Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's to 2009! Here's to 2010! Here's to you!

Twilight Road, Ann Arbor Michigan

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

Things of Land and Sea are We

Kooky Mermaid w Purple Hair and Sea Family. By mama

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

Their Christmas, My Year

Ivy and her stocking. Michigan Christmas

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

I interrupt this season of joy to present to some ZOMBIES!!

Found this wonderful zombie gingerbread house via Havi's post on Zombie Yule. Click the link for closeups. All edible. Pretty zombieawesome.

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

Flying Girl over Copenhagen, or My Gypsy Heart is Filled with Joy

Flying Girl over Copenhagen, or My Gypsy Heart is Filled with Joy
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....

Oh right!!!

That's today!

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

Pre Holiday Update. How ya doin'?

Oh how time is flying!

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

Just a little bit to share for now

Detail, Flying Girl in progress.
Sorry I have not been posting regularly lately. It turns out I've got a whole lot going on.
My life looks as sedate and homebound as ever from the outside, but plans are being set into action. Ideas are flying. Projects are winging around. Lots of things are hurtling through time and space, actually. And I've got a boat load to do.
And that is not even including the holidays that must be prepared for and enjoyed. And the kids who must be fed, cleaned, supervised and loved.
So I suppose that I should just outright tell you that posting will be erratic for a while, until things settle down. I can't even tell you when that will be, because I'm not quite sure when and how or even where it will settle.
I am still creating and still thinking. I might be perhaps a bit more anxious than usual. I won't always have things to share, as some of the projects are private ones and some are presents that I don't want anyone sussing out.
I'm going to try to continue posting when I can, when I have a piece to share or anything.
I keep forgetting how crazy December can get, and this is a crazier than normal December for me.
So until next time, whenever that may be, here I am, warriorgirl, aka rowena, signing off, and wishing you all a lovely Holiday season.
p.s. It is quite possible that my grand statement of signing off could be just until tomorrow. That's how up in the air it all is. I could be back tomorrow, or I could be back in January. Bear with me while life is under construction.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

November Down, Enter December

I have no pictures today. No paintings or drawings.
I hit my 50k wordcount mark in nanowrimo the day before Thanksgiving and then all my time was eaten up with the holidays and family and regular living stuff.
Now I am off my feed.
My word count has fallen (because I still have more writing to do) and I haven't painted anything in days.
How does it always work like that?
I invest in a goal and getting it done and then I kind of collapse after it, even if I didn't over extend myself with the goal. I made sure not to over extend myself this year, I didn't even do nearly as many AEDM drawings as I'd hoped and yet still, I"m all discombobulated.
I haven't even posted since Friday and have been online less than usual.
Okay, so here is my guilt post, even though I don't have a piece of art to post with it. Now I have to take care of all sorts of business.
How about you? How are you doing in your creative goals? How have the holidays treated your ability to get things done?
You know, it seems that November is a lovely month, with it's alliteration and all, for novel writing, but it's really bad in the social obligations arena.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tell Me A Story, or Alice of the Flying Birds

Tell Me A Story, or Alice of the Flying Birds
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

Melancholy Flying Girl, or Poor Lonely Alice Misses Her Dinah

Melancholy Flying Girl, or Poor Lonely Alice Misses Her Dinah
Golden Fluid Acrylic and Prismacolor Watercolor Pencil on vintage Alice in Wonderland page
Oh I was busy busy today. Frantic with stuffety stuff to do and too much coffee. I am only one writing session away from winning nanowrimo this year, although a week or two away from finishing the book, if I keep up with this pace. Thanksgiving is on Thursday along with the plans and cooking and cleaning and shopping that go along with it. I'm thinking about Christmas coming, and about New York.
When I finished my morning work and the girl settled into her nap and the afternoon slowly passed, I realized I had no post for today. And no painting, either.
I said to the boy, "shall I just pick a book page and go from there?"
I think the boy was watching Little Bear, so didn't do much answering, but my self thought it was a good idea. I opened my old Alice in Wonderland and this is the page I landed on. Poor Alice, lonely for her cat, the best cat in the world, whom no one in this strange land seems to understand. I guess it's hard to be on these journeys sometimes, as you are away from loved and familiar people, friends, and surroundings.
Oh well. There's no way but to go through these strange wonderlands, and see who you are when you come out the otherside.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Flying Girl Sings a Song, or Beautiful Beautiful

Flying Girl Sings a Song, or Beautiful Beautiful
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.

