Balancing Act

Journal page #20…

0708181922Not a lot of journaling happening lately…

Last week ended with a two-day trip to San Antonio to visit my future grandson and his Mom and Dad.  I forgot my journal although I remembered to bring my supplies.  (Sigh)

Then I got busy working on a larger project (which I finished late last night).  It was inspired by one of my journal pages.

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Houses without Windows

I have an idea for another project that relates to it.  Hopefully, I can start on it this afternoon.

But first, I need to get some other things done.

You know, mundane things like laundry and dog hair patrol.  Necessary tasks but not nearly as interesting as paint and glue and paper…

I could have become overwhelmed by the to-do list buzzing in my head, but I stopped before that happened.

I took a deep breath.

And made a list of all the things that I thought needed to be done by me today.

And then I edited it.

I left the things that had to be done today and started a list for tomorrow (or the next day).

I drew a line through “save the world” and settled on “write a note to a friend having a difficult time”.

I added “journal page or two”.

I wrote “studio time” with the knowledge that I may get started on my new idea or I may spend some time sorting and tidying.

Dishes, laundry and dinner are still on the list.

At the bottom of the list I wrote “balance”.

Then I wrote it at the top also.

I can’t do it all, but I’ve got a degree in English so I can write and edit and make a list that helps me define what is possible and necessary and helpful.

And not overwhelming.

It’s been a long time since I dedicated myself to making time for art-making in my life.  To really commit to the process as a priority.  I’ve sporadically done a bit here and there, but not made it a daily thing.

It’s going to require a great deal of effort to balance consistent art making with the rest of my life.   To effectively integrate it with my other responsibilities and not overwhelm myself.

Making art is an important part of who I am.  It makes me happy (not all the time happy because art is a sometimes frustrating, time consuming and always messy undertaking).  I have some talent, but a definite calling.  At the risk of sounding cliche – art completes me.

I can’t journey towards an intentional life if I don’t include art-making in it.

But, I have other responsibilities also:  Wife, Mom, Sister, Homemaker,  Teacher and on and on…

Adding artist to the mix on a daily basis is doable (I hope).

A balancing act…but a worthwhile one…

Peace.

 

 

 

 

My Voice

Journal page 17…

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A quiet weekend.

Today begins a new week.

I have an idea for a biggish canvas that I want to work on, but first I need to clear space in my studio.

I have been sorting through the stuff that is in there – trying to be aware of what actually contributes to art-making and what is there to simply make me feel like I am an artist.  This process is a lot harder than one might think.  I still struggle with saying that I am an artist.  I used to just say that I made stuff.  So, I’m making progress in that respect.

Anyhow, getting rid of stuff that I don’t need is a good thing.  It makes room for what I really need, and clarifies and simplifies the process of making art for me.  A studio that is functional is better than a room that looks like a studio in a magazine spread…not that I actually achieved that look, but I kept trying.

Still, parting with stuff that I might need for a future, hypothetical project is difficult.

And that difficulty applies to all areas of my home, not just the studio.

So, today we are redoing the Konmari method for the whole house.

Not the whole house today, of course.

Today is clothing.

I don’t anticipate that there will be a lot to get rid of, but who knows…

Until tomorrow –

Peace.

Once Upon a Time

Journal page number…

Just my opinion…

So much noise

So much activism

So much pointing of fingers

So little love

At the end of this chapter

How will the story read

I believe that nobody will win

And there will be no happy ending

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If an act is done out of love, but requires an act of hate or violence to accomplish it, how does that work out?

I believe we call it war.

And we are fighting ourselves.

The Sky is Not Falling

Two days fraught with anxiety brought on by my own lack of mindfulness. No journal pages and no progress on the house.  Loss of sleep and busywork that has little to show for it.

Nobody to blame but myself, but mistakes happen and it’s okay when they do.  I just need to learn (or relearn) from it and move on in a more intentional way.

I need to remember that my anxiety is a living entity that can be controlled, but never eradicated.

And one of the symptoms of my anxiety is that I tend to take personal responsibility for everything.  Then the depression hits because I can’t do enough.

In a group situation where a problem is brought up, I think it must be me.

