Friday, August 29, 2008

Playing Peekaboo

It's one of my kids' favorite games. Hiding, then popping out, big grin, saying "BooBoo!" Still here, mama.

Mama does some peekaboo, too. Pulling the covers over her head and pretending not to be here.

But she is. Still here mama.

I think, just like with the kids, it's not really a game. There's something very important about peekaboo, learning about permanence, about the laws of cause and effect, about individual agency. This is what happens when I do this. She will still be there even if I hide. I can make someone jump/laugh/scream.

Me when I'm hiding, it's not really a game, either. There's serious business going on here, even when I'm just laying down reading an escapist book of fiction or not answering emails.

I believe in a fallow period, maybe many smaller fallow periods. Times of rest and reflection. Of sitting with all the facts and details and dreams and ideas we have at our disposal and ruminating over what they are all about, but not actually requiring anything be done.

I am not doing much creating right now. No photographs. Very little writing. Only a touch of art. But there is more going on under the surface. This might very well be a hiding time. A time when the lights are down and the moon is out, drawing to the surface all the meaning of life.

Plans are being laid down.
Ideas are percolating.
Research is accumulating.
Thumbnail sketches are getting drawn.
Old friends are reconnecting.
Decisions are being made.
Time is being organized.
Plus, potty training is underway (which if you ask me, is part of why not much else is.)

It is not an exciting time. There's very little evidence of the work being done, but it's there.

But check back with me in October, when I will be on the verge of opening an etsy shop. (I have just made the decision now, this moment. I'm calling myself to task for October. That gives me one month, four weeks, to get my stuff together.)

And watch out for Nanowrimo in November, when I will be starting a new novel that is bubbling away in the back of my brain. As a hint, it has something to do with werewolves, and girls in disguise. Yes. I know, I am already writing a novel, but I want to take part in Nano, and I cannot continue with any of the parts of this work that I am already engaged with, and I am not ready to write the third book, at all. Besides, I think Nano may serve as an impetus for my revisions.

And what about December? By December, I think all decisions about living arrangements should be made and we should know what coast we will settle on.

This has not been an easy year. It has been a transitional year, which is why it's been tough. So much is in development. But I can see how I am getting closer and closer to the outcomes I have been working on. Actually, I can't wait to see what I will accomplish by the end of the year, and I am quite certain I will be making some lists and taking stock of everything that has happened. I have a feeling that I will be amazed by all that I have done and am doing in the turmoil of 2008.

But I don't think I could accomplish anything without taking these down times and allowing myself to just be. What about you?

Are you resting enough? Taking breaks? Allowing your half-formed ideas the time to become full? Remembering to breathe?

You gotta breathe. You need to let the air in sometimes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's Right With The Universe

This is a tough time of life. There are setbacks and struggles and disappointments every time I turn around.


This is not a bad time of life.

This is a new development for me. To be going through tough struggles and yet still be aware that there is happiness running throughout the difficulties. To experience things not going my way, and yet still be able to see that I am not failing, but in fact growing in huge leaps and bounds in the most important ways. I cannot see where life is going to go-- shoot that's not true, I actually can see where life is going to go, at least the general neighborhood of it. It's the specifics of whens and hows and whats that I can't quite see. I know I am going to achieve the dreams I have been working on all my life... I just don't know what they are going to look like when I get there. And I'm okay with that uncertainty because I have faith that it will all be okay.

In fact, I have faith that is all okay right now, even in the middle of the *rolling eyes* pain.

What's going rightish?

  • I am reading for pleasure and relaxation.
  • I just did laundry.
  • The cat likes to sit out in the sun, even if she gets fleas.
  • Taking some time to lie down and read is making my back feel better.
  • I have been connecting with some long distance friends.
  • I have made a few confrontational phone calls, instead of just stewing and feeling bad and being afraid to call people out.
  • I have researched creating a business plan with the Small Business Administration.
  • I have drawn two hand drawings, which are almost like journal entries from a mostly nonverbal place.
  • I have restarted potty training with the hopes of being done with diapers in two weeks.
  • I have gotten the kids a doll house which I was supposed to get them 6 months ago.
  • I have said "no, it's not okay," when it was not.
  • I have started to eat more vegetables.
  • I have instituted a rewards system and sticker chart for Potty training both kids.
  • I have remembered again and again that right here, right now is just perfect and impermanent. The same for everything. Including myself. Perfect and Impermanent.
  • I have remembered that it's okay to be sad, tired, worn out, upset, uninspired, and even depressed, and that has made it all better.
And I have the feeling that I have left out a lot of things that are going right. These are just the things that have been on my mind lately.