Beautiful, 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

Flying Girl is Made of Nothing and That is Everything, or Alice Could See Enough

Flying Girl is Made of Nothing and That is Everything, or Alice Could See Enough
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

Flying Girl Alices Off, or This Seemed Like A Good Oppotunity To Make Her Escape

Flying Girl Alices Off, or This Seemed Like A Good Opportunity to Make Her Escape
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

Flying Girl Jumps Into The Night, or "Oh, You Foolish Alice. How Can You Learn Lessons In Here?"

Flying Girls Jumps into the Night, or "Oh, you foolish Alice. How can you learn lessons in here?"
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.

Yes? Maybe.

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

Flying Girl Full of Ideas or Life Comes As It Comes

Flying Girl Full of Ideas or Life Comes As It Comes
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

Traveling Through The Winter

Traveling Through the Winter
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

Just Some Flowers

Just Some Flowers I Drew For Me
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

The Lion Tamer and Her Love

The Lion Tamer and Her Love
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

Flying Girl for a Reason, or I am Where I am

Flying Girl for a Reason, or I am Where I am
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

Pear, or Enjoy the Little Things

pen and paper, 8x5
I don't have a quote from a truly "inspirational" source today... but I did go see Zombieland with my brother yesterday, and although I am zombie phobic (so why did I go see it? I don't know) I am going to take my inspiration from the main character's rules. One of which was
I figure if this rule is good for a world of zombie apocalypse, it will do for me in the years that my children are barely civilized savages who want to eat what they want when they want it and will scream and run ravening for me if they don't get it. Not too far off from zombies, right?
So here's my drawing of a snack. I'd already eaten the cheese and crackers and decided to draw the pear half through the eating of it.
Enjoy the little things.
Along with enjoying the little blessings, I think it's important to recognize the little accomplishments, the things that don't seem to get you closer to your big goals, but do in fact help your life to work.
I've never been good at this life maintenance stuff, living in my head and painting pictures and writing novels and enjoying life, but losing track of the daily stuff. The dishes in the sink. The bills. The people I should keep in contact with. Paperwork that I should pull together. Even a healthy diet.
It probably means I am not connected to my base chakra, or I am not grounded or perhaps I need a keeper. I don't know, but being the mom of little kids is really challenging my tendency to live in my head.
You just can't do it. They need too much daily care for me to live all in my head.
For instance, yesterday, I lost my whole day of creativity because I had to get some old paperwork of Ivy's straightened out. It took up my writing time and I only ended up writing 777 words all day. The rest of the day it was taking care of the kids and making dinner and cleaning up and just making it through with the lack of sleep that was slightly more than normal as I'd woken up early for the paper work gauntlet. I even kept my movie date with my brother, because, you know? maintaining relationships is also part of this life upkeep.
BUT I decided to accept that the maintenance and paperwork all was part of life and was in fact productive although it didn't seem to get me closer to my goals.
I didn't even write in my novel after I came home from the movies. I watched a DVRed Office episode to get the zombies out of my head and went to sleep early.
This morning, I woke up, not even all that early, and wrote 3000 pages while the kids were watching Dora and the Crystal Palace (thankyou Nick Jr). I made yesterdays wordcount and today's in an hour and a half.
Maybe this will help me remember that life doesn't have to be rigid in its expectations. We can go with the flow, sometimes not being perfectly on top of everything, and in the end, as long as we stay focus on the goal, be just fine.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flying Girl in the Gentle Landscape, or To Yourself Be Kind

Flying Girl in the Gentle Landscape, or To Yourself Be Kind
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....

wordcount: 7598

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Life: The Teacher, and Some Goals So I Can Keep Moving

Chapter 15: The Teacher

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.

No, this chapter became about the ups and downs of life. The shadows and the light. The rollercoaster. The ferris wheel. The ups and downs. The carnival. The wheel of fate.

This chapter became about Life being The Teacher.
How do we learn?? Truly? By living life and taking the lumps and learning the lessons of our mistakes and clawing our way back up when we are down and understanding the heights are only temporary, only just another part of the whirling, twirling ride of life.
In all honestly, I am probably in a low spot in life. It contracts and I draw back, open up smaller doors to let in the light needed.
There's something to say for contracting, making your goals smaller, letting things go. There's something to say for reassessing what is really important and what you really want your life to be about.
So here I am, on the wheel at it's bottom... but, you know, I do have faith that it will be going up soon. I mean, maybe it's stalled out a little, but I have faith, any minute, it could start rising. Or maybe it already has, and I don't notice because the movement is so slow and I am only seeing the lack of altitude.
What can I focus on right now? Well, what I can do right now.
In fact, I am going to write out my goals for November.
1. Write 50k (or more) words in my Urban Fantasy novel for nanowrimo. (I am at 3256 on day 2 1/2)
2. Get back to drawing/painting every day, again. (I think I found a way in. I think I'm going to paint/draw works that are inspired by quotes. I'm looking for inspiration, looking for hope, looking for focus, and wise words from the world's philosophers, writers, artists will help me, I think.)
3. Try to maintain my shop a little better. I've been slacking due to life being uncooperative, but I think I can get some more stuff in there, if I focus.
4. Finish my chapter on Intuitive Painting and Journaling
Hey. I'm going to limit my goals to three. My daily living and my childcare issues are separate. And they take a lot of my time and energy. Although, come to think of it, I am going to add some personal goals to my professional/creative goals above. So...
5. Potty train the girl. I think she's getting close. She never used to pee on the potty but now she is complaining about the diaper. If I can get her to WANT to use the diaper, then I've gotten somewhere.
6. Take care of myself. Make sure I have time to relax. Get enough sleep. Eat right. Take my vitamins.
So there it is. Small goals. Or big ones, but only a few of them.
I think in order to fit those things in, I have to have a schedule.
It might go something like this.
7-8 wake up. Set kids up with Dora and breakfast and write in silence for one to two hours. Get basic minimum word count.
9-10ish play with kids, snacks. Online.
around 11:30 lunch for kids and blog.
12noon to 1: maybe some drawing, reading while kids play outside or watch tv (tv is my babysitter. it may be bad mothering, but it's the only way I get time to work)
1: girl naps. boy watches a movie and/or plays quietly. Write chapter. Or perhaps this is where I get the shop updated. Perhaps I alternate days for this. One day on the chapter, one day on the shop. Or perhaps there's time there for getting writing done.
4pm: girl wakes up, I make dinner.
5pm dinner.
6pm playing, relaxing, reading, whatever
7-8 bedtime.
8pm primetime tv for me. but IF THERE'S NOTHING ON I should just write. After my shows, write.
11pm. Bedtime. I don't know if I can do this, but maybe. I've been having some trouble sleeping, so lets see.
Well, I'm going to work on this goal list and on this schedule. If I alternate days and stick to the schedule instead of goofing off, I should be able to manage something.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Be Do Have

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
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.
Be. Do. Am. It says. There's another saying. Be. Do. Have. The concept is that in order to achieve your dreams, you have to Be them first. Whatever you want to have in your life, you have to Be it. You want happiness? Be happy. You want abundance. Be abundant. You want to be a writer? Be a writer.
First the transformation happens in the head. The thoughts. Then you take steps. You do the things that come out of the happiness, abundance, writerliness. You play or offer thanks for what you have or, well, write.
Then after you embody the dream (Be) and after you take action on the dream (Do) then you finally get the results you wanted. You will have the happy life. You will have the wealth. You will have the three book deal with the major publishing company.

Sometimes, we get confused and think we have to HAVE the things before we can live the life we want. Have the perfect job, or the finished novel that's already inside our heads, or life perfect and serene which will bring happiness. But no, we don't reach our dreams by having stuff. We reach our dreams by accepting them inside ourselves and then moving forward from that secure place.

