Complicated Contradictions

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

“Every mind is a clutter of memories, images, inventions and age-old repetitions. It can be a ghetto, too, if a ghetto is a sealed-off, confined place. Or a sanctuary, where one is free to dream and think whatever one wants. For most of us it’s both – and a lot more complicated.” Margo Jefferson

 

I came upon this quote a few days ago while browsing for quotes to use on my art cards and such.

It has stuck in my head and bounced around in there and provided me with much fodder for thought as I pondered why I found it so intriguing.

Several blog posts about it have been started and abandoned since.

Obviously, more thinking was required…

Today, I realized, is Friday and I had promised my daughter that I would do a journal page.  We actually mutually committed and challenged ourselves to create one page each week.

As I was working on this page (using stuff found on the floor of my studio)

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all the thoughts about the quote came together and the meaning (for me) became clear.

You know, one of those “aha” moments when something perfectly obvious actually becomes obvious…

I’m complicated and a mass of contradictions…which does not make me unique because the same can be said of everybody…

But, I am a uniquely complicated mass of contradictions unlike everyone else in the way that I am a complicated mass of contradictions.

Yes, I know…complicated.

I continually struggle with reconciling the conflicting aspects of my personality.

Am I a minimalist or a bohemian when it comes to decorating? I seem to de-clutter and then re-clutter in an endless cycle.

Can you be a vegan who longs for bacon?  I mean, can you really love Esther the Wonder Pig (www.estherthewonderpig.com) and buy an Easter ham for your family?

and so on and so forth…

And what happens when reality collides with the ideals?

When neither the minimalist room or the cluttered room provide a home…

when perceived open-mindedness is revealed to be less than true…

when dreams wither and are lost because perfection inhibits their development

Then form has become more important than function and appearance becomes more significant than the goal.

I am a work in progress.

I am a story still being written and a canvas still being created.

I am my past, my present and my future.

Sometimes I huddle in the dark, afraid and sometimes I embrace the light and move forwards and often take a wrong turn and get lost.

Who I am right now will not be who I am when this post is finished.

The journey I am on requires patience and grace and acceptance.

Patience with my inconsistencies and missteps,

 grace for the fear and failures,

and

acceptance of my limitations.

We are all glorious creations who should find joy in this messy, complicated journey that we travel.

And I hope that we all, with patience, grace and acceptance, find peace along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depends on how you look at it…

I was determined that today was going to be a sunshine kind of day.  I’m not giving up on that.  I trying out the “depends on how you look at it” mindset.  So far, so good…ish.

My sister hasn’t been looking too great since Friday.  Of course, Friday is the day you always start feeling crappy since it’s right before the weekend and you can’t get in to see the doctor.  She’s also a bit stubborn so I pretty much have to let her decide on her own what she’s gonna do.  Over the course of the weekend, I was getting pretty worried, but kept my mouth shut.

This morning she decided that she’d like to go to Wal-Mart and pick up a few things.  And maybe call the doctor.  Instead, I drove her to the doctor’s office.  Just by chance her doctor’s physician’s assistant was available to see her.  By the time we got into the office, my sister was extremely short of breath.  Her oxygen sats were in the mid 70’s to low 80’s.

An ambulance was called and off we went to the hospital again.  This time tests revealed that she had a sizable pulmonary embolism.  The biggest one her doctor had ever seen in someone still moving.

Whew!  I’m choosing not to dwell on the what-ifs.  What if we hadn’t gone into the doctor’s office.  What if they hadn’t transported her to the hospital.   What if….

I going to look at it a different way.  Thankful that it all worked out like it did.  That she is in the hospital where any emergencies can be addressed right away.  That treatment has been started.  Hopefully, we can get everything resolved and she can truly be on the mend. Her surgeries were on the 1st and 3rd.  She’s tired of being tired and sick of being sick.

I’m starting to think that my hope of getting to September and things calming down may not be realistic.  It seems that I still have more lessons to learn about living a simpler, more intentional life.  This month has been the “graduate” school level crash course.

So today, I am learning to seek the positive side of the situation.

To not dwell on the what-ifs.  To be grateful for any little thing that goes right.  To let go of the things that go wrong.

