Thursday, December 31, 2009
I stopped by to wish you all a Happy New Year.
I've found this last half of the year, I have not been as able to celebrate with you all, or other people as much as I wanted. I've felt a bit overwhelmed by my own concerns, and didn't really feel that I had the room to be present for others.
For that, I apologize.
I have decided that for 2010, I am going to focus more on paying attention to the abundance that is already in my life, and not be so concerned with those things that I lack.
2009 has been a very hard year for many people, I know. It seems most everyone has been struggling with losses, financial hardships, difficult choices and all sorts of troubles.
I personally have not felt the pinch this sharply since I was a kid.
It would be easy to only think of 2009 as a year of constraints, but I choose instead to look at it for the growth and development. I am choosing to be thankful for the lessons that I have learned this year.
I am grateful for being able to watch how my kids have turned from babies to actual kids. Becoming more and more able to communicate and explore their own world independently. One is potty trained completely, and I have just one more to go. Woo hoo. Here they are, actual fun little people. It makes me eager to see what else is coming, who they will become.
I am thankful for finally being able to overcome some of my own insecurities and begin selling my art to people I do not know. Even though I feel like I know many of my clients now. I have become a business woman, even if I am not very profitable just yet, what has come my way has always come my way just exactly when I have needed it. And more than the money, the value of becoming a business woman is in the way I have come to look at myself and what I can do. I still have far to go, but I know I can learn what I need as I go.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to write, even in those little minutes that I had, while the kids were watching tv or while everyone else was occupied with something else. When you days stretch empty and unencumbered, it is so easy to take your time for granted. This year, I have squeezed every minute I could out of my busy life so that I could feed my soul.
I finished my latest first draft just this morning. Yes, I thought i was done yesterday, but it was this morning where I wrapped it up and added those two little words, "THE END." That was cool. More than any other book I have written in the past, I feel like this book is marketable. It's not done, and I want to make it as good as I can, but there is something here that sparks. That welcomes others. So I'm counting this as one of my successes that I was able to focus on because of my constraints in other areas of my life.
I'm thankful that I have found a whole new language, a whole new dialogue with my art and my online community... without which, it is doubtful that my painting would have gone on the journey it did. Imagine, if I'd had the freedom and money to go out and do all sorts of things in real life, would I have sat at home painting every night, and spent my afternoons talking to you all? Doubtful.
And then there's a big one. Being financially strapped this year has made me pay attention more than ever to my own spending habits. To the ways that I am wasteful, not just with money, but with resources. I have begun cooking more meals from scratch and utilizing the leftovers. Did you know chicken bones can make a delightful SOUP? Yes, Virginia, soup does not have to come out of a can. I have also learned to focus more on those things that I did have. This is hard sometimes, but after a while, you come to realize how much you don't need ALL. THAT. STUFF. Things aren't where importance lies, really. It's in people and in the connections between people.
Lastly, I am thankful for my own creativity. Constraints in life demand creativity. Making a doll for my daughter instead of buying one. Finding new ways to use recycled items, like making crowns out of old cereal boxes. Discovering the wonderful world of blanket tent making, or cushion fort-ing. Making do with what resources we have, instead of always going out to buy what we think we need is one of the most basic ways to utilize our creativity.
I think that's where human creativity comes from, and why it is so important to our society and our humanity. We make what we need. We find new ways to interact with our environment. We discover new things about who we are and what we are capable of, about what is important, and what is not as necessary as we thought. Creation is how we excercise the grand capabilities of our wondrous minds.
There is no limit to those capabilities, if we use our creativity to keep looking for ways to make our lives into what they need to be.
So here's to 2009 and all the lessons we have learned, the journey on which we have travelled.
And here's to 2010. To its limitless possibilities, and all that we can create with what we are given.
And here's to you. Imagine me raising a glass of champagne, here. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This is one of the things I've been working on this month. A mermaid doll, not a pretty mermaid doll, a funny mermaid doll. And the little dolphin pet. And the finger puppet octopus and jellyfish. I am particularly proud of the jellyfish inspiration. A little tulle, a little beaded trim, and voila.
Here's Ivy playing "hello there would you like to dance" with the invertebrates.
Sometimes I've been feeling a little like I was under the ocean with all the things I've had to do lately. But without the fins and gills and tentacles and such.
I've decided that my new year is going to be....
well... let me stop.
I haven't decided anything, except I am going to keep trying to do what I've been trying to do. I'm going to take the next steps and see where they lead me.
I'm going to revise my just finished first draft of my Werewolf Novel. (Just this morning! Yay!)
I'm going to find some critical readers.
I'm going to find out how to get an agent.
I'm going to try to get this puppy published. This is the one, I think. After all of the "ones" I've had before.
I'm also going to keep going with my art. Work on my etsy shop, which is taking a necessary break right now.
I'm going to try to paint bigger, if I can.
I'm going to work on some new creativity projects still to be defined.
But along with those goals I have, I'm going to work on adjusting expectations. Accepting what is. Enjoying life as it comes. Keeping motivated and productive. Being open to opportunity. Being realistic about what I can accomplish with my time.
