There is this saying, that when we stay on top of the news, there is a fine line between being well-informed and falling into madness. I am often finding balance between the two, on a softer edge of being: the place where one can find some inner peace. Paintings of my favorite wool socks, a cup of coffee, an afternoon nap on the couch, or a relaxing child’s pose are all part of my focus to keep the chaos down, practicing a simpler, more enjoyable existence. There are also my dogs, a faithful, saving-grace constant in my life. They are my family, and a healthy reminder to see the humor in life, to love unconditionally, to practice patience and to focus on what is right in front of me.
Worrying about the craziness in the world will not change anything except to bring us closer to possible depression and eventual illness. Changing the world starts from within each of us, which is where true peace begins. I care about what is happening, and take steps where I am able, but I have learned not to carry the load. Look for what brings a smile to your face, and may you find your softer edge of being.
A falcon swooped just a few feet in front of me this morning, her stealth apparent in my surprise, hearing the wind in her widespread wings as she moved swiftly into a tree across the street. A group of doves exploded from the tree in every direction. She was not concerned about me being so close to her flight, as she came in low, passing by where I was walking. I stood there for a moment, waiting to see the large bird emerge, yet nothing stirred. There were too many leaves to see into the tree canopy, but it did get very quiet, so I imagined her morning meal was fulfilled. I wondered why this happened for me to see, to experience just now in my life. It stopped me in my tracks, and continued to replay in my mind off and on throughout my day.
In my last blog post, I promised that my next post would be about my art. I even put off writing another post because, quite frankly, I didn’t feel like I had something I wanted to share. This is partly my wavering uncertainty about my work, which seems to always be in transition. I work on a few paintings that are relevant for a bit, and then I become distracted, either by other projects, or just life happening. I tend to lose interest, finding I am not driven enough to continue the series or idea. Not very productive for building a healthy body of work.
I suppose some would call this the equivalent of writer’s block for visual artists, but it doesn’t seem that severe to me. It’s more like some kind of uncertainty, inner doubt, that notorious inner-critic raising its ugly head to challenge my resolve. It’s hard to eliminate this noise, but maybe it is also about just accepting that this is part of the process of creation, and it will enter at different stages of our lives, for various reasons. I have become more aware that I need to let it be till I sort it out – not to fight it so much, and to just keep working. Although I am presently enjoying another new series of paintings, which feel right at this moment, who knows where this will go? It is in a playful stage, which always feels good to me.
It’s finally looking like fall in Houston, as we approach December in a few days. That’s how it happens here in this part of the country. Even though our fall is not nearly so apparent as those areas up north, where vibrant colors simply take one’s breathe away in every, splendid moment.
I still find it worthy to note the subtle, gradient tones scattered here and there in our area, with leaves falling into mosaic piles that only Nature could arrange. Are things really so random? Are we able to appreciate this perfect order that looks more like chaos in our everyday lives?
To add to another perspective, yes, I am that person who stirs my coffee grounds. I saw someone talking about doing this in order to fully benefit from all those complex and robust flavors in coffee beans. I have learned that with the pour-over method, which is my favorite, if the beans are not freshly and more finely rather than coarsely ground, much of the goodness is wasted as the hot water sifts through. You end up with a weaker version of coffee. When you stir the grounds, it seems to awaken the true nature of the beans, allowing more of the roasted essence to come forward. I like to get to those deep flavors that the bean was meant to impart into a fine cup of coffee!
Why did I bring this up? It is that same scenario when it comes to making our own lives. Although I am most grateful for what I have in my life, and do believe I have come a long way, I do wish to further grow, evolve, and to fulfill my dreams of a more bountiful, meaningful, creative and joyful life.
I have seen patterns in my life, in all of life, really. Things seem to be happening for a reason, not quite as spontaneous as I have always imagined. We are generally not tuned in to our world, our environment, where Nature becomes the great teacher and healer. Some call this receiving signs, messages from the source, from the Universe, the Great Creator, or if you prefer, from God. Even when we dream, we receive a kind of universal, unspoken language of guidance in symbols, archetypes, and metaphors. I am seeing that there truly are no accidents, or perhaps better said, “no coincidences”. I have often said that I feel like I am channeling energy from another source when I am fully engaged in what I am creating. It is more like I am co-creating with something much bigger than who I am.
