missing out on some of the more important things in life. We could both catalogue a long list of what those things are, but to simplify, peace and contentment.

They must be seemingly old fashioned ideas, because all I can seem to see when I plug myself into the internet is a barrage of messaging that despises the notions of peace and contentment. Anger and hostility are new national pastimes (with no one seeming to ask, “When did we become ok with this?????”) And contentment can’t possibly be achieved if you’re always unhappy and miserable. And be mindful, that misery on a grand scale can be seen by every star in the Universe.

So, I chose to purposely shut all of that off a few months ago and I can’t tell you how precious the world is now. When once I spent hours following the fist pounding pundits and talking heads on Sunday mornings, I now wake to Rick Steve’s Europe and the Great British Bake Off. I love having coffee in the morning and hearing where Rick is going to take me once my agoraphobia and this pandemic have become nostalgic chapters in a future memoir. I love then dipping into the delightful, daisy driven spiritedness of the Great British Bake Off….(where, let’s be polite, every one is so freaking NICE to each other!).

And that’s how I like starting a day, distant from the drama, set aside from the frustration of every other living man’s frustrations. Especially a Sunday. Then of course, there is that ever soothing silence that is so precious to the soul. Time in quite is so needed right now. Maybe not for the rest of the world, but for myself at least. Good feelings allow me to day dream, and when I quiet the mind and shut down all of it’s yelling and need for attention, I get to be inspired.

I love thinking about what to write about next, what to knit next, what to learn next (making lace!), or even what to read next, see on the street next, what weird wonder will this little neighborhood inspire next? There is peace in daydreams like those, versus the ones that begat cravings and desires based on hostilities. Someone out there is going to call that good old fashioned greed. I disagree. All of those things you dream to one day have or lord over someone just out of resentment is nothing but spite…..

233760787_1749909275192674_6455355064892629433_nBut, peace and contentment are so much brighter than aggressiveness and self loathing, it brings kinder people to you, feeds your soul with warmth, allows you to function with some ease in times of instability. Peace and contentment bring you the best of daydreams and inspirations, brings you the thrilling reminder that yes! you are alive! here! NOW! Peace and contentment enrich you with empathy for your brother, negates all hatred for his soldiers, and forgives any harm all of them may have caused you. (I love Jesus turning the other cheek, as if he were truly saying, “Go ahead. Smack the other one. I’m not gonna hate you. Hit me up and down, left and right. I won’t change my feelings on this. As a matter of fact, ya’ll are gonna kill me one day and even then I’ll be asking God to show you forgiveness. So, smack the other cheek. Come on, hurry up. I’ve got five thousand people to feed.”)

That kind of beauty can only be found in peace and contentment, only those kinds of riches can be found in peace and contentment…..and honestly, that is the only thing on a grand scale that every star in the Universe would like to see.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!