I've come a long way this year, but it's not as far as I was hoping. The truth is that as a full time stay at home mom with a 4 year old and an almost 3 year old, I don't really have the time or energy to do all I want creatively or in a business.
That was an important realization to make. Life comes first, you see. Even if creativity feeds my life, I still have to take care of the physicality of life, the needs of little people, cleaning the house, cooking, laundry, eating right, maintaining relationships. All that stuff of living.
I have a tendency to live in my head, to dream up ideas, to paint and write and focus on all that.
Now as a mother, I am learning this balance.
A thing of land and sea I am. A mermaid in life. Half mom and half artist. Half woman, half fish.
I am still learning to navigate this strange environment.
But there is no deadline to living. Every day is a new chance to grow, learn, change, retreat.
January first is a great day to take stock and review and envision the year to come, but it is still just one day in life. And every single day is the first day, as they say, of the rest of your life.
What do you want to achieve in this next year? What are you willing to let go of?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
This is what I've been doing with my December. Giving it to a little girl and boy so they could have this day.
A week before Christmas, we flew from St Pete, Florida to Chelsea, Michigan. I am still in weather shock, but they love it. Snow is wonderful for them. The Michigan grandparents are wonderful.
And look at the boatload of presents.
This is not Christmas Eve, this is the morning, Santa's already been here. They couldn't wait, and we let them break into their stockings before the sun came up.
I have more to show, but never any time. Sigh.
I intend to use these days between the busyness of Christmas and the business of the New Year well.
I am intent on finishing my first draft before 2010. This morning I finished the climax, and now I have only the denouement to write. That and acres of rewriting. I am intent on reflecting back on this last year, with all its successes, as well as its tribulations... and oh there were tribulations. Actually, I might tend to pay more attention to them than the successes, so on these last days of the year, I'd better give them some notice.
I am also intent on making goals for the new year. I don't call them resolutions. I don't do resolutions. I do plans and goals and dreams and focusing. I set my target, and I loose the arrows of my intentions. I figure out what I want my life to look like and I figure out what I need to do to make it look like that. Even if I don't achieve every last goal, and I didn't this year, it's important to pay attention to those achievements that did make it into the light of day.
The key to gaining my goals?
If I've said it once, I'll say it a million times, I don't mind.
Baby steps, baby.
I'll get back to you on the actual accomplishments and the actual new goals, because, well... I've got a kid who doesn't want to hang out and wait for me to get off of the computer anymore.
One of those angelic ones surrounded by twinkle lights. Yeah, it's all an act. A Christmas Angel act.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Just be aware, I DID NOT make this gingerbread house. I am too zombiefied from staying up this past week making soft sculptures for my kids. As soon as I do a photo session, edit, download, etc I'll post what I've been up to... although I did forget to photograph my first attempt at a granny square afghan before I gave it away. Woops.
Have I ever told you that I am unreasonably afraid of zombies?
However, after the the work/exhaustion of being a mom on Christmas, complete with roasting meats, cranberries, cookies, stockings, wrapping, It's A Wonderful Life, cousins, garbage bags full of wrapping paper and far too many sweets, I have to say that celebrating zombie yule and barring the doors to lay around and watch zombie movies and eat fattening foods does have its appeal.
Instead, on the day after Christmas, I barred my bedroom door, let the kids and their papa fend for themselves, and got back to writing my novel for the first time in three holiday prepatory weeks. I have a goal of finishing the first draft before 2009 winds up... and possibly also meeting my long past goal of writing 100 hours in my book in 100 days... which ends on the 31st... or perhaps the first, I'm not quite sure. I'm only 16 hours away from that goal, although I totally forgot about it and let it slide.
It just goes to show, sometimes when you set out on a goal, put it out there, set yourself up for it, take those steps and go-- even if you think you've fallen off your path, you can still come back around and reach the destination, without being aware that you've been working on it all along.
Unless of course you're a zombie. Because a zombie's only goal is BRAAAAAAAAIIIIINNNNSSSS!!!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrylic on paper 8x10"
This is a custom flying girl I did for a literal flying girl. A woman who jumps out of perfectly good planes. I was pretty inspired when I found out that my client was an actual flying girl. My paintings are only metaphorical, dream like, she however, is the real deal. This is one of the projects I've been working on while I haven't been posting.
I thought it would be a good thing to show right now as I'm feeling a little bit gypsy myself, lately.
I've been transplanted from Florida to Michigan for a little while, and am getting used to the new environs. My schedule has been upended. My routine is a kaput. My internal chronology has been set all a wackadoodle. I am bundled in sweaters day in and day out. Who knew that a measly two years in Florida would turn me into a southerner.
And you don't even want to see MY HAIR!!!! Seriously, horrific.
But still, Christmas is sneaking up on us pretty darn quickly and I am working on making some toys for the kids and various other things.
Soon I will be up to making Christmas cookies and Christmas brunch and wrapping presents. I'd better finish those toys pretty darn quickly.