To not spend too much time trying to prepare for the what-ifs and just enjoy the right now.

To look for the sunshine peeking through the clouds and be grateful for the blessing of the rain.  Both are an essential part of life.

 

 

Feeling good!

Today is an awesome day.  Hey, I’m not perfect, but I kinda like myself today.  What’s the difference in today and the days I don’t like myself?  Beats me…got no clue, but that’s okay.  I’m just going to enjoy the day!

First thing, got a little confidence in myself and upgraded this to my own personal domain.  I guess that makes me a “real” blogger now.  The main change will be that my soon-to-be Graphic Designer, BFA graduate daughter can fancy things up a bit and make some improvements to the look of the blog.

Next, I just wrote for the first time in a long time on my unearthedart site.  I’m going to start making the art cards again.  It’s been too long and I need to get busy.

And now for today’s topic:  I couldn’t get to sleep last night and stumbled upon a blog, dailydeclutter.com – I stayed up wayyyyy too late reading.  This guy posted every day about decluttering his life.  Every day was a post with a  story about what he was getting rid of.  Sounds boring, but…he wrote well and it was pretty interesting and really funny at times.  Most of the stuff he was getting rid of was stuff I wouldn’t have had in the first place.  Getting rid of any of it would have been a no-brainer for me.  But, we all have our own struggles and no matter what the crap we are surrounded by, the struggle is real.  Why is it all here, where did it come from, what do I do with it, and how do I keep more from coming in?

And, as I am coming more and more to realize, the stuff is just a symptom of other problems and issues.  My journey continues and I will deal with it all…cause and symptom.

Last December was a sort of tipping point for me.  I went into the holidays with a lot of family and guests coming in and a lot of clutter and mess already here.  I vowed that it was time for the stuff to go…it could no longer be taking up space that should be welcoming those I love.

Have I made progress?  I think so.  In my current, optimistic mood, I’m going to say that I’ve dealt a lot with the root issues in the past 10 months.

Am I cured?  Have I reached my goal?  Not so much.  But, I will never become a completely different individual.  The issues and problems that I deal with are part of who I am and not always in a bad way.  I can change and make progress and become better and I will continue to work towards positive growth.

There is no actual destination…it’s a journey!

The new game, project, challenge….whatever you wanna call it – is this.  Between now and Christmas Day, I will consciously declutter 5 items a day and document it here.  I’m always on the look-out for stuff to get rid of, but I’m going to make it a “thing”. I’m going to pay attention to it and share the experience.  Probably won’t be as funny as the blog I read through last night, but that’s okay.  We’ll see what I can do.

Today, finished going through the winter clothing.  Youngest daughter has grown a lot…five shirts and a skirt that we’ll share with a friend.    Also gone – a sweatshirt leftover from an ugly sweater dress-up day at work that my son gave to the cause – going to the thrift store.  IMAG1052IMAG1051Seven things gone on Day 1.

And now since the rain continues and is unlikely to stop anytime soon…I’m going to find a snuggly blanket, a snuggly dog and the company of my hubby and enjoy some Netflix.  Then, I’m going to paint and create.  And that’s just about the perfect day.

A Tiny Little World

Depression is hard…trying to keep going and not let on that you are struggling.  Doing what has to be done.  Tired all the time.  Battling the hopelessness.  Frustrated because the negative feelings aren’t fully connected to the reality that you are living in.  Knowing that things aren’t really all that bad, but mad at yourself because you are unhappy anyway.  Not living up to the expectations that you are placing upon yourself.  The little voice in your head that gets louder and louder – criticizing and commenting on all your failures.  Knowing that the folks around you (who don’t live with you) are unaware of the struggle.  Pulling into yourself bit by bit until only you only have to deal with your immediate surroundings, decisions you can’t avoid and work you have to do.  Realizing that you’ve isolated yourself from anyone who might be able to help because you don’t want them to be aware that you are weak and less than perfect.

…an unhappy tiny little world…

I’m peeking out a bit today.  This vicious little merry-go-round ride I’ve been on is not fun.  I’m blogging today and I will write again tomorrow.  I promise myself.

Life has really been going on rather normally I suppose.  Most people around me would probably be surprised to know how hard the last few weeks/months have been.  What’s been happening since I last wrote regularly?

