With great effort, I am posting some of these pages without offering apologies for the shortcomings that I so clearly see.
I just keep muttering to myself, “Process, not product…”
Sometimes it’s just too hard being me.
Life is too short for bent and dull sewing pins, fabric I no longer love and dried up paint. I could add a hundred and one other things to this list and never even leave my studio.
I’ve decided that it all comes down to FEAR and it’s constant companion ANXIETY. There is no simple button to press and make those two disappear from my life. I just need to continue to work towards a peaceful home where we can exist together harmoniously.
That’s where I have been for the past couple of days. Not for long periods of time, but little visits so I can work out a way to want to be in there…
To make stuff again.
I’ve identified two specific things that I fear with regards to that room:
Fear of getting rid of things because I might need them someday and the accompanying fear of using things because then I won’t have it and it might work better in another future project…
and that hypothetical scenario leads to the next fear…
Fear that anything I make won’t be “good enough”. I can’t even explain that one.
Is it a fear of someone else’s opinion? Maybe a “real” artist judging what I’ve made or…
Am I really just afraid of my own inner critic?
– that voice that does such a good job of telling me that “I can’t”
In any event, the result of this fear is that I’ve become more of a collector of possibilities rather than a creator of them.
I have fabric, canvases, paint, brushes, ephemera, stamps, ink, adhesives, buttons, threads, jars of fascinating little things, pencils, pens, paper and more paper and a hundred and one other things. All of this was purchased, found and gifted to me because of it’s potential to become something more.
I’ve even collected quotes about creativity…
But I’ve made enough lists for today.
I have fewer responsibilities to use as excuses.
Today, I have decided to start a summer journal project and publicly declare it’s existence.
Fifty-seven journal pages this summer.
One for every year that I’ve been alive.
Instead of saying that I want to make stuff over and over again, I’m going to make stuff.
Make pages with no excuses or apologies for what they look like or don’t.
Process, not product…
Along the way, I’m going to get rid of anything taking up space in there that doesn’t work for who I am now as an artist.
starting right now!
I bought a set of bowls…
They weren’t expensive and I didn’t really need them, but they were pretty – painted in bright colors and I felt happy when I looked at them.
So, I bought them and brought them home with me.
I used them that first night.
The dog smashed the biggest one the second day I had it. Broken into a lot of pieces. I said it was okay, but I felt a little less happy as I put the pieces in the trash.
The next day, as I was washing the middle sized bowl, I noticed that it had a big chip on the rim. Okay. I finished washing it and planted a geranium in it. And turned it around so I couldn’t see the damage.
As I was putting up the washed dishes later that day, I picked up the smallest bowl and saw the crack. A crack that ran from top to bottom. I tried to put a plant in it so that I didn’t have to throw it away, but it leaked water everywhere.
I thought about trying to fix it and it sat on the counter for a long time.
Today, I looked at that bowl.
It no longer brought me happiness.
In fact, when I looked at it, I felt regret that I had purchased it at all.
I thought about the fact that everything is not valuable and worth salvaging.
I can’t have it all.
I don’t want it all.
Real happiness is not found in things.
Some things can’t be fixed.
Some things shouldn’t be fixed.
It’s important to practice discerning the difference between what is truly valuable and worth our time and energy and what is not worthy.
Sometimes a broken bowl is just a broken bowl.
And I need to let it go.
I had another post in mind to write today and it was even a little bit funny.
And then a bit of real life entered my little world and this post is in response to that reality.
I don’t know.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.
I don’t know why some young men die and some don’t.
I don’t know why someone who is doing a lot to make the world a better place gets cancer.
I don’t know why some people work so hard and can’t make ends meet.
I don’t know why life isn’t fair.
I don’t know what to say when the people in my life are hurting and struggling with difficult situations.
I don’t know how to make it better or explain it or make the pain go away.
I’d like to think that there is some master plan and that all the pieces work together in a way that would make sense if I could see the “big picture”.
But, sometimes I think that if I had a bird’s eye view of the world, I would see a million card tables covered in unfinished jigsaw puzzles because the dog ate some of the pieces.
That maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all and it just is.
I don’t have any words that make any of it any better.
Sometimes it just hurts and we cry and we scream and we get mad and we feel guilty…
I pray that my faith is strong enough to keep me upright so that I can support those that I love.
I pray for wisdom to know what to say and when to remain silent.
I pray that I am present for those that feel alone…even when I know that we have to do the hardest things by ourselves.
I pray for hope that when we can’t see the light, we can at least see the faintest twinkle of the stars in the darkness.
And I try to make peace with what I can and cannot do.
And believe that we are not all in this reality alone.
Addendum: So I typed this post and headed off to my cleaning job – not realizing that I had failed to hit “Publish”.
