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The Open Road (442)

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Episode 442: The Open Road

Episode 442 of the CMP, a Creativity Matters Podcast — closed road, open road, and a book on painting yourself calm.

A marker of the pandemic year for me was the “open road.” It was actually a closed road, a two-mile strip of vista road that was closed to cars for the year (to stop the crowds of people who spill out of cars and busses at the top for a photo opp). With a “we’re in this together” (or, “we’ve got you covered“) barricade in place at each end of the road, the road became a free space for walkers, bikers, skateboarders, joggers, and more.

I didn’t start walking that road right away. I first started walking neighborhood roads, reveling in the ability to walk down the center yellow line of roads that were silent, still, and suddenly free from cars. It was terrifying. It was freeing. It was strange. It was powerful.  (Those roads were not “closed,” but in the early days, the impact of shelter in place orders was clearly evident in the empty roads.)

When I first walked the curvy landmark road, I did so cautiously. For some reason, this road, on foot, scared me. I took the dog for short walks up bits of the road, somehow afraid to go too far. I have driven the road many times, but I wasn’t sure, really, what walking that road would be like. I didn’t realize from the bottom that it would only take twenty minutes or so to climb to the top, that the winding road seemed longer than it really was. It took a while before I walked it fully, convincing the boys to go with me the first time. After that, I walked the road alone through the year.

I observed city views from different angles, different elevations, at different times of day, and in both fog and relentless sun. I extolled the beauty of the way the road winds and loops and can be seen from above like folds of taffy wrapping below. There are points at which you can look down from a midway point and see several layers of road curving below. I marveled, endlessly, over the structure of the road, the feeling of walking the road, the presence of shortcuts and paths, stairs built into hillsides, and more.

The road came to represent many things for me, and there was a lot of philosophical thought wrapped up in the road. The closed road, thus open to me, was one of the bonuses of the pandemic year for me. It was something I came to love. It was something I didn’t want to take for granted.

And then the road reopened to cars.

Book Review – Paint Yourself Calm

The library is still not fully open. My branch has not reopened. But there is a pickup system at a few locations. I haven’t resumed my normal habit of reserving lots of books. It feels awkward with this system. But I did pick up a few recently to supplement the creative titles and graphic novels I’ve been reading with Hoopla.

I really enjoyed Paint Yourself Calm: Colourful, Creative Mindfulness Through Watercolour by Jean Haines, and I think you will, too. The book presents a view of painting and the use of color as a way to help provide calm and balance. In many ways, this book talks about painting in the same way I talk about drawing. I really appreciated the philosophy of this book, and if you are looking for a way to get started with painting and a creative habit, I think this is a good way to open the door.

There is a good bit of ink talk in this episode, some #illustrateyourweek talk and musings on the humble reality of illustrated journals, some advocation to be honest about where you are and what you want before buying that next thing, and more.


  1. We have continued with games from the Exit series of escape room games. Our most recent one was Dead Man on the Orient Express, and it was our favorite yet. It may be that we have a good feel now for the game, but we all agreed that the puzzles in this one were really good. Oddly, this one was rated Expert, but it seemed easier than some of the others we have played. I think we’ll try The Forbidden Castle next, then Theft on The Mississippi (despite some poor reviews that suggest there are problems with a few of the puzzles) and then the 2-part The Catacombs of Horror. I do hate it when the kids eagerly announce that we should cut or bend or tear something up. But I’ve gotten used to it. It is a part of these games.
  2. I am on book 3 of The Farseer Trilogy (so book 3 of 16 for the whole Elderlings series). Even I am surprised at how engrossed I am in this series. I am reading a lot, and it’s probably a really good thing for me right now. Maybe I’m just shutting everything out by reading. I don’t know. But I am really grateful to have found a perfect series as I do so! (Years and years ago, I was this engrossed in books by Mercedes Lackey.)
  3. We are still watching “The Mentalist.” It is definitely one of my favorite shows ever, but as soon as I say that, I recall many other good series we have watched this year, like “House” and, more recently, “The 100.” So much good TV. But, “The Mentalist” is still topping the list!
  4. I wore blue arm warmers in the most recent timelapse video. My mother has supplied me with a stack of these wonderful handknit arm warmers for videos.
  5. We are now in week 14 of #illustrateyourweek for 2021. (I’ve been posting prompts now since last summer. You can find them on the Creativity Matters Podcast stream at Instagram.)

Listen to Episode 442


(This episode is available in many of your favorite podcast players.)



01:40 Illustrated Journals and #IllustrateYourWeek

5:09 The Open / Closed Road

18:46 Silver Linings

24:51 Enjoying Ink

26:31 Listening to casual talk in a random podcast

28:03 The Farseer Trilogy

30:27 Paint Yourself Calm (Book Review)

42:05 End Notes

Paint yourself calm cover Paint positive cover Atmospheric watercolor cover Atmospheric flowers in watercolor cover

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