When I get to my camera and get it to work with this computer, or alternately, get my computer online, I will download some pictures of what I have made so far.
If I don't see you around the blogosphere before then, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Blessed Solstice....
So, I think I'm going to end this blog post with a little meditation on the Winter Soltice.
What a lovely day, the darkest night of the year, the shortest day.
It might seem grim, that it is so dark, so cold, but to me this is a holy day.
This is the point in the year that marks the return of the light.
With the return of the light, I personally am going to focus on the return of abundance and joy and opportunity and focus and community... and all those other things I would like to see blossoming in my life.
To me, this day is about hope. The metaphor of the return of the seasons holds true for life, for tough times like many of us have been going through. The sun always comes back. Spring always returns.
Nothing stays dark forever.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted. I have had a massive amount of work to do and a deadline of packing up and traveling to the other grandparents in Michigan... which is where I am now.
The kids have had their first snow fall in 2 years, and enjoyed some snowball fights and snowman making and snow angels. Mitten, snowpants, boots and hot chocolate included.
I have pictures, but don't have a system down, since my laptop is not on line yet.
Anyway, I thought I'd leave a note here, even without a picture to post, so you all know I'm still kicking.
Hopefully I will have some crafts to show, as well as some paintings for the new year... although, silly me, I forgot to take a picture of the afghan shawl I made my mother before I gave it to her. Oops.
I guess I'll have to make a new one.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrylic and Prismacolor Watercolor Pencil on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page
I've been busy. Finishing my nanowrimo word count... woohoo! We have achieved 50k! But we are not done with the story, so I will try to continue my writing routines.
For the first time, I don't really feel all that burnt out by nanowrimo. I only wrote once a day for an hour or two or so. I didn't push to write all the time. I just tried to get it done in the morning when I first got up. It wasn't always possible, due to the other people in my life, but I tried and mostly succeeded. Good enough, since I reached my goal. Now I feel the urge to finish this story, and even to get it out there into the world.
Isn't that interesting?
Always before, I just wanted to put the nano book away and do something else.
Slow and steady wins the race, maybe?
The race being being a writer. One who writes consistently, not just one month out of the year.
It's funny, I didn't mean to go in this direction with this post. I was thinking it might be nice to do a thankful post, since I missed it on Thanksgiving, but to tell you the truth, my head is in my story. It is in writing.
Which is maybe why I picked the line "tell us a story" out of the text. Trust me, it's there, even if it is painted over.
So I'm going with the flow.
Tell me, what story is in you that wants to come out?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrylic and Pitt Artist Pen on vintage Alice in Wonderland book page
I have no answers right now.
I guess that's good enough.
We don't need answers all the time. Sometimes all we need is to pay attention to what's around us. We can get the answers together when the questions are presented.
Okay, I have lots of questions, but the time for answers hasn't quite happened yet.
In the mean time, here I am in this life. And this life, if you pay attention, is beautiful.
This Alice Flying Girl is based on the text that I all but covered up. There's a song. It is about Beautiful soup. Beautiful beautiful soup. I'm not that enamored of green soup, but I figure the soup of life is pretty beautiful, too. So that's where I went.
What is your beautiful soup made of?
Oh, and meanwhile on top of everything else in my messy life, I saw New Moon with my brother and Sister in law, tried out Beatles Rock Band on whatever that game station is, (it was fun, and I can't play drums), had icecream cones and watched my daughter be a ballerina, and my son be a CANONBALL!!!!!
I also spent this weekend setting up a guest post over at Magpie Girl's place. She's awesome. Check her out.
And I relisted and/or listed a bunch of new original paintings and prints that I've done over the past few months. Still have more to come. So if you want to check out what's available, pop on over to etsy. Maybe one of your blog favorites is up.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Acrylic and marker on vintage book page
Sometimes, everything in life is just too much.
Too much significance, too much importance, too much weight.
Sometimes it feels a lot better to just remember how much nothing it all is.
Sure, we can live up our word and try to do our best and keep the productivity up, you know, live the busy lives that we all live... but when that gets to be too heavy a burden and the overwhelm happens, maybe it's best to remember that we are all just what we are.
Just as much nothing as everything around us. Made of air. Made of water. Made of sky.
We're just living, like any other animal, like any other human, like the whole world.
Oh... I know. This makes no sense whatsoever.
Or does it make all the sense there is?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
pencil, acrylic, marker on antique book page
I'm running out of time today, so this will be a short post. Just like this drawing was a momentary inspiration.
It might be time for Flying Girl to make a sudden departure from her usual habits. And Alice, well, she's been spending all that time in that rabbit hole, maybe she forgot to look up and find that new egress.
One good benefit of these creative routines that we get into is that our brain starts to get retrained to DO stuff. Instead of thinking about doing stuff, or wishing we could do stuff, or feeling like we can't do stuff, or blowing off the doing of stuff completely and spending our nights watching stupid tv and stuffing our faces with candy.... well instead of all that, we just start taking action. No matter the fear. No matter the uncertainty of the outcome. No matter the insecurities.