What's going right with you?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Yesterday, I slathered up on mosquito repellent (I am freakishly attractive to the little buggers, which sucks, living in Florida,) and grabbed up my art bag and my two kids, and opened the door on the garden. They spilled out like puppies, running all over the place and happily picking up sticks and leaves to toss into their collecting buckets. I gave them cookies and milk in sippy cups and let them have their free reign, while I sat down, to, hopefully get some painting done.

And then, it started to rain. You see, we are still being hounded by Tropical Storm Fay, and it has been gray and threatening for a week and a half, which is one of the reasons we have not been playing/sitting in the garden. Oh no! I thought, packing up my paints that I had just gotten out. Closing my new Moleskine to the onslaught of the raindrops. Do we run inside to hide or do we wait it out in hopes that it is just a sprinkle???

I looked at my kids. They were so happy. So I said, heck, what's a little rain in the middle of summer. Go ahead and play. They splashed around, I hovered over my Moleskine, wondering if I could get something down, wondering if I could risk it, wanting to DO SOMETHING CREATIVE but feeling frustrated. The rain came down harder. I frowned at the obstacles to my creativity once again. I drank another sip of my sherry on the rocks (it was almost bedtime and I'd had a bad week.) Then I looked out, as the rain fell in buckets and saw that it was sunny.

Sun spilled across the sky, lighting the trees with a golden glow, and yet the rain still fell. I jumped up, forgetting the paintset, forgetting the empty journal, forgetting the camera that I had lost and so was painfully absent on our garden romp, forgetting even the sherry, and went running to see if I could find a rainbow.

Rain + Sun = Rainbow, right? But no, there was no rainbow.

I stood there in the garden, the little wet puppies wriggling around, their hair curling up with rainwater, and all of a sudden, I gasped.

Can you see a rainbow when you are standing under it?

If I were standing a mile away, out of the downpour, would there be a rainbow arcing over my house like a blessing?

Here I was in the storm, sun be damned, and all I had was the rain, and a little bit of sun that didn't chase the rain away. It is so easy to see the storm, the troubles, the mud, the wet, the puddles, the difficulty and the inconvenience... but do we see the blessings?

That's when I let it go (to be truthful, just for the moment, but I let it go.) I smiled at my kids and danced along with them in the puddles. The rain felt nice in the heat of summer. I picked some multicolored pink and yellow croton leaves for the kids to use as "wings" and they flew around the garden. I just played, that's all.

And then the rain passed, the sun hid itself behind the clouds again. I never found the rainbow...

Or did I?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


This week I have:
  • Gotten angry at my mother
  • Gone to the museum with the kids, my mom and my step nephew
  • Lost my camera
  • Thrown my back out from stress, probably
  • Had some financial set backs (two, maybe three)
  • Started potty training of the boy, again
  • Freaked out over a hurricane that was predicted to go right over our heads
  • Hurt my back again, due to my constant need to bend down, pick up kids, clean up messes on the floor, move toys, etc.
  • Watched the hurricane/tropical storm miss us completely
  • Needed to spend naps laying down to protect my back
  • Been really cranky and moody
This is why I have not written for a little while. Mostly the last one, probably.

I've been trying to figure out what it all might mean. Why, whenever I seem to gain some forward momentum do I keep getting bogged down?

Is there meaning behind it at all, or is it just random happenings that I put meaning on to? I don't believe that the universe/fate/god/thepowersthatbe would be so micromanaging as to cause me to lose my camera to learn a lesson, or send me in another direction or have me reach a new direction or whatever.

But perhaps ther is something about dealing with these setbacks that creates the life that you live. There's no way to avoid struggle and pain, right? If you were to avoid it at all costs, then you might find that you go nowhere, do nothing. Ever. If we try to avoid the pain, we just cause other problems, probably worse ones.

So what do we do when we are faced with obstacles? Do we give up? Do we shift to something else? Do we take a step back and take care of our wounds? Do we try to find new ways around the obstacle? Do we prove to ourselves how much we really want our goals and break down those walls, find a ladder and climb over, open a window, squeeze through a mouse hole?

Does our reaction to obstacles-- rather than the good fortune we receive-- actually define our lives and who we are? I have the sneaking suspicion that is so. And if it is, then we really are the authors of our own destiny, aren't we? There is no external divinity with agency in our lives. Our faith, perhaps can help us in our choices, but we are the ones who make who we are and where we end up.