I’ve got three part-time jobs now.  Part of it is for the money – we are really working on getting our debt paid down.

My newest job is teaching at a private school that opened in our little town.  Did I share this already?  I’m teaching art one day a week and am really enjoying it.  I was pretty sure that I would like it, but am actually surprised at how much!  It’s been fun to get to know the kids and to see how talented some of them are and how enthusiastic they all are.  The art lessons are supposed to complement the history curriculum and they are studying the Renaissance.  That’s challenging to do in one hour, one day a week.  I’ve been lightly touching on an aspect of Renaissance Art and then adapting a lesson to be both fun and fit into the time we have.  Today we did a “stained glass” project using tissue paper, laminating sheets and a laminator.

My youngest and I are fully into our homeschool year.  It’s been sooooo different having only one “student”.  We’ve actually “done” school almost every day and are hardly behind my schedule at all.  We’ve also managed several field trips (other than trips to the grocery store).  We’ve visited the Blanton Art Museum and the Austin Zoo so far.    Not bad for a self-described eclectic un-schooling family.

We’ve been working on the house doing some small maintenance and renovation projects.  Right now we are working in our hallway which is almost large enough to be a room on it’s own.  Three of the bedrooms, the classroom/studio and hall bath open into it.  It also contains a built-in desk, counter and two upper cabinets.  I’ve decluttered enough that the cabinet above the desk is almost empty so we are removing it.  It overshadows the desk and looks cramped.  We’re putting in a simple shelf instead.  Less stuff, less clutter and a more open airy feel.  All the walls are going to be painted Polar Bear white.  I’m ready for simple, uncluttered and peaceful!

Still sorting through stuff and trying to see how little we really need.  Layer by layer we are downsizing.  About a box a week is going to the thrift store and the trash can is always overflowing.  Where does it all come from?!?!

Not much is happening on the art front.  I just haven’t had the energy to complete anything.  Anything I did attempt just didn’t measure up to my expectations.  I’m cleaning an architect’s office and have been gifted a lot of flooring and upholstery samples.  I’m planning on playing with them and seeing what I can come up with.  Lots of fun colors and textures!

Time to open the blinds, throw open the windows and let the breeze blow in.  No more shutting out the world!  There is joy out there to be found, lived and enjoyed.  I’m going to give it a try…



Well, hello there…

I think I’m coming back to the land of “normal”.  I also believe it and I am quite certain that thinking and believing are two different things.  So, I’m going to conclude that there is a definite improvement in my “being-ness” since both thought processes are in play.

We had a fun Fourth of July celebration at the home of old friends.  They are friends that we have known for a long time and are not necessarily old although not as young as they used to be.  It was going to be a smallish celebration, but as most good parties do, it grew and grew…  There was laughter, food, beer, tension, fireworks (mostly the actual physical kind, not the human interaction kind) and more food.

I was stressed going into it all, but by the end of the night was doing pretty well.  Time spent with folks you know and who know you can be healing.  And I did not kill any small child who threw loud noisy things to the ground behind me.  I don’t know what those explosive devices are called AND the small children will never throw them near me again, but I didn’t permanently harm any of them…I promise.

Today saw us dropping my oldest daughter off at her summer job.  She is working a Renaissance style childrens’ summer camp.  She’s the daughter with culinary school and an in-process degree in Food Service Management.  She’ll be working in an unairconditioned kitchen in July in Central Texas.  Fun times…

Did I mention we helped her convert our old trailer into a Vardo type habitat for her stay.  She decided that a tent might be too rustic for her for a month (Gee, you think?).  IMAG0865IMAG0868IMAG0875IMAG0871

She did almost all of the work herself with some manual labor assistance.  She got an air-conditioner and everything….pretty sweet.  I totally forgot to get a photo of the finished dwelling…a description will have to suffice.  Corrugated metal on the ceiling, a sari-fabric hanging light, a full mattress covered in pillows, fabric lining the walls, a desk/table with storage underneath, and a chair.  Very snug, cozy and climate controlled.  I’m almost jealous…except for the whole kitchen job thing…been there, done that.