Painting every day or writing more than you think you can every day trains you to stop talking and start doing.
When you DO, it is remarkable how things start happening... and well, getting done.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
pencil, ink and acrylic paint on vintage book page
I dug out my old Alice In Wonderland book that I started altering years ago and put away as other things took over. This page fell out of it.
I thought, boy, I like that quote from Alice talking to herself.
And I thought, you can't stay safe and protected and confined and still learn the lessons you need to learn.
In order to grow, you need to take risks. You need to not always be so safe. You need to go on adventures. You need to have your equilibrium knocked around a bit.
All I know is that I want something out of my life, and if I were to continue with the comfort and ease of my old patterns, I won't get it.
Ease is not how we find success, I don't think. Struggle is. Because struggle makes us stronger. Struggle teaches us new skills and makes us try new things, and take chances.
I keep hoping that I can have a couple of hours kid free to do my writing. I keep wishing that I could just write for more than ten minutes without interruption.
I never can, and I get frustrated and angry every time I have to take care of a tantrum or a potty accident or yet another snack or a little girl getting into the baby shampoo and doing a little hairsalon on the bathroom bench. Yes. Every single one of those happened while I was trying to get my word count done in my novel for the day.
But here's the thing I'm learning here. There is no perfect writing day for me. Not right now. Not in this place at this time. There is no perfection at all, and yet, I am still getting my words in. Almost every day, interruptions or not, tantrums, accidents, holy messes, my own upsets and anger and depressions... none of it has stopped me.
I keep going.
10 years ago, I would have thought it would be impossible to write at all in these circumstances. 15 years ago, with my carefully cultivated uninterrupted all morning long daily writing sessions in my study with my door closed and complete focus, I managed a regular 3 pages a day and never thought that I could do anything better than that. Now I look back on that in amazement. With that much time to myself, I feel like I could write 20 pages a day!
Something about my life right now, and all its interruptions and all it's responsibilities and upheavals, and all it's focus on being a mom and a caretaker it's made me some thing much stronger.
What? I don't know.
But it happened because I dove in, despite the mess of it all. Maybe because of the mess. Because I took my mess and created the life.
Don't let the mess stop you.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
mixed media on vintage book page
I didn't realize I hadn't posted in so long. Time just skips along out of control, sometimes.
My brain gets all full of the things I have to do, should do, need to do, am afraid to do, want to do, don't get a choice in the matter of doing and all the things I haven't done, can't do, dropped the ball on, etcetera.
What can I say? I'm imperfect and I'm busy and I have ambitions that have nothing to do with my current reality.
For instance, I signed up for Art Everyday Month, even though I knew I was already doing Nanowrimo and raising two kids, one of whom doesn't nap anymore and dealing with extra projects and the daily living and maintenance and family things and AHH!
Well, I signed up for AEDM but I haven't managed to do art every day. But I have managed to be creative everyday. I have been writing every day but one this month (Sunday was the day I skipped) and I have about 30k words and my novel is steaming along. Sometimes I think it's a mess, and sometimes I think it's great. But it's moving. So that's my goal. And sometimes I do some art with my kids and sometimes I cook some food.... like my chocolate cake with mocha cream cheese frosting that was a total whim.
So here is my drawing/painting mixed media piece of a Flying Girl. I like to think that those flowers are coming out of her, but maybe they are sometimes confusing her, or maybe sometimes she is flying in a cloud of flowers coming from all directions. Maybe they are overwhelming her a bit, the way I felt a little overwhelmed this weekend.
Maybe those flowers are all things at once. Maybe that's what life is like. Not a neat metaphor at all, but a crazy growing, shrinking, spinning focused whirl of living.
All I know is that I am moving forward, even within the chaos or the imperfect situations.
That's really all that's required, right? Just keep moving, even if it seems like we're going in circles.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrylic on watercolor paper
8x10" image on 9x12" paper
Yesterday, I was browsing on line and saw a photograph in the background of some picture of a house. Shame on me, but I lost the image. All of a sudden, I was inspired to paint another traveling scene, and I scrabbled around in my room for my paints and papers, filled a jar with water and picked the biggest brush in my small brush collection (I've been painting small, so I have mostly detail brushes) and then I wooshed on a bright red wash for the underpainting and started adding layers.
The inspiration was the photo in the picture, a distant stand of bare trees, a white overcast sky. The original was green, though. A bright grass green, that as I painted never gelled. The white sky and the gray leafless trees made me think cold. And the painting that I was doing, as opposed to the reference photo, wanted to be white.
What can I say? This is how I paint often. Start with my idea, which often doesn't work and then listen to what the painting says it wants. That's why I don't do straight realism. Because the medium has it's own requests of me. The thing I am painting has its own life, outside of the thing I am representing.
That's how I paint. I pay attention to the paint. I listen to the painting. And if it says something different than the referenced subject, the painting gets what it wants.
This was kind of a fun painting.
Even if I had kids climbing all over me. Actually, I had kids collaborating. Telling me I needed more white, or I needed to add pink *right there*. Yes. The pink light streak, that was Ivy's idea. And she told me where. And she wasn't satisfied until it was done. I'd been planning maybe an orange or a yellowy white, more like my other traveling paintings, but in the end, I think my two year old was right. It needed pink. I don't only listen to my paint or my intuition, I listen to the kid, too.
As for the meaning of the painting... oh, Winter... that time of withdrawal, of silence, of sleep, of dark.
Winter reminds me that this too does indeed pass.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Pitt Artist Pens, Golden Fluid Acrylic on Paper
Part of the process of being an artist, is losing it, and recovering it. At least for me.
Creativity is not a static thing, it is a fluid process.
Sometimes the process goes underground and it seems as if we don't have access to it.
But we are humans, and as humans, innately creative beings.
It shows up in different ways, painting or writing, maybe, or maybe cooking or gardening, or a way of dealing with complicated problems, or a way of relating in our social circles. I doubt there is anyway to put a limit on the uses of human creativity.
I suppose it is our ability to envision something different from what is already present in our reailty.
In that case, then we are being creative simply by following our urges to be creative when we feel we are not.
So here is my drawing for today. I am following my urge to paint. I am taking the steps to find my voice, find my painting from a place where I was not painting. (Yes, me too, who painted almost every day this last year, I go back to being a creative shlub.)
I don't feel like I have the brilliance or the inspiration or the calm or the energy to do what I used to do. I'm always so tired at night and so busy during the day and my brain is running off on so many fragmented thoughts that , I seem to never pick up my paintbrush.
But I committed to it. I committed to the page and I showed up. My paints were too much for me last night, so I took out my Pitt Artist Pens and drew some flowers while watching So You Think You Can Dance. I just drew something pretty. No meaning. No self criticism, just acceptance. A drawing, a little acrylic wash over that.
And that little step is yet another step on the road to my bigger goals.
Oh the up and down road of life.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Ink, Golden Fluid Acrylic, paper. 8.5x5"
Hey, I don't know what the answer is to taming my life.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that the key is love. Perhaps it is not ALL that is needed, but maybe it is the guiding principle.
How do I stay in the present moment? Love it for what it is.
How do I get all this stuff done? Love the doing of it.
How do I stop stressing myself out over not being perfect? Love myself and all my flaws.
How do I get my daughter potty trained? Love the journey and make it satisfying.
How do I finish a novel in one month? Love the writing and love myself enough to take the time.
Well, as I think about it, maybe it isn't just about love... but maybe, if we think about what love means...maybe we can also expand it to mean respect, joy, acceptance, understanding, laughter, trust, friendship, kindness, attention.
In that case, yeah, maybe it is true, and not just trite.
Go at something from a place of love, even if it means tough love sometimes, and that is how we win through.
Even if it isn't, it'll make for a more love filled, life, won't it?
Monday, November 09, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrilyc and white ink on paper, 8.5x 5"
Sometimes I am all caught up in the whirl of life and wishes and dashed hopes and baby steps and laughter and exhaustion. It's quite a dance. And I don't know where it's going.
But I was reminded this weekend that life is what it is, regardless of how we might wish that it turned out differently, it just is. And it is for some reason. What is the reason? I have no idea, but I do know that as long as I am looking for the lesson, looking for what I can learn or how I can grow, then even my failures in life will end up being positives.
This is my philosophy in life. It's all a process.
Interesting that it would coincide with this painting that I don't really consider to be a success... but still has elements within it that I would like to try again or develop. I liked the idea of white ink or paint on a black background, and I liked the idea of accepting where we are in life, even if it looks a little dark. I don't know how well the two ideas came together, but that doesn't mean there's nothing there.
Another related thought is with my writing right now. Doing nanowrimo, I'm trying to write 1667-2k words per day. It has been very hit or miss. I am having more trouble hitting my wordcounts this year than any of the previous three years. I'm okay in the total, but day by day, I keep falling down.
So I've been thinking about this, about the writing process, about my own goals for myself which are often terribly difficult and often not very thoughtful of my life or my own well being. And about what happens to me when my goals are so large that I get overwhelmed and don't seem to be able to even start, let alone reach them.
I think both these topics come back to the necessity of existing where we are in the actual moment, without guilt or fear.
I am a full time stay at home mom without help. If I want to write a novel, I have to take advantage of the moments I have without reservation, but if my life/kids call me to be present for them, I have to let go of the writing and be there for my own life/kids without reservation. It is what it is. I have to learn to accept the interruptions, and accept my own imperfections. Even accept my frustrations as part of the process of writing as a stay at home mom without help.
No matter where you are in life, I think that accepting the reality of the present is key.
For me, it even comes down writing down all the things I have to or want to do, accepting them, naming them, recognizing their value or necessity, prioritizing them, and then taking action.
Huh. I think that's part of what they mean when they say "grounding." It's taking care of the present. The physicality. How things fit together or work. Paying attention to details, and helping things run smoothly. No wonder making To Do lists is always the first step in finding my way back to balance.
As someone who tends to live in her head... this is a pretty major realization for me.
How do you keep grounded?
