Perspective

This morning after my shower, I spent 20 minutes trying to find a pair of clean underwear.  Most of the laundry is washed…just not folded or put up.  In frustration, I yelled out into the empty house, “I’ve got to get my act together”.

Well, not a completely empty house.  The dogs are all here.  What they heard me yell was, “Let’s go for a walk”.  Chaos ensued.

But, back to paragraph one.  “I’ve got to get my act together” is, in fact, a true statement.

It is not, however, a particularly helpful one.  It is negative, rather vague, and distinctly lacking in helpful details about how to accomplish such a task.

Sometimes I feel like I’m stumbling around in a fog trying to live life like a grown-up.

Anyway, I did manage to find clean underwear, pants and a shirt.  No clean bra, but I am sufficiently covered to start the day.  After starting the washer, I started back down the hall to start “the list” that would help me get my life in order.

I saw this sitting on the studio table…

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…the same encaustic piece that I posted here on Monday, but viewed from a different angle…a different perspective.  The same, but different.

And, I remembered that this week was going to be about creativity and not stress.

And, that led me to think about the fact that I may not have my “life together” with regards to housekeeping, but I I’m pretty good at making a home…

I’m okay with being a homemaker and not a housekeeper.

I’m also good at making some pretty cool stuff sometimes.

It all depends on how I choose to look at it.

Perspective.

So, no giant list detailing the steps I need to take to “fix” my life will be written today.

I will attempt to get the clean laundry put up.

And, I’m not going to clean the whole house in order to satisfy that part of me that thinks I need to do so.

I’m going to stick to my plan to be creative and make something today.

But first, the doctor appointment on Tuesday…

Helpful and not at all helpful.

I like the doctor.  I feel that he is an intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced physician.  He reiterated that I do not have Multiple Sclerosis.

I pointed out that I was relieved to hear that, but that there is still something wrong with my vision.  He repeated that my vision problem was not caused by Multiple Sclerosis.

This pattern repeated itself a few times.

So, it would seem that from a neurologist’s point of view, all is well.  It’s not M.S.

From my perspective, the journey continues.  We have good insurance.  We pay a lot of money for it.  It doesn’t cover everything.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to cover much of anything at all.  I can’t just randomly keep seeing doctors and rely on them to solve the problem.

I’m going to continue my research.  It’s good to know what I don’t have.  I’m grateful for that information.  If my eyesight stays the way it is, all is well.  I can still do everything that I need to do.  In the big scheme of things, it’s a mild inconvenience.

Maybe it is stress.

Maybe it’s age.

Maybe it’s related to my hypertension.

Maybe it will get worse.

Maybe it will get better.

The plan is to clean up my diet (again) and lose some weight.  I’ll walk my 10,000 steps a day.  I’ll keep working on reducing stress and trying to get my life together.  I will not stress about getting my life together.

I will be kind to myself during this journey.

I will view things from different angles and keep things in perspective.

Above all, I’m going to spend more time doing that which I am good at…

and spend less time worrying about what I’m not good at.

Journey well today, my friends…

 

 

 

 

Be Still

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Encaustic on wood with handmade paper

Today is the long-awaited appointment with the neurologist.  I’m a bit anxious and a bit relieved.  I’m ready to listen, ask some questions and get some answers.  And then I will work on sorting out the details.

Last night was art studio time with my oldest daughter.  We played with wax and paint and the magic of encaustic.  I have decided that art will definitely be the theme of the week…not the creation of any great works, but time to play and imagine and create for the sake of doing…not accomplishing.

My accomplishment this week will be to practice intentional life and to find peace amidst the struggles.

I can’t control life’s happenings, but I can be better about my reaction to all that happens.

I can practice being still when my mind and body are telling me to run.

I can practice being creative when my urge is to be busy.

I can practice being quiet when I feel the need solve problems that have no solutions.

Be still.

Be creative.

Be quiet.

Seek peace.

All shall be well.

 

Travel well

Monday mornings present an interesting juxtaposition of thought for me.

On on hand they are an opportunity…a new beginning and fresh start.  A chance to write down that to-do list and accomplish…whatever it is that needs doing.

On the other hand, Mondays can just be frustrating.  So much to do and so much undone from the week before.  The feeling that this week might be just as difficult, or more so, than the week before.

The latter thought process is not helpful.  It is self-defeating and starts the week off with negativity.  Nevertheless, the thoughts are a reality and cannot be ignored.  Sometimes life can seem to be an endless loop of beginnings and endings and not much in the middle.

So, today I shall acknowledge that sometimes life is frustrating.  And that sometimes the end of my week does not meet the expectations of the beginning.

And I shall continue to try and live in grace and hope…and be grateful for the opportunity a new week provides.  I’ll make a new list and continue to be optimistic about the possibilities that this week of my life might offer.

