Yesterday’s Post Today

I’ve just heard a new saying (new to me anyway).  I looked it up and it exists in many forms and has been attributed to various sources, but I’ll choose this variation:

Everybody wants to save the world, but nobody wants to do the dishes.

That was pretty much my day yesterday.  Not the dishes per se, because I didn’t actually do all that many dishes.  I’m talking about one of those days where it is suddenly eleven o’clock at night and you have no idea where the day went.  Nothing got done that you planned on doing, but you were busy nonetheless.  I couldn’t really tell you what I did, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t literally save the world.

It was one of those days where I just kept doing what needed to be done…. just everyday life.

I don’t think that we value these kinds of days enough.  It would be awesome (in the true sense of the word) to get to the end of the day and know that you did save the world.  But, how many of us get to do that in one fell swoop?

I know some people that I think are doing amazing things to make the world a better place, but most of them would disagree with me and claim that what they were doing wasn’t all that important.  They tell me that they are just doing their job.

When I ponder this sort of day, I often think of the word vocation.  The word vocation originated in the context of Christianity as in a calling.  It’s meaning has changed somewhat in today’s usage and people often use it to describe their work or career or job, but I like it’s original intent.  It’s a word that covers the kind of day that I had yesterday.

A day where you do what needs to be done: spend time with someone who needs you, hold someone who doesn’t feel well, make a late night meal for someone who is hungry, provide a bed for someone who is tired, welcome someone into your home who needs a place to stay…

None of these actions save the world, but they do help to make it a better place.  That’s important work and to do it with love and without resentment or expectation of self-benefit – that’s a vocation or a calling.  (Okay, sometimes you may be tired and resentful, but you fake it and do it anyway because we are only human, after all.)

Choosing a vocation and living into it is what makes a life worthwhile.  It’s not necessarily exciting or glamourous. It probably isn’t.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that what’s being done makes any difference in the world at all.   Millions of people may not feel our love, read our words, hear our songs, see our art, or experience any of the things that we do in the world, but the few who do are enriched by what we do.

We need to believe and remember that…every day.

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I did spend a few minutes on the canvas.

And I did declutter five things:

  1. two pairs of shoes
  2. sunglasses
  3. a pair of shorts
  4. a bowl that’s a weird size and doesn’t stack with the other bowls on our now open shelving
  5. two dead plants – I can’t grow cilantro no matter how hard I try.  Aargh!

I may even write today’s post today…we’ll see how it goes!

A Field of Blue

0606161655Here’s the canvas with the first coat of paint on.  I wasn’t really in the mood to work on it today.  It was extremely hard to focus on the canvas and ignore all the nagging “need to do’s” in my peripheral vision. I did it anyway.

I have no idea where this is going or what it might look like when it gets there.  Rarely, I start out with an idea or vision and I actually get where I was going.  Often, I end up somewhere far afield of the original intent.

The canvas journey is not always enjoyable.  Some of it is fun.  Some of it is aggravating as hell.  Some of it is beyond tedious.  Sometimes the canvas finds itself buried for a period of time…days, weeks, months, forever…but, usually I come back to it ready to try again.

It’s not unusual for me to reach a certain point and wonder, “What am I doing, why am I doing it, and what was I thinking when I started?”  Experience has taught me to persevere and push through the frustration.  Sometimes this involves moving in a new direction.

This is all sounding a lot like my life, come to think of it!

As a result, my art work is almost always textural and multi-dimensional with a lot of bumps, occasional rips and mended spots, and layers.

In the end, when the canvas says its done, I stand back and say, “Oh” softly. “That’s what I was trying to say”.  It would have been easier in the beginning if I had know where I was going.  That’s just not how the creative process works for me.  I seem to have to wander around from here to there, double back, try again, and emerge from the darkness into the light.

There’s that life journey again.

Tomorrow, I will add another layer (or two) if the spirit takes hold.  I will need to intentionally look and listen to what the canvas and life are whispering to me.  I’m out of practice.  I haven’t made an art piece in quite a while.  Other things have held my attention.  Important things to be sure.  I need to find my balance again – the ability to make space in my life and my heart for all of the things that I love – and for the things that I don’t love, but have to do anyway.

It’s a start.

The 5 Decluttered today:

  1. a knick-knack that I don’t love enough to dust
  2. a cross that was a gift but isn’t really my style anymore
  3. a small box of art supplies that “might be useful someday”
  4. several spools of thread
  5. a slowly deflating ball that’s been rolling around my studio – original purpose unknown

When Less Equals More

Two posts in one day?

