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!

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 a stack of outdated “important” papers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!.

 

Happier Days

Happier days are indeed here!

But…

The challenge is cleaning up the mess that’s left behind from days past.  The actual mess that exists in my home from the days that clear thought and any hope of organization were impossible.  The multitude of things left undone because I simply couldn’t deal with any of it.  And, worst of all, the guilt and self-recrimination.  The constant little (but loud) voice in my head that keeps saying “What’s wrong with you.  You are the worst housekeeper ever. Why can’t you keep up with things?  Everyone else can!”

I’m trying to replace the voice with a more positive message.  It’s hard.  And I wonder where the negative messages originated.  Are they literal messages from my childhood?  Am I repeating something that I’ve heard before?  Are they actually my thoughts?  In any case, why is it so hard to be nice to myself?

But, enough of the negative.

Art work has been made – remember the little canvases?

IMAG1045IMAG1048I placed them in a old drawer that I find at a vintage (junk) store.  I wish I could take a better photo because the canvases are very textural and “damaged”.  I didn’t really plan this one out.  Just stared at it a lot and rearranged them…and painted on them some more.  Then last night I started looking at some paper from my stash and decided on houses again.  Then when I was putting everything up for the night…I saw the drawer and it was a done deal.  I like the simplicity of the design and the calming colors.  I like the neatness in the drawer.  Everything all tidy and peaceful.

Hmmmm.  Art imitating what I’d like for my life.  Peaceful, tidy, calm, simple?  I love the way my art can speak more clearly what’s in my head.  How it can become the truth that I am seeking.  How my art can answer questions and clear away the confusion that I am feeling.  Maybe I need to be making more art.

As promised…

…and I am back today to write another line or two of my story.  We all have one – a story, that is.  While mine currently seems enormously insignificant, I’m going to keep on living it and writing about it anyway.  I know I’m not alone in this struggle called life.  And I am aware that it is not always a struggle.   “This too shall pass” as my Dad used to say.  He stole the quote, but I can still hear him saying it so I’m going to credit him.

Art today…

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I’ve had these little canvases for a while.  I bought them for another project that hasn’t happened yet.  They were just sitting on my shelf and looked lonely.  I’ve started just painting them – and then repainting them – and then layering some more paint.  Now I’ve started sticking on the dried paint scrapings from my desk.  They are becoming quite heavy and textural.

Why?  I don’t know yet.  I suppose they’ll let me know when it is time…

I am not a tidy artist…

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But sometimes, I’m not sure that I’m an artist at all.  But my middle daughter says that I am an artist and she should know.  She will be graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in December.  That makes her for sure a “real artist”.

She tells me to make what I enjoy.  To do what I like to do and not to worry about it all so much.

So I made this recently…

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and yes, those are little plastic chickens on top.  I think it might be a little bit of art therapy.  As I look at it I see little parts of my life reflected.  Some of the “down” moments and quite a few of the hopeful ones.  Art?  I don’t know.

While “doing school” today, my youngest and I stumbled across a poem we both liked.

The Sparrow

 A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.

So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life’s window-sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic’s rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.

It was written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  It was a good message for today.  A good message for tomorrow.  Just a simple, good message….

The Next Day

A late night last night.  A restless night’s sleep.  A husband who had to be up at 5.  I am not a morning person unless the morning is starting around 9.

I still got a lot done.

I put my shoes on.IMAG0563

I took 11 boxes of paper and 9 bags of shredded paper to the recycling center.

I spent almost 2 hours balancing our checkbook and updating our budget program. It takes only a few minutes a day if I do it every day,  I hadn’t touched it in over a month.  I didn’t plan on ignoring it for so long…one day became two and so on.   I even sorted through a huge stack of unopened mail.  A classic case of ignoring a difficult problem until it becomes an enormous problem.

We sorted out some stuff. One more bag is ready to go to the thrift store.

I worked on my canvas.  I’m really trying to push some self-imposed boundaries. You’re lucky that I can’t  post a photo of it because my internet is screwing up.   I hate it.  It’s ugly.  And terrible.   I think it reflects how I feel.

I am tired and discouraged.  I’m overwhelmed and really having trouble looking on the bright side.

My problems are first world problems.  I am so much better off than most of the world.  My problems are nominal compared to what’s happening all over the world and in my own backyard.

This is depression and anxiety.  Even well-managed depression and anxiety.  Even when you take care of yourself and rest.

Sometimes the day just “goes bad”.  Sometimes there’s a reason.  Sometimes not.

You can’t see clearly. A part of you knows that it will work out.  The house will get cleaned.  The painting can be re-worked.  There is a glimmer of financial hope on the way.  It could certainly be worse.  Just follow the news.

But you still can’t see clearly.  Your focus turns inward of it’s own accord and all you can see is your sadness.

The difference between yesterday and today.  Night and Day.

But I have faith and I believe.  Tomorrow will be a new day

The Obvious

Today’s post may make more sense if you read yesterday’s, but you could live dangerously and just go for it.

First, I’d like to take a moment of silence in honor and recognition of friends.   I’ve got someone in particular in mind, but we can include friends in general.  In fact, I think that’s a tremendous idea.

