The quote above was chosen because I actually remember learning about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in my college psychology class.
Well, and I like the quote also, of course.
What I remember about the hierarchy (and I went and researched it just to make sure I got it right) is that basic needs have to be met in order to move up the scale which is normally depicted as a pyramid. We need to have health, shelter and food. Then we move on to personal relationships and self-esteem. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization.
This is an extremely simplified version of his theory. I’m not a psychologist although I do remember making an “A” in the course. But that was a very long time ago and I made good grades in several courses without actually learning very much or purchasing the textbooks for that matter. I was one of those obnoxious people that just did well in school. I would have stayed there forever…it was definitely my comfort zone.
Which leads me to the musings of this post…
Today’s journal page:
A quick drawing of a face and let me tell you that it has been years since I’ve attempted that. Life drawing was one of my favorite classes in college. And then once I graduated, I never really drew the human form or face again. In fact, I quit doing art of any kind once I became a “grown-up”.
I started up again about fifteen years ago, but still didn’t draw people. I don’t know why.
I also don’t know why I have chosen to draw this one today and then post it to share with the world (or at least anyone who stops by this blog today).
I’m just tired of being afraid of something that used to bring me such joy.
I’m tired of worrying about trying something and failing at it…
or even more so…
of trying something and not failing and then having to face the next challenge.
The drawing isn’t great, but maybe the true success was doing it and posting it and finding out that I could survive just one tiny step out of my comfort zone.
I picked that quote because I have no idea what this drawing is about. It just happened and is in no way my normal thing, but I kind of like it…I imagine that more work will be done on it in the future.
And in other areas of my life – this quote fits today.
Yesterday, we went to drop off a car load of de-cluttered stuff that had been piling up in the dining room.
We visited a new thrift store set up in an old house. I naturally ended up in the kitchen where there were lots and lots of cabinets with the doors removed and painted a beautiful clean white. On display were lots and lots of beautiful dishes. It was a dangerous situation to be sure.
As I browsed and enjoyed the abundant wonders, I thought about how amazing it would be to have a kitchen that looked like that. I have a kitchen with still unpainted cabinets, half-redone walls, missing trim, a plywood floor and dirty dishes.
Then I stopped.
Nothing in that room would make my kitchen look any better. Adding more stuff would make the issue worse – no matter how beautiful the item is in its current setting.
I am blessed to have a kitchen with electricity, running water and working appliances.
The rest will come with time, effort and money. The money will come if I quit spending it on comfort purchases and attempts at quick-fixes.
Buying and acquiring stuff is an emotional response that I have developed over the years.
The clutter is a symptom that I have been attempting to deal with.
That doesn’t work out too well in the long run.
You feel better for a while, but you’ve only treated the symptom. The cause is still there and inevitably the symptoms will return.
I believe that I clutter to try and protect myself from the difficulties and traumas of my childhood.
A scared little girl wanted to buy the pretty dishes in an attempt to make everything better.
I am not that little girl any longer although she does live within me.
I think I am finally reaching a place where I am realizing that I need to become the adult who heals the scared child within me. She doesn’t need more stuff. She needs to feel protected.
I need to address the problem and not just the symptoms.
I can’t keep ignoring the fear and trying to live as if its not there.
The fear is just as real as the clutter that I try to bury it under.
This is feeling a bit like an overshare, but I know that I’m not the only one living with either the fear…or the clutter.
There is another empty box waiting in the dining room.
Productivity is losing momentum around here as a respiratory virus trudges through our family.
Not seriously ill, but not feeling 100% either.
Yesterday, I sorted through paper in the studio: going through magazines I’d saved for potential journal pages and possible class use. I pulled out anything that struck my fancy and gathered the rest up for recycling. A big bag full. I also sorted through papers that I had saved and decided that I didn’t need after all. It was hard parting with them for some insane reason. I kept thinking that I might need them for something.
The fear of not having what I need to create is a challenge that I’m dealing with right now. Actually creating is what’s important…more important than the potential of creating. Having the space available and access to what is needed is important.
Thinking about doing or actually doing?
It’s not complicated when you actually see it in black and white.
But nothing with emotions is every really simple.
I just read a great post about this very thing. She talks about her clothing issues, but the train of thought applies to anything that we are trying to declutter and the emotional aspect of it. Here’s the link:
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.
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.
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.
I had another post in mind to write today and it was even a little bit funny.
And then a bit of real life entered my little world and this post is in response to that reality.
I don’t know.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.
I don’t know why some young men die and some don’t.
