57 Page Journal Project

 

 

Page 1 of the fifty-seven page journal project is done…

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I also sorted through all the fabric, lace and trim  in the studio.

Stuff that I don’t love anymore has been bagged up to donate or thrown away depending on it’s potential.

And as a result of looking through and handling the pieces, a new project has been started with what remains.

Pictures will be posted when sufficient progress has been made or, in other words…when it actually starts to resemble the pictures in my head.

The stuff that made it through the “purge” is being neatly organized and stored in one area of the studio instead of all over the place. Two medium sized boxes of fabric and one shoe box of trim and lace are all there is.

End result of this decluttering project:  one box for the thrift store and a big bag of trash.

Less stuff to deal with and two creative projects undertaken!

A good day…

Peace.

 

Bent Pins and Collected Things

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.

My studio.

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.

It’s summer.

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!

use up

 

Little Canvases

Last night I was avoiding cleaning my studio.

It’s been a cluttered mess lately and while a bit of untidiness may be the sign of a creative mind (or something like that), it does reach a point where enough is enough.

One avoidance technique was browsing through my entire blog history to see whether I was actually making any positive progress as I’ve professed to be attempting.

And I stumbled upon this picture and post from September of 2015.

little canvases

 

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…

 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.

I worry nonetheless.

And I procrastinate.

Guess what is now sitting on my desk again?

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Somehow (of their own accord) they hid themselves in a box on a shelf in the studio only to reappear as I contemplated a Spring decluttering session for the month of April.

I have made a decision.

It is time – whether those canvases are ready or not.

They shall be turned into some semblance of a creative project that may  even resemble art by the end of the weekend or they shall be gone from this house.

Maybe.

And just maybe, I will then dedicate the rest of April working on the rest of the half-started or half-finished projects (depending on how you look at it) hiding themselves in the dusty dark corners of the studio.

And that’s a definitive maybe.

But I really do believe it is time.

Probably…

 

 

Books that Survived

books show us

When I was a kid, I read all the time.

Unless I was drawing.

But mostly I read.

In college I stopped reading so much because there just wasn’t time.

After college I started reading a little bit more, but never as much as when I was a child.

And then I had kids of my own.

I continued to read, but not for myself…for them.

During the great declutter of last month we placed all our books on the  table.1004171728a

We got rid of anything that we weren’t going to read again, were never going to read or that was readily available with our new library card.

And then there were these books:

1105170941.jpgThese I pulled out as books I had acquired because…

well, because they “spoke” to me.  They had content that I thought could help me become more of the me that I want to be.

They cover topics like art and fear and creativity

and life and peace and spirituality

and so much more.

And they have been sitting on the shelf…some for a long, long time.

Some I started and never finished.

Some have never been opened.

Now they are all in one place – by my chair in the living room where I often end up sitting and watching television because it’s easy.

I will see them when I go to sit down.

And I will no longer ignore them.

I am going to read them.

Because…

kid president

Peace.

 

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.

 

Common Thread

So, here’s some observations from my Saturday morning.  Daughter is away at a sleepover…Hubby is sleeping after working an overtime night shift.  I am enjoying some quiet and thinking and observing life…

  • When making art, the space clearing and tidying up can be just as important as the actual creating part.  Clutter and lost stuff hinders effective art making.
  • It is probably a good idea to clean out the fridge more than once every three months or so – no matter how busy you are.  Avoiding the fridge because you aren’t sure what you might find inside (science experiment wise) complicates life immensely.
  • Clean sheets and a welcoming bed make life so much more pleasant even if you think you haven’t time for the effort.  Sleep is important.
  • If you forget to water your plants over a period of time because of higher activities on the priority list, drenching them to try and make up for it doesn’t work.  A dead plant is still dead after you water it…it’s just really wet. This also seems to apply to relationships that are neglected during said busy times (except for the whole watering and wet part).
  • Your children never really move out.  For months after the big move, you will keep finding stuff and the new guest room becomes a holding area – kind of like the lost luggage area at an airport.

I’m seeing a common thread here…

It involves my less than stellar approach to cleaning up, and housekeeping in general.  It’s a good thing that I’m having a good day and am able to realize that I have other good qualities besides housework.

And that’s why I’m going to go back to making some stuff right now…

…right after I clean up the work table in my studio because I can’t seem to find a single bottle of glue in this entire house.

Normal

Today was a day.  It was Thursday, to be exact…a thoroughly uneventful day.

This is the third blog post that I’ve tried to write in order to share my day.  All the posts have  been so boring that I’ve about given up.

But, since writing is often how I make sense of things, I’m persisting and am tapping away at the keyboard once again.

Please keep in mind that I have no idea what I am going to write about, and there are no promises that anything remotely interesting will result.

For foreshadowing, let me share that all the schoolwork is caught up and my sister is back home at her house.  She’s not back to where she was before all of this started, but making progress.

So…

I got up this morning.

I went outside to let the chickens free from their coop.

I went back to bed.

My brief trek through the house on the way to the front door left me overwhelmed.

I lay in bed and started making a mental list of all that needed to be done now that life was returning to normal.

I thought about just staying in bed.  I felt the anxiety start…

And then I said aloud, “Enough”.

I was tired of being tired.  Done with feeling like I couldn’t catch up.  Worn out from facing deadline after deadline.  Sick of feeling like I was failing at everything.

So today there was no list.  I didn’t try to accomplish anything.  I didn’t have a goal.  I didn’t plan to finish cleaning the house or even a single room.  No expectation of catching up the laundry or the dishes or the dusting.

I just did some stuff.

I watered the plants and pulled off some dead leaves.

I washed, dried, folded and put up a load of laundry.

I emptied a couple of trash cans.

I sorted through my paper stash and thought about what I might create next.

I wandered through the house wiping away a cobweb or two and a bit of dust.

You can’t really tell that I did much of anything at all.  The house doesn’t look all that different…or better.

But I feel different and better.

My actions may have seemed random, but they were intentional.  I spent time in my home saying “hello” to my life…the life I had before it all started spinning out of control the first of August.  I was reacquainting myself with the routines that I missed when other things took priority.

And now, I feel calm (or as calm as someone with anxiety can ever feel).  I am looking forward to getting back to my “normal” life.  Hopefully, I’ll remember some of the things I learned this month about what’s important and what’s not…about what needs to be done and what can wait.

All I know, is that a little routine and even a bit of boring sounds pretty good right now.

As I sit with my art journal watching a stupid movie on Netflix tonight, I’ll be thinking of those that are living away from their “normal” right now.  And for those that are adapting to a new “normal” because their life has changed in a big way…

…for the friend who beat cancer but continues to battle the after effects of the treatment.

…for the friend whose cancer has returned and who is facing uncertainty and change.

…for the friend who adjusted to the new “normal” of Stage IV cancer and is now entering experimental treatment with an unknown outcome.

When life takes a crazy turn and we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, it can be crazy hard.  We find ourselves looking back at what was and we just want to go back to the familiar…the normal.

Going back isn’t an option.  We are where we are.

Staying put isn’t an option.  We have to go somewhere.

It’s not about courage or bravery.  It’s not like we have a lot of choices.

The life we have is the one we live.

If we have a choice in the direction we can take, we make that choice…left, right, or straight ahead.  And pray that it’s a good choice.

We cry, we yell, sometimes we pull the blanket over our head.  We worry, we cope, we fail at some things and succeed at others.

We make a difference because we try, not because we did it all right.

And through it all we find comfort in the little things…

…in watering a plant and nurturing life.

…in wiping away a bit of dust or a few tears.

…in sorting through and thinking of what we might create with what we have.

And perhaps, most importantly, for finding something to be grateful for amidst it all.

 

Focus

It’s been long week.

Youngest daughter is ready for school on Monday.  Uniforms are bought, books are all here, the lunch bag is ready to be packed, and the lunch food is all bought.  We have met the teachers and seen the classroom.  She is more excited than scared now.

Son has started packing for his move.  There are boxes sitting around as he makes grown-up decisions about what to take and what to get rid of.  He is endlessly figuring out finances and making lists of what he might need.

I have a plan for what I am teaching on Monday and have purchased the supplies.  All is not ready, but it can be in a short amount of time.

The house is livable.  That’s really all I can say about that subject.  Unless we are really close friends, please don’t choose right now as a time to drop by for a chat.  I won’t open the door because the first statement in this paragraph is a lie.