This month I am living into my dream of BEing a writer, by making room for it in my life. I am writing, 2000 words a day if things go my way, word by word, every session I can step away from the madness of a 2 and 4 year old. And maybe, when this draft is done, and I have the solid manuscript in my hand, then I can go on to the next step of this dream of mine.
Believing that I have what it takes to be a novelist. Being a novelist. Researching the agents, sending out queries, taking steps out into the world. Then, then after Being the novelist, and Doing what the novelist needs to do, I will have the publishing contract, and the books in the stores. Yes.
Honestly, that's always where I've been stopped before.
I've never really believed that I deserved it. I stall out. I get scared. I self sabotage.
In truth, I don't see how any of us can reach our dreams if we don't exist in them first. Be Do Have.
Oh, and a little luck never hurt anyone, either.
nanowrimo total: 3444 words. Day 1 1/2

Friday, October 30, 2009


Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Chapter 12: Respectability.
words (hidden in the tiny hatchmarks)
no more hiding/I say no more hiding/ I am done
On the eve of the eve of nanowrimo, the eve of all sorts of life changes, the eve of the constant work of creating myself, I like this reminder.
The chapter is called "Respectability" which points to something that others think about you. But my chapter is about Respect/Ability... which in a way, at least in this chapter, is about our own thoughts about ourselves.
I get very scared about going for the things I really want.
I am afraid that I am not good enough to succeed.
I am afraid that I am not strong enough to bear it if I don't.
So I have a tendency to avoid committing fully to my dreams.
But the truth is, if we respect our own abilities, the ability to think it through, the ability to live up to the challenges, the ability to create something beautiful, the ability to roll with the punches, the ability to revision and redesign, then going for those thrilling, frightening dreams doesn't have to be so scary.
We don't have to get it all right. We don't have to do it perfectly without stumbles. We don't have to win.
No. We don't have to win. We don't have to be successes. What about that? Is that confrontational? I find it a little confrontational.
We don't have to succeed, we just have to live. We just have to love what we love and run with the beast of our hearts.
My beast wants to take chances and try those things I am afraid of.
My beast wants to write my novels and to get an agent and to be published. My beast wants people to read my books. Oh gosh. No, it doesn't. My beast wants to write stories and get wrapped up in the worlds. Fill journals and paint pictures. My ego is the one that wants to be published.
But if it doesn't work out?
My ego might be crushed, but my beast will be just as happy to continue writing nanowrimo novels and blogging and telling my kids stories and drawing pictures and teaching people. Right?
Oh I don't know. Somehow, I feel that if I believe in my own heart and respect my own abilities, I can be happy with what I do, without public recognition.
What about you? Do you need the win to feel worthy? Or are you okay with just following the beast of your heart, damn publication, damn critical acclaim. Damn riches and wealth?
Are you looking for respectability in the eyes of the world, or are you content to respect your own abilities, and live in your own skin?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Williamsburg, Brooklyn; A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
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.

That's exciting.

Or San Francisco.

That's exciting.

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

Lots of Ideas and Flying Girl Enters the Picture

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003

Chapter 7: Ideas
bounded in a nutshell
fame & success
destruction& rebirth
the notes of a.... song
where I am from where I am going
the word

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

Oh the terror and the glory of it all

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003

Chapter 7

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

Surrender: This Is My Life

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book, Mixed Media, 2003

writing, left page:

story/lived/on/story//books/written/lives lived/Born//into the world/wanting love

right page:
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.

writing: This is Life
I think, I think, that by living my life, by accepting it for all its flaws, for all its confusion, for all its sometimes sadness and low points and struggles.
This is my life.
And you know, sometimes it's okay to be sad. Sometimes it's okay to NOT be productive. Yesterday I was sad, nothing seemed to be working out. It all seemed to be too hard.
So I said to myself, Self, it's okay to be sad. Be sad today. Tomorrow you will get up again and be strong. Tomorrow you will do what you need to do.
And you know what happened?
Instead of being sad the rest of the day, I made my kids dinner and I rearranged their room and I stopped being sad. Well, maybe just a little stuck around, but it didn't take over. And today I got up and did what I have to do and made the phonecalls I needed to make and was much better. All I needed was to accept my state of being for what it was. Isn't that odd? Just let it be, and it let go of its hold on me. I wonder if that would work for other emotions, like fear or anger or frustration or insecurity. I suspect it would.
I'm still a little worried that I won't be able to get my word count up for my nanowrimo book, but you know what, I am definitely living in an imperfect time and space to dedicate all my time and energy to writing a 50k. I just have to accept it for what it is, surrender to my life. Surrender to my desire to write and maybe even surrender to the possible failure in the goal.
But even if I don't make 50k words in November, I will still have written more than I would if I didn't commit to it. I will still have lived my life as it is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Godliness of My Tattered Life

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
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

Nobody Knows

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
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

The Meaning of Life?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
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.

Sometimes the wind blows, this says. I remember this windy Autumn day wandering around Brooklyn Heights.

Left Page:
Sometimes I wonder if it means anything at all. Does it mean a thing? Everything we think is so important... is it?
All those things you must have, people, choices, experiences-- we think we can't live unless...
But I always see to go on living. I always move on the next and the next and the next.
Maybe this iwhat the buddhists mean by letting go of passion-- that need, necessity, oh so important listing of what life gives to you.
Even my dreams... must I? So important. What will make me HAPPY. But really, will it?
Right Page:
Life has the MEANING I give to it.
I think back then I was in a great anxiety over doing what I thought I should do with my life. I was 33 and feeling the pressure of hitting 30 without reaching what I thought were my goals.
I was supposed to be a novelist, a published, well recieved novelist at this point. I was supposed to be a writer.
Here I was trying to revise the meaning of my life.
Now, today, I'm doing the same thing. Aren't we always?
Who are we? Are we artists? Parents? Students? Writers? What does it mean to succeed or to fail? Is it really about what we achieve? What we possess?
More and more, I think it is less about what we have, and more about what we do. Less about reaching our goals, and more about reaching FOR our goals. Life is a process, not a product. But there is a product that comes out of our process.
It isn't about having children, it is about living with them, helping them grow, laughing with them, enjoying them, disciplining them, teaching them.
It isn't about being a published author, it is about writing those stories that are within you, and overcoming the fears that keep you silent. It is about commiting to your self and your project. It is about taking steps to share with others.
That's the meaning I give to life now. Life is about living.
What is the living that gives your life meaning now?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mother: Then and Now

Williamsburg, Brooklyn; A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003

Chapter 4: Mother (found poetry)

left page: MOTHER

right page:
through the streets

the spirit of

life, damn it!

a passion

tide of
the years

and even


are you ?


and her


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

Paper Pills

Williamsburg, Brooklyn; A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003

Chapter 3: Paper Pills
left page: PAPER PILLS
it/and/it/the/but/there/the/of something

right page:
scraps of paper
black page: delicious
white page: I// w//a//n//t// i//w//a//n//t// nothing/all

sideways: the word. the whole universe in the word.
all of the odds and ends of thought scribbled on the bits of paper.

So yesterday I worked for one hour on my new novel outline. It is the 22nd day of my 100 days of writing challenge and I have written a little bit over 7 and a half hours.
But you know what? I changed my focus and it allows nanowrimo, so I am not worried about getting my hours up. I mean, I do have to write 50k words in November. If I write 1ooo words in an hour, that's 50 hours of writing in only one month, less than 1 1/2 hours per day. And I would still have the rest of October and December to get my hours.
Okay, so it might still be a challenge, given my September/October so far, but it is doable.
You realize of course the biggest challenge to writing is never the actual writing. It's showing up to the page. The biggest challenge to being an artist is not the art, it's the living breathing thinking struggling artist herself.
That's why so many artist/writers/actors/musicians etc have been notoriously crazy/drunken/egomaniacal/strung out. I think they self medicate or often get overwhelmed.
The demons are on the inside, and you have to get through them to get to the page, sometimes.
But it's okay. It really is. The demons are only as scary as the power we give them.
Haha. I didn't understand how this post went where it did, and then I looked back at the pages from the altered book.
Paper Pills. Little odds and ends of thoughts. I want. Nothing/All. The whole universe in the word.
It's still a little abstract, this post.
I'm okay with that.
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