Category Archives: Work

Joy Dance: 8 Hours Unplugged

I took a stand yesterday. It wasn’t comfortable but it was necessary. Patty Perfect — that would be my very lively inner critic —  was harping in my mind’s ear, but instead of giving in, I ignored her. In a single bold move to rescue my gasping-for-breath creativity, I barred myself from logging in to work-related email and gave myself the gift of time. What to do? Play with the oh-so-fun online bookmaking application, blurb, and my collection of Nantucket Island photos.

for doodles, dreams…
By Lisa Allen Lambert

I love writing, drawing or doodling on graph paper, so this was my paper of choice for the notebook’s blank pages. Eighteen summertime captures of favorite island nooks and krannies are staggered throughout 104 pages.

Time evaporated as eight hours flew by. Bliss reigned; I reviewed dozens of photo files, cropped, and tested selections. Utterly joyful.

The learning curve for Blurb’s bookmaking software is fairly  easy to overcome. There are lots of formatting choices: ebook, softcover, hardcover, hardcover with wrapped image book jacket. The menu of sizes has something for everyone. Curious? Click the graphic above and browse the results of my day.


Tis the Season to Keep Life Simple, or the Benefit of Unifocus

Mrs. R was a patient woman who coached me through five years of adult piano lessons. Sage quips rolled off her tongue,  salve for my frustration and disappointment. It was her notion that “there is a season for everything” that had the strongest stick-value, and I hope she would be flattered to know that I have since passed it on many times over.

Julia Cameron talks about the benefit of repetitive, mindless activity, in that it seems to invite creative percolation. Without effort, ideas just show up. It’s like a brainstorming party — for 1. My notable moments of cerebral luminescence seem to come while I am either driving (alone) or working out at the gym.

Last week’s commute was 200 miles’ worth of ruminations over the loss of my muse. If this is a game of hide-and-seek, she’s won. But how to explain the abyss? There can be no other explanation than this is the season of teaching; I have yet to learn how to parcel out some, but not all, of my self. Sad, but true.

As I recuperated from three wisdom tooth extractions today, and followed doctor’s orders to rest, the luxury of unstructured time came to my rescue. An shop reminded me how much I love vintage fashion, which led me back to the photo above: a corner of my craft room. Although I haven’t left the sofa in hours, I’m enjoying that ‘home at last’ feeling.

Anyone else out there have trouble managing their ‘best’ energy?

Summer Horizon

Five and HopefulSchool’s out and I’m excited! Granted, I’ll have some responsibilities over the summer, and prep for the fall semester cannot be left untended, but in general I have two months in front of me and the creative possibilities feel thrilling. As if she could read my mind, one of my favorite entrepreneurial people, Barbara Winter, posted a link to this list this morning. After ten days in what is lovingly referred to as “the bubble,” I should take a few minutes and assess the creativity-strengthening benefits of my trip to Star Island. But right now I’m itching to do so many other things. There’s the Mitered Crosses Knitted Blanketto finish (hey, I even managed to knit while working last week!),

Lisa Allen knitting

Knitting on the job!

the query letter for the memoir that needs more work, that new bedroom quilt needs starting, and the livingroom windows beg to be draped in something more refined than Indian bedspreads.

Now, I’m talking to myself more than anyone else, but there are three things I know for sure:
1) the ‘doing’ cannot be accomplished while surfing inspirational blogs and photos on the internet
2) pure unadulterated focus is essential
3) persistence pays

Island Sunrise

Time Travel, a photo tour – part 1

Oceanic Hotel, Star Island, NHThe second half of the summer residency (SNHU-MFA) was held at the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island, in the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of Rye, NH. My first thought as I stepped off the Thomas Laighton ferry was, “This is just like the setting for a Bobbsey Twins novel!”

Around the Corner
Peeking around the corner towards Vaughan Museum (above) and the flowers at the entrance (below).

Star Island Vaughan Museum flowers
The Parsonage
Old fashioned climbing roses and bubble-gum scented iris flank the front door of The Parsonage.

Oceanic Hotel on Star Island and cemetery

Nesting season for the gulls meant that this was as far as we could walk on the rocks that day. The males stand guard and dive bomb intruders. Best to walk with a stick held high, just in case.