Someone says they need to talk to me about something, I wonder what I’ve done wrong.

Something needs to be fixed, I try to figure out what I should be doing.

Sound familiar to anyone else out there?

The specific situation that triggered my anxiety this time?

The border crisis, of course.

I have a lot of friends who are social activists. I have conservative friends and liberal friends.  I have friends who rant and rave, and friends who quietly go about making the world a better place (I have to say that I like them best).  I do believe that it takes all of us working together to get things done.  but it doesn’t seem like we are doing a very good job of that right now.

This post isn’t really about what’s happening in the world right now.  I’m aware of what’s going on in the world.

But the sky is not falling.

Bad stuff is happening.

And worse stuff than that.

That’s not new.

Good stuff is happening also.

That’s not news.  It doesn’t sell or raise ratings.

My anxiety prevents me from taking responsibility for the world.

I can live with that.

In fact, it’s the only way that I can live.

I’ll take my philanthropic advice from Mother Teresa…

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So, I’ve blocked a lot of folks on facebook.  I’ll continue to use it to keep in touch with friends around the world, but not to be told that I don’t care about the poor children because I’m not hysterically posting hateful words (and yes, I was accused of not caring).

The news is off for now.

And I’m going to focus my attention on my actual neighbor that is in danger of losing her family’s home because life has been particularly challenging.

And I’m going to take care of myself and my family because I do care.

I care an awful lot.

 

 

The Broken Bowls

 

0608180035I bought a set of bowls…

They weren’t expensive and I didn’t really need them, but they were pretty – painted in bright colors and I felt happy when I looked at them.

So, I bought them and brought them home with me.

I used them that first night.

The dog smashed the biggest one the second day I had it.  Broken into a lot of pieces. I said it was okay, but I felt a little less happy as I put the pieces in the trash.

The next day, as I was washing the middle sized bowl, I noticed that it had a big chip on the rim.  Okay.  I finished washing it and planted a geranium in it. And turned it around so I couldn’t see the damage.

As I was putting up the washed dishes later that day, I picked up the smallest bowl and saw the crack.  A crack that ran from top to bottom.  I tried to put a plant in it so that I didn’t have to throw it away, but it leaked water everywhere.

I thought about trying to fix it and it sat on the counter for a long time.

Today, I looked at that bowl.

It no longer brought me happiness.

In fact, when I looked at it, I felt regret that I had purchased it at all.

I thought about the fact that everything is not valuable and worth salvaging.

I can’t have it all.

I don’t want it all.

Real happiness is not found in things.

Some things can’t be fixed.

Some things shouldn’t be fixed.

It’s important to practice discerning the difference between what is truly valuable and worth our time and energy and what is not worthy.

Sometimes a broken bowl is just a broken bowl.

And I need to let it go.

Peace.

 

A Journey Shared

I think I’ll just start typing and see where the words take me today.  I have a story to tell, but there are many dimensions to it and I’m not sure what is the most significant element.

I’ll start at the beginning and we shall see where we end up…

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store with my sister to pick up a few things that the family needed.  I say needed because we’ve been in a sort of financial dilemma for the last couple of months.

By dilemma, I mean that a combination of miscalculations on my part and factors outside of my control have combined to mean that there is just not enough money.

We’ve eaten down the pantry and freezer and are being creative about meal making.  No worries, we are pretty creative types.  Still, honestly, there has been some stress around our household about the situation.

Anyway, I arrive at the grocery store with my sister and as we are parking we notice a young family with four small children standing around a car with the hood up.  Various car parts that appear to be from the engine are leaning up against the car.

It is obviously a bad situation, but since I know nothing about engine repair and don’t know what I might offer to do to help in this situation, I continue into the store with my sister to purchase what I need to feed the family through the weekend.

I complete my purchases, excited that by combining markdowns, sales and coupons, I am able to buy quite a bit for a relatively small amount of money.  To be completely honest, I didn’t spend more than we had available so I won’t overdraw the account.  Life is good.