With that in mind, I am looking for the things that happened/occurred to me this week, inspite of or because of my obstacles.
  • I talked to S about our finances in order to get things on a more proactive path.
  • S agreed that it was important for me to have a new camera, possibly even a better one, and has managed a way to get it done.
  • I have had three separate conversations with people who barely or don't know me about some things I can do for money. And that these came up when I was not expecting it means to me I am not as STOPPED in my goals as I was feeling.
  • I realized that I could try for grants to fund my creative life. How? I don't know, but it is a possibility if I take my career seriously.
  • I realized that I can try to read tarot again. Yes. I read tarot cards, but the kids have made it very difficult to pursue that. Talking to someone, I realized again that I do know what I am doing and have something to share with people. I could also do this online or over email, I believe. Must think about the logistics. Actually, on line/email might mean I can do it around my kids, instead of needing a babysitter to do it.
  • My back is my back, and the only thing I can do to make it better is to actually RELAX. That means not feeling anxious because I am not doing anything and so staying yoked to the computer doing nothing instead of accepting that I should do nothing. That's right. I SHOULD BE DOING NOTHING. I NEED A BREAK! Messages from the body, I guess.
  • I was inspired by Dragonfly Reflections to paint a picture about my memories of childhood which just happen to include my sister and that lead to an inspiration to do a series of these, and that lead to a realization that perhaps I need to remember the good times with my sister and not just the stupid fights and the other things I won't mention because I am trying to release them.
  • Perhaps that while my camera is gone, I should focus on organizing my archives and finding other ways to get images on line, like getting my uncle to show me his scanner so I can do that, or figuring out how to post images from the web. Yes I am that bad at technology. I don't know.
Well, this feels really long winded. I know there is more that I am learning from this bout with my tidal wave. Still learning to ride it. I'd like to remember a little more of the good while I am getting tossed about, but perhaps there are no should be's and I should just accept that it is what it is and have faith that soon I will get my bearings and will start moving forward again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where Sacred Art Exists

Leah of Creative Everyday wrote this beautiful post about the nature of the sacred, and I was inspired. I looked over at Dragonfly Reflections to see about this project she is doing, and I had to say that I would try, too. 100 days of Sacred Art sounds fabulous. Here I painted a picture inspired by walking through the garden to stumble upon my cat... who was just sitting there in the middle of the path, being a cat. There's no one who can be in the moment quite like a cat, particularly if napping is involved.

Later that night I sat down and, with nothing but a vague idea, opened my journal. I started with a circular shape (I think circles are pretty sacred, don't you?) and then sketched in the shape of the cat with Faber Castell Pitt artist pens. Then I took out my Golden paints and colored everything in umber, leaving a white outline for the cat. I then painted in the green fern (I had to get a fern from the garden to reference. That fern is now in a vase by my bed with some flowers) and I added the ochre and yellow acccents and the brown shadows. It felt sacred to me while I was painting. It felt as if it was a painting about "spirit." Whatever that is.

Which brings me to my main question. What is Sacred Art in Everyday? Does it mean I should meditate everyday? I probably should. Does it mean I have to paint a saint/goddess/mandala/cat picture everyday? I think it might be nice, but everyday is not realistic for me right now. Does it mean stopping and appreciating the whole foods that nourish my body and feed my kids? Do chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs count? Does it mean I have to be serious and forgo humor for the deep and meaningful? I hope not. Does it mean that everything in my life should feed into or come out of epiphanies? Isn't that expecting too much and doesn't that take away from the zen aspect of just being?

Do I count writing my novel, when my novel is a genre/science fiction story, not a treatise on spirituality and art? Although now that I think about it, there is a prominent theme exploring Gaia theory and the spirit of a planet. I have a sneaking suspicion that it does count towards this challenge, though I am more likely to discount it. Why would I do that? Especially when you take into account that the task of writing my novel is me honoring my own soul and my dreams, and sitting down to the work is me listening to my higher self, instead of my lower, chicken-shit self. Hmm.

Where is the boundary here? I can see where sitting in the screened doorway with my kids, watching the rain fall in the garden is a sacred act... but is it art? Is the photo I take in the moment art? Is it creative? I can see that making a dinosaur scene on the kids' plates w chicken nuggets is creative, but is it sacred? Where does fun lie in creativity? In the sacred?
And when it comes down to it, how does this Sacred Art stuff fit into my Be Brave project, which I am always thinking about, but rarely consciously acting upon. How does it fit into raising my kids and sweeping the cheerios and going to the museum to see dinosaurs, like we are doing today?

After considering the way my life works, I do not think I am going to be able to manage 100 Days of creativity. Just the mechanics of it make things difficult. I can't paint, take photos of the art, upload photos and post every single day before that day is over. I often don't do my creative work until the kids are in bed for the night and then there is no daylight left for photos and I might be too fried to write.

