Music is breath


Music has always been the one constant in my life. It has been the soundtrack to my joys, my fears, comforted me in every emotion, and spoken my words when I could not. I am always seeking out new music and am so overjoyed when I find something new. Playing for Change isn’t new to me, I have been following them since they started on their Songs Around the World journey and what they bring together never ceases to amaze me.

Most people don’t know this about me, but I grew up with my mother’s love of Africa. (photo: My mother with us at Animal Kingdom dancing to live African music two days before she had surgery.) African culture, art, pattern. I think it is why I am so drawn to black and white, high contrast art, pattern, and texture. It is where my love of elephants comes from as well.

It may also have influenced that I have the heart and hands of a drummer. Though not what I would consider well, I played doumbek, djembe, and other hand drums for years. I cannot imagine my life without music, sound, rhythm, beat, percussion, the sounds of feet dancing in dirt, the sounds of nature’s heartbeat on the wind. Music of all varieties speaks to me and influences my creative force daily.

Africa has been speaking to me lately. Elephant keeps popping up as well as tribal patterns. (photo: a lovely gift from a watercolor artist I met recently, check her out here) It keeps me focused on my own personal strength and power as an individual, reminds me of my connection to the Sacred Feminine, and that with that power comes a duty to be compassionate. Compassion has also come up in that I recently reworked my logo. Moon Rabbit is compassion in Japanese culture.

A while ago, in response to some very disturbing discussions in the news about hunting elephants, I created this paper doll in protest. You can download a copy and print it out (I use 110# cardstock) for personal use! Feel free to share it*, just make sure to link to this blog post and not the PDF. Enjoy!

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*All downloads are protected under copyright and are not to be duplicated in whole or in part without written permission from Renmeleon aka Ana Maria Selvaggio. If you share it, please link to my  and not to the PDF. Thank you!

If you are a teacher and would like a custom doll for your classroom, please contact me. I’d love to make something for you!

2018 we’re going to SHINE!

Several years ago I ditched resolutions and challenges for the new year. Planning my year around one central theme helped me focus on things a little better and I found I was more productive. December each year I meditate on the past year, what I’ve accomplished, what I would like my future to look and feel like, and what I want to create going forward. This year, for 2018, “Shine” is our theme.

Shine, to me, is revealing my Self and my projects. It is of getting out of my own way and bringing to light the things I’ve been wanting to complete but have held myself back on out of fear. In my world, the fear of success weighs heavier than the fear of failure. Being in the public eye has never been appealing to me because of health-related wardrobe restrictions, so I’ve long hidden my light and it has not served me well. I am accused of being that “Too Much Woman” at times (first realized here) a title I am proud of because it means I am roughing up the ground and I am dangerous. I have always been eclectic in my interests, forever a student, and have a passion for life and learning that I am no longer willing to apologize for. Maybe it is my age, maybe it is my health, but life is too short not to make it the life you want.

My daughter @RockPaperFox and husband @RomanDeadGuy are joining me in these resolute plans…

OUR GOALS FOR 2018

I will update these as they are reached with links, etc as we go.

  • Launch Patreon for both myself and for my husband, Val, to help us reach the goals we want to reach. Money does not buy happiness, but it buys the freedom to create happiness. Patreon will allow us to vlog educational field trips, self-publish our books, do book tours eventually, and purchase product supplies while assisting us with covering our everyday bills and keeping food on the table.
  • Launch Val’s Classical Latin Minecraft series. Val will be teaching Classical Latin within Minecraft via a series on YouTube. There will be three videos a week on Monday (vocabulary), Wednesday (sentence structure), and Friday (week in review). Val is K12 certified to teach Classical Latin and will be going through the 3rd Edition Cambridge Latin course. We have been developing the videos and his backdrop world on our Realms server for the past several months.
  • Publish. I have several children’s books screaming for my attention, in the case of Clementine’s Garden quite literally. This Spring she will be the first to be released followed by the dual release of A Cat Named Pillow / A Dog Named Socks for summer reading, Scarecrow’s New Hat and the long awaited The Owl and the Mermaid for Fall. My daughter, Rock Paper Fox, will be illustrating The Shawl Monster for release in the Fall as well.
  • Publish. Stalemate, a work of fiction based on the script I wrote for my thesis, has been in revisions for several months. I am looking a Fall release for the book. Afterwards I will start script revisions and register it with the WGA East.
  • Complete editing and critique on Remnant, the first of three books by my husband, Val Michael Selvaggio.
  • Read. The entire Harry Potter series, just because, as well as a few other titles on my Goodreads. I’d like to read 50 books this year, some of which we will all be reading so we can discuss them.
  • Consolidate. I’ve always envisioned Renmeleon as a portal of sorts, combining all of my loves here in one spot. To that end, my magazine, Kraft Paper Muse, will be hosted via a page here and will be free to view. If you would like a printed copy, they will be available for purchase via MagCloud. Books will have their own domain names and will also be hosted here as micro sites. I am building a creative web to trap all of the pieces of me that will be fun to explore and even educational in some parts.
  • Retrain myself to work on a schedule. I’ve not worked a job outside of my home since before the onset of my LE in 2001. I have always been creative on a daily basis, but I would like to be more serious about it and with that comes scheduling. I have not had a dedicated creative space since we moved to Kentucky, so I’ve had to adapt my workflow and our home has become my studio.
  • Develop surface pattern collections. I am creating pattern collections for all of my children’s books for use as companion products such as paper goods and fabric. My focus this year is surface pattern design as the basis for all of my products.
  • Armor up. It should be no surprise that my family and I are all nerds. We got involved with the 501st Legion here locally when I took over the Kentucky Browncoats last year and have been working toward gearing up wo troop with them as well as developing our Firefly cosplay. Add in Victorian-era costuming for Steampunk and our yearly Dickens involvement and you’ve got a closest full of cosplay for various causes between the three of us. Mandalorian, Sith, and Jedi are all on the near horizon.