The metaphor was clear when I first heard it, “you have to stir the grounds to get the best flavor”. Stir things up, shake the foundation to bring possibilities to the surface, agitate the mix to cook up those opportunities and savor the best, quality results, actualizing goals, dreams and more specifically, your creative process. You have to spread your wings, swoop in for what feeds you, feeds your process, see with keen, open eyes the beauty and wonder in the smallest and most subtle of things, creating those deep ah-ha moments.
Oh, and while you are at it, try stirring those coffee grounds. You may be pleasantly surprised!
I was turning into my son’s neighborhood while watching a fast-moving car pass by my car in a flash. I have turned into that neighborhood a multitude of times, for that matter, I have turned corners with street curbs thousands upon thousands of times, but this time I was not focused enough to notice that there was a curb right in my path.
Needless to say, I trashed the tire, which went flat immediately, and although I knew I had a spare, I was most appreciative to be so close to my son’s home. Without a pause, he was there with my two-year-old grandson, who didn’t want any part of staying inside daddy’s cool, air-conditioned car. He was certain it was much more interesting watching daddy change a tire, no matter that the temperature was near 100 degrees with a heat index of 108.
Did you ever notice how kids don’t seem to really feel the temperature outside? When I was little, there was a woods behind us, and every winter the most fun thing in my child’s heart was to go out and walk, play and to take in the magic while sitting and listening to the silence of the snow all around me. I never seemed to feel the cold, but remember coming back fairly wet in my wool snowsuit, eventually revealing red-numb hands and feet. It all worked out though, as radiators were most efficient at warming any body parts within a few feet of their steaming pipes.
Back to today, the intense heat and me holding my two-year-old grandson, who by this time was delighted by all the things going on, and pointing them out with that refreshing level of excitement that such a young child has. The butterfly moving over our heads, the massive, jet air-plane flying close to the ground and our heads, the man fertilizing the lawn across the street with his big, white truck, who kindly came over to give us some much appreciated, cold bottles of water. My grandson quickly pointed out “he’s not daddy”, and then pointed to my son, “that’s daddy”, and in my amusement, I had to agree.
After my tire was changed we proceeded back to their home where I began to take care of my grandson so mommy and daddy could go appreciate their adult life in a restaurant without any of their three, lovely children, two of which were in school. We had a delightful one-on-one time together, going upstairs, downstairs, upstairs again, eating, watching Mother Goose, searching for Playdough, searching for a specific hat, eating more, going back upstairs again, watching more Mother Goose, singing, building with blocks, and you get the picture. Nothing compares to the energy of a two-year-old.
Later that evening I posted a short video on facebook of us on the couch, him being his usual, never-ending-source of joyful entertainment. As I wrote a few words about our visit, I threw in the incident about hitting the curb, and suddenly realized why it happened. The words pulled such weight, yet seemed to come from lightness herself, focus on what is right in front of you. You know... be in the moment. It just might prevent you from hitting a curb, another car, or from missing an opportunity, from seeing the beauty, from noticing what matters most, like someone you love.
We don’t hit a curb to suffer or struggle with resolving it. Oh, sure, it is a pain in the butt to take care of it, and there is growth in that too, but the main thing is what shakes us, what wakes us up and grabs our attention is just trying to help us “see”. Message received, and most grateful for the reminder.
Next post will be about my art, I promise.
Houston Art Tribe has officially begun! My introductory video is a bit on the amateur side with my face rather close to the camera, which is actually my iphone. When I had it further away from me, it sounded like I had my back to the camera. One would have to turn the volume way up, and the fan at the end of the room would have won your attention. Of course, I could have turned the fan off, but this is June in Houston, Texas, so... well, no.
Clearly the videos will improve over time as I add some better equipment for this project, and as soon as I have the funds, I am eager to do so! I also believe these episodes will become much more engaging as I bring in different artists each time, usually a one-on-one kind of visit. We will talk about their work, their process, their studio or workspace and any issues and/or concerns they may have, along with any accomplishments, or just some good teaching moments. It’s really about the spontaneity of conversation, which generally happens naturally for most of us as we live our lives off camera.
That is the trick. How do we forget about that focused lens watching us so that we are able to speak in a comfortable, natural way? That’s when the good stuff comes forward, when we are ourselves, allowing our voice to flow freely. As stated in this first video, Houston Art Tribe is a “seriously, laid-back, studio-vibe conversation between artists”. So, I say to you artists, speak your truth!
