10 Things To Do Without Technology

May 9, 2007

Know anyone that still uses one of these?

My Liza came home with this shot in her camera and we both giggled at this old technology.  What did we ever do before cell phones, ipods, computers, video games, and the like?  Here is a list of 10 things we could still do without any of our modern technological advances:

1. Visit a library for the aroma of knowledge and read a book.

2. Stroll through a park or garden. Or plant your own garden.

3. Take a bubble bath, complete with candles and music. (Transitor radio)

4. Visit that friend you know needs you. Just listen.

5. Study the stars on a cloudless night.

6. Kiss someone. Pass out hugs.

7. Play with your pet. Or your guitar. OK just sing!

8. Be still. Meditate. Nap.

9. Write a letter. (Remember, with pen and paper?)

10. Count your blessings.

Just a little reminder of simpler times. What else would you add to my list of technology exempt activities?

Warm wishes. anitamorrell.wordpress.com


May 4, 2007

It may not be easy for the owner of this crash to see the beauty in it, but Liza did.

Likewise it is difficult for us humans to understand why bad things happen to good people. Like my (high school senior) nephew’s good bud who landed the double leg fracture in one of the last soccer games of his high school experience. Tough to understand.

Or why babies die.

And old people don’t and sometimes suffer and linger.

And war heros (although I am not pro-war ever… I certainly am pro-hero and don’t understand how they can die with such brave and honorable motives).

How can a pianist loose a finger, or a singer loose her voice. How can an artist loose his sight or surgeon loose his nerve.

It is hard to find gratitude in these things. It makes me feel very human in the not understanding. Very helplessly human.

But Liza gets it. She is not ruling out any possible source for beauty and joy. She knows it is not about asking why, but about just going on anyway. Each time STARTING OVER after the CRASH with greater wisdom in this constant search for joy we call life.

Opening my Eyes

April 7, 2007

Liza finds machinery interesting. Today she found this image at a local construction site.

A.D.D. (see First Exposure), Liza is helping me see again. Helping me to want to see again. She is helping me open my eyes once more to the striking beauty of the most mundane things.  She brings home the images and challenges me to find the art.  I love this little creative game we play.

Gotham Writer’s Workshop????

April 4, 2007

In my new effort to improve my non-fiction writing chops, I am considering participating in an  writer’s group at Gotham Writer’s Workshop (NYC of course).  Have any of you experience with this organization? 

Their credentials seem in order.  I would prefer a writer’s group in person, but none are available nearby. 

A.D.D., I seem to be in need of structure and accountability. Perhaps a writer’s group would be the encouragement I need.

Kindred Spirit in Key West offered a writing course that I took a few years ago.  In one class exercise, Instructor Shelley had us write on writing.

“Writing for me is basically an involuntary reaction like throwing up, belching, or sneezing when I get black pepper up my nose.  I haven’t much choice.  I write so I can go on.”

“I remember after Hurricane Georges numbly shuffling through the days of clean-up: the heat, the muck, the worry. I even saw a man die. Run over on his bicycle by one of those monster debris removal trucks. There the stranger lay on the pavement: helmet removed, a single trickle of blood making a puddle near his dark, curly hair. The huge truck’s driver sitting on the curb with his head resting in open hands.”

“Somewhere into the second week after the hurricane, the storm raged on in my mind. I felt so heavy with the collective trauma. I needed to catalog all the impressions and feelings. To put them somewhere safe for keeping. I unloaded my weight onto the page. There. I could move on!”

My journals are filled with the births, deaths, and all varieties of change and drama. “I write when I feel. When I feel so strongly that I can not help myself, I write. I need the release. Writing makes me feel light and unburdened.  It allows me to go on.”

Shelley gave me permission to write not only when necessary, but just because I could. “I write in my notebook filled with loose leaf paper.  I also write on the white paper napkins while I drink White Russian milkshakes at Louis Backyard Bar. I also write on the back of K-mart receipts or a small notepad with “First State Bank… your hometown bank” printed in neat aqua letters across the top of each sheet.”

“But I am not a writer. Writer’s get paid and are interviewed by Matt or Al on morning TV. Writers get published. Writer’s get read.”

Thanks to blogging, I now have a forum for writing not just because I have to, but because Shelley said I can.

Warm wishes until next time. anitamorrell.wordpress.com

Without Keys

March 29, 2007

  LOT of antique vintage keys / key TOTAL of 16  

Vintagegoosehas a lovely online shop selling very cool vintage jewelry and other goodies like the antique keys above.  Seeing her photo made me think of an essay I wrote about three years before I “started over”. 

