Thursday, August 30, 2012

On my nightstand

by Deborah

This is what I'm reading right now and Cheryl Strayed just knocks my guts out with her shattering honesty, insightful ability to see under an issue, and blazing determination to encourage and support truth and growth.  I have such envy and admiration for her abilities as a writer that I have a teensy case of a star-struck kind of girl crush because of it.

Go get this book and read it immediately.  It captures everything Doodlebugheart is about, without all the glue and paint and stuff.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm very busy

I'm not procrastinating.

It's just that I have this secret conviction that if someone breaks into my house they will go on my computer and judge me based on my win/lose statistics in Spider Solitaire.

It's very time-consuming.

That's why.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Project 137 Days -- As I Live, Breath, and Digh

     ~by Emily Cline

When Patti Digh's step father died, he found out with only 37 days left to live. Patti was with him to witness those final days and it changed her life. She quit her world-wide traveling job at the very large non-profit company where she worked, and started writing Life is a Verb -- 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

I found the book when my son was a year and a half old. Within a day of starting the book, I caught on: life is too precious to spend it doing things I don't love! First thing I did was cut off all my hair. If I had only 37 days left to live, I wasn't going to spend it blowing out long hair.

Four years later, Patti's voice is a reassuring, constant presence in my life -- a grounded, funny, daily gift. When she did her last book tour, she came through Paramus, New Jersey. Deborah and I were there -- I couldn't stop jumping! I was so excited! -- laughing she welcomed us with open arms.
Now, following her Facebook pages, posts, and weekly 4:00 Johnny Depp breaks,...
Every Friday afternoon: Johnny Depp.
I feel like I know her and her family. Her older daughter has gone to college -- she plays in the band. Her younger daughter was recently diagnosed with Aspergers. And now her husband, John F. Ptak,
John F. Ptak, aka "Mr. Brilliant"
the Real 4:00 Johnny break, found a tumor:  John has renal cancer. In typical Patti Digh fashion, she shared it with all of us, her doting, adoring fans. We responded in kind:
   *an Indiegogo fund to help with medical expenses (John is uninsured);
    *an Etsy sale of 37 Days inspired, hand-painted rocks;
    *lemonade stands, art sales; and this weekend,
    *a public event called"F*** Cancer" in their hometown, Asheville, N.C. to help celebrate the power of community and "give back to those who live life to the fullest".

Through all of this, Patti Digh has continued to be the same grounded, real, honest, funny woman I've known her to be. She's continued to post on her personal/work blog and her very special 3 x 3 x 365 blog with two out-of-state friends, still writes a thank you note everyday, and she has started a new incredible event/online workshop: Project 137 Days. She's already had tremendous support and enrollment -- incredible -- but it's not surprising to me or any of her other 880 groupies. I just started my (personal) work on it this morning and already feel a shift.. an expansion of my concept of community, more awareness to daily ritual. And it's only my first day.

I recommend you check out all things Patti Digh, especially Project 137 Days. As with everything she does, it promises to be wholehearted, inspiring, and real. But you better hurry -- she's closing registration here this Sunday.

***What's next?***
Gather & Giggle! Join us this Friday night, August 24, from 7:30-10:00 p.m. for our monthly crafting date. Suggested donation of $10 at the door, though if it's your first time, please be our guest!
We're joining the fabulous Etsy crew's suggestion in their nation-wide craft party! We'll make postcards with the "Wish You Were Here" theme. Feel free to bring any of your favorite crafting supplies, old photos and/or postcards, or you can play with our toys!
Email for registration and details: or 

Friday, August 17, 2012


by Deborah

Emily's original artwork for our company

The purpose of our company, Doodlebugheart, is to help women reveal their inner life to themselves through artistic exercises, to connect with one another, and to nurture their creativity.  This blog is an extension of our work, a place for readers to get to know Emily and I more personally, and hopefully to embody the messy journey of self-knowledge through creative process.  Pretty loose parameters for a blog, really.

I must confess to a certain self-consciousness about my posts lately, however.  (And good grief, could there be anything more self-absorbed than a blog post about your own blog posts?!)  I envy Emily's consistency in posting about crafting and products and events, and it seems to me she is so outstanding about being warm and inviting while staying on message.  Whereas I, at least recently, have been heavy on the personal, and light on the crafty. 