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Golden Fluid Acrylic on Paper, 5x8"
November 3, 2009
I've been pretty lame with painting lately. Just trying to figure things out and organize my seemingly unorganizable life. Oh, yeah, and write a novel. And care for two little kids.
I've recently decided that, as a stay at home mom with no help, it's kind of impossible to think that I can create a career from scratch that is moving full speed ahead while I am at home taking care of the kids.
I can manage to find some corners to take care of writing or painting or blogging or etsy or freelancing or social networking or photography or all the other things I want to do, but, and I emphasize the but, here, BUT I can not do them all and I especially cannot do them all full time.
I am a full time stay at home mom, so I need to make peace with the fact that I can'tbe a go getter, or at least, not a get up and go getter. Just a little go getter, or perhaps a stop and go getter.
I still want to do all those things, and perhaps I can find ways to shuffle them into my life in smaller bites than my druthers.
One of the things I'd like to be doing is Art Everyday Month. But I haven't been painting. I lost my work space in my recent temporary move, and I've really been feeling the loss. I didn't realize I had a great spot to work until it was gone. I didn't think my corner in the play room or my WIP bag on the sofa was ideal, but it was just what I needed. Go figure.
I don't know if I will manage to paint everyday. My life seems so chaotic at times and I don't always have the presence of mind, or maybe I'm just making other choices, I don't know. But one of the ideas I thought might help me to take part in AEDM is to search out words of inspiration and turn them into paintings.
Goodness knows, I need inspiration right now. So what if I follow what I need, and spend some time with the words by painting them? Sometimes I find painting or writing about my paintings centers me. It's so much better to focus on those inspirational or empowering words than it is to focus on my personal worries and all the things I have to do and all the things I haven't done to my liking.
I guess in a way, painting and writing are my spiritual practice. Painting is like meditating. Writing helps me understand things. Writing about my painting brings me back into that space and reminds me of the things I want to focus on.
So I'm going to try and paint more inspirational Flying Girls... or botanicals... or landscapes... or fashion illustrations... I don't know. I'm not limiting myself to topic this time. I'm just going to follow the words.
It make sense in National Novel Writing Month. Especially while I am writng a novel. By the way....
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
When I did this chapter, back in 2003, I was only a few months out of teaching. I'd quit teaching to follow my art. I could easily have made this chapter about being an actual teacher, which I had loved, mostly.
But I didn't.
Monday, November 02, 2009
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Chapter 13: The Thinker
I have a history of thinking too much. Of getting wrapped up in my thinking and not taking action.
I've been working on it for years, now.
I like this chapter. The white on black. The simplicity.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
An Altered Book, Mixed Media 2003
Chapter 11 Adventure
Here she is, Flying Girl. Jumping and falling and flying and gaining powers and becoming herself. It's so funny to see Flying Girl in other stages of my life. She first appeared when I was in college, but keeps popping up.
This is another timely chapter to my book, because I have to say I am freaked out.
It's looking like the move to California, knock on wood, might actually happen soon, (crossing fingers). It has been postponed again and again and I am kind of at my wit's end about it all. But the possibility of it happening soon is scaring the hell out of me.
I'm a nester. I sit and make my spot in life comfortable. I collect things and get myself a comfy chair and a lot of books and I cook nice food and paint things to put on the walls.
But this move will be a blank slate. A fresh start. From zero, pretty much.
I don't know anything about California except what I see in tv and movies and read in books and hear from distant friends. It sounds cool and all... but it won't be anything like what my life used to be like. Of course, my life now isn't what it used to be like.
Last night I had a hard time sleeping envisioning it.
But I know that the way to handle this kind of fear is to reframe your thinking.
The unkown can be scary... it is true... but you want to know what else it can be? Say it with me.
Rather than focusing on how frightening it can be to be in completely new surroundings, cut off from the familiar, I am going to focus on the adventure of it. The discovery. The possibilities.
I've never seen the Pacific.
Or San Francisco.
I'm looking forward to adventures in thrifting and yardsaling. I love that kind of stuff. I am looking forward to decorating a home.
Come to think of it, I am looking forward to being without all the stuff that often keeps us back. Sometimes it is literal stuff, all the posessions that we hold onto and that keep us in a certain place, sometimes it is our psychological stuff.
When you are in a completely unknown place, without all of those people and places and activities and habits that have shaped your life, are you not free to create the life of your dreams?
This scary move into the unknown, is it not just a super adventure and the chance to focus on all those things I've always wanted to focus on?
Maybe my super powers will be set free. Like this flying girl in her chapter here.
Oh. PS. On the nanowrimo front. Yesterday was a good day. I started off early and made a list of things I had to do, and then... I did them. I know, I know, novel concept. But the more small steps I too towards doing these things, the less they were scary and overwhelming.
I am on stage 4 of the snowflake outline method, and probably won't get to the end, but I never have gotten to the end of that. And I would totally be able to start this baby tonight if it were November 1st. What I'd really like to do is finish my 50k words by the middle of November, so if I do actually move by the end of November, which is one of the possibilities, then I won't have to deal with packing and writing a novel and moving and freaking out all at once.