But I think I am going to take this on as a meditation on WHERE Sacred Art exists in my life. As I look back at my questions about what it is, I am seeing that it all fits. All of it. I think my goal here is to keep focusing on the creative and the sacred, when ever it appears. It is also to create work that feeds my spirituality and soul.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wildest Dreams

What would YOU do if you woke up to find you were rich beyond your wildest dreams (let us not talk of how we got said riches.) This is the premise for Pink of Perfection's August project.

Ha! Ha! Ha!

That's me, laughing heartily. Is this a project, or what I do every day when the kids go to bed? Ah, but this is not just a question of monetary gluttony or materialism run rampant, this is a question that if you look at it just right can tell to you your deepest dreams.

The real question, underneath this question, is what would you do if you were free from the constraints that hold you down? No daily grind. No day job. No need to pay rent or worry about how to pay for junior's braces. What would you life look like if money were not a thing to cause anxiety and yoke you to the grind. What would you do if money were NOT an issue? What does your dream look like?

My dream: I would buy an old farm, probably in upstate New York, not too far from the City. I would renovate the house, and the out buildings, not necessarily to make it a working farm, although I would like some fruit trees, a kitchen and cutting garden, and perhaps some small animals, but to make it a community for all my friends and family. I would like to see the barns look something like this that I saw on maya*made, comfortable and beautiful places for my people to live full time or only in summers if they so desired. I would have a gorgeous studio where I could paint and write. I would also have someone come and clean the house sometimes, because I can admit when something is not my strong point. I would have some babysitting, so that I would be sure to spend my time on my creative work, and not spend all my energy on the daily duties. I would write my books and paint my pictures and run a business, without the stresses of whether or not I was making enough money to live on.

Of course, on my creative community farm/compound, I would host retreats and workshops, for people to come from everywhere to explore their creativity and what that creativity means to their souls. It would be a place of art and music, community, friendship, nature, diy and green energy, teaching and flowers, kids and books.

And since we are dreaming, since I am not just a country mouse, I would buy a brownstone in Greenwich Village in NYC where my sister could live, if she chose not to live on the compound, and where my family could come to visit whenever we got the jones for something more urban.

So that's my dream (simplified, there is more, but mostly about taking care of family members and a little travel) and I've examined it. Except for the brownstone part, it is not so crazy of a dream.

My dream is of a modest home (even my dream compound is just a rundown farm) filled with creativity and friendship. Yes, it would be nice not to have to worry about money ever, to not have to struggle and find ways to fit passions into the daily grind... but we have already discussed how perhaps the struggle is what helps us reach the greater goals. So when it comes down to it, my dream is not so far off. It is not unreachable.

So if I can SEE my goal, and I can BELIEVE that I have it within my power to ACHIEVE that goal, then I can take the steps to make it real. Not only that, but I can live my life NOW as if I were already on that road to my dreams. I do not have to wait for the financial windfall...which might, it is true, never happen, I can make that dream come true through persistence and focus and faith.

When you dream your biggest dreams, what are they made of? What is the true heart of that dream? Is it, like mine, about nesting and creating? Is it about travel and adventure? Is it about glamour and dazzle? Hey! I don't know, maybe you want to be a rock star. Whatever it is, can you start living the heart of that dream in real, if smaller, ways right now?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Everyday Creativity, Everyday Moms

Creative ways to recycle and make fun toys without spending any money while increasing your childrens' skills and imagination.
This is an egg carton split in half and used for sorting garden finds. Or fruit loops. Or sometimes it is a light saber. Or a bridge. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
My main goal is to create. To paint and write. My other main goal is to raise my kids to be happy and strong. Sometimes I feel like those two goals are at cross purposes. I get frustrated when I am with my kids because I am not writing. I feel guilty when I am working on my art because I am not doing what I should with the kids. I have the feeling that these two goals should feed each other, but I get wrapped up in the mundanity of life and lose the connection.

How do I bridge the gap? I think the answer is mindful living. Spirituality. Zen. Find the creativity in daily life. Find the beautiful in the mundane. Find how life and art intersect. Redefine what it means to be creative and take stock of all those moments in the day when we are CREATING something new... an idea, a meal, a photo, a game, a song, an interpretation, a painting, a story.Creative ways to get your child to eat something green.
Do not be fooled. This is not spinach. This is dinosaur food. And it's much better for dinosaurs than the grass some confused Dinomen eat when they have no dinosaur food. *note. His tshirt actually says "DINOMAN." This is how you know he is a dinosaur.
I am going to be looking into my daily life as mom to find ways where my creativity comes out to make life better and happier for my kids. And that will make my life better and happier, because if I realize the creativity and beauty and zen in my daily life with my kids, I won't always be moaning, "but I can't sit on the floor and watch the rain fall with you, I HAVE THINGS TO DO!!!!!!!" I am working on it.

