Packaging

  • I’ve struggled with whether to write this post or not.  With how to word it so as not to offend anyone.  Considering all the possibilities of what might go wrong, whether it needs to be said or not, does it matter…

But, the thoughts just keep swirling in my head, refusing to be quieted.  It’s my blog, my little space in the world, and nobody has to read it or like it, but maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Here goes…

What I’d like to say is please don’t package me.  Don’t look at me and make assumptions about who I am and stick me in a box and put a label on me.

I’m a complex person – because I’m a human being.  It just goes with the territory.  I make decisions, I change my mind, I make mistakes, I try to learn from them and I dream of a better world, but live in this one.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican or any other “party” for that matter.  I make my own decisions and prefer not to follow the crowd.  I don’t even know for sure what those party labels mean anymore.  So many issues and so many decisions – how can it all fit under one umbrella.

I guess I’m not a liberal or a conservative either.  I’m uncomfortable choosing one or the other.  Once again, it depends on the issue, the facts, my belief system and how it all fits into the very real world we live in.

I am a follower of Christ although I am not actively involved in a worship community.  I’ve become uncomfortable with the “Christian” label for much the same reason as any other.  So many extremes within the “Christian” community and a lot of directions and movements that don’t appeal to me.  I’ve chosen to go back to the Bible and my understanding of Jesus’ teachings and make my own way from there.

Here’s the tricky one – skin color.  White, black, brown, yellow, red, or whatever.  I’m an artist.  Two of those aren’t even a color and they are all wildly inaccurate depictions anyway.  Millions of people in each group and one label to identify them all?  What the hell?  That’s a pretty simplistic view of the world isn’t it?  White culture.  What does that even mean?  Black culture?  Same issue.  Who made up those categories and made it the standard by which we identify each other?

I suppose that it would make life easier if we could categorize everyone so easily and know what someone believes, thinks and how they will act based on appearance.  I’ve never found it to be true though.

I live in a manufactured home community out in the country in Texas…the South.  I’m a stay-at-home Mom and homeschool.  What assumptions are often made about me?  I’m an uneducated redneck because I live in a “trailer”.  I’m a religious, right-wing zealot because I homeschool.  I’m a back-to-earth, hippy, granola mom because I stay at home with my kids.  Or, my personal favorite, a gun-toting, survivalist, racist because I live in the country, in Texas.  These have all happened, for real.

Maybe it would make more sense to get to know me rather than stick a label on me and call it done.  Let me help you out…

  • I live where I live because it worked out economically and fits in with the lifestyle choices we make.  In short, we’ve got a big-ass house that we can make the payments on.
  • I stay at home because I love my kids, and my husband and I felt that it was the right choice for our family.  No judgment from me if you work outside the home.  Your life, your choices…we all need to make decisions that work for us.
  •  I homeschool for a number or personal reasons…it works for my kids’ learning styles, our family, and fits in with the lifestyle choices we’ve made.
  • I’ve got two Bachelor’s degrees and started on my Master’s.  I’d probably still be in college if I could.
  • I’ve got a garden and we eat a reasonably healthy diet. Nothing extreme though.  I’m not a good enough gardener that we could ever live off the land.  And I’m not sure that I could ever give up Cheetos or Oreos forever.

I could go on, but maybe I’ve made my point.  Let me sum it up for you…

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop by for dinner.  I don’t care what “color” you are, where or who you worship (or if you worship at all), where you come from, what you wear (I prefer some garb of some kind please) your occupation, your life-style choices, your economic level, your political affiliations, your mental health diagnosis, your heritage, your decorating scheme, your gun-carrying status (or lack thereof), or your dietary restrictions (just let me know ahead of time).  If I’ve left anything out, let me know.

I do expect two things:  Respect and kindness for me and everyone else around the table, and lively discussion that does not degenerate into labeling, name-calling, belittling or generalizations.

I don’t hate anybody.  I also don’t love everybody (I know I’m supposed to, but I haven’t gotten there yet).  And honestly, there’s some people I don’t like very much.  I don’t feel the need to apologize for anything someone else has done, but I will empathize with your hurt.  I will try to apologize when I screw up if I realize I did so.  If not, please tell me what’s wrong so we can work it out.

That’s the best place to start…me and you.  One on one.  One discussion and one friendship at a time.  I can’t fix the whole world.  Nobody can.  But we can each work together.  Just don’t stick me in a box and put a label on me…and I’ll try to treat you with the same courtesy.

What happens when…

This is what happens when you wander into the studio at 11:32 on your way to bed – or what you thought was on your way to bed.

Canvas done (I think).