There is a website now in the working, and there will be other social media links to help people find this video log, referred to affectionately by Youtubers as a “vlog”. Yes, I am vlogging, another modern-day word that sounds like a new form of repetitive exercise that spell check is certain should not exist.
Sometimes I feel like my feet are in mud, like one of those dreams you have when you try to run but you keep sinking in deeper. I truly am excited about this project, as I am already working on the next episode, yet I am that artist who needs her studio time, and perhaps it is just this unwavering heat? Really, can I blame it on the heat?
In most cases, I would have said to be ready with all these avenues before launching this vlog, but perhaps the motto to be “laid-back”, to really enjoy the process, has had a deeper and rather relaxing influence on me. As it has been said, the destination is the journey. So there it is, slowly but surely forming into what it will become, and hopefully benefitting a wide audience of Houston area artists!
New Series Gathering, Dogs Playing
This a bit of a teaser. I have these stretches of what seems like no productivity, at least if you look at my website and especially my blog. In reality, it has been about working on a new series of paintings that are gathering for a healthy body of work to exhibit somewhere. Not sure where that will be, but feel confident it will happen when and where it is supposed to happen. The certain thing is how it feels working on these paintings, how it is flowing with my natural vibe, which is supposed to happen, but can often elude us artists. The subject not only holds my interest, it allows me to uncover something new with each piece.
It’s about my dogs. They are with me 24/7, as I converted my garage into a full time studio. I generally stay home, working on sketching, painting, breaking for lunch and dinner, the internet, some tea and/or snacks, garden work, more internet, or just resting for a bit. But here is the thing, I am excited and having fun with this new work!
These are not portraits. They are renderings of the dogs doing various things that they do throughout their day, their play being a big part of the focus. Having said this, the one image posted above is the only portrait thus far, but feel it still falls in line with what they do, or what Louie does, who is our oldest at 14, and he loves to sleep on my partner’s favorite chair. He gave me this look, which kind of said to me, “I know this is daddy’s chair, but aren’t I cute when I am happy lying up here?”. So the title, “Daddy’s Chair” seemed appropriate. My partner, who is daddy (dog owners understand the daddy/mommy concept for furry babies) actually pushed me to do a portrait of Louie because of his age, sort of an attempt to still the fast-approaching inevitable, which neither of us wants to ever think about.
My material is so close to my heart, and always gifting me with new ideas. We live with 3 dogs, one Husky mix, Sophie, who is only a year and a half younger than Louie, at 12 plus. She has always been more playful, so she is the playmate of our nearly 2 year old, yellow-lab mix, Ellie, who is already a pro at bringing more laughter into our lives. They all charm us for reasons as different as their personalities, so when I sat in my studio a couple of months ago sketching for possible ideas, the dogs started into another play session, and I was completely sold.
I believe my love of painting with oils will never diminish. Some years ago, I moved from canvas to wood panels, and have never looked back. I love the smoothness of the surface, and its undeniable durability, although some artists are concerned about wood changing shape, and it always does, even if only slightly. I do build my own panels and consider this when doing so, making them quite strong and therefore, less flexible, quite capable of handling our steamy, gulf coast environment. As a matter of fact, they are so solid that I have found it a good practice to recycle some old paintings that are less than memorable to something more alive and current. I know, some would say never to do such a thing, but much of my older work seems far from precious and are always adding to the never-ending issue of storage space, a common problem for most artists
In this image (left), you can see behind the sketch of the two dogs some imagery of the previous painting. If you see lots of bony fish, you would be correct. It was time for it to go to the ethers of retired, creative efforts, wherever that place is. In this case, after a good sanding it landed under a layer of new gesso. No one will miss it... certainly not me. In the meantime, I will happily keep my readers informed as this new series progresses.
Where's The Art?
It’s coming! That’s what I keep telling myself as I get sidetracked with all these things: the garden, the dogs, family, friends, attending art events, Youtubing (so much to say here), laundry (above), more gardening, grocery shopping, cooking, an odd moment of house cleaning and even more gardening! I think it has to do with that primal need to start new life and after all, it’s Spring!
Every year I start some kind of edible plant project, hoping to have a sustainable food source for the year. In reality, that usually consists of a good amount of tomatoes and cucumbers, but not much else. This year, I decided to grow some hardy greens and root veggies, