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Art Therapy (Odd Socks #8)
Free and effective therapy against the noise, holiday feasting, a quirky but well-written novel, and more.
Welcome to Odd Socks Issue #8
I write here about stuff that interests me, puts a smile on my face, or could use some clarity amidst the noise. Each issue includes two original articles plus four bonus sections. Enjoy!
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We all have a lot to think about these days, and much of it isn’t exactly positive stuff. Hopefully, each of us can find ways to mute the noise, or if lucky, turn it off all together.
I like many, turn to lots of walking, especially in nature, to help de-stress and relax. Works fairly well, but the thing with walking is your mind is still racing, replaying, regurgitating, and reacting to all the monkey-mind stuff in your head.
There’s only been a few activities over the years where, at least for me, it’s been possible to completely turn off the “noise” for a bit. Being engrossed in a movie, or deep inside a book works somewhat, although neither foolproof against nasty negativity to leak in uninvited.
Lately, through my rediscovered love of sketching and drawing, I found an ideal activity to focus thoughts on just that activity. It’s hard to think about anything else while sketching, drawing, painting, etc. The effect is like beach combing with eyes focused on finding seashells or, if lucky, a whole intact sand dollar. Strolling along on the sand with the sound of waves lapping the beachfront always shuts out everything else. Sketching, for me, has that same effect.
I’ve been devoting a small block of time each day to retreat into my sketch journals. During October, the Promptober Sketching Challenge made me aware of the benefit of concentrating on sketching for long periods of time. I’ve felt the same thing happening when I’ve been out urban sketching and sitting on a stool, shifting gaze and thoughts between the real thing I was sketching, and on the paper where I was interpreting it.
Anyone can sketch. You don’t need special pencils or pens, or even special paper. I have artist friends that sketch and draw constantly, and much of the time they do it on whatever paper is available. So if that is what’s been keeping you from picking up a pencil and doodling, or drawing the cat, you needn’t let that hold you back. Sketching is not only an effective form of mental therapy, it’s a free one, too!
As I progress my sketching skills, I’ll start sharing more of what I’m doing here in the newsletter. I’m waiting to be more comfortable sharing something, and then I’ll sketch a bit to accompany an article instead of finding a stock photograph.
Ah, what a fantastic two months for a foodie. First the cherished tradition of the Thanksgiving meal, then next month another feast celebrating the late December holiday of your choice (all of them with special foods and meals).
Surrounding those are the usual holiday treats and munchies that make weight control difficult. If you’re in an ongoing weight-loss routine (hand raised on both accounts), such temptations seriously test even the stoutest of willpowers.
Moderation is the name of the game, but there’s not much fun in that! I plan to survive the blitz of deliciousness by eating lighter meals, enjoying goodies to taste (rather than making them a meal), and taking more daily walks to help offset the calorie bombardment. Still, it’s a challenge.
Memories of Thanksgiving family dinners through the years range from incredible food to amazing locations to the value of being with certain people more than the food or location. In recent years, I’ve made the Thanksgiving feast for my two boys. In my mind, it’s a family tradition continuing on; to theirs, it’s the chance for a huge (free) leftover haul to take back to their apartment to eat on for days.
One particularly memorable Thanksgiving happened during a time when my younger son was aboard a Navy sub somewhere in the Pacific, leaving me and my older son to handle feast duties. Deciding not to do a meal at my house, I drove up to Toledo, picked up my son, and we tried to find somewhere holiday-ish to eat, but with most places closed or just offering the usual, we thought we’d failed.
Happening upon a Boston Market, we noticed their huge “Thanksgiving Feast” banner, and enjoyed a surprisingly good complete Thanksgiving meal, including decent pumpkin pie. But what made it more poignant and memorable were the laughs and talk we had with just the two of us scrambling to hold to our traditional feast.
Whatever you do or wherever you go, I hope you enjoy the coming holiday feasts (with the requisite pumpkin pie in the north, and pecan pie in the south) for both the food and spending time with those you care about.
This month I’m sharing a quirky novel (seems most of the novels I enjoy lately are quirky). It’s a bit dark, slightly macabre, and set in a medieval time and place (yet is not a formulaic medieval story per se).
Lapvona by Odessa Moshfegh is a read you won’t soon forget. I’ve also read her Homesick for Another World which I also recommend. She is not a new writer, but one that avoids expected form and surprises the reader.
A couple of my current Apple Music listens are worth sharing. The first you can find on other audio streaming services, but the second is a curated Apple Music playlist (you can probably find a similar playlist on the other services).
Despite the weird name, this is (was) a rock super group formed by Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen), Joe Satriani (guitar virtuoso), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Michael Anthony (Van Halen). As one would expect, this lineup rocks hard. It’s my current favorite playlist while walking/jogging around my fitness club’s inside track. I used to listen to mellow, new-agey stuff while doing the donut loop, but it mellowed me out and slowed my pace. Instead, Chickenfoot has me walking like a strutting chicken (er, more like a rooster), resulting in a better aerobic exercise.
Dark Ambient Music (Apple Music playlist)
Think of the usual new-agey mood music, but with a dark and poignant twist. Nice background music to listen to while sketching or writing, since it’s instrumental sans vocals. Unlike the usual mellow chill-type ambient music, dark ambient offers similar music but edgier and slightly moody. I find it keeps me from mellowing out yet intensifies my concentration. Check it out if you’re on Apple Music, or consider listening to a dark ambient music playlist to help concentrate on whatever you’re creating.
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