I followed up our morning excursion with a three hour nap.  I definitely feel better.  I woke up to a quiet and empty house.  I took a moment to wander through and assess the level of untidiness.  On a scale of one to ten with ten being complete chaos, I think we’re hovering around a 13.

It’s pretty “lived-in”.  That’s okay.  We’ve done a lot of living so far this summer. I love a challenge.  I will start out tomorrow with my list in hand and start to tame the beast.

For now, I’m going to be happy to be me.

Making Art

First of all – since my husband so very kindly shared this on facebook already – the broom has been found.  It was right behind the very desk that I typed the missing broom post at.  It was leaning against the wall.  If I’d simply turned around, I would have seen it.

I suppose there is an entire post or commentary there:  what we need (or want) is often right there with us, but we keep searching far and wide for it, unaware of it’s proximity.

But, that’s not what today’s post is about.

Today, I want to take a moment to reflect on an important lesson I have learned (am learning) this week.  It’s a bit about who I am, where I belong, and what I need to be doing…

The world is a mighty big place.  There are a lot of things wrong in it.  There are a lot of things right about it.  There are unlimited causes to fight for.  Injustices that are great and small.  Some exist on a world scale and some are in our own homes.  Some we know about because they are “in our face” on the news, in social media, in conversation at every turn.  Some we never hear about for whatever reason.  Some we embrace and some we ignore.

Sometimes we choose to fight for a cause because it is deeply personal for us.  It affects us directly or someone we know.

We might be drawn to an issue for reasons we don’t understand.

In any case, I believe it is important to work for social justice – to stand for something – to work towards making the world a better place.  For everyone.

I try to do that in my own little way.  I often believe that I don’t do enough. That I should be doing more and trying harder.

But, we can’t all do great and powerful things.  We aren’t all going to make the news carrying protest signs.  We can’t all be heroes (for lack of a better word).

Kudos to those who do.  We need heroes.

It’s equally important to have those who work behind the lines.  Those who do the little things that make a difference.  Some will never be known for the work they did – a  small act of kindness that multiplied into something much more for example.  Every person plays their part – the laundry always has to be done, the dishes washed, the trash picked up, and the meals prepared.  I don’t know that there is any honest work that should be downplayed or deemed less important than any other.

My lesson this week is as follows…

I “jumped” into social media this week and made a statement.  The issue, the statement, the consequences or lack thereof aren’t really relevant to this discussion.  I don’t regret doing so.  But, I am suffering the consequences.  Maybe suffering isn’t the correct word.  Perhaps I should say, I am experiencing the consequences.  Old wounds have been opened and I am dealing with old hurts and pain that I thought I had already dealt with and put to rest.  This isn’t totally a bad thing.  I believe that we need to deal with our emotions and feelings in order to grow and fully develop.

I’m just weary, anxious and somewhat depressed. I’m tired and stressed.  Dealing with the emotions (mine and others) is exhausting.  Thinking carefully about what I want to say and making sure it is clear and to the point – and that it won’t be misunderstood.  Considering both sides of the situation and being considerate and compassionate about those involved.  Playing nice when others don’t.  Letting the angry words go because I understand the anger is rooted in hurt and pain. Dealing with the frustration when someone can’t see that their words are unfair and just plain mean.

Sometimes something will seem so obvious to me – and it seems like nobody else can see it.  I try hard to be open to the fact that they are thinking the same of me.

I’m feeling out of place, exposed and vulnerable.

I just want to wrap myself in a safe cocoon.

I just want to go into my studio and make something.

And that, more and more, seems to be where I belong. Behind the scenes making art. A more solitary existence.  Speaking through my work.  Sometimes it makes a statement.  Sometimes it illustrates a story.  Sometimes it makes me feel better.  Sometimes it makes a point.  Sometimes it just is…

I’ve been told that I write well.  That I speak well.  That I argue/discuss/debate well.  Maybe so.  I don’t know for sure.

I do know that just because you can do something – doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.

Just because you can say something – doesn’t mean that you should.

And it doesn’t mean that I never will again.

But for right now, I’m going to go into my studio and make some art.

Retreat or Stand Your Ground?