On our way out of the store, that same family is at the service desk.  The four children are sitting quietly nearby,  Mom and Dad are doing something with some Western Union paperwork.  My sister walks over to talk with them and upon completing the conversation discretely hands the dad all of the cash that she has.  My sister does stuff like this all the time.  She’s a giver.

I help my sister out to the car and while unloading our groceries, I ask her what their story is.

The mom had landed a job cleaning at a hotel just up the street from the grocery store.  The hotel was letting the family stay in a room while she worked there.  She got laid off because they were overstaffed.  The family had resorted to living in their car which had now broken down.  They had found someone to fix the car, but were attempting to make arrangement to get everything done.

Four kids, no job, no home…

I don’t know what choices or decisions guided them to that grocery store and that parking lot and that situation.

I’m not even sure that I completely understand the choices and decisions that have landed me where I am today.

The journey is complicated and we make a thousand choices and decisions along the way.  Sometimes, we take the right turn.  Sometimes, not.  Anyone of us could end up homeless with a broken down car in a parking lot.  Of that, I am sure.  For millions around the world, that would be a step up.  Life is crazy that way.

What I do know is that in that moment I was hit full force with the realization that “need” is relative.  I had just purchased groceries that I was certain that I was in “need” of.

Now, in comparison with the “needs” of this family they seemed like luxuries.

I did some calculations in my head and went back in and purchased a gift card for the family.  The groceries I had purchased for the next few days will need to stretch further than I had planned.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll be eating them in my house at my dining room table.  My family will have a car to drive to work in.  There is a paycheck coming in the future.  It won’t be enough, but we will make it work.

I wanted to do more, but at least I know that they won’t be hungry for a day or two.  And I hope and pray that they hold hope in their hearts and that there journey will become easier.

I have continued to think about that trip to the store.

Did I do enough?

What else could I have done?

What was my responsibility?

If “need” is relative, what standard do I use to determine our needs vs wants?

Many questions.

Many choices and decisions.

Lots more to think about.

Need vs Want.

Sharing.

Kindness.

The journey continues.

kindness

Just Be Me

today was the day

where i found myself comparing

everything I have done,

am doing

and will ever do with everyone else

and finding myself lacking

not thin enough

pretty enough

talented enough

organized enough

successful enough

just not enough…

but i stopped and reminded myself that

i am

the only me

there is

in this entire world

not just now

but ever

i

was created

to be me

and that is enough

i will probably always need to remind myself

of this fact

that is a part of

who i am

kind of old

and wrinkly

and messy

and forgetful

and quirky

i like quirky

that is enough for now

 

Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

I don’t know why we make such a big deal of them.  Especially in my case where the majority of my family works in retail so Mondays aren’t the first day after two days off.

Almost every day is a work day for someone in my family.  It is a rarity for us all to have the same day off.

Still, I wake up on Monday with a vague sense of anxiety about all that I need to accomplish, and that needs to be dealt with before it blows up into a disaster…mood wise.

I have a friend who is dealing with Stage 4 colon cancer and is participating in trial treatment at MD Anderson.  She writes every day on her Caring Bridge site.

I take great inspiration from it.  She regularly talks about managing time and energy and the challenges of that for her.  In her previous life she was a very active pastor, activist, writer and just general accomplisher of everything.  She had a journal calendar that was bursting with notes and memos and appointments.  She was a marvel.

She still is.  Just in a different way.

Her musings on making time for what’s important…including rest and walking have made a difference for me this Monday.

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

I am making a list of the things that have to be done to stop the swirling thoughts in my head.

I am reminding myself that it doesn’t all have to happen today.

Tomorrow is a viable possibility for some of the to-do list.

Today I need to take a shower.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow or the next day before I run out of meds.

I need to gather all of my supplies and teach my art class this afternoon.

I would like to wash my sheets and bedding.  That has been pushed to tomorrow too many times.

Cooking dinner would be a plus, but realistically there is food and everyone is capable of fending for themselves.

They will probably still love me if I don’t get that done.

The house has moved past the lived-in stage and is teetering on the edge of possible crime scene.

I am reminding myself that the state of my house does not necessarily make me a bad person.

As I make my list, I am realizing that today is doable.

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

It is mine and I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it with a smile.

Peace.