I have decided the 100 hours in 100 days concept is not working for me. Sadly. I think I'm going to have to let the concept go for these last 100 days of 2009. It's not working. I gave myself the wrong challenge, I think. 100 hours of writing did not work out. It's possible that it is because of the timing and the moving and the upheaval and nanowrimo and everything else that's happening. Under other circumstances it might have been perfect.... but that's one of the things about a challenge, it has to fit your life the way it is.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Chapter 7: Ideas
bounded in a nutshell
fame & success
the notes of a.... song
where I am from where I am going
Hey. The ideas spinning through my head 6 years ago are still spinning through my head today.
And right now they are a cloud of ideas, a mish mosh, a cluttered landscape.
Notice, if you please, the tiny Flying Girl on the top right hand of the book. I told you she was not a new idea for me.
So, what to do when your brain is full of ideas, none of which seem to be concrete? None of which seem to be coming to fruition?
You, well, I take baby steps. I plan out the list of things to do. I write out the dreams and the steps I need to take to get there. I remember that the only way to accomplish things is little by little. I remember that all those little steps add up to the journey.
I guess I need to do some planning and listing and organizing and delegating and prioritizing of my lovely ideas/goals.
I know I do. The more I understand all that I have to do, the more I will feel capable of accomplishing the really big things I want.
Step by step. If those ladders didn't have steps in them, they'd just be poles sticking up out of the ground and they would be so much harder to climb.
Monday, October 26, 2009
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Sometimes I think my altered book is reaching out of the past and tweak my nose.
It seems rather prophetic.
How did the book know that I would be infused with terror right about now? Lots of uncertainty and transition, opportunity and commitment, risk and struggle.
Sometimes I try to avoid the whole thing and get busy with tv or pointless web browsing or escapist fiction.
But I can see there are things starting to happen now, and perhaps it's time for me to step out of my mental retreat and enter the world again. Start getting things going. Stop feeling sorry for myself.
Here is my book reminding me that out of terror comes glory. Out of darkness come light. Out of confusion comes order.
You just have to keep going.
I believe in messages from the universe. I believe in synchronicity. I believe that sometimes we have to remember to listen.
So maybe if you stumble across this post today, maybe it's a message to you to remember that the fear doesn't have to conquer you. Maybe you just have to go through it, and have faith that there is indeed glory on the other side of the terror.
Friday, October 23, 2009
An Altered Book, Mixed Media, 2003
writing, left page:
story/lived/on/story//books/written/lives lived/Born//into the world/wanting love
some strange impulse of the gods/kissed/laughed//slipped/love/come into/my//self
Let me tell you people. This chapter, 6 years old, sure does come in a proper place in my life, in 2009.
What I struggle with now, lately, is surrender to my own life.
The story that my life is telling in its day to day and its long term living.
The confusion. The hidden, unseen direction that I am flying. The confusion of how to get to the future that I want from where I am now.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
An altered book, mixed media, 2003
This is one of my favorite pages, in its simplicity. I cut out a bunch of pages into a frame and glued them together then gessoed over them. Trying to find some image of Godliness. A leaf was at hand. I liked it. I even like the way the leaf has browned and the page has yellowed and become spotted (I left this page propped open and on view for quite some time). Perhaps godliness, far from perfection, is actually beat up and faded, a part of the transformation of life... which is a part of the transformation of death, in all honesty.
Life and death. Creation and destruction.
In order to make something, you must make a space for it to exist. In order to gain, you must let go. In order to grow you must destroy the old you. I think too often, we equate destruction and loss with evil. But I think that if we don't understand the place of this "negativity" in the "positivity" of life then we don't really understand life.
Maybe that's when we get stuck on this idea of perfection, thinking we must be only light and no shadows. Thinking we should never be sad or silent, tired or unproductive. Thinking that in order to have something we must have EVERYTHING.
I'm going to tell you, in order to be a mom and be a creative person, I have absolutely had to give up things. I've given up money. I've given up freedom. I've given up socializing. I've given up space. A lot of people would not be willing to give these things up. But for me, I needed to have the room and time so that I could go where I wanted to go. I don't regret these losses.
Well, sometimes, but I am willing to wait to get back to these things.
For instance... nanowrimo is coming quick quick quick. I have been working on my outline about an hour a day... but that won't be enough to get my wordcount up. I am going to have to sacrifice somethings. It's going to have to be the internet and the tv. Sigh. I loves me my internet and my tv, but I really really want to have the space to get this novel out of my head and onto a page.
So I will release. I will let go of my comfortable routine and kill my bad website addiction. I will put a hold on fashion and decor browsing. I will stop watching tv shows that I don't really care about and turn the tv off after the ones I do, even if Friends is on or I might be able to find a movie I'd like to see or What Not to Wear is on right this minute.
Let it go. Say goodbye. Let some things lie silent and fallow... and turn that time and energy towards something that I am committed to.