Yep.

I’m ready to move on from decluttering being such a frequent topic.  I’m sure that I’ll never be completely decluttered around here – things will come and things will go as life continues.

But, I would like to focus more on the things that decluttering is helping me to accomplish…like more art, more creativity, more family time, more visiting with friends, more quiet time, more of everything that is positive and life-enriching…

And focus less on the “more” which is less inspiring:  more stuff, more housework, more stress, and more to-do’s that I don’t enjoy doing (that may not have made as much sense as I’d hoped when I thought it in my head.  It may have lost something in translation.)

Basically, I’d like to move on from the getting ready mindset and start doing what I’ve been working towards:  that more intentional life that I keep talking about.

Enough talking already.  Time to start doing is what I’m trying to say.

During this transitional month, I’m going to do one more big decluttering search and destroy mission.  I’ve been trying to  declutter 5 things a day for the month of June.

Here’s the list so far:

  1. a humongous entertainment center type storage cabinet
  2. a pair of shorts
  3. a stapler
  4. a lampshade
  5. a stuffed animal
  6. a handful of socks with no mates (why are these so hard for me to let go of?)
  7. a stack of magazines
  8. a down comforter
  9. seeds saved from too many seasons ago
  10. a stack of outdated “important” papers
  11. a children’s book that I’d been saving for the illustrations
  12. miscellaneous mason jar lids that don’t have jars to go with them
  13. a headband
  14. one shoe (can’t find the other one)
  15. a visual journal barely used – made up of disappointingly flimsy paper
  16. a picture frame with no glass that I kept thinking might be useful for something
  17. a pants hanger that was almost impossible to hang pants on and even harder to remove the pants from
  18. one of three cutting mats
  19. lightbulbs that don’t fit anywhere in the house
  20. a dusty cookbook (if I need a recipe, I almost always go to the internet)
  21. wood scraps saved because they might be useful for something someday
  22. a blouse that doesn’t fit quite right
  23. bathing suits that my daughter has outgrown
  24. a beach hat that has seen one too many trips to the beach
  25. a summer dress that I had hoped to fit into this summer, but that obviously has no appreciation for the fact that I’ve given life to four children

Why am I providing such detail about my decluttering efforts, you might be asking?

Well, if anyone is struggling with clutter, maybe, just maybe, this list could inspire them to search for extra stuff that they don’t need in a new spot – to find things that they didn’t realize they had or hadn’t thought to search through.

We’re not in this alone.  This is something that a lot of folks are working through.   I don’t have any magic words or instructions that can really help.  I’m not going to tell you that having 3 bins to sort into is the answer,  or that there is a magic amount of time that will solve all your problems.  It’s truly about more than just the stuff.  Getting rid of things helps, but there is always an underlying problem that we’ve got to deal with.

The journey is worth the effort – no matter how long it takes.

I know.  I’ve struggled.  I’ve given up.  I’ve started over (and over) again.  I can see daylight at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not an oncoming train).  It’s the light shining on this blank canvas that I’m going to start work on first thing in the morning.

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Tomorrow will be a new day with less and a whole lot more!.

 

Fragile Vessels

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Years ago I did a commissioned art series for a church pastored by someone that I hold in high esteem and care deeply for.  It was an advent series that we entitled “Fragile Vessels”. These vessels were made out of old papers, lace, and fabrics and were set on the stairs leading up to the altar and lit from within with candles.  The sermon series dealt with the fragility of human life, the appearance of the Christ as a small infant, the resiliency of the human spirit – the complexity that is the Christian faith.

I strongly believe that art should be experienced with more than the eyes and therefore these pieces were handled a great deal – especially by the children of the congregation.  There was damage as would be expected of fragile pieces.

At the end of the advent season, these pieces were returned to me and were carefully stored in a box.  They are among the objects that I have struggled with the disposition of in recent days.

At the time, I was seriously exploring a vocation as a minister.  Since then, my path has changed dramatically.  I don’t doubt that my journey today is the correct one, but would be lying to say that I don’t have some regrets about how things turned out.

I would say that I am still a believer in God, but my interest in “organized” religion has changed dramatically.  I question more and study further.  I am open to the beliefs of others.  I am not so sure of anything anymore.  My faith is not blind.  I am older and more mature.  The world is complicated.  The answers not so clear.

The pastor that these pieces were created with and for is no longer an active part of my life.  I’m not very good at staying in touch with people – even those I care about.  On some level though, I still feel a strong connection with her.  She is fighting a difficult health battle right now.