One of the great things that friends do for us is to point out the obvious in a kind, loving and gracious manner.  That’s what makes them friends as opposed to less favorable people in our lives.

I’m talking about the kinds of things that should be glaringly obvious to us, but we miss…because we are so close to the problem (and self-absorbed).

My friend pointed out that it seemed that if I focused on my health, the rest seemed to fall into place.  Ummm…duh, Kelly.  She’s right, of course.  That makes total sense now (it always made sense, I just missed it).

Being healthy gave me the focus and energy to live the rest of my life more fully – and intentionally.

Thank you friend.

Health moves to the top of the list!

Here’s an update of what I accomplished yesterday.  My focus was the kitchen because it’s hard to eat healthy food when you can’t find anything and avoid the kitchen because it’s a disaster.IMAG0514IMAG0511IMAG0515IMAG0513IMAG0512

The walking – not so much.  We had rain, a lot of rain.  I can’t do laps in the house because we live in a manufactured home.  I could walk from one end to the other repeatedly – nope, can’t do that.  Remember, the daughter moving back in thing?  It would be more of an obstacle course workout.  All my stuff from the “guest” room and all her stuff from her apartment is piled in the hallway…and living room…and studio/classroom.  We’re working on it, but it’s still there.

Today, I shall walk!  My goal is to work back up to 10,000 steps a day.

Grateful for yesterday and excited for today!  Yea!

If You’re Not Paying Attention

 

What happens if you’re not paying attention?  Good question.  It may actually be more than a question…more like an actual lifestyle issue that needs attention.  We may be talking about my problem with addressing and paying attention to more than one area of my life at a time.

By now, you may be asking a question of your own.  What is she talking about  – or trying to talk about.

Remember my health “crisis” last October?  Emergency surgery, intestinal obstructions, the imminence of death.  What I didn’t share was that a month later I had some out-of-whack lab results that indicated pre-diabetes.

My focus was fully on my health.  I started exercising.  Walking about 3 miles a day.  Dropped most carbs from my diet.  Only whole grains.  LOTS of veggies and some fruit.  Dropped almost 40 pounds.  Felt fantastic!

And then…

because I felt so great, I started getting lots done around the house.  I decluttered and then organized.  I ripped up carpet and made plans for all the little (and big) stuff that needed to be done around here.

And then…

because the house was looking better, I had the opportunity and peace of mind to go on a creative binge.  Lots of art-making.

And then…

you guessed it – somewhere along the line, I forgot (conveniently) about taking care of myself.  I quit paying attention.  One missed day of exercise became two.  Eventually it wasn’t a habit at all.  I’ll just have one slice of pizza with my salad turned into pizza with no salad at all.   And so on…

And the house?  Well, it only stays decluttered and organized when you actually pay attention to it every day.  Otherwise, you wake up one morning and you’re right back where you started.

So, keeping in mind that I’m having an anxiety attack right here, right now…let’s establish this as a judgment free zone.

I started this blog with a promise to myself that I will always be open and honest.  I may not be telling you everything, but what I am sharing is the absolute truth.

I struggle with keeping my life together and sometimes I feel like such a failure.  I start to believe that I must be the only one in this same struggle.

But, I know that isn’t true.  Others are seeking to find balance also.

If you struggle with not “having it all together”, here’s some encouragement for you.  You are not alone.  We’re in this together!

So, here’s the “before” photos…some yesterday and some this morning.

the pantry...
the pantry…
the fridge...
the fridge…
the kitchen...Sigh.
the kitchen…Sigh.
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the blank canvas…
the unworn shoes and only 3257 steps on the fitbit...
the unworn shoes and only 3257 steps on the fitbit…
dinner last night (there were two cookies also, but I can't take a photo of them because I ate them)...
dinner last night (there were two cookies also, but I can’t take a photo of them because I ate them)…

I’m going to work towards improvement, but not perfection.  There can be room in my life for health, home, family and art.

There can be celebrations for small successes.

There can be forgiveness for failures.

I can try to pay attention.

The Corner

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Another neglected, unfinished canvas languishing in the corner of my studio has been finished.

What shall we title this?

How about:  “What if it doesn’t mean anything?”

Or…

“Connect the Dots”

The second suggests a theme developing from the canvas I finished earlier this week.

But, I’m not sure that I want to take myself so seriously.  I read an old art journal entry yesterday that led to these thoughts:

…not taking my art so seriously, and just creating for the sheer need and joy of it.  Creating because it’s who I am and what I must do to be alive.

…Not striving to create something that is significant and important, but just allowing the image(s) to emerge from whatever mysterious place within us that it originates.

…Staying out of the way of the art (stuff) that happens when I don’t overthink it or overanalyze it.

…I have a modicum of talent, a great love of making art (stuff) and a whole lot of self-doubt, fear, and restraint.  I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to creativity.

…What if I just let it happen?  …Paint the heart in the middle even if it’s cliché, add a big yellow blob, paint over it, let it sit…quit worrying so much.

Very few artists become “successful” in the eyes of the world.

But, what a sad place the world would be without the creativity of all!