Social solitude. Everyone is working on their book-in-process.

Star Island dining hallAnd after so much quiet, the rush to meal time. The social stimulation was an intense contrast to the windswept simplicity outdoors.

Ocean Hotel Star Island

Whistle while you work

Back to SchoolForgive the post title — it’s way past my bedtime and I’m punchy. But I just had to tell you what I’m up to. For the next two weeks I’ll be in that delicious bubble otherwise known as the residency for the graduate writing program at SNHU, only this year I’ve got a new gig. I’m working behind the scenes, helping things to run smoothly and in a timely fashion. I’ve still got the 3-ring binder but now it’s filled with organizational details and a bazillion phone numbers.  But pinch me —  I just spent the last hour hanging out in the dormitory kitchen exchanging one liners and hilarious anecdotes with a bestselling author and a humor novelist. Need I say more?!


Kaleidoscope, part I

I haven’t been napping. Honest. It’s just that ever since last September, week after week my time has been dominated by class planning. Teaching new courses will do that, apparently.

The lack of personal creative exercise has felt like a slow suffocation of my spirit, but I finally grabbed control of the situation and started stitching again. The photographs are just cell phone caliber, but enough to document here-and-there.

Here are three new phone cozies in process. My self-imposed rules for these are:

  • give new life to remnants from my (extensive) stash
  • this is not a race — enjoy the slow stitching and do lots of it
  • embellish to my heart’s content
  • think of the three-dimensional end-piece as my canvas
  • and most importantly, have fun


My inner artist was faltering, hesitating and full of self-doubt, and then links to this artist landed in my ebox. (I follow at least half-a-dozen or more artsy/designerly blogs, daily postings of links and images from inspirational sightings around the internet. Truthfully, looking at everyone else’s beautiful creations has left me feeling like I’ve been drooling over pastries in bakery windows while restricting my calorie intake.) Elsita’s backstory and how she tells it absolutely charmed me. But it’s her miniature books-as-art that had me swooning with admiration. Something kicked into gear and my inertia was (thankfully) interrupted.

Meanwhile, I am seriously revisiting an old idea: a weekly schedule that addresses all of my various endeavors and obligations. Always in pursuit of balance. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The full confession

It’s messy but it’s mine. All mine. I’ve been fighting a state of analysis-paralysis for days, which followed the syllabus nightmare. No, I’m not joking. Christmas night the anxiety kicked in and I woke up convinced I’d failed to get my syllabi completed and in to the department head on time. Well, that deadline has come and gone, and all criteria were met without a hitch. (yay!) Nevertheless, the jitters have been holding me hostage as I make baby steps into the next semester and two new classes to teach.

When I need a break from the note-taking, daily lesson plans, and power point creations, I step out of the home office and enjoy a moment of peace and domestic tranquility in the space we lovingly call The Reading Nook.

reading nookIsn’t the red cheery? My father brought the striped fabric back from South America. The neon dyes and man-made fibers and suspect machine-weave remind me that indigenous crafts are at risk of extinction, but I’m happy to settle for this cheerful souvenir and reminder of my dad. The chair was a hand-me-down when the parents of a childhood friend were downsizing. Their home was a beacon of stability for me for many years. And the oriental silk pillow cover? That came from a grab-bag of pass-along items from my favorite aunt. Every time we meet for one of our quarterly lunches at a restaurant midway between our two homes, she pulls a bag or two of upcycled goodies from the trunk of her car.

Over the past few weeks, when I haven’t been knitting or taking care of school business, I’ve been devouring wonderful novels by Luanne Rice. Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) would say that the novels are an escape from doing my own work. I’m sure she’s right. And it has to stop. I feel an absence. It’s the absence of creating vignettes for happy photos, writing a blog post, or buckling down with a bigger piece of writing. It’s like the space left after losing a tooth. I keep revisiting the spot where it used to be. There’s nothing there and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out how to fill the gap. Julia would say the first thing to do is to *stop* reading (recreational), for a while. But can I just tell you first that in Dance with Me I found a fabulous excerpt about literature that I’m going to share in class next week?

So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, why I haven’t been sharing photos and bits of my creative life, you now have the full confession. Thanks for reading.