I will attempt to live through the ups and downs that these days of my life will certainly serve up.  I know in advance that there will be failure and tears and happiness and beauty.  I will travel through the challenges and dwell in the good.  That is my plan for this week.

And now is the time to share the news that I have been alluding to over the past several weeks.  I can share the part of the story that is mine.

Our son, Jacob, has joined the Army.  He completed the last of the process and was sworn in last Wednesday.  He reports for training the middle of this month.  There is much I could write about this journey.  I shall keep it simple.

I am his Mom.

I love him.

I am proud of him.

I am afraid for him.

This decision has been a long time coming for him.  I have watched him carefully consider it.  Research it.  Carry it in his heart and revisit it from time to time.  This is what he feels called to do.

I believe in him and am in awe of his ability to listen to that “voice” that is guiding him.  I have struggled my whole life with finding my way.

I read a quote the other day.  I can’t remember where.  “To find your purpose, follow your passion.”

He is doing that.

Travel well, my son.

May we all find our passion and our purpose and travel well.

 

Happenstance

I wrote some days ago about realizing that the journey I was on was not progressing as well as I would like

…about coming across some journals from years ago in which I expressed frustration with circumstances that are relatively unchanged today

…that the methods I was using didn’t appear to be very effective

…I’m still decluttering, and trying to find time for things I want to do, and attempting to maintain a simpler and cleaner home

…change has happened, but not as much as I would like

I wrote that there needed to be a new plan, but I had no idea what it might be.

I was frustrated.

I was hopeful.

I was anxious.

 

Then, by happenstance. I downloaded the game, gin rummy, onto my phone.

I’ve never been good at gin.  I just thought it might be a good distraction, and hey…it was free.

Do you play gin?  It’s pretty simple in theory.  You have a limited number of cards and need to form melds (sets) before your opponent goes out or you get stuck with points. I’m not going to try to explain the whole game…the important part to understand as far as this post goes, is to know that getting rid of “deadwood” is the key to winning.

The game I downloaded has a range of opponents for you to challenge.  They are ranked in skill from not very good to pretty much unbeatable.

When I started I couldn’t beat any of them.

I played anyway.

Then, I actually went and read all of the instructions just to make sure I understood what I was supposed to be doing.

I still lost a lot, but not quite as much.  I started beating the worst player every once in a while.

I started watching what the best players were doing.

I realized that I was playing the same way I had always played…trying to put together the same type of hand over and over again.

I kept losing.

Sound familiar?

Sound like the way I’ve been working on my house?

That’s what I started thinking.

I started discarding cards…ruthlessly.

I stopped saving cards that would make melds that I wanted to make

…and started saving cards that could and would actually win the hand.

I discarded long-shots.

I stopped holding onto cards that were no longer useful.

I didn’t keep a card just because I liked it (I’m partial to hearts).

If it wasn’t going to contribute to a winning hand, I discarded it.

I quit picking up cards that “might” be useful.

A hand plays out quickly.

There is no time for a lot of “maybe” and “someday”.

Holding onto deadwood is no way to win.

I can now beat any of the opponents except for “Jane”.  I’m pretty sure that she cheats. She wins a lot.  She seems to be very lucky.  Yep,  I think she’s cheating.  I may quit playing against her.

In any case, by happenstance, this game taught me a lot.

Help can come from the most unlikely places.

Who knew?

Life is short.

A day is even shorter.

I’ve got to play the hand that I’ve been dealt.

I can’t hold onto cards (stuff and emotions) that aren’t helping me to build the hand that I need to win the game.  The game being the life that I’m hoping to live.

The wrong cards or too many cards won’t ever come together to help me achieve my goal of a simpler, tidier, more comfortable home.

I need to ruthlessly discard cards that are keeping me from assembling a winning hand.

If I have something that I used to like but don’t any longer, it should go.

If something was expensive, but I don’t love it, keeping it just takes up space that could be filled with a more important card.

Just because something once held deep meaning, doesn’t mean that it gets to stick around forever. I change and the things that are meaningful can change also.

There are only so many cards allowed in a hand.

Holding onto the wrong card means that there is no room for the right card.

I have to make sure that I have the right cards.

Oh, and it helps to make sure that I fully understand the rules of the game – the direction I am headed and my ultimate goal.

Clothes that don’t fit right or don’t fit at all.  Gone. Even (or especially) if I am holding onto them because I like the idea of wearing them rather than the reality of wearing them.  You know, all those clothes you keep taking out of the closet and dropping onto the floor – never really wearing anywhere.

Beautiful things that fit the image of who I would like to be, but don’t fit into the reality of who I am – a woman who hates to dust and despises clutter.  I’m talking about those beautiful home magazine pages of meticulously displayed collectibles and art.  I love the way that looks.  It just doesn’t translate into my real life.  I need to be realistic about the life I live and the way I live it.