I can't really post about crafts right now, though, because I am not crafting.  At all.  My life has just been too chaotic and exhausting for the last few months. I miss it, though, and now that I've unpacked most of the boxes, I at least have my crafting materials on hand again, albeit piled in labyrinthian, unorganized heaps around my office.  I long to begin losing myself in the process of making something, making missteps and surprising myself, getting frustrated, getting relaxed, the feeling of satisfaction it always imparts.
My carrier full of craft supplies

So my contributions here right now can't be about the latest events or my latest crafts or even my latest inspiration.  But surely there are some of you out there who aren't crafting right now either.  I know many of you are committed artists.  But I know there are also those who have never crafted, too strongly enmeshed in the belief that "I'm just not creative."  There are those who suspect they are creative and would love to try a craft project but who just don't know how or where to start.  There are those who used to create when they were younger, but who have stopped because of the demands of their life.  There are those of you who are artists but who are blocked.

I am representing that part of you.  I love to create, and know that it is essential as breathing at some level.  Sometimes, however, creativity is not about painting or paper or music or poetry or anything we normally deem artistic.

If you are alive, you are creative.   You are creating this moment, and the next one.  We choose, consciously or unconsciously, in every moment of our existence, what to do or not to do.  That is creating.

So my creativity right now is expressed in my life, and not in a journal.  It is finding a way to entertain my two daughters every day.  It is figuring out how to prepare a meal that's tolerably tasty and healthy in the next 30 minutes.   It's deciding where to put that bowl and that picture and that book.  It's thinking up a name for the puppy.  It's in every little decision of my daily life where I try to make things a tiny bit more beautiful for myself and my family.
Beauty can be so simple

I wholeheartedly encourage crafting projects, and think we need more of that in our lives, not less.  Sometimes, however, we need to honor the creativity that already exists in our lives in order to increase it.

Tell me how you are creative today, and keep looking for ways to express yourself.  I promise to do the same.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Magic in the Midwest

Karel Cline, former West Liberty High School art teacher (who just so happens to be my mom!) retired 22 years ago, but that hasn't dampened her passion for all things Art. If anything, it's sparked a deeper quest, more open and spiritual. For the last 4 years, she's held an adult art class in her home, where she has been teaching her fellow students how to draw by using different sides of their brain, composition, line perspective, shading and dimension, painting with watercolor and acrylic -- the classic techniques -- and her passion caught on in them like wildfire.

My travel journal, paints, and ephemera.
Back to Iowa this week to see my family, I had the luck not only to join the class, but also share with them what I do. Feeling all kinds of inadequate  and insecure about my crazy miss-mash of visual journaling (there are FOUR art teachers in that class!), I pulled out my journals, pens, paints, stencils, and ephemera and did a demonstration. Then I showed the beginning steps of making travel journals.
In a flash, they were off and running!
Karel Cline's first travel journal.
These are some of the classes pages in progress!
Quick sketchbook drawing will be a full page.
Piecing together pretty paper and vintage sheet music.
This pretty painting on left counters the found images on the right.
What a fun carrying case!
Sun stamp, paint pens, and photos, oh my! 
Gesso painted on the white page, pressed with the blue -- gorgeous!
Dr. Martin's water color ink in writing.
Glueing down images and words.
Paint and confetti sprinkles.
Vintage lace from an estate sale!
I was thrilled to be there, honored to be taken seriously, and giddy with their openness and willingness to embrace something so different. It was magic!

***What's next?***
Gather & Giggle! Join us Friday, August 24, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. for our monthly crafting date. Suggested donation of $10 at the door, though if it's your first time, please be our guest!
We're joining the fabulous Etsy crew's suggestion in their nation-wide craft party! We'll make postcards with the "Wish You Were Here" theme!
Email for details: or at 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rattling my cage

by Deborah

My oldest daughter has always liked enclosed spaces.  She wants to sleep with a "cave" over her, is constantly building blanket forts, and is contentedly entertained by pop-up play tents.

Recently, we got a crate for Sadie, a really nice, furniture-style crate that can double as a side table in our bedroom.  I ordered it online, and it had to be assembled once it was delivered.  I did this in the living area, where there was room to spread out.  I had set the kids up with a movie to give me time to work, but of course, curiosity won out and the Oldest was soon down poking around, trying to help, and definitely wanting to know what I was doing.

I explained that I was making a new house for Sadie to sleep in, a place for her to feel safe and happy, where she could go anytime she was tired or wanted to be alone.

