Sunday, March 30, 2014

muddle

It's not exactly overwhelm. Perhaps one thing more might tip this feeling into overwhelm. No, it's more like an aimless wandering. Projects are in those hazy progress states that, really, might need just a bit more focus than I'm giving each one, but I don't feel much like focusing. And yet I'm restless. Go figure. Tea and knitting perhaps. Cosmos is on which will certainly get me out of myself for an hour as I work a sock pattern and get through my personal studies.

I'm shaking things up in the journal for a few days. I've bumped into Juliana Coles via the 21 Secrets teachers list. Clicking on over to her site and Ning, I find I'm rather smitten. At this time, I'm enjoying the rawness and visceral edge to her sketchbooks and art. It is something I want to play with for awhile ~ see where it takes me. It's very possible the desire to touch that rawness of creativity is what has me restless and champing at the bit.

I have time. No need to rush these things.

A Southpaw Sketch makes its way onto the spread as I explore something a little different.

Friday, March 28, 2014

rain walking

Watercolors and SoulCollage® on the table.
Just as I was making my way out to the coops, it started to rain. The Muscovy hopped out ahead of the roosters delighted with the weather. Crystal made her way around the back to see what she could sniff out of any night time interlopers looking for the all-night chicken buffet as I scooped grain and got water. I kept my head uncovered to feel each drop, an anointing of sorts ~ spring rain. Cold and clear. Perfect for the muddle-headed ennui I was feeling before getting out to feed the flock.

Really, I had a lot to do. Most of it self-imposed having signed on for a lot of online activities. Many I've had the good fortune of winning. (In fact, I've just found out I won entry into 21 Secrets with Connie Hozvicka. I am positively gleeful.) Others, I've been able to afford and didn't require much in the way of materials beyond the purchase of the class. Luckily, I didn't have much paperwork to manage (TGIF, by golly). With all that I'd love to do, it's best to try and focus on things as they nag at me. Jane LeFazio's watercolor course, Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs From Life, is into its second week and I hadn't even done the first week's assignment. Art Journal Caravan is running a little behind at Week #12. (I do so adore Photoshop so much more having signed on for this course.) And then there's all that unspun wool and fiber sitting grumpily in bags awaiting attention.

But it was raining. And that elemental interaction was suddenly a necessity. The Nature Deficit Disorder demanding some re-ordering. Stuff can wait.

I gathered the three eggs I was allowed to gather from the turkey and chicken coop. (When faced with a large, hissing turkey hen brooding, one thinks better of collecting eggs from such a formidable creature. I know when to choose my battles.) Standing up to breathe in the spring air, I set down the buckets, closed the pen and walked to the lake, Crystal leading the way.

Breathe in the clarity, breathe in the rain, breathe in the lake and the mountain. Each breath a prayer.

Coming back home, back to the studio, having scooped grain, carried water and walked in the rain, I make art.

A mum in progress.

The same mum happily completed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

worth

It is a day when I am beating myself up for mistakes. It seems a quantifiable fact that if one mistake is found, you're mighty likely to find a few more. Sadly, I'm not exempt from that fact. When bumping up against mistakes (= failures), the Question of Worth creeps in on gray, padded feet, beady-eyed and snaggle-toothed. Suddenly, it isn't just the one mistake glaring from the middle of the situation, but a host from the past, near and distant, sweeping in as a reminder of exactly how inept you are. Well, at least that's how I feel when I've made a mistake.

Further on through the emotional spectrum, I don't feel at ease or that I'm allowed to do those things that feed my soul. I've screwed up and am not worthy of such luxuries. So I attempt to mire this little self into the soul-sucking stuff a bit deeper. Perhaps I can paper work my way into worthiness, earn the right to spend my time in the studio swimming in my passionate pursuits. Or dust the back of the refrigerator. Certainly, this would grant me forgiveness. That might work for a little while ~ crossing a languishing task off the list. However, it doesn't actually make me feel better.

Time to breathe. And sit. Sip some tea. Know what's done is done and the done-ness of it will pass like a plethora of other good and bad times in life. Finish the work at hand or fix it to the best of one's ability. Then go feed a Soul. Because we can't continuously beat ourselves up. The activity is counterproductive. Pick that Little Self up, dust 'em off, hand 'em a cookie and a crayon and proceed with courage.

I'm fairly certain I've a long life ahead of me. It's a good bet I've a million more mistakes to make so somebody better have cookies and a large box of crayons at the ready.

Tea, cookies and paint: healing salves.