I don’t know why someone who is doing a lot to make the world a better place gets cancer.
I don’t know why some people work so hard and can’t make ends meet.
I don’t know why life isn’t fair.
I don’t know what to say when the people in my life are hurting and struggling with difficult situations.
I don’t know how to make it better or explain it or make the pain go away.
I’d like to think that there is some master plan and that all the pieces work together in a way that would make sense if I could see the “big picture”.
But, sometimes I think that if I had a bird’s eye view of the world, I would see a million card tables covered in unfinished jigsaw puzzles because the dog ate some of the pieces.
That maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all and it just is.
I don’t have any words that make any of it any better.
Sometimes it just hurts and we cry and we scream and we get mad and we feel guilty…
I pray that my faith is strong enough to keep me upright so that I can support those that I love.
I pray for wisdom to know what to say and when to remain silent.
I pray that I am present for those that feel alone…even when I know that we have to do the hardest things by ourselves.
I pray for hope that when we can’t see the light, we can at least see the faintest twinkle of the stars in the darkness.
And I try to make peace with what I can and cannot do.
And believe that we are not all in this reality alone.
Addendum: So I typed this post and headed off to my cleaning job – not realizing that I had failed to hit “Publish”.
As my daughter and I were driving into town, she did that “magic” thing where music from your phone plays on the car radio. I don’t pretend to understand most electronics. The mystery of it all is too much for me.
Anyway, she subscribes to some kind of service that sends you song selections that you might like and you pick and choose what you enjoy.
This song by Sam Smith came on the radio. I’ll just post the lyrics and you can listen to it somewhere if you are interested…
I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions
I block out the news, turn my back on religion
Don’t have no degree, I’m somewhat naive
I’ve made it this far on my own
But lately, that shit ain’t been gettin’ me higher
I lift up my head and the world is on fire
There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don’t know what to say
Maybe I’ll pray, pray
Maybe I’ll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I’m gonna pray
You won’t find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no)
I am still here and I’m still your disciple
I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you, please
I’m broken, alone, and afraid
I’m not a saint, I’m more of a sinner
I don’t wanna lose, but I fear for the winners
When I try to explain, the words run away
That’s why I am stood here today
And I’m gonna pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Oh, and I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray, pray, maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna pray
Songwriters: James John Napier / Jose Angel Velazquez / Larrance Levar Dopson / Samuel Frederick Smith / Timothy Z. Mosley
“The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs’. They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now” – Henri Nouwen
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash
Photo by Vojna Andrea on Unsplash
Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash
I wanted to put in a garden this year. I had hoped for a greenhouse. I’d planned on building numerous raised beds and filling them with the compost I was making and then planting seeds. I’d intended to have all my existing beds weeded and dug and ready for spring.
There is no greenhouse. Two raised beds are built but not filled with soil. They lean against the side of the house. There are weeds in my garden beds.
I ought to have gotten more done. If I’d gotten these things accomplished, I would be ready for the garden that I had hoped for and envisioned…
But now, today, I have a choice. I can work with what I have here and now and choose to place my seeds into soil…
or leave the seeds
in their packages
in the shoe box
on the shelf
in the cabinet
in the dining room
in the dark
where they will surely not sprout and grow.
How many other aspects of my life does this same thought process apply to?
Brushes not dipped into paint create nothing.
Blog posts not written can’t be read.
Cards not created and mailed can’t be received.
Art cards not imagined, created and shared can’t be found.
How often does my fear of imperfection or failure or rejection keep me from trying?
I have all the “seeds” I need both literally and figuratively…
seeds and soil and canvases and paint and ideas…
I also have fear and anxiety and doubts…
It is my choice to make…
Dwell on the mistakes and rejections of the past?
Anticipate with fear and anxiety the future?
Or do the work of my hands in the here and now with the potential to bring a little hope and beauty and light into the world?
Today I choose to believe in the potential of the seed to sprout and take root and grow and bless the world.
That quiet voice has been an important part of my life lately.
It has been a constant when other, louder voices in my head have kept up a continual chant of negativity.
Every day, I have thought about sitting down and writing here.
I had planned to.
I just didn’t.
And then it got harder and harder.
The voices told me that I was a failure as a blogger because I wasn’t writing regularly. That maybe what I had to say wasn’t worth writing about. That it was ridiculous to share these thoughts and vulnerabilities with complete strangers and the world.
And so I didn’t write…
day after day…
the words circled in my head…
both things I thought about sharing and doubt about the worthiness of those things.
here I am
I’ve been working on art cards a lot lately. If you don’t know about them, you can find information here:
One of the quotes I’ve been using says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” -Brene Brown
Today, the quiet voice is the one I choose to listen to.