Creative ways to try to get back into baking and make mama eat breakfast while simultaneously entertaining two small kids and giving them a treat.
This is a box mix blueberry muffin. I know, nothing great, full of processed stuff, but I haven't baked anything from scratch in forever. This was easy. And I felt free to be creative with the instructions on the box, using my half empty tub of sourcream, a pinch more salt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top. They came out great, so we had a mini tea/muffin party. Yum yum. And the kids like to watch the eggs break and love to help stir and also to watch the muffins get puffy in the oven.
Okay, so stay tuned into more of my adventures in daily creativity and zen living. I will have more to say on this topic.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Poof Monster and the Angelic (ahem) Boy

POOF! You under monster's power! Give monster cookies!

This is an illustration I did for LAST week's Illustration Friday. The theme was "Poof" but it took me too long to draw, paint, photograph (I would love to scan for the better image, but I am still waiting for that advancement) and post. And then POOF! Friday came and went and came again.

But I thought I would post it anyway. G loved the sketch, particularly the polkadots in the background. He called them bubbles and pretended to pop them. Maybe he loved the monster picture because he saw himself in it. I don't know why he might feel that way. That Poof Monster has nothing in common with my lovely and angelic son.
He definitely offers up some inspiration. I like to use his aesthetic sense as a sounding board, actually. He had an opinion about the Sail painting, too, saying it needed more color when I showed it to him in only blue and white. Maybe I'll show it to him again, because I think it's a little off... something about the flying girl does not seem finished to me. Maybe G will know what it needs. My little monster has opinions, he does.

And actually, he's into lollipops, lately, not cookies. Probably because I rarely give him lollipops. Something about the rare, treaty goodness. I bet he'd like to be able to poof me into giving him candy.

Flying Girl: Sail

So here's my entry into the Illustration Friday prompt. This week it's "Sail." I thought I would go with the idea that I have been exploring for many years now, Flying Girl. However, this time, she is not just flying through space on her own, she has a conveyance that can yoke the power of the wind. How will this sail boat affect her journey? Is that a storm system building in the distance? Will the boat help her make it through the rough seas/skies ahead?

Golden Fluid Acrylics, Pen, Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Return of Glamour Mama

#1 Out With The Girls Mama: Cotton [pleated] Yoke Dress with Self Tie/[add: Green T-Strap Heels/Floral Cloth Hand Bag w Wooden Handles/Wooden Bangles/Green Multi-Strand Beaded Necklace.
#2 Solo in the Village Mama: Vintage Inspired Cropped [Asymmetrical Boucle] Swing Jacket w 3/4 Sleeve/Ruched Knit Tunic/Tweed Knickers/Calf Boots/Army-Navy Inspired Purse w Wood Handle.
#3 Playground Mama: Fitted Leather Jacket, Empire Tunic, Skinny Jeans, Calf Boots

The prompt for this week's Inspire Me Thursday is Wardrobe.

Bah! I thought, at first, as my mind rifled through my actual wardrobe, looking for inspiration. I have been a pregnant, nursing or the mother of messy and demanding toddlers for much of the last four years. My wardrobe is a mess. What I wear now is for rolling around on the floors and getting covered in peanut butter. When I was a bartender, my clothes were entirely to tight, too low cut and too short for today's needs. And before that, my decent clothes that I wore when I was a teacher... well they are either worn to death, or they were put away and got discovered by moths. I need to get a whole new wardrobe. However, I am not in a buying phase. In fact, I am rather non-materialistic, both out of need and, conveniently, out of conviction.

But that doesn't mean Mama can't dream.

I decided I would design my dream wardrobe. My superhero, rockstar, brave, warriormama wardrobe. It seems to be a Fall wardrobe, because in Summer, you think about the new school year and putting on sweaters.

It makes me happy. I like the way they came out. I love the outfits, especially the middle one. And the dress was totally on the wing and came out better than expected. I even like the color. I did not have the colors that I saw in my head, so I went with the markers I had, which didn't work out the way I thought, but when I messed with them, they came out even better. I look at these drawings and think, damn, I should have done something with my fashion jones.... I coulda been a contenda.

So here is my dream wardrobe, thanks to my year of High School fashion design, (at the High School of Music and Art, I might add.) I would have done more outfits, like "Home with the Kids Mama," and "Writing All Day Mama," and "Papa Watch Out for Sexy Mama," and "Hosting A Party Mama," but the kids woke up from their nap, and Mama also lives in cheerio land and has to get dinner together.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

I have been hiding lately. I have felt uninspired. Tired. Trapped. Small and overwhelmed. It is so interesting how when you are confronting all the things that really are important in your life, something inside of your starts squealing and clip-clopping away, like the knights in Monty Python's Holy Grail. "Run away! Run away!"