I am always drawing so I will have smaller things peppering my Instagram as I work on things. My daughter and I do three shows a year together now, both of which I am involved with – the Berea Makers Market (Berea) and the Kentucky Fried Zine Fest (Lexington) – and I will be showing films at the Kentucky Theater monthly starting in March through December. I’m looking forward to sharing all of it with you!

You can keep up with my daughter’s work on her site at RockPaperFox and my husband’s on his site at RomanDeadGuys.

 

Setting the Tone

I’m working on Stalemate again. Val and I have been meeting with two close friends for a critique group every couple of weeks and we have been breaking it down, chapter by chapter. It has taken on a life of its own and I am very grateful for the feedback. It has also been a small thrill as a writer to see them interested and on the edge of their seats ever so slightly meeting after meeting.

One of the most emotional scenes in the book just came to life for me. I found the scene’s soundtrack and it transformed everything, as music often does. To say Ludovico Einaudi was one of my muses would not be an understatement…

I put the headset on my husband’s ears and asked him to read the scene. Part way through he put his hand over his mouth, moved, eyes tearing.

This is what I wanted. This is how I wanted the reader to feel. I’m happy.

For gratitude

My lovely friend Beth made a post recently about what keeps her going in this crazy, beautiful, fucked up world we live in. It inspired me to list a few of my joys, just for me, but I encourage you to do the same. I originally posted this on Facebook, but thought I would expand on it better and pretty it up, just for me.

What keeps me sane?

You can’t help but smile at his face.

A man I am ridiculously in love with who loves playing barista and doesn’t mind if I steal the bowl of cereal he just made for himself. (Love you Val xo hehe)

I don’t think I would have gotten through this life without the support group that I have. With as crazy as the world is right now it is even more important. I’ve made it my mission in recent years, especially this year, to remember just how short life is and to gather my joys. That includes lifting as I climb and making room for helping good people.

Her first ever cinnamon roll. Yea, don’t get me started.

A daughter who loves looking after me, bakes like a madwoman, and loves doing giving work with me.

When my daughter was young, I remember my mother telling me not to get my hopes up that my daughter would be into the same things I was. When I was pregnant, part of my mantra was that this little gift had her own path and that I was just a guide. I’d walk it with her till she could navigate on her own, but it was hers and only hers. I was there by invitation.

Almost 16 years later she is so much like me it isn’t funny. She is very much her own person, and she puts her own signature twist on things. It’s beautiful to watch. She’s inherited the stubbornness that runs strong in our women, and that causes an issue at times, but she is unique and lovely and I love her strong will. I hope to see her hone her gifts and have them serve her well throughout her life.

Good music that I can loop till I’m sick of it.

I loop music. Mostly if I’m writing or working on something and want to tune out the world. It becomes white noise, which is helpful with a brain that never stops generating ideas. I have too many favorites to ever possibly begin naming, but don’t sell soundtracks for video games or movies short…

The soundtrack for both the Skyrim and Morrowind video games are beautiful. Assassin’s Creed as well.