Nelson Mandela said that “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
I don’t feel brave…I am afraid all the time.
But today I am writing…
I share my vulnerability because it is my truth and there are many who are struggling in the same way I am and maybe my voice can make a difference.
When you are depressed, sometimes all you can accomplish is one little thing.
It may not be big or even that important.
You just have to do one thing.
And then take that “win” and try one more thing.
And nuture the quiet voice that is named “hope”.
The quiet voice is the voice of truth.
All the other is just noise.
Today I have written here.
And I shall make more art cards trusting that quiet messages of hope will find their way into the hands of those who need to hear…
This post consists of some observations that swirled about in my head last night as I sought sleep. It is not meant to be too political or controversial or in any other way annoying.
It is brought about by a real life events in my “neck of the woods” and the resulting thoughts that accompanied it.
First…last night on our neighborhood social media page we were alerted to the fact that a sheriff’s department chase involving the pursuit of criminals resulted in an accident. The two suspects escaped on foot in very close proximity to our home.
A lot of information, but not a lot of information at the same time. What were they suspected of doing? How dangerous were they? What direction were they going?
It was recommended that we secure our homes and arm ourselves.
Depending on where you live you may have a different viewpoint on this recommendation. We live on a county line out in the country. This occurred in the county next to us. Our county is quite large and depending on where the deputies are an any given time and their call load, can have a response time to a 911 call of 20 minutes to 40 minutes or more (give or take, just an estimate) That’s a lot of time in an emergency.
We’ve got a gun. I’m okay with it. I’m also okay with using it if the circumstances warrant it.
Again, your circumstances may be different as may be your choices.
Hence, these ramblings…
Observation # 1: Life is not fair.
While growing up, my kids were not allowed to say “it’s not fair”.
I wanted them to become grown-ups who understood that sometimes, despite your best efforts, shit happens…
Sometimes you work really hard for something and do your best and you don’t get what you want or deserve. Work hard anyway.
Sometimes good people die in a senseless way before their time and you won’t understand why. Grieve and live in a way that honors the memory of those lost.
Sometimes even when you do the right thing, you get in trouble…in this world there is a difference between legal and moral. Choose to live with honor.
Sometimes no matter how much you believe that what you believe is absolutely right, it isn’t. You are one person in millions. Discern the facts and seek truth.
Sometimes people are impossible to deal with and love is hard. Loneliness is harder. Love others anyway, but first of all manage to love yourself.
Sometimes the people in charge appear to be incompetent because they aren’t doing the task at hand the way you would do it. Always remember, that until you have walked in their shoes, you can’t fully understand their decisions.
Sometimes people will mock you or ridicule you for your beliefs. Stand up for and uphold those beliefs, but don’t denigrate theirs in the process.
Sometimes violence happens. There are bullies in the world and they come in all sizes and different guises. Don’t start the fight, but once it is unavoidable, fight to win.
Observation # 2
There are 3 kinds of people in this world.
People who generally share the same opinions and beliefs that I do.
People with whom I appear to have nothing in common with.
People who don’t appear to have any opinions about anything and don’t really seem to believe in much either.
I try to remember this saying that is written on the wall at Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast:
“If we had been born where they were born
and taught what they were taught,
we would believe what they believe.”
That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them. Or like them. Or hang out with them. Or argue with them to try convince them that they are wrong and I am right.
It just means that there are people different than me.
And that is a good thing.
Even if I don’t always like it or if it tends to make me uncomfortable or just really makes me angry sometimes.
Observation # 3
In my opinion, the world was a better place before instant and continuous coverage of events. I’m not going to use the word “news” here because I don’t even know what that means anymore.
Opinions printed as facts.
Stories before the facts are even known.
Speculation and exploitation.
So many words.
Sent out to a massive faceless audience overwhelmed by the vast unfairness of it all.
Life is not fair.
We will never all agree.
Some of it cannot be fixed.
And yelling more and yelling louder at each other isn’t helping.
In conclusion, what’s the point of these words.
I would like to live in a world where there were not guns and violence and criminals, and mental illness.
I do not.
I would like to live in a world where we could all peacefully come to a mutually agreeable solution to the above mentioned problems.
I do not.
I am here.
And you are here.
We live in this world. The one we have in all it’s imperfect glory.
I will continue to seek out joy to the best of my ability.
I will seek truth.
I will listen with respect.
I will try to patiently understand our differences or learn to be tolerant of them.