Things that I used to use all the time, but don’t use any longer.  Interests and needs change, but I don’t always adapt the stuff I have to reflect where I am right now.  I don’t have four kiddos at home all the time now.  I don’t cook the same.  Life has changed.  Stuff needs to be reassessed.  Holding onto stuff from when all the kiddos were home and little doesn’t stop the progress of time.  Those days are gone.  It’s time to let go of the “cards” that are no longer serving a purpose in my hand and start building a new hand.

There are no excuses in gin.  There is no justification.  Deadwood goes or you lose.

There comes a time when you have to quit talking about what you want.

A time when you have to quit explaining why you can’t have or do what you want.

You have to do what is necessary to make space or time for what you want.

And you have to do it.

 

 

Schwellenangst

0129171753I found a new to me book at the thrift store the other day. ( I was hunting for wedding decorations, not stuff for me!)  I was hesitant to purchase the book seeing as how I’m working at curtailing the amount of stuff entering and taking up residence in my home.

I decided that this book was a worthwhile purchase though.  It is full of wonderful words, most of which were unknown to me before.

I believe my life will be all the better for having found and read this book.

For example, I now have a word to describe my current journey to redefine, rethink, re-imagine and reflect during 2017…

   Schwellenangst (noun, German) Lit. “threshold anxiety”‘ fear of embarking on      something new or entering a place.

This word is perfect for summing up how I feel about embarking on this new phase of my journey…more ruthless de-cluttering,  contemplating the changes that may be necessary and anticipating what will be happening.   Challenges are good, but change is hard for me.

Nevertheless, I will be dealing with my schwellenangst and moving forward into my next reality.  All shall be well.

A word for my decision to leave Facebook for a bit…Aeolist (noun, English) a blustering windbag of a person who only pretends to have inspiration or wisdom.  These are the type of people I am choosing to avoid for a while.  Those folks who believe that if they cite enough sources, “facts” and isolated examples in loud enough voices with a sufficient amount of foul language and name calling, they will change someone’s mind and all shall be well.  Their opinion is, of course, the only correct one and everyone else is an ignorant, uneducated, trailer-dwelling moron who has no feelings or concern for anyone else.

I just don’t have enough sizfleisch (noun, German and English), literally “sitting flesh” or posterior; the ability to sit through, tolerate, or persist in something difficult or severely boring.  I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and reread the story of Chicken Little or maybe Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

At this point in my life, I am more interested in developing querencia (noun, Spanish), a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.

So, here is tomorrow’s project – The Dining Room.  Keep in mind before viewing these photos that there is a wedding happening in two weeks and there is tons of stuff everywhere as a result.  There is also laundry and who knows what else!  I’m dealing with it tomorrow.

Deep breath and sigh.

All shall be well.

It’s going to be okay.

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

Querencia.

The Studio

This room does not reflect who I am…

Or maybe it does represent the “me of the moment”…

It might be more accurate to say that this room does not reflect who I want to be and who I am intentionally trying to become.

I am so frustrated (and angry) at my lack of sustainable progress towards living a simpler, clutter free life.

I claim to want to make more art and this is what my studio always looks like!

I am adding a fourth word to my new year “slogan”.

That word is “Redefine”.

I am going to rethink, reimagine, reflect on and then redefine my goals and the plan of action to get there.

I want to make more art.

What do I need to do to make that happen?

Today, I attacked the studio.

A box of stuff is going to the thrift store…crafting and art supplies that I have outgrown and that no longer fit my style.  Leftover bits and pieces that were saved because I might be able to use them for something.  Things given to me that “might be useful”.

We had a bonfire.  Boxes of old art, old journal pages, letters, art cards, miscellaneous papers, leftovers, notes and so much much.

Those papers represent the past.  Guilt, things undone, friendships that are no more, items that have lost their relevance to who I am becoming.

Towards the end of the clean-up, it became easier and harder.

Easier to let go of things…

Harder to deal with the emotions of the change.

I survived.

I suspect there is more that could go.

I believe their are a lot more possibilities now than there were this morning.

I am excited by that notion.

I am drained and weary and a little afraid.

This is now…

What Now?

No writing the last few days…just a lot of thinking and a bit of keeping my mouth shut and some reevaluating my life.

This flu bug just keeps hanging on.  No fever, not really sick, but not feeling well either.  Lots and lots of coughing that’s threatening to become bronchitis.  I’m sure some allergens are responsible also.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and just do the really important stuff, but mainly thinking….

Thinking about the other night when I went into my studio and realized that my work table was once again so cluttered that I couldn’t actually use it.