I do this to myself. I think it is a normal part of growth. I can see how society on the whole does this, whenever it is faced with sweeping change. Many aspects of society get scared, try to hold on to the conventions and comforts of what they already know. The same thing happens to a single person when she is about to transform. Sometimes, I feel as if every person consists of a thousand little identities inside of us, all working together into a usually coherent whole.

Sometimes, our parts don't agree, though. "No No No!" we scream when change arises, and if the parts of us who are resisting are strong enough and have enough power, the revolution is beaten down. For awhile. But I do believe, like the revolution of the seasons, the revolution of the soul can not be held back forever. It takes a warrior, though, to make sure this revolution is a true one. It is a warrior who steps up and takes action, and drives this life, instead of letting life drive her.

This night I sat down to look through some of my favorite blogs and came upon this post by Dancing Mermaid and all of a sudden, it was like a light went off in my shadowy, hidden-in-the-closet head. Ah yes, I said to myself. Be brave. Right. But like the mermaid, I realized I am already brave. I do not have to fight to be something that I am not, I just have to turn to those parts of me that already know what to do. The parts of me that are already battle hardened and fierce.

So in the face of that, I want to honor that warrior self. I want to remember her. I want to acknowledge her. I want to summon her.

I am brave, I am.

I am brave because every time I fall down, I get back up. Every single time.

I am brave because I am willing to face the dark, and my fears, my flaws and my failures. Oh, I wince, but after I do my shift and sidle I will come back to it, and go forward.

I am brave because I am going into the unknown, the untrod path, the direction of my dreams. I may not know where exactly it will end up, but I know what step I need to take in that darkness, and I take it.

I am brave because I know when to apologize. When I have done something that is not in line with who I want to be. When I yell. When I take things out on people who should not be the target. When I get all wrapped up in my head and freak out. I believe in a real apology, even if it means I have to admit when I am wrong.

I am brave because I am willing to let go of those things that are no longer working for my life, the place, the things, the ideas, the actions, sometimes even the people. I get my feet underneath myself and step away from the comfortable.

I am brave because I am not guided by the expectations of society, all the shoulds and have-tos of conventionalism, but by the deeply held convictions of my soul. I am not led by the surface, but by the meaning.

I am brave because I struggle to trust in the process, that no matter what the outcome, it is the journey that matters. It is what we learn and how we get stronger and how far we go.. not where we end up.

I am brave because I believe that people are intrinsically good. I believe that if you walk a mile in their moccasins, all people begin to make sense, even if that sense is a sad and tragic one.

I am brave because I reject the shallow cool of sarcasm and nihilism and pessimism. I am brave because I believe in the beautiful.

I am brave because I am writing my own story. The book is half filled, but those pages ahead, they are still blank.

I am brave because I am open. I am brave because the honesty is reality, and it is good, even when it is hard. The truth shall set us free.

I am brave I because must connect, even though it is scary. I am brave because I realized that in order to feel the good, you have to allow the pain in, too. And I want to feel the happy, so I welcome the pain.

I am brave because I have faith that even when I am hurt, even when I am wounded, even when I am knocked to the ground, I can get up again, because I am strong, and I am good and I am enough.

I am brave because I just am, and so are you.

Thank you, Dancing Mermaid.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Things That Go Bump In The Middle of the Night

I woke up in the middle of the night and walked face first into the door jamb.

I shook my disoriented head, said "ouch" and continued on to the bathroom. I still don't know why I headed for the hard corner of wood instead of the opening. I could see it. But something about my middle of the night mind/body connection was not working.

I've been trying to figure out what this all means. Of course it has to mean something, right? I tried to find omens and symbolism in the why and how of it all.

Isn't that just like an artist? Looking for signs from the universe as to what it all means. In essence, art is the making of meaning of life. We live our lives, and then we interpret them through art.

That is our bread and butter.

Would it be easy for me to deduce that I was clumsy? That I should not wake up in the middle of the night and so deny myself any beverages before bed lest I have to peepee? That this was proof that I am a hard sleeper and why I have trouble falling asleep sometimes and waking up sometimes. Could I take this to mean that I am somehow faulty? Strange?
Different from others? Unworthy of independence? Unworthy of a relationship so no one else must be subjected to my sleepy clutziness?

Are any of you scratching your heads? Did I take it too far?

You bet your sweet patootie I did. I walked into the wall by accident, maybe because I didn't wait long enough before getting out of bed, I don't know. But that's pretty much it.

My mistake or accident or booboo is not some statement on the worth of my being.