When I woke up today, I already felt anxious.  I felt like I was behind and could never catch up.  I looked at my list and knew that it wasn’t enough.  Those tasks alone would be insufficient to make any progress.

I thought about adding more things to the list.  I thought about pitching the list entirely.  Maybe the list was just a stupid idea.

Then the computer started acting up.  Slow, sluggish, and programs that won’t open.  Our internet has been weird since all the rain started anyway.  Simple tasks that I need to do were taking forever.

Then the dog started barking like crazy in the back portion of our land – the out of the dog yard part – the extremely overgrown and untended part.

I went out on the deck and found myself staring down a large doe.  Weird.  Deer aren’t known for participating in staring contests.  They run.  That’s just the way deer are.  Unless…

Here comes Matilda, running at the deer in full Basset hound fury. She barks and runs between the deer’s legs – and goes flying through the air as the deer kicks her.

Deer don’t stand their ground unless there is a fawn involved.  A fawn that is carefully hidden in the yard somewhere and is being threatened by something.  Something like this (she looked a little scarier in attack mode, really!)IMAG0744

A full-blown battle ensues because bassets are stubborn, if nothing else.

My son runs barefoot through the cactus, mesquite and overgrowth to save the dog.

And what had been an anxious day, is now a full-blown adrenalin rush day for me.

Decision time.

Do I plow on through the day?  Push through the anxiety and keep going.  At this point in an anxiety attack (for me), the tears are at the surface or already flowing.  I feel emotion-full.  In reality, anything can set me off.  Thoughts are running at a million miles-per-hour through my brain.

It only makes sense to take a break…a nap.  Some Sabbath time.  A quiet respite.

But, that’s hard for me to do.  To admit that I’m not stronger than this problem – this actual, medical condition.  I don’t want to admit that it is stronger than me.  I don’t want to give in and surrender to it.

Retreat or stand my ground against an opponent that is bigger and stronger than me?

I took a nap.  A really long nap (with the dog).   My body and mind needed that break – some recovery and healing time.

Now, I’m going to tackle the list.  It’s not a stupid idea as I thought earlier.  What a difference a nap makes.

Oh, and this is what you see if you look out our back door.   Just standing there and staring.IMAG0735

The Bowl

IMAG0732IMAG0731This is a follow-up to this morning’s post.

The bowl has been “repaired”, worked on, restored.

When I finished and had taken these photos of it, I realized that I was ready to let it go.

There was no doubt in my mind, no difficult decision.  I just knew that it was time to let it go.  And it’s gone.

There are probably a lot of symbolic, psychological thoughts and discussions that could accompany this decision…but I don’t even feel a need to go there.

I just know that “process over product” worked and I feel lighter.  And a bit more free.

That is good.  Enough said.

Broken Things

IMAG0730I loved this bowl.

I like bowls in general –  I just like the way they fit into your cupped hand and the  symbolism they represent – empty waiting to be filled with something nourishing.  I like almost all bowls.

But this bowl was special.   I liked the shape, the design, the color and the tiny chips on the rim.

If I was to de-clutter to an extreme, I would have kept this bowl.

It broke yesterday.  I bumped a shelf in my studio and it crashed to the ground.

I’ve pieced it back together.  Enough of it is there that I could glue it and place it back on the shelf.  I could pretend that I didn’t break it.  But I know that it did.

It’s not the same bowl.  It would be the same shape.  I could still appreciate the design and color.  I might even be able to put something in it.

But I know that it’s not the same bowl.  The bowl has changed.

I thought about putting the pieces in a box to use in a future project.

I thought about cutting my losses and throwing it away.

I thought about gluing it back together and pretending it was okay.

And then I thought about what this bowl might represent symbolically.  About how I might relate it to my life.

The experiences in my life have changed me.

Things have happened that have “broken” me.

I’ve chosen to withdraw from life at times to avoid being hurt.

I’ve considered “throwing myself away”.

I’ve put myself back together and pretended like nothing had changed – that I hadn’t changed – and that everything was okay.

Today, I’m going to celebrate this bowl.  I’m going to place this bowl at the very top of my to-do list.  I’m going to use my creative abilities to make something new out of this bowl.

It won’t be exactly the same.  It will be changed.  It will be transformed.

Like me.