We are fragile vessels.

Words rarely fail me.  In this case they have.  Prayer just seems inadequate.  I couldn’t sleep tonight thinking about my inability to let go of these art pieces, her illness, our loss of connection, and my failure to find words to articulate my thoughts and feelings.

And then I thought about the fact that many cultures believe that prayer can be carried by smoke in the wind upwards towards heaven.

The fragile vessel made of old paper, lace and fabric wouldn’t stay lit.  The fire kept going out.  And then a light rain started to fall.

Maybe we are stronger than we think.  Maybe we don’t have all the answers.  Maybe we aren’t meant to understand it all or know what the outcome shall be.

Some things are just a mystery.

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In the Midst

In the midst of all our home improvement chaos, I’ve managed to fit in a bit of creativity in the studio as well.   Pushing aside piles of stuff relocated from areas that we are working on, I cleared some space and made a “shadow box” holder for bottle caps to hang in the dining room.  We entertain quite a bit and there may be a bit of indulging in beverages of the fermented type.  I use bottle caps in my art a lot and have been wanting a place to gather them so they aren’t in piles all over the kitchen (or on the floor under the bottle opener).

I’ve been looking for one ready made that didn’t cost a fortune or even one at the thrift store for months.  I’ve also looked for a shadow box frame that I could turn into one.  No luck.  So, I repurposed one of my daughter’s college art projects (box) and a frame from my stash of stuff that might be useful some day.  I used a vintage photo of bathroom doors that I found in an old photography book on the inside – an attempt at humor since the bottle caps were from beverages that would lead to a trip to the bathroom.  Okay, maybe not too funny, but I tried.  I added some vintage marquee light bulbs just because and some ribbon with a pointing finger to direct drinkers to the hole at the top for dropping in the caps.  Painted it, glued it all together, drilled a hole in the top and there you have it.

A little quirky, a lot of re-purposed stuff, and time in the studio.  It makes me happy!

Stuck

So I’m  stuck in one place today.  The studio.  My goal is to spend more time making art.  Therefore, I need to make the studio a more inviting, functional space.

I’m doing okay on dumping the old projects and supplies that didn’t rock my world.

I’ve sorted out scraps and leftovers from finished projects for my art class.  Art journals are packed away but accessible for future perusing and inspiration.

Art pieces from the past?

Filling up a storage cabinet and numerous plastic tubs and basically piled all over the place.

Some aren’t too bad.  Some are crap.  Some I like, but don’t want to clutter up wall space with.  Some have been claimed by children and others, but are stored here.

What the hell do I do with them?

Part of me thinks that a giant bonfire might be a symbolic and therapeutic way to deal with the crappy ones.  However, my family and I don’t always agree about what’s good and what’s not.

There is time, resources and emotions worked into every piece.  The time and resources, I am at peace with.  The emotions?  That’s another story.

I don’t even know how to work through the stress, tension and anxiety that flows to the surface as I contemplate some of the pieces and what to do with them.

Storing them away to be dealt with sometime in the future seems to be the easy way out.  I don’t know that the “easy” way is the best way.  Maybe it’s just not time to deal with it all.

Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and get rid of it.

Like I said –

Stuck.

I don’t want to be stuck.  I want to move.  I want to move forward and be free.

Anybody want some art?

Declaration

 

 

  

Declaration:  a formal or explicit statement or announcement

For the last eight weekends I have been packed up and hitting the road this time every Friday to head to Sherwood Forest Faire.  I’ve been working in an Italian Restaurant preparing sauces, washing dishes, working on the food service line and anything else that needed to be done that nobody else was doing.
It was hard work and the hours were sometimes long.  I initially took the job as a chance to earn some extra money to help out around here.
It wasn’t long before I started looking forward to going.  In addition to some extra cash, I discovered community – community populated by some awesome people who accepted me for who I was and not who I normally pretended to be.  There were few preconceived notions about how I should behave, what I believed or what I should spend my time doing.  Pretty much a judgement-free zone.  In some ways, a brutally honest place.
I’ve been learning to deal with questions like:
  • What difference does your age make?
  • Why do it if it doesn’t make you happy?
  • Why aren’t you doing it if it makes you happy?
  • Who told you that you needed to live that way?
  • Why not change the way you are living your life?
  • Who (or what) is stopping you?
  • How long are you going to wait to start doing…

 

I can’t imagine hitting the road and becoming a full-time “Rennie” anytime soon.  I am a homebody at heart.  But, as I’ve been repeatedly reminded, houseless and homeless are not the same thing.  I have a good life here.  I don’t want to ditch it all and start over.