As my daughter and I were driving into town, she did that “magic” thing where music from your phone plays on the car radio. I don’t pretend to understand most electronics. The mystery of it all is too much for me.
Anyway, she subscribes to some kind of service that sends you song selections that you might like and you pick and choose what you enjoy.
This song by Sam Smith came on the radio. I’ll just post the lyrics and you can listen to it somewhere if you are interested…
All in all, this has been a successful week. It’s necessary to look back on it as a whole though. Picking it apart makes it possible to focus on what didn’t work…and more things worked out than not.
I have followed through with my plan to eat a more healthy diet overall this week. Lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains. More plant based protein and less meat. Cutting out sugar and anything overly processed. My neighbor did make us a deliciously awesome, totally homemade, absolutely decadent cake this week. I may have had more than one piece. She is the best cook ever and does everything from scratch. And the cake had fruit in it and maybe some carrots, and nuts…so it wasn’t a total oops.
This is lunch.
Ummm. I have to say the picture on the box looks better than the food in the bowl and it smells a little funky, but it tastes ok. It’s not a Sonic cheeseburger or a chopped bbq baked potato from Smokey-Mo’s, but I am learning to like it. There are some good flavors in there. Old habits are hard to break. And I was drinking a big glass of ice water with it, but I set it down somewhere and now I can’t find it. Sigh.
The decluttering effort is back underway. This all went to the thrift store yesterday.
Most of it is from my youngest daughter’s room. She is growing up and parted with quite a few of the formerly cherished toys from the back of her closet. I had more problems with it than she did. When I asked her if she was sure about such a drastic purge she replied, “Mom, some little girl is going to have so much fun when she finds this stuff at the thrift store.” True words and ones that I will replay in my head as I tackle my stuff.
Speedy, the dog is recovering from his back injury. It only cost $200 (sarcasm intended here) and he is almost back to his old (slightly annoying) self. He is not yet following my every footstep, but he does manage to whine when I move out of his line of vision. He has a lesion on his spine and is basically “a ticking time bomb” according to the vet. Bassets are prone to back problems so we will just make sure his remaining time is good and take each day as it comes.
The rental car is being returned today although we haven’t actually gotten a check from the insurance company. I’m not sure what they think we are supposed to drive while we wait for dispensation, but I guess it’s not their problem…in their opinion. We do have my sister’s car to use, but one car for 3 drivers who all have different schedules is not fun. We can make it work, but it’s still extremely frustrating.
I am still making paper and having a lot of fun doing it. It’s become my “go to” thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. This is just part of what I’ve created so far.
Some ideas for using it in projects are percolating, but real life is taking a lot of time and there hasn’t been much left over for artistic pursuits.
I haven’t heard from my son in over two weeks. Last time I talked to him he was still in the hospital. He said the medical discharge from basic training could take up to a month. I’m assuming that he is doing okay. It’s hard not to know what’s going on.
I keep telling myself to be patient.
Things will work out.
The healthier diet and regular exercise will improve my health and the way I feel in noticeable ways.
The house will become even less cluttered and easier to manage (and maybe I’ll find my missing glass of water).
The vehicle situation will work out even though it seems hopeless right now.
There will once again be time for art and creativity.
And all the other realities that are crowding in and making things challenging will be dealt with and resolved…
some to my satisfaction and some in ways that I will learn to deal with.
Patience brings peace
and peace births happiness
and happiness brings joy…
and none of it comes easy, but it is doable.
Life is good and all shall be well.
Well, literally I am here, at home – most specifically seated at my computer desk typing this note.
But in every other sense of the word, I feel very lost. This may possibly be one of those brutally honest posts – the kind where I throw punctuation and grammar to the wind and just write. We shall see.
Where am I?
I am lost.
Lost in the realities of stressful everyday life.
There was never enough money and then my husband’s overtime was cut. Shit. I don’t blame him. I feel badly for him. He works so hard to provide for our family and I know that he’s blaming himself.
Lost in a vicious cycle of trying to get things done.
The house needs so much work. We haven’t had the time or resources to do any of the planned projects. The floor in our hall bathroom and laundry room need to be replaced due to a water leak. We haven’t been able to recover the floors since we removed the carpeting. The sub-flooring is so difficult to clean. I so badly want to repaint the walls. There’s been a lot of living done since we moved in 10 years ago. It just feels old and dirty and worn-out.
Lost in a stupid battle of self-loathing and self-criticism that spews out on all of those around me.
….If I could just figure out how to make the money stretch far enough. If I could just keep the house clean enough. If I could just manage my time well enough to get things done.
A tiny little voice in my head says that I’m doing the best that I can. The loud voices are yelling that I’m a stupid failure that isn’t good enough. That it’s all my fault.
I’m tired and sad. Probably more than sad. I’m having trouble keeping my eye on the dream…Honestly, I’m having trouble maintaining any optimism or hope at all.