So there's my godliness for the month of November. The creation of a whole new world. The tatters around the edges of what will be the rest of my life. I like tatters. They have charm.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
An Altered Book, Mixed Media 2003
Chapter 6: Nobody Knows
I didn't know how much sense yesterday's post made. I rewrote it about three times.
I tell ya, when you're in the middle of things growing and changing, in the middle of creation and sometimes destruction... not much makes sense.
In order to make sense, I think you have to be able to find some perspective.
Now THAT can be so hard.
The thing that I have realized lately is that life is change. We are always changing we are always transforming and shedding skins, facing fears and dealing with disappointment. We are always reaching for the next goal and releasing the things we used to hold so dearly.
Stability is an illusion. We like to think that things will stay the same, that we will be safe and comfortable in our old shoes. We get settled in our routines and when things happen to shake them up, it can really throw us.
But even old shoes are always evolving... mostly devolving, but changing.
This chapter of my altered book, if I remember, was prompted by a challenge in my women's group at the time. My challenge was to do scraffito... although it was not my preference. If I were to do it today, I'd do something different, change it so that it fits my current sensibilities... but this book is 6 years old and it is what it is. It represents who I was in all of my imperfection. It also marks a spot in my life, and how far I've come.
And this page, for all its imperfection, was about me accepting my life, for all its imperfection.
Gosh I still struggle with this.
I think for me right now, in this period of transition, I have to shrink my goals down to right now where I am. Don't start any new projects (although perhaps do some thinking about future projects,) just keep working on the things I can... my novel, my blog, and my life.
Because the truth is, nobody knows what the future will bring, for good or ill. All we have is right now, today. Right here.
This is enough. Release the ambition and just be present. Say yes to the now. Say yes to this life.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Altered book, 2003
Chapter 5: The Philosopher
To alter this chapter of "The Philosopher" I decided to get real. Here's my interpretation of my life. This was the year I'd quit teaching to focus on my art and writing. I was waiting tables and bartending at a Mexican Restaurant in Williamsburg. I was making my book. I was writing. I was even starting to write art reviews for a neighborhood paper. It was fun.
The picture above is me taking a cigarette break outside of my restaurant. I didn't smoke that much, but it allowed me a break, so I took it. Stood there, got some air, watched the people passing. It says here, "The things we do to keep the flame burning, and write our fire in the sky." Those are the lyrics to a Bonnie Raitt song, Luck of the Draw.
Here's the view of my restaurant from the Polish Diner across the street.
I thought about documenting my life itself, not just getting stuck in my head. I often get stuck in my head. You can still see the same tendencies today. I was trying to find my way out of that place.
Friday, October 16, 2009
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003
Chapter 4: Mother (found poetry)
left page: MOTHER
through the streets
the spirit of
life, damn it!
are you ?
It's very interesting. I made this altered book long before I was an actual mother. And although I wanted to be a mother, some day, it was an abstract concept. Whenever I thought about mothering or pregnancy or birth, it was always in terms of creation... creating art.
Here the chapter given to me was "Mother" and all I could think about was being an artist. I'm sure he, the original author, Sherwood Anderson made his chapter about being the son of a mother, perhaps looking at his mother in her age, after years of being the mother of a man. Now I look at it an what is trying to be born is The Self, from the depths of The Mother.
How often, in history, in literature, in art, is a mother considered for herself, rather than for who she mothers, how she mothers, her iconic position as Mother?
Oh, maybe it's changing, now that more women have a voice, now that mothers are beginning to speak out about what it means to be a woman, a human being, as a mother.
left page: yes
right page: something/needs/to be/born.
Where I am now, as a stay at home mother whose time is dedicated to caring for her children all day long but who is also trying to carve out a place in all this for her art and writing, is confused.
I think it's a balancing act. A continual balancing act. Weighting my tasks this way or that, looking for a place for myself and giving my children the love and attention that they deserve.
Sometimes I think I have a balance and everything seems to be flowing easily... but that always falls apart as my goals change or external circumstances change, or the children change... as is their job, to change and grow.
This balance is not a static thing. It is fluid and sometimes more like a juggler trying to catch something before it falls, rather than some perfectly balanced thing.
Yesterday I worked on my new novel for one and a half hours. No. TWO hours. I took one hour when the girl went to nap, then a half hour while they were eating. then another half hour when we all went out to the back yard, I sat on the swing seat and they ran around with fudgcicles trying to find various ways of getting dirty. They succeeded better than I did, to be honest, coming in for bed filthy. My brain was clogged and cluttered and having a hard time focusing.
I got quite few ideas for my book yesterday, but had some trouble putting them in order. Balancing them.
Well, today is another day and I will look for my bits of time to work in between naps and meals and I recorded an ocean documentary so the boy will probably be engrossed for an hour while I focus on getting all those new ideas down in some sort of order.
Must remember to keep breathing and remember the long view. Be nice to myself. I think it will help me stop snapping at the kids when they spill their cheerios on the floor, yet again.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003
Chapter 3: Paper Pills
left page: PAPER PILLS
white page: I// w//a//n//t// i//w//a//n//t// nothing/all