How many times do we take our flaws to mean that we just aren't good enough, that there is something inherently wrong with us. How often are we afraid to face the page or the canvas or the audience and be confronted with our inadequacies?

Everybody messes up. Everybody is imperfect. Everybody loses sometimes. Why is it so hard to accept this.

Sometimes I wonder if this is an artist thing, since we are made so vulnerable by putting our inner selves on display in our art. Sometimes I wonder if this is a woman thing... always so concerned with what people think. It could quite possible be a human thing, just our insecure social animal way of being.

I have talked to some athletes, though, and I think they get a lesson in the practice of learning their sport that non athletes have to struggle through on their own. We can't always win. And rather than that being a declaration about our inadequacies, losing is actually PART OF THE GAME.

When we attempt to block ourselves from all failure, to shelter our kids from all possible pains, to hide every last flaw so no one has to know that we are not perfect... we are doing ourselves, our children, and the world a disservice.

How do we win if we are not willing to lose? How do we learn if we are not willing to make mistakes? How do we explore if we are not willing to be lost?

Here I am, still making meaning of my bump in the dark. I make it symbolic of internal struggles I am going through. I try to find the lesson in the weirdness and pain.

Maybe it's because I am still trying to get through this dark, and still trying to understand the more intangible bumps that I get all the time.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Don't you hate it when people push you to do things you are scared of doing and are trying to avoid and ignore and then they go and do something like dare you to do it, so you know you could keep on avoiding but they called you out on it so you have to do something or there is no way to pretend that you are not afraid and not avoiding. Sigh. Run ons. More avoidance.

Okay, so Jessie of the Be Brave fame is daring me to make a list of the Brave things I am afraid of. The things I would like to/need to/am afraid to tackle in the upcoming weeks. So fine. If that's the way you want it Jessie. For some reason I am afraid that this list will show how really silly some of my fears are. Here they are.

  • Make a be brave list of things to tackle in the next couple of weeks.
  • Ask Uncle to show me how to scan images on his scanner, since mine is in storage and is maybe not worth sending down here since I might be going back in a couple months.
  • Ask mom to tell me how to make her limeade margaritas. Why am I afraid of this? Am I just lazy?
  • Return my defective handset to the phone company so they don't charge me for the replacement.
  • Call stepdad to ask him to take me to the post office. Or ask mailman if he can take it for me. I don't know about how these things work. Why don't I know how these things work?
  • Paint the drawing that I made for Illustration Friday and post it.
  • Tackle potty training without backsliding or taking the easy way out by avoiding it all together and just continue on with diapers until G is in high school.
  • Deal with S and our "savings."
  • Figure out what I need to do to get a drivers license and do it.
  • Ask step dad to take the kids twice a week in the afternoon so that I can focus on my career as if it were a real job, not just something I'm kinda doing once in a while during Sesame Street and between meals.
  • Paint some things to sell on Etsy.
  • Choose some old paintings to get scanned/printed to sell on Etsy
  • Figure out the best way to get my art printed.
  • Open up the shop on Etsy which I have been thinking about for almost a year.
  • Get my back check from my cheap ass ex boss who is probably going to try to chintz me out of my money when I acted in good faith with him.
  • Attempt to get a freelance writing job. (figure out the best way to go about doing that.)
  • Write some queries and send them out.
  • Research magazines
  • Figure out something I would like to write for said magazines.
  • Try on line magazines/publishing
  • Print out my novel so far and show it to people. (Can you believe no one has ever read even a line of that sucker after 2 years of working on it?)
  • Make quesadillas because the kids are so picky and I am always afraid I will make food and they will not eat and then I will either have to give them cereal instead or I will have to make them chicken nuggets or they will go to bed hungry or whatever. Dinner making has turned into a stressful thing because of a certain nameless G who won't eat normal dinners, let alone adventurous, gourmet or healthy stuff.
  • Go through the two boxes of journals I have here and look at what I have done in the last 25 years of my life. Are there things to salvage? Are there illustrations or paintings I can use? Are there poems or story ideas? Are there essays in there? This is a daunting task. I am afraid of opening up the boxes and facing the mass. And I have nowhere to put them, so it will also be a mess.
  • Do an outline for my MomCreates book. Don't know if I am ready to start it. It might still be germinating. And maybe I don't need another project to deal with right now.
  • Cut G's crazy hair.... okay I just did that while I was writing this. It's okay. If I find something needs a touch up, I will keep my scissors handy. I didn't ruin his pretty head.
So here's a list of things that scare me. Some are small scares, some are big scares, some are don't-take-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone scares. I'm sure I will encounter more scaredies over the upcoming weeks. And I am under no delusions that I can conquer every last fear in two weeks, but I can take steps on them... so that's what I'm aiming for.