“Without Keys” was written while living in Key West but vacationing on Sebec Lake in Maine. Can you sense the career burn-out in my tone even then? Or just how desperately happy I was to be away from the A-type, three-careers-at-once, too-many-plates-up-in-the-air kind of life I lived…. hmmm.

WITHOUT KEYS by Anita Morrell

I know I am on vacation because I have NO KEYS.  No responsibilities and no keys.  No jingling metal bits to hang from the purple clip attached to the belt loop of my Dockers.  No mass clinking against my thigh as I walk.  No keys.  No responsibilities.  

Now let’s see. There’s the five keys it takes to get us into the business and two keys for our home.  There’s my office key, my car keys and safety deposit box key.  Scooter key, mail box key, pool key, bowling alley locker key.  I have none of them here. I am on vacation and have no responsibilities. 

You don’t need keys here on Sebec Lake.  The pontoon boat that floats us up and down the lake starts with the push of a button.  No keys needed to access the hiking trails or morning quiet.  No keys required for the black night sky and the brilliant stars that are suspended there. 

The keys are important in the real world but not here on Sebec Lake.  Those keys allow me a way to manage and protect the life that affords me this keyless vacation space in my year.  The keys are left behind with our most trusted friends.  They carry my weight just now.  Cause, you see, I am on vacation with no responsibilities and no keys. 

I once knew an Englishman who told me that he thought that cold St. Petersburg, Russia and Key West would make a delightful cocktail.  I now know what he meant.  As much as I love Key West (our balmy sun kissed island), I too love the northern woods and crisp morning air. I love the quiet of the country where the only sound I hear is the breeze rushing through the trees and the squeaking of the boat as it rubs against the dock. 

So I will drink this libation slowly this vacation week, trying to savor and observe and appreciate and feel all that I can.  I will enjoy having only the sweet responsibility of life on Sebec Lake.  Because I am on vacation and have no keys!

One Human Family

February 23, 2007

During my Starting Over process I was cleaning out a box from B.D.D. when I ran across a bumper sticker that read:  “Everyone in the world can share the Official Philosophy of Key West, Florida: All People are created equal members of ONE HUMAN FAMILY”.

It occurs to me now that I am not just missing my Dad but am also missing the life I had in Key West for 17 years. By letting go of my professional life, relocating our homes, and suffering a tragic loss – all in a very short time, I fear I have created for myself the perfect storm… but that is not the subject today.

Key West is a tiny island at the end of a chain of islands (Keys) that pushes itself out into the Atlantic Ocean like a plantling stretching for the sun. Only 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is the USA’s only tropical, frost free oasis to which one can drive.

That is exactly what we did in April, 1989.  Our 23′ long U-haul, plus towed Mustang, arrived in Key West carrying us, possessions to meet immediate needs and enough musical equipment to stock the little music store that we intended to open.

We are proud of our work there knowing that we filled a need that afforded us a modest income and passage into a truly amazing community of characters. The people in Key West are as diverse as those colored sprinkles that top your ice cream cone from the local DQ.

But no one there seems to notice.  It is a very live-and-let-live kind of place.  The movie star lives next to the retired or escaping corporate dude, who lives next to the bartender from Sloppy Joe’s, who lives next door to Cuban bakery.  The cheese toast and buche are enjoyed by everyone on the island including the conch on his way to a City job who lives next door to a household of hotel workers from Mexico.

My friend P. is a fifth generation conch who lives in a turn-of-the-century gingerbread eyebrow house and is a perfect example of the excepting nature of the island.  P’s family included a great, great grandfather from China who married an island girl.  Her family has co-existed with the Cuban folks who came in the 60’s (and still come today), with influxes of Irish immigrants, not to mention the eastern block invasion that happened after the cold war passed.  Even before P’s time, her family was exposed to travelers from all over the world including the US military that has occupied the island and still does today.  P. contends it is the island’s diversity that makes it the special place that it is and I agree.

Not too much “keeping up with the Jones” in Key West. Everyone wears shorts and sandals.  Some don’t have to work, and some have 3 jobs.  Some fill their days with artistic escape, volunteering, partying, some work 15 hours a day just so they can live the remaining hours in this magical space.  At the end of the day, all join together at the edges of the island to praise the Universe for producing yet another dependably stunning sunset over the crystal tipped waves of the Gulf of Mexico. 