The sweet spot of the day.
(Mistakes included.)


Sunday, March 23, 2014

cozy down time

In the Spinning Zone.
The past week has been disjointed and moving in fits and starts. One Youth on a Senior Trip, the other traveling here, there and everywhere. Then there was the necessary shopping I generally try to avoid on the weekend. And so I get to Sunday feeling beige ~ colorless, bland, tired and possibly easier to hide dirt.

In this continuing bland state, I felt it would be best to spin the gray alpaca. Bennie had slightly more ambition grid sketching her next oil painting. That activity didn't last long, however, and we entered into that deep world of Harry Potter. We opted for a midway start with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Then we moved on to The Order of the Phoenix, further on to The Prisoner of Azkaban. (Yes, that's a reverse order viewing, but when we've seen them as often as we have, it makes little difference. Like Pulp Fiction at xmas for me ~ a good movie to wrap gifts to and it doesn't matter where I start.) All the while, I filled the spool on the Majacraft Aura, fitting in the one nap somewhere in the The Order. A new spool is in place for more vegetative viewing, but we're moving into Prime time Sunday TV now.

Let's see what tomorrow brings, shall we?

Bennie's slightly more ambitious activity today.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

cornea

According to my Aftercare Instructions, I have been diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, a scratch on the eye. A simple little occurrence involving paper and wind. Go figure. I've had a corneal abrasion before. A very long time ago xmas tree hunting. Never went again. Xmas trees pretty much come to you ~ no need to lose an eye over it all. The moment the paper whipped into my left eye I knew the cornea had been scratched again. That knowledge on a Friday afternoon also meant time in the ER later in the evening.

I was sent home with antibiotic ointment and the aforementioned instructions.

I did, however, learn something interesting about the cornea: If afflicted with an abrasion, it can heal within a day. It is one of the fastest healing areas of the body. Good thing for a variety of evolutionary reasons I won't venture into right now.

Which brings me to Gelatos. I'm really not sure what to do about them. So me and the afflicted left eye spent time in the studio to smush and shmear the delicious colors with a damp paper towel. I'm not feeling one way or another about it all and I think it might be another manifestation of artistic sludge. Sometimes the neatest things for art out there aren't helpful.

So. What can I go back to? Ink pen? A Southpaw Sketch? And then it's funny how a tiny scratch on my cornea seems to have me feeling exhausted. Then I go back to the Big Ass Red Chair cocoon and TV. Grimm on Hulu, perhaps.

Feeling that raspberry moment.

Friday, March 21, 2014

and so it is Friday

It is an odd Friday. Bennie is home due to Superintendents' Day, a day off I still question after fifteen or so years of having children in school. All good though. A day off from the usual running about allows for studio time and . . . the beginnings of Spring Cleaning. I'm ignoring that for a little longer and playing in the studio though. Bennie is getting her cleaning mojo on ~ ever the Virgo.

What is it I'm noticing today? Well, it's sunny. Deceptively sunny. We went for a walk imagining balmy spring breezes, but were met instead with those lion-like gusts. It was a brisk walk. I am noticing how fed I feel after having broken fast on scrambled chicken and turkey eggs on toast. I am noticing how I'd really like to focus on creating something, but need to do it on the hop and quick because we will be leaving for the afternoon soon. This challenge is actually pushing me to make decisions about the direction today's images will take.

All that has been accomplished between us is a bag of old clothes and two spreads in two different books coated with gesso for two different reasons. And it's something I'll have to come back to tonight. Lighting candles makes it all Sacred though.

Candles lit, intentions set and waiting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

yeah . . . it's all about me

Getting interviewed might be an interesting way to learn about one's self. I would recommend finding a way to be interviewed, highly recommend it. Think about it a moment: there are a million questions you probably ask yourself everyday. What would I like to wear? What do I want to eat? Why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to post that photo? What the hell did I do all day? And was it worth it? An interview, however, offers questions outside the usual groove of mental looping, sometimes sparking new ideas and directions. And . . . that's pretty much what happened to me today.

For an hour this afternoon I got to chat with Wendi Kelly and Deb Dorchak of Life's Little Inspirations and Blue Sun Studio, respectively, in their Blue Sun Studio Expert Series. The focus: my way of living in this world. Which isn't something I much think about let alone talk about. I just sort of do it. Everyday. Sometimes I might skip a day with a hefty nap, but otherwise, I'm pretty much on task with the living thing.