Ludovico Einaudi
Adore this man. He sent me an mp3 of one of the first songs I’d ever heard of his, Primavera. I am currently working on a project involving his music and can’t wait to share it with you.

Amelie
A sample of my favorite song from the soundtrack of one of my favorite foreign films. I could and have sat and listened to this song all day…and just write and write and write.
::happy dreamy sigh::

Alternatively, I also listen to SoundCloud and things I find on YouTube like this one.

Good books and even bad ones that teach me and calm me and make me want to write.

I’ve read a lot of very different books. I’m one of those people that has a way-too-tall stack of books on their nightstand. We added three poetry books from local Kentucky authors today as well as a little Thich Nhat Hanh book on pebble meditation. I’ve updated what I am currently reading on Goodreads accordingly.

Sidenote – If anyone knows how to find your “author page ID” on Goodreads let me know. I’ve tried using my main profile ID for the WordPress widget to no avail.

Quiet moments with a deck of cards playing Solitaire to sort my thoughts…and occasionally win despite my grandmother’s rule.

I love playing cards. I grew up playing cards with my grandparents after dinner almost every night, EVERY night. We’d play Rummy to 500 points with house rules. Most times it would include my mother and I in giggle fits over her squeaky chair. Eye rolls from my grandmother would start my grandfather giggling, too, and it degraded from there. I learned to play cards really well.

My grandmother was a very serious card player. She and my grandfather ran a Thursday night poker game for eons. I started out very little, playing under the table with the chips, then progressed to her lap. From my perch on her lap, I learned to count and threw in chips for her. Older, I would help her make snack food for everyone. I remember the octagon shaped table with the green felt and cup holders on either side of the rectangular chip trays. I’d roll the table down the hall and help set it up in their dining room nook. Later, after my grandfather passed, she’d sold it. I remember how heartbroken I was. My grandmother was a very practical woman and had said I didn’t have room to keep “that old thing”, but I’d have made a dining room table of it with clear plexiglass and used it to hold mementos. I still remember the feel of the mahogany and the old hinges holding the legs on. I have their most used card decks and my grandfather’s poker chips which we now use in my own family. The sounds of the chips clicking together bring back good memories.

“He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect.”
– Sting, Shape of My Heart

My grandmother taught me to play Solitaire, too. Aside from cooking, I count it as one of the best lessons she taught me – stillness. To sit quietly with a problem in front of you and to know a myriad of ways to solve it, know that there was always more than one approach. Her house rule stumped me for a long time and still catches me to this day if I’m careless – you cannot leave an empty row until all the king’s are out and can only start a new row with a king.

Angry Orchard with Firefly and a room full of friends on cozy, overstuffed couches.

Running the Kentucky Browncoats is one of my passion projects and we’ve been doing episodal get-togethers. Two of our local Browncoats, lovely people with a fabulous dancers apartment, have been hosting us and it something I look forward to every month.

Friends who are as passionate and crazy as I am that give me nicknames like “Luscious” to make me smile. (I’m looking at you Jenni xxoo)

I met Jennifer in college online and we became fast friends. She’s been such an encouragement (and a kick in the ass) when I’ve needed it most. I adore the woman and she never ceases to make me laugh. I love having friends that feel like family.

Empty sketchbooks and Scrivener and waterbrushes with messy watercolor palettes.

I am constantly creating in one form or another, every new sketchbook a thrill of possibilities. I live a very digitally-analog life and blank pages in Scrivener thrill me equally. I carry my sketchbook, a mini watercolor kit, my waterbrush, and my aging iPad everywhere. Tools that fit any mood.

Teaching creative process.

Playing muse is second nature to me. I love passing on Aha! moments, tips and tricks, and seeing that light go on behind someone’s eyes. I love cheering people up and don’t believe in coincidences. I believe you are where you are meant to be when you get there and found myself in two situations recently with two different, very depressed friends. Someone telling me they are so happy they crossed paths with me makes everything worthwhile. Twice in one day and I’m over the moon.

Helping good people on their paths.

Lift as you climb. Always. There is room on this tiny spinning dot in the middle of vasty nothingness for everyone. Collect your joys, grow your dreams, and never give up.

Being myself and not giving a damn about validation from anyone.

I’m not always comfy in my own skin, but I’m too old to care anymore and there’s a freedom in that I can’t describe. I’m fiery, I’m blunt as a train wreck, and I’ll be straight up with you. If you’re one of my tribe you’ll do the same and I’ll love you for it. Life is too short to blow sunshine and I’d much rather be myself and enjoy you being yourself, too.

Be you. Love you. Live love.

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