Barret the dog is fed for this moment.  By the time I finish this paragraph I have no doubt that he will be heading for the food dish again.  Anybody have any dog food coupons?

The neighbor who has time to drive around our neighborhood and make lists of what is wrong with everyone’s property and then post it anonymously has not yet targeted my house.  I’m sure it’s coming.

There’s just one other thing going on that I haven’t shared because it’s not really my story.  I can say that my sister had two days of major surgery on Monday and Wednesday of this week.  She’ll be coming home tomorrow or Monday.  I am her caretaker.  I don’t mind. We don’t use the “love” word, but she means a lot to me.  This surgery has been hard.

As I was leaving the hospital today, I realized that I was done…drained and empty.  I thought about finding the chapel and resting for a while, but I don’t really have the time to lose it right now.  Everything is holding together rather nicely I think (picture something repaired with duct tape or maybe picture my old washer with it’s stick and ball leveling plan).  I’m okay.  Not great, but okay.

On my way out of the hospital, I saw this through the window….this dove perching on a courtyard fence outside a hospital window.0806161109a

I have an affinity for birds.  More than once a dove, in particular, has made an appearance in my life at a serendipitous moment.  This was that moment.  This day.  I stopped in the hallway and said “Oh”.  Out loud.

With all the craziness around me during the last couple of weeks,  I had lost focus.

Focus on what is important and what is not.

Focus on what I could control and what was out of my hands.

Focus on what needed to be done and what could wait.

But mainly, I had lost focus of who I am.

Dealing with new situations, people and environments, I lost my footing.  I got caught up in looking outside of myself for structure, approval, and truth.  For a person with anxiety issues, this is dangerous ground.

It results in a feeling of inferiority as I focus on what is wrong with me (in comparison to others) rather than what is unique.

It is isolating as I feel worse and worse about myself and tend to retreat from interaction with others.

It is demeaning.  It reduces my view of myself and others to a a set of superficial characteristics that have little to do with who we are as human beings.

The dove had no such issues.  Just outside the hospitial, in the midst of suffering and healing, death and life, sorrow and joy…a virtual microcosm of humanity…this dove was building a nest.  She found a slender piece of grass, she rested for a while on the top of the fence, she flew to her nest and carefully wove the grass into place.  She knew who she was and what she was supposed to be doing.  And she did it.

I know that, as human beings, our lives can never be that simple.  But, we can learn from her.  In the midst of our daily lives, we can never forget who we are and what our job is.

  • I am first and foremost a child of God.  If this is not a belief that you can identify with, please don’t stop reading.  You are here because you can identify with something that I am writing.  Please stay because…
  • I strive to be tolerant of others and what they believe.  This world is a mighty big place and would be a lot less interesting without diversity.  Sometimes I fail at being tolerant.  I keep trying and learning.
  • I am creative.  I make some cool stuff sometimes.  I believe that teaching creativity (and having art sometimes happen as a result) is one of the most important things that we can share with children and adults who are willing to be child-like when necessary.
  • I am stubborn.  Sometimes this is even a good thing.  I don’t quit easily and when I do, it doesn’t last long.  I get back up and keep going.
  • I am learning not to be afraid to fail.  A mentor once told me that she accomplished so much because in her words…”I’m not afraid to suck.”  These are words that I try to live by.
  • I am funny.  Well, mostly sarcastic, but they’re kinda the same thing so we’ll stick with funny because it sounds nicer.
  • I’m intelligent.  I don’t know everything, but am good at sounding like I know a lot. When confronted with something that I don’t understand, I try to learn. I believe that intelligence and education do not always go hand in hand.  Some of the smartest people I know never finished high school.
  • I believe in the choices that we have made as a family.  We live on one income.  We don’t live in a fancy, expensive house.  We drive a old truck that is paid for.  We are working to get out of debt.  Sometimes we do without or make do as a result
  • I’m always scared and insecure and I get up in the morning anyway.  Most days, I even leave the house and venture out into a really scary world and pretend like I know what I am doing.  Sometimes, I even start to believe in myself.

My hope and prayer for you all today..

Believe in yourself today.

Remember who you are.

Don’t get lost in the world.

Focus…