But, there are some things that I am going to change though.  Since coming back home last Monday, I have been dealing with the chaos of being away from home for all that time.  Normal housekeeping compounded with the mess of home renovations.  I’ve been sorting out and decluttering and organizing.  And all the questions from Faire have been echoing in my tired and stressed brain.

Enough.

Hence, the declaration!

I want to make art.  I want to sell art.  I want to give away art.  I want to stop dealing with material possessions at the cost of spending time with the people I love doing the stuff I enjoy.  I have one life.  I am 54 years old.  I’m not too old to change my life, but realistically I don’t have forever.  I need to make changes now.  Permanent changes.  Less stuff, more experiences.  More community.  More fun.  More being me and less living for the opinions of other people.  The unnecessary layers are going.

Excuse my language, but this shit has got to stop.  I’ve been working towards this point for a long time.  My whole life, I suppose.

Now, I feel like I’ve been challenged to change.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and didn’t like everything that I saw when I came back to where I started.

Stuff doesn’t make me happy.  It makes me unhappy.  I’m tired of decluttering and organizing.  Half a pick-up truck load went to the thrift store yesterday.  A full can of trash and 5 additional items left on trash day.

A queen mattress set also went away.  It was worn out.  I had held onto it in case we needed it.  You know what, if that many people need to sleep here, we’ll figure it out.  Holding onto that mattress is a symptom of trying to be prepared for every situation in the future instead of living right now.

Next up, my closet.  I’m ridding myself of all the “costumes” that I’ve purchased and held onto to.  I’m talking about the clothes that I own that fit the roles I’ve been trying to play.  The teacher clothes, the Mom clothes, the artist clothes, the mature woman clothes and the woman with a weight issue clothes.  I’m just going to keep the “me” clothes. Yes, all those roles are a part of who I am, but I am so much more than that.

I’m packing up a great deal of our belongings to make the new floor installation easier.  Only the essentials are staying out.  If we don’t love it or need it, it’s going away.  When each box is unpacked in the “new” room, we’ll re-valuate whether it stays or goes.

Change is good.

 

 

 

 

The Weekend

Where was I this weekend?

I was at my newest part-time job!  I’m working the season at Sherwood Forest Faire just outside of Austin.  It’s a Renaissance festival type of event and I’m toiling away as part of the kitchen crew in an Italian restaurant.  The hours are long, the food is yummy and the people watching is extraordinary.

I’ve always loved these types of festivals and I must say that it is interesting to be “behind the curtain” and get to know the work involved in making them come together.

Today, I’m back home and re-adjusting to my reality.  One of the best things (for me) about working and living there is the exposure to folks that are houseless, but not homeless.  That distinction was an eye-opener for me. I follow a lot of blogs about people who have tossed most of their personal belongings and live a nomadic lifestyle, but to actually see it first-hand is a whole ‘nother story.

I’m sharing my daughter’s “vardo” (renovated tool trailer) on the weekends and space is limited.  I only take absolute necessities and am finding that I need a lot less than I think.  Each weekend I take a little less.  Life is so much simpler in many ways.

I can’t foresee ever hitting the road full-time.  There are some “luxuries” I can’t imagine giving up – showering without someone singing in the stall next to me while enjoying ample water pressure of a consistent temperature of my choosing, for example.

Anyhow, today will involve catching up on real life and keeping one eye open for more stuff that can leave our home.

I’m really motivated to rid myself of mass-produced items in favor of the hand-made and hand-crafted.  Wandering the faire and seeing the work of artists and artisans has been significant as I’ve chatted with them and seen the sacrifices they make for their work.

I’m also feeling the need to get back into my studio.

Mainly I’m going to continue to seek more balance in my life – ridding myself of more of the unnecessary and filling my life with more of what brings peace and joy.

I think I will  busy today.

Poem

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep.  I lay listening to the soft tick-tock of an old clock on top of the blanket chest.  And I wrote my first poem since my college days.  One of my majors was English with a Creative Writing emphasis.  I always struggled with poetry – prose was more my thing.

This poem just showed up in my head.  Unannounced, unplanned, unedited.  It was just there and I kind of like it.

Here goes:

The tick-tock of the clock

is the sound of old.

New time is silent,

Yet holds all the noise

of the world.

Why a poem now?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best to not question creative gifts.