The “I want to” is bigger than the “I can”. I want to make home-made nutritious meals for my family. I’m lucky to fix boxed macaroni and cheese. I want fresh sheets on the bed every week. Even if I get them washed, they don’t always make it on the bed. The dog hair on the floor is starting to look like really ugly carpeting. I don’t even know where the broom is right now. Let’s not even get into the art-making process. There is neither the time or energy for that.
I know that things will get better.
I just need patience – with myself, those I love and our situation. I need to take more time to breathe and look for the joy around me. I know it’s there.
I know that I need to start writing again. The process of putting words on paper (actually putting fingers to keyboard) is a magical way to stop the racing mind and see things more clearly.
And I know from your kind comments that I am not alone in any of this. Stressful lives, despair and hopelessness are not uncommon out there in this world of ours. This difficult and sometimes scary world – this world that is also full of love and beauty. We can help each other with sharing and kindness.
It’s so often easier to be kind to others than it is to be kind to ourselves – easier to see the hope for someone else’s life.
I hope that each of you can find some small measure of beauty, joy, peace and hope for yourself today. I am off to find some for myself.
Something happened yesterday.
It didn’t seem like much at the time.
I was working through my cleaning list and dusting.
Have I mentioned that I really don’t like cleaning house? Don’t get me wrong. I love a clean house – a lot. I just don’t like the process involved in getting there. That may not be true now that I’m typing out the words. I don’t like always living in a mess. I don’t like cleaning when there’s always more to do. I don’t like feeling like it’s a lost cause. That I can never win or catch up.
I sort of enjoy the wiping down of a counter and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done. Cleaning a grungy floor and seeing it shine. Opening a fridge and knowing that everything in it is fresh, useful and available.
I don’t like having to do a load of dishes, putting ten things in the trash, taking a load to the compost pile, and returning a number of things to their proper place – and then wiping down the counter.
I don’t like sweeping up a full dustpan of crap, putting up three pairs of shoes and figuring out what-the-hell that spill was – and then mopping.
I don’t like opening the fridge to prepare dinner and seeing a mess – out-of-date produce that didn’t get eaten because it was shoved to the back instead of in the overflowing produce drawer. Meat that got thawed and not eaten because a schedule changed. Leftovers that got forgotten. Waste. Not being able to grab a healthy snack out and going to the pantry for “easy” instead.
I like the ideal of caring for and cleaning our home.
I don’t like the idea of struggling to get to the point of being able to clean.
And that, folks, is why I starting de-cluttering to begin with.
Now, back to what happened yesterday while I was trying to dust. I picked up an item to clean it off and that little voice said, “get rid of it”. I tried to ignore it because this was an item that has been passed over for de-cluttering for a long time. Years.
Here is the conversation that went on it my head (please don’t judge, I know I have a problem with stuff):
“Get rid of it”
“But I love it. It’s on my list of favorite things. Things I might actually grab on my way out of a fire”
“Get rid of it”
“What if one of the kids likes it and would be sad if it was gone?”
“What if I get rid of it and change my mind and really want it back but it’s gone forever?”
“I know. I’ll pack it in a box and store it away and that way if I miss it I can get it back out.”
Sad to say, I actually did find a box and wrap it up and put it in the box. The box sat on the dining room table and I found some other things that fit into the same “once loved” category. A lot of things. Now, there is a box on the table and I can’t clean off the table. We can’t eat at that table. We can’t play a game on that table. The stuff is still here.
I’ve been at this de-cluttering game for quite a while now. I realize that it will never be completely done.
It’s like peeling away layers. I am at the center – the heart – of this place called home. New layers are formed and old layers need to be peeled away to make room for the growth.
I have chosen to live more intentionally and to make choices that will foster my growth into the life I dream of for me and my family.
The early layers that needed to be removed were fairly easy. These layers are closer to my heart and are becoming more challenging. It’s scary to think of how many layers have already been discarded and how many more there might be. What will I find when I get there? What mistakes might I make on the journey – how much will it hurt?
I think I’m getting closer – hence, the voice that is getting louder and saying “get rid of it”. That voice has been there for awhile and I’ve heard it. But, I’ve had trouble responding.
It’s hard to learn to trust yourself. It’s all wrapped up in the big picture – trusting yourself and loving yourself. Listening to your own voice and not the voices of your childhood, your past, your “inner critics”. Taking control of your life – including owning your mistakes and learning from them. Looking forward and moving forward. Remembering the past, but not holding onto so tightly that you don’t have open hands available for the next gift and opportunity.
Of course, it’s not just about the stuff. The stuff is just a symptom. But, it’s part of the process.
I’m getting up from here and the box is going to the car – off to the thrift store this afternoon.
The table will be cleared and I will make it shine.