One of the things on it was an old visual journal from 7 or so years ago.  It’s part of a box that I packed away about a year ago because I couldn’t make a decision about what to do with them.  And then I brought the box back out because there was an empty shelf in my new studio. Sigh.

I started paging through it.  There wasn’t actually much in it as far as original art went. There were a lot of articles about creativity and quotes.  There were some collaged pages using images and words from magazines.

I decided it wasn’t great stuff.  I reread the creativity articles and decided that they weren’t all that important.  You can find millions of articles in that vein on the internet.  I started copying some of the better quotes into a new journal and then realized that these can also be accessed anywhere anytime I might suddenly need a quote.

Then I came across a page that featured the words, “I need a pause button”.  I wrote about that just the other day right here in this blog.

The next page dealt with the issue of clutter…

And the next, dealt with finding time for creativity in the midst of life.

I burst into tears.

This journal is over 7 years old.

I’m still stuck in the same spot.

Sure, I’ll grant that I’ve made some progress.  There have been steps forward and steps backwards.  That’s how life works.

But…I have not changed my life significantly.  I am essentially still working on the same issues.

Insanity, right?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I took the journal and went to the center of my labyrinth that I am constructing in my yard (it’s technically just a couple of circular rock piles, but let’s not judge…work in progress) and set the damn thing on fire.

We could be generous and say it was a ceremonial gesture ritually symbolizing significant change and hope for the future.

Let me be brutally honest.  That’s not what happened.  I was just a pissed off and enormously frustrated woman destroying something that I had previously found significant.

In reality, that journal was just another one of the hundreds of things that are in the way of what I claim to want.

So, it turns out that this year’s motto…Re-thing, Re-imagine, and Reflect…are the correct words for change.

I haven’t come up with any grand solution or any new plan.

It’s just very clear that the old ways aren’t working well enough.  I don’t have time to piddle around with these changes.  I’m not going to live forever!

For now, I’m sticking with sorting through things.  Hopefully, more ruthlessly and with a clearer understanding of what needs to go.

This thinking can’t just apply to belongings.  In fact, “things” are the least of my worries. Old habits, relationships, emotional baggage, and choices all need to be brought under the microscope.

What is beneficial?

What brings joy?

What is worthy?

What brings me closer to the life I envision?

Ugh.

Reality checks can be brutal…

and painful…

and enormously helpful.

Thoughts from the Shower

It’s easy to believe in an absolute truth when standing in a crowd of those who believe the same thing.

When we are children we are taught in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

At some point we should grow up and start experiencing the potential truth of other values. In part, I am referring to value as it exists in art.  Value is the lightness or darkness of tone or color. There is a whole lotta gray out there between the black and white.

If you spend all of your time in the same place you’ve always been…the coffeehouse, the workplace, the congregation of fellow believers, your neighborhood, your comfort zone…you are not challenged.  Absolute truth is comfortable.

If you hear something over and over again, you’ll tend to start believing it.  That happens in our childhood when we learn basic values from our parents…our family…our people.

Then we start venturing out into the world.

By high school, we are usually full-on challenging our formerly held “truths” – the truth of our parents.

I don’t believe that means we are always thinking for ourselves.

It often means that we are just taking on the beliefs of the crowd we are in.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong.  As humans, we need others.  It’s nature.  It’s science.  It’s who we are.

There can be safety in that crowd, that herd, that gang of like-minded individuals. Comfort even.

But there is even greater danger.  Danger to those that are not in the “in crowd”.

In the next couple of days, if you look around you and find that you are in a crowd that believes in the same “truth” that you do…

Make sure that you have shone an intense light on the truth that you are espousing.  Have you thought it through?  Are your thoughts your own?  Are those thoughts comfortable?      Are you challenging and redefining that truth?  Do you feel the need to “defend” it? Are you comfortable and safe?

If you consider yourself a champion of the oppressed, the different, the marginalized, does your protection apply to all people who believe differently than you?  Does everyone matter?  Did you decide who was worthy of your efforts or was it a group decision that you threw your hat in with?

It’s not brave to stand in a crowd and defend your “truth” in the safety of numbers.  A majority of voices doesn’t define what is true or good or right.

Truth is not found in argument, in protest, in noise, in conflict, in chaos, in darkness.

Truth is when you are alone, in contemplation, in intelligent thought, in light…

Make your voice known.

Share your truth.

Make the world a better place.

Recognize that truth, as you understand it may differ from the belief of the person standing next to you.

Rejoice and be glad that you are able to stand next to and with someone that you do not agree with.

That is freedom.

That is these United States of America.

 

January 1, 2017

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Brainstorming New Year thoughts on the first page of a new journal
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The beginnings of an “inspiraton” wall in my new studio
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A new quote for a new beginning of art-making
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a canvas finally finished…almost…trying to figure out what’s behind the door
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a new canvas ready and waiting…

Happy New Year!