I miss Key West, but I miss her people more.  I am a better person for having lived in Key West because I embraced and took with me the concept of One Human Family.  I wish I could put this understanding in a pill that the whole world would take.

Sleeping for 8 Months

February 22, 2007

I awakened this morning with a pleasant but odd feeling. The sun was shining and Johnny Wood, local TV weatherguy, announced that we were in store for a balmy day in the high fifties. I had the distinct feeling that I have been in a long tormented sleep and now I was, for the first time in 8 months, really awake. Really alive.

Instead of trying to figure out what to do with my day (A.D.D. behavior… see 1st blog), I am feeling much more B.D.D. and am thinking of all of the possibilities for my day.  Am I really starting to get over the loss of my Dad?  I know I never will. But I do feel lighter today, without that sad blanket of pain. More a tender soreness than a totally shattered heart.

So today I will try to live in gratitude for a Universe that heals.  I do have much to be thankful for: a partner that has supported me through 23 adventurous years, a loving family and special friends, now having free time, and relatively good health. 

My “starting over” artist self is very grateful for my girlfriend (GF).  I have known GF since shortly after college days when I was already corporately entrenched and she was… well I don’t really remember what she did during the day, but she was and still is a very free spirit.  I do remember evenings filled with youthful hilarity and lots of scotch.  I admired her enthusiasm for life and I still do.

Over the years, we stayed loosely in touch until about 6 years ago.  We happened to be passing through her town on one of our road trips and decided to give her a visit. It was pleasant, reconnecting with her and her delightful partner.  It was as if no time had passed since our last communication. Some friends are just like that, aren’t they?

GF has helped me have the guts to consider the longings of my artist self. She has a way of cutting through the whining and excuses with her xray vision and pulling from me a voice I sometimes could not (or would not) hear for myself.  She squeals with joy at my every artist attempt.  Her encouragement is priceless. And I know should I fall back into an extended sleep she will be right there pinching me to awaken once again.

To Justin and Allison

February 18, 2007

blog-pic.jpgMy only nephew, Justin, is a bright and likable 18 year old trying to decide on a college. I am excited for him and the excellent prospects he has for his future.

Maybe because I am operating A.D.D. (see my first blog entry), I feel compelled to leave my encouragements for Justin and my only neice, Allison, in case they are ever living A.A.A.D. (after Aunt Anita’s death). Don’t worry… should not be anytime soon!

Know I have lived a great life of adventure and love and rewarding challenge.  I wish the same for you.


1. Day dream often.  Find your own voice.

2. Make sure the achievement of your dreams is a goal worthy of your life’s work.

3. Remember, it is in the getting there as much as the arriving.

4. Take risks. Intelligent, researched, gutsy risks.

5. Have contengency plans.

6. Have balance.  (Yin and yang)

7. Give back.

8. Thank your Creator. Be a creator too.  Create something worthwhile and understand your value in the Universe.

9. Be thoughtful and kind.

10. Don’t judge.  But when you have to, be fair.

To Allison:

You are a spunky, think-for-yourself kind of girl that makes me so proud.

1. Be a participator, not just an observer, of life.  (Sorry, know you’ve heard this from me before.)

2. Grab life and make the most of it.

3. Find joy.  For yourself and others.  It is your right and your responsibility.

4.  Be still and listen to your heart.

5.  Give yourself options.  Understand completely your choices.

6. Be brave.  Fight for right. Fix, Allison, what we don’t have yet right.

7.  Make the world a better place. You know you can.

 Lastly I would want both of you to know how much I care about you and how my life is enhanced having the two of you in my world. 

Warm wishes to all. Anita

Another Look

February 14, 2007

Time to take another look at a creative classic.  Whenever I need a creative kick in pants, I usually drag out Julia Cameron’s 1992 The Artist’s Way.  It is, for me, a kind of Creative Bible. See SpiritSite.com  (I really have to learn how to insert links)

This book will be old news for many of you advanced creatives but for me finding it was Divine.  It empowered me, helped me to understand that I not only have permission to be creative but in fact am expected to be by the very Creator in me.

Julia taught me about Morning Pages.  Even if I had no desire to write or paint, the journaling exercises she encourages I have returned to repeatedly for personal therapy.  Unloading onto a page frees my mind and allows me to hear my own voice and feel free enough to create something to express it.

Warm wishes until next time.