So how about you? Are you ready to write down the things you are afraid of? Make them concrete? Start to tackle what is right in front of you?

Go ahead, I dare you.

The Lesson

Wisdom begins in wonder

I have been quite amazed, recently, to realize that I understand.

Understand what, Rowena?


Woo hoo there, Missy! Getting a little ahead of yourself, don't you think???

Why, yes. Yes I am. I am totally ahead of myself. I don't understand everything at all. I understand almost nothing. But I get it.

Now you're just talking nonsense. How can you understand everything and nothing at the same time?

How? How? Because I don't have to understand. And because I understand how little I know. And because I understand how hard it is to understand. And because I understand that understanding is NOT THE POINT.

Goodness gracious, Rowena. You're giving me a headache. What say you GET TO THE POINT.

The point, my friend, is living. The meaning of life is life. The purpose of life is living. Don't ask me to explain, I can't. It just is. And I'm too busy trying to figure out how to do it. I think the key is to just do it and not try to figure it out. But I'm still trying to understand how to get beyond my understanding.

Oh, gosh. Why the hell did I ask you. You don't know anything.

I know. But why don't you head on over to Etsy and buy Christine Mason Miller's new book. She's got pages and pages of much clearer lessons to help you not understand. Everything I saw, I found myself nodding in agreement with. It took me about 38 years to get a lot of those lessons. She's also known as Swirly Girl and you can find her on Sparkletopia. There is wisdom all around, my friends.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Shrink To Fit

reads: Shrink to fit
my life to yours

...a new way to fly...

This is the painting I did for Inspire Me Thursday. It's made with acrylic gouache, and a bit of gold pigment ink pen. I am not sure how I feel about the flat quality of gouache. I've only just started experimenting. I may go back to plain ole golden acrylics.

It is odd how this is the image that came to me when I was thinking about the prompt. At first, I was thinking Alice and Wonderland, and how only through shrinking could she go through the tiny door into a new realm. But then, I started thinking of my old series of handprint paintings, and G wanted to play, too, so I decided to go with that, and the shrinking became smaller handprints inside the larger one. I also the ladder image, which is an old surprised me that it popped up. Sometimes I forget that I have been working on this stuff for years, I am not just starting up.

I like the idea of the painting, although I am not so sure about the outcome. I might try to do a different take on this idea later.

My life has definitely shrunk to fit that of a mother to two small children. I barely leave the house. Most of my brain is taken up with the concerns of feeding, cleaning, sleeping and keeping everyone from crying.

But I am seeing things in a new way. I am living for a new purpose. I am finding more inside of myself. I don't know if I would have found these things without having kids, maybe yes, maybe no, but the truth is I live small now. Smaller than ever before. And it is making me look at life in a different way. I am still figuring it out.

Step By Step: Making Dreams Real

Did I tell you how in order to take my career seriously, I put my money where my mouth was? I went to Dick Blick and bought lots of juicy art supplies. I started the order before I went to work the day that I quit unexpectedly. There were moments where I thought about cancelling the order, since I wouldn't be working anymore... but then I realized that I wasn't being luxurious. I wasn't being foolish. I was setting myself up for a better way of living.

Oh, it was so scary, my stomach still flip flops. But it was a necessary step. How else am I to achieve my dreams if I don't commit to them. Commit with time, commit with money, commit with energy. Say YES, instead of, well... I don't know... maybe it won't work out... it's pretty risky, maybe I should

How long have you been waiting for your dreams?

How long have you been paying attention to the immediate daily needs, and ignored the necessary steps to create the life you want to live? It's easy. Washing the dishes isn't scary. Maintaining the status quo is safe. Making sure everyone else is okay is a lot less confrontational than making sure you are fulfilling your deepest needs.

What is it? What do you need? What would make you feel that you were really on that path to your desires? Forget about the fears. Forget about the doubts. What is it? Do you have it? Do you know what you want? What does it look like when you have that goal?

Try this: Write down what your life would look like five years from now if you had that goal? What would your life look like three years from now if you were attaining that goal? How about 1 year from now? What are you doing to reach that five year goal? Break down the up coming year as if you were really going for your goals. What are you doing in six months? 3months? What are you doing in one month? What are the steps you need to take next to get there?

Pick one of those things, one thing you can commit to, right now. Today. One thing that is you on your path.

Now, do it.

Don't worry about the next step. Just this one. You've only got two legs. If you take too many steps at once, you'll fall down. Of course, you'll just pick yourself up and keep on going, because that's the kind of warrior you are. One real, brave step at a time.
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