The interview also includes how I am navigating Journey to the Center of Your Heart, a workshop being offered by Wendi and Deb. Aside from dealing with my different aspects, I'm now on the look out for lies I tell myself. Lies that keep me from progressing and finding my success. Owning up to being an Artist is a tough task when I've never shown my art in a gallery or sold it (at least not for much or it's given away) or have an art-centered business. However, if I look at my Life's Work, the Work of This God, I am an Artist ~ big lights marquee and everything. Because of a few technicalities, I lie to myself. Yeah, I'm just a homemaker with a freakin' hobby.

And so I share with you, My Interview. It's a rare occurrence to feel comfortable talking about myself and my passions in this life ~ Wendi and Deb made it easy. It was an honor to participate. Please, enjoy.

Blue Sun Studio Expert Series: Dawn Zichko

Monday, March 17, 2014

beginning again . . . and again

This vehicle for my spirit, this body, needs yoga asana practice. Needs it like breathing because just breathing isn't enough right now. For the past couple of months, my house has been in various nomadic progressions of disarray (which is an oxymoron, but bear with me ~ construction dust does that to a person), robbing me of space and time to practice asanas. Taking a cue from the Oldest Youth (also interested in engaging in some kind of exercise practice) I decided to relocate my practice to the open, untouched expanse of our bedroom floor. All good, of course, until the rapidly progressing construction activities invade even there. Someone is very keen on getting the timbers properly conditioned throughout the house. I say let sleeping dust lie, but that's me.

And so . . . I gathered my mat, a strap and the iPod dock for some Anugama jams for the move upstairs. A little vacuuming (I do have dogs) and I was set for Downward Dog.

When beginning again, especially physical activity, especially if staring down the double-barrel of an impending 50th birthday, it's important to start carefully, slowly. As Shamanic Dream lilted into gentle, floaty tones, I creakily started a few Sun Salutations. One becomes mighty aware of a few things starting over. I could feel how tight my hips were from inactivity (good intentions of walking loosen hips they do not). In certain seated positions, the knees felt twice as stiff. I sensed Full Lotus would not be a goal today. And it wasn't. Relaxation Pose was a welcome relief overall.

The bliss I usually feel after a good, deep session of asanas wasn't achieved which was mildly disappointing. I could use some bliss right about now. Instead, satisfaction was found in accomplishing a practice unpracticed for too long. Sometimes, that has to be good enough. Besides, there's always tomorrow to continue beginning again.

Happy feet, happy mat. And now we begin . . .

Sunday, March 16, 2014

self-exploration and navel gazing

For the past couple of days, right on through most of this weekend, I've been catching up on Journey to the Center of the Heart. It's a workshop about finding one's center, holding to that truth to avoid the tailspin of self-sabotage and navigating some measure of success. (Success is is unique to each person ~ my measure might not be someone else's.) The workshop is a gift I've been enjoying for the past week as I listen to recordings made from last year and now the new recordings for this year. Deb Dorchak and Wendi Kelly are engaging, amusing and thought provoking, keeping a part of my brain busy and awakened. I'm on the lookout for new MPA's (Multiple Personality Aspects) hanging out in the dark recesses of my psyche, to learn more about them, myself, and put them all to better use. It seems to be a matter of being Present to Self in relation to self, to others, to one's environment. Presence makes a more response-able person.

I've also gotten the second month's worth of Spectrum material to get started on. What I'm enjoying here is the constant conversation with the Body. How do I feel today? How do I want to feel? What do those feelings look like in paint? Collage? Photo? It's embodying art.

Why do all this stuff? I've always had an idea that one can't possibly operate in the world or help others unless they've got a fair amount of their own stuff together. It's not perfect, never will be, but if I understand what my limitations are I may be of better service. I won't feel the need to rush head-on into a situation in Hera mode feeling I can save the world. Because I can't. I can, however, feel more integrated then move from that place with some certainty of being useful. Sometimes. As I said, it's not perfect.

The ever-burgeoning art journal ~ one of those places where I'm free to explore.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

mental mohair meanderings #1

The mind makes connections. For me mind is a holistic reference ~ I don't feel it's trapped in the brain, in our heads. The mind is a full-body experience. In shamatha meditation, sitting, abiding, it is practice to include the mind, bring it along for the ride. A thought or two may breeze by and then (as learned from Susan Piver) I remind myself, Thinking, gently returning to that still point of meditating.

It is interesting for me to follow how my mind makes connections. The connections lead to creative promptings ~ some easily initiated, some requiring time and sometimes other connections. This is the beginning of a random series of these mental meanderings or How I Got From Pickles to the Beach.