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I’m actually nervous about sharing this online with the world, but am bravely doing so anyway.  I’m not actively part of a local artist group and my artist friends are scattered about the world.  I’m going to consider you all a part of my creative community now.

Constructive criticism is most welcome.

I don’t normally include a note about what a piece means to me or what has inspired it…preferring people to be inspired by what a work means to them personally, but I’m going to make an exception in this case.

This week I have been in contact (directly and indirectly) with several folks who are traveling a difficult and challenging path.

This canvas evolved into their story.  Sometimes one can be so busy “running” that they lose track of whether they are running towards something or away from something.  The journey itself becomes all-consuming and their is no clear destination in sight.  This can result in an unnecessary struggle because with no goal or “end” hope can be difficult to hold onto.

It can be frustrating for those of us who are only peripherally a part of their journey to watch helplessly while they struggle and in some cases give up.  Our offers of support can seem inadequate.

When it comes right down to it, we each journey alone, even if we have a great support group – and so many don’t have that support or are unable to effectively connect to others.

So I did what artists do – I created it to the best of my ability.

…And am in awe that a canvas started many years ago developed into something that is relevant to the here and now.  I didn’t consciously set out to develop this theme.  It just sort of happened without plan or intention.

And such is my journey.

Lessons Learned While Playing Candy Crush Saga

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For those who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon known as Candy Crush Saga – it is an incredibly addictive game played on the computer.  I resisted the impulse to start the game for the longest time, then played for a while, and then gave it up cold turkey.  I started playing again a couple of weeks ago.

Although playing Candy Crush Saga can be a tremendous waste of time, I have learned several valuable life lessons while playing.

1.  Candy Crush Saga can be a tremendous waste of time.   If you have obsessive-compulsive tendencies (I’m raising my hand here), you have to be careful.  The lesson learned is that everything is best done in moderation.  Not the first time I’ve had to learn this and certainly not the last.

2.  A saga is defined as “any very long story with dramatic events or parts”.  Like the game, life is a saga, albeit a much more serious and important journey.  Even so, I shouldn’t take everything so seriously that I don’t enjoy the trip.  I need to make time for fun and games!  And, sometimes like the game, life’s journey seems impossibly long and difficult.  Reaching the “end” of Candy Crush is not the point.  Playing the game is the point.  I need to enjoy (or muddle through) each level as it comes and not worry so much about what’s coming up next.

3.  Each level gets progressively harder although some easy ones show up every now and again.  One thing to remember is that a level that’s easy for one person may be difficult for someone else.  None of us are good at everything, but we all have something that we are good at.  Once you’ve completed one level you’ve learned a skill that will come in handy later on down the road…like in life.  There’s a reason we didn’t start with long division in elementary school.  I need to be patient with myself.  Sooner or later, I’ll get the hang of whatever skill I’m trying to master and be able to move on.

4.  In the game, you are able to “gift” other players with extra lives so they have more chances to win a level.  As you get to each new section of the game, you need help from other players to open the level.  It’s much more difficult to play the game without the help of others.  Life works the same way…it’s almost impossible to move through life on your own.  Family, friends, a support group of one kind or another makes the journey possible.

5.  Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  After a lot of frustration, I realized that if I’ve been stuck on the same level of Candy Crush for days that it’s just possible that I need a new strategy.  If trying the same moves over and over again isn’t working, rethink the way I’m playing.  If I’m “stuck” somewhere in life and the problem isn’t being solved then I need to take a step back and reevaluate what I’m doing!

6.  Finally, there is a certain element of luck in Candy Crush.  Every once in a while, the pieces just fall into the right pattern and the level practically solves itself.  I equate this to fact that I can’t control everything in my life.  That may be an understatement.  Sometimes bad stuff happens – the pieces don’t fall into place the way I’d like.  But, sometimes things just work out and it’s not because I was particularly skilled or deserved the lucky break.  I don’t have control of everything and I can’t work hard enough or try hard enough to fix everything and make it right.   You do have to keep playing the game in order to move along.  Giving up is one sure way to make sure that you don’t make any progress at all.

6.  And finally, there is always someone farther along in the game than you are (and someone behind you).  Sometimes somebody passes you by.  You can’t worry too much about where everybody else is – in real life we call this “keeping up with the Jones”.  It’s important to live with intention and find your own definition of success.  Otherwise, you find yourself back at Lesson #1 and find that you are wasting a tremendous amount of time on something that really isn’t that important at all.

Home

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It’s all about home today.  Hanging with the hubby before he goes to work.  Tidying up a fairly together house after lots of company this weekend.  Finishing the classroom to start our education area for tomorrow’s start.  

And, since it’s Labor Day here in the States, I think a nap is in order after I finish reading Art and Fear.  

What an awesome book!  My artist’s soul is positively full of positive thoughts and stories and ideas. It’s  good to find out that you’re not alone in facing fear while trying to create…that others have successfully dealt with the fear. It’s just good not to feel alone. 

Overall, community is something that has been lacking in my life.  I don’t want to diminish the artist friends I do have. They are awesomely creative people, but I have always been a bit reticent in interacting with them. It is actually something that I was afraid of…what if I didn’t fit in and found out I wasn’t actually an artist at all.  Could I deal with the comparing my work to others and possibly finding myself lacking?  Change is always difficult for me.  What if the new world I created didn’t feel like “home”?

 But perhaps the more important question:  could I grow as an artist (and a person) without developing that community?

There are so many types of homes that we inhabit.  

  • Our personal home…our body,..our self.  
  • The place we reside in with our family.  
  • The neighborhood we live in…our neighbors…our grocery store…the places we visit regularly.
  • A regular group of good friends
  • A regular event that we participate in, be it a church, a job, or even a yearly retreat in a specific location.

I believe that we create the “homes” we live in – the places of comfort and familiarity.  The safe places, so to speak. These are the places we long to be in.

Home.

Time.

I tried to write on Saturday and again on Sunday, but the words wouldn’t come in a reasonable manner.  That only makes sense, I suppose.  I was back in Huntsville, TX and back at Sam Houston State University.  The place where I began my “grown-up” life when I was only 17 in the fall of 1979.

It’s also the home of my two oldest “children”.  They are seniors at SHSU.  We drove up to help them settle back in after a summer break with us.  They are adults and could have done it on their own (probably), but we’re pretty close as family goes and so, we went.

Going to Huntsville is weird.  I just can’t think of a better word to describe it.  It’s where I first lived on my own, where I met my hubby,  where I did all the “growing up” stuff you do as a young adult.  Huntsville hasn’t changed all that much.  Everything is still in pretty much the same place.  Everywhere is a memory.

Everywhere is a memory. I believe that this trip was so difficult  because I’ve begun this journey of mine:  the blogging, the facing of fears, the challenges to be “more”, and the desire to be more intentional.

As a result of some issues in my childhood, I tend to close the door on the past and move on.   We moved every year when I was a child.  There was never enough time to develop close friendships and never seemed to be any point in attempting to maintain them.  You lived in the present, the past was over and done with.  As a result, I still have trouble maintaining friendships with folks I don’t see regularly:   people I meet at a retreat, in a group that meets sporadically, or even family that live far away.  It can limit your community.  It limits my community.

Driving into Huntsville mixes the past and the present.  It confuses my idea of who I am now with the person I was then.  Of course, that person still exists within me, but I don’t think of her very often.  I lost touch and didn’t maintain the relationship. And that relationship is important.  It helps me see where I started, how I’ve grown and whether I’m on the road to where I want to be.

As I reread this, I’m not sure that it makes sense although it has improved from my previous efforts this weekend.  My thoughts are in chaos as memories of past decisions encounter the current results.  I met and married my husband at SHSU and our children are students walking the same paths we did.  I received BAs in Art and Creative Writing there in 1982 and gave up the practice of both until recently.  I had good friend there that I  totally lost touch with.   Its hard to jump back in time to find yourself face to face with a younger self and realize the amount of time that has passed.

I don’t mean to sound as if I have a life full of regrets.  On the contrary, I embrace the decisions that I’ve made (for the most part).  The best decision of my life was the one to marry my husband and I couldn’t be prouder of my children.  Even if I could, I don’t believe that I would change anything.

I do need to set the time-line of my life back in balance, if you will.  I think I’ll spend some time looking at old photos.  And, coincidentally, I need to do a journal page for the  Get Messy Art  Journal group that shows who I am without using an actual photo. Or maybe it’s not a coincidence.  Sounds like good timing to me!

 

 

 

 

…a new day

The perfectionist in me was inclined to give up on this blog.  A quick glance will show that my blogging career consists of one initial post and then…nothing.  It would seem that I birthed a bevy of optimists who have encouraged (badgered) me into giving this another try.

It has been a challenging and bewildering year.  We have experienced financial upheaval and have had to re-evaluate our idea of security.  For several years, I was striving to “live more simply” without a clear idea of what that meant.  This year, I have redefined my goal and am attempting to “live with more intention”.  When there isn’t enough of what you need, it is essential to only purchase, consume, and experience what is absolutely necessary.  You have to think carefully about what is needed.  Overall, this transition is not a bad thing…but certainly not easy.

I’m still not sure that I have anything to say that anyone needs or wants to hear, but I do know that community is important…….especially when all you want to do is climb into bed and pull the covers over your head!