Oldest thought about this for a moment, and then asked, "Is it a cage?"

I hesitated, but admitted, "Yes, it's a cage, but it's not for locking her up, it's for her to feel safe and have her own space."

Oldest digested this.

"Can I get in it?"

It's a spacious crate, more than big enough for her and her sister to climb in and happily play all day, to fill with toys, and generally take over.  I foresaw the dog's displacement from her new home and attempted to cut it off at the pass.

"No, this crate is just for puppies.  You and your sister are not allowed in it."

This was not the answer Oldest wanted.

"But I waaaaaant to plaaaaaaay in it!" 

"No, this is Sadie's home, it is just for her."

I see the beginnings of an imminent meltdown.  And then the sentence that I was simply unprepared to deal with as a parent:

"But I.....WANT....A.....CAGE!!!!!"

"...................................................................." was my response.

(.....insert several more paragraphs of ellipses of me being completely nonplussed.......)

I then spent the next half hour in the ludicrous position of having to explain that I was not going to cage my child.  This evoked a full-on, no-kidding tantrum, peppered with the screechingly loud, on-the-edge-of-hysteria demand, "But WHY can't I have a cage?!?!?!"

That is a surprisingly hard question to answer.  Turns out the no-cage rule is a very difficult position to defend.  She is four, and a bit young to understand explanations such as, "Because Child Protective Services frowns on that practice."

Saying, "Because it's a home just for Sadie," just evoked jealousy of the dog's privilege in getting to be caged.

"But I....(stomp).... want....(shriek).... a.....(wail)....cage!!!!"

Insert child here.

I have entire weeks where I would give anything to keep this child in a cage most of the time, and I can't believe I am having to say no to this.  Only the anticipated conversation with government agencies prevents me from setting up a dog crate in  her bedroom and locking her up for hours on end.   I suspect we'd both be pretty happy with that scenario.  I really had no good explanation for my four year old why Mommy won't put her in a cage. 

So I finally resorted to the only satisfactory explanation I could muster, the time-honored tradition of the exasperated.....

"Because I said so!  Now go watch TV!"

Yeah.  Parenting gold right there.  Feel free to steal that.

It's entirely possible that twenty years from now, my child will be in a therapist's office crying her eyes out about how I thwarted her needs by refusing to dog-crate her.

I just pray she doesn't end up in jail, happily behind bars, finally fulfilling her desire to be caged that was so cruelly denied by her mother. 

If you will excuse me, I'm going to go start a bail fund now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Are Your {Amended} Big Dreams?

     ~Emily Cline
Today, my friend and (unsuspecting) mentor Kimberly Wilson suggested a "review of your big dreams" and to "take one step closer this Monday" on her Tranquility du Jour Facebook page. I did a meditation (don't act shocked -- I meditate -- Home Goods wasn't open for another 20 minutes, what else was I to do); I did a meditation on where I am.

First, I wanted to model. With all my heart. I thought it would be a career that could get me traveling (yes) and meeting people (yes) and if I did it, I would have this fabulous life, full of self-confidence and happiness.. (er, not so much). I got a lot out of it. And, mainly, I survived. Stronger.
Me in Milan, circa 1990
Comp card from LA, 1992-ish
Finally in NY, around 1996
Shot in LA, just before moving to NY
Crazy progression to me, seeing how unhappy and insecure I was, trying to be someone I wasn't.

That was a big deal for me. I realized I didn't really get to speak or be myself in print, so I started acting: hooray! I could create, get my ya-ya's out, and be another person. I love(d) it! With my whole heart. The business side can be rough -- I have scars from agents and casting directors and reviewers -- but they give me character and dimension.. something I wasn't allowed in the modeling world.

And from high school on, I dreamed of living in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles (I blame Flashdance.) Once I actually spent time in LA, I knew that's where my soul lived. I planned, charted, hoped and finally got there. ahhhh. But once there, I let my eye off the ball, got married, got pregnant, and the curve-ball of being present to raise a child altered the course of things.


BIG DREAMS from a small town Iowa girl? I feel I'm in good standing.

And now going forward. The Second Act, if you will..

Big Dreams Bucket List:
Go back to India
   and London
Spend a month in the South of France
   or the Italian countryside
Raise a healthy, happy son
Live Creatively (with a capital C!)
...and finally, here's my BIG Dream...
Be "Of Service".

To me that means to help people. But not just any kind of help. Creative Help. Not "Creatively Taking Care of the Groceries" help or "Creatively Tackling My To-Do List", but to really use my creativity to help another person(s).

I'm going to take one step closer to that Big Dream today.* With all my heart. Are you? What's your Big Dream?
(hint: if you write it down or journal about it, it's a little easier to dream it!)

I sent an email to a local center of a nation-wide eating disorder facility, volunteering my services as a visual journalist. Keep your fingers crossed! It's a start!!
***What's next?***
Gather & Giggle! Join us Friday, August 24, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. for our monthly crafting date. Suggested donation of $10 at the door, though if it's your first time, please be our guest!
We're joining the fabulous Etsy crew's suggestion in their nation-wide craft party! We'll make postcards with the "Wish You Were Here" theme!
Email for details: or at 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What it means....

by Deborah


I was nearly 13 weeks along.  Exultant that I was past the first trimester mark, feeling less sick and more energetic, and relaxing into the joyous knowledge that we were going to make it this time.  Then the spotting began.  My doctor isn't in, they squeeze me into the schedule, until finally late in the afternoon a doctor I've never seen before administers a sonogram.  He begins with cheerful assurances, then gets quiet once he looks at the screen.  Long pause, turns the screen away.  Squints, studies for a long time.  Then finally cuts his eyes over to me, grimaces, and just shakes his head.

I sob.


I find it hard to even speak the words to people.

I text them instead.  Cowardly, but whenever I try to say it, grief clenches its bony fingers around my throat, crushing the words.  I must not say it, because I can barely manage to push the emotions far enough below that I can function through my day.  Saying the words opens the gate into the anguish and I am drowning.

"I lost the baby."

Not even sure how best to say it.  It seems, absurdly, as if for a moment I'm saying I left the baby at the mall, and am just waiting to claim her.

"Miscarriage" sounds too clinical and abstract and vaguely strollerish.

But "The baby died" is so harsh.  So literal.  Almost as if I am blaming the baby for this turn of events, as if it's his fault, a choice he made to abandon me.

Friends and family call, text, pour out their love and support, and I steadily ignore it all, eyes focused on just the moment in front of me.  I lost the baby, but I'm the one who is lost.


The human reaction is to try to make it mean something.  To know why.  To make sense of something that is beyond reason. 

People say all sorts of things, and they are all the wrong thing to say.  No matter how sensitive or well-meant, everything sounds wrong.


Here is what it means.....

From Bad Idea to Third Child

  • It means that we are going to get our money's worth out of that cobra insurance payment.
  • It means that I can have wine and sushi for dinner, and hot dogs and diet coke for lunch tomorrow.
  • It means that when the girls launch into epic misbehavior, I can look at it as them secretly trying to convince me I don't actually want another child.
  • It means that I can sign up for those tennis lessons.
  • It means we don't have to worry about whether the girls will have to share a bedroom or if we have to convert the guest room into a baby room.
  • It means we don't have to buy a new car that will fit 3 carseats.
  • It means I can get back into yoga without worrying about lying flat on my back.
  • It means I fill 3 trashbags full of the baby clothes I've been saving for 4 years and take them to Goodwill in a rush of irritable efficiency.
  • It means I wake up the morning after the procedure determined to distract myself, launching myself into a packed schedule of touring preschools, charity drop-offs, and shopping at Sam's with the girls in tow; I am so successfully distracted that I drive by the turnoff twice and then slam my thumb in the car door.
  • It means that my rage volcanoes up unexpectedly and gets directed unfairly at the dog or the girls, and that my throat is raw from yelling and from regret.
  • It means that if I wear maternity pants now, it's just because I'm fat.
  • It means that when the woman at the prechool tour offhandedly mentions that she has 4 children I feel an irrational rush of jealousy and resentment.
  • It means that I am cleaning out my purse, find my positive pregnancy test from months ago, and immediately dump it in the trash, clobbered with sorrow.
  • It means we are a family of four.
  • It means we are done.


Something in me broke in the moment that I realized this child was gone.  I'm not broken as a person, I am aware of the blessings in my life and I appreciate them more keenly than ever.  But in this loss, part of me has been emptied out and I am not going to try again. 


I'd like to wrap up with a note of hope, or to pithily tie this all into creativity and life lessons.

But my baby died and I can't.