So. Yesterday, I'm making myself a Leftover Chicken Sandwich. Very simple: a couple of slices of a favorite bread toasted (gotta be toasted), leftover chicken breast, mayonnaise and other assorted favorite condiments. I love cold leftover meat. It's already cooked and requires little preparation beyond refrigeration. My personal fast food.

An assembled leftover chicken sandwich sat before me needing . . . something else. Then I remembered Bread and Butter pickles purchased from the Farmers' Market last weekend and that memory sparked a chain of memories. I remembered a summer when my mother took me and my Little Family out to Sherwood Island for the day. She packed us all lunch. While child-friendly sandwiches where included, the more interesting adult fare included Bread and Butter pickles. Thin-sliced turkey with cheese, mayo and pickles on pumpernickel. That memory lead to the comment she made about how sandwiches used to be wrapped in her day, with wax paper and how it's so much better than sandwich baggies. (In daily homage to that comment, Bennie's PB&J's are wrapped in wax paper then packed into a sandwich box. She can't stand the insipid school lunches and I can't stand paying good money for them.) The memory further unfolds as my feet feel the sand and my head feels the hat on my head, trying to keep the sun exposure in check. We are on the beach with colored buckets collecting any number of shells and rocks. We are now making little memento aquariums with empty water bottles, sea weed and sticks and rocks and shells and sand ~ in this way, we can take a bit of Sherwood Island home with us.

With these memories in tow, a lunch of Leftover Chicken Sandwich became a moment of divine sublime. Each bite a gift.

Now. How to make art of it all? Or is the sandwich art enough?

Last summer's Day At the Beach under the Traveling Tropical Oasis.

Friday, March 14, 2014

a March musing

It was my job to tend the flock this morning. Blessedly, it's a flock of fowl. A friend further up north is tending new lambs. At least I can sleep at night once the chickensduxturkeys are tucked in for the night. (Besides, Dirk is usually the one tucking them in.) Nothing to nurse but sweet dreams (with the crazy recall in the morning). However, and I've said it before, this Chop Wood Carry Water thing I do holds some deep meaning for me. Feeding the other beings living with us is something I can manage. There is only one deadline and it's easily met. There is only one goal ~ getting fed. So much easier than dispatching humans in a timely manner. A breeze compared to dealing with paperwork. Daunting phone calls? I'd really much rather scoop feed. Tending the flock also takes the edge off the guilt of skipping out on a walk.

Simple fulfillment. Simple work that gives me a sense of embodiment. It is still cold here at the ides of March. The snap of chill shakes me into awareness. Yes. I am here in this body which feels that chill yet detects a hint of spring in the air, nose to the breeze. This body carefully makes her way over the icy mud (trust me, it's both) with buckets of feed and water in service. The sun ricochets off the ice crystals forming in the snow from the thawing and freezing again. It hurts to have sight in such a dazzling moment, but worth every blink because it reminds me I'm here and, right now, the work of this God is to feed others. I've had to ask for help in chopping up ice so the turkey coop could be opened this morning. They still need to be out even if we can get food and water in ~ gotta stretch those massive wings, gotta strut. I wouldn't let them stand another day in the coop because the door couldn't be opened.

Doing this honorable chore (we are stewards to those other beings that live with us) holds my heart in constancy. It is a daily delight to see Duke thrum, strut and gobble. The Muscovy and I have conversations about the roosters they're sharing space with as they bob their heads, crests raised, hissing and waddling. All the Boyz (roosters) hop out and do their moves and crow as I pour out the grain for them. And then there are my Darlings, the hens! I love them best (don't tell the others) because they lay eggs. Those eggs are my return, the gift ~ even the joy of collecting them is a gift. We're getting turkey eggs this spring too. I save feeding the Inside denizen for last where it's warm.

This is my Chop Wood Carry Water. Before enlightenment and after ~ even if that enlightenment requires a strong cup of PG Tips first thing at sunrise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ketchup

Another day, another journal page . . .

Sacred creativity with Spectrum . . .

Ian's latest confection from Culinary Arts with a poor choice in pretend celebratory news . . .
(In his defense, Ian possesses his mother's dark humor.)

Still working with Women Who Run With the Wolves . . .

A journal spread with big letters to fill . . .

Work from another class with Cat . . .

The pile of stuff Bennie has produced in the last few weeks . . .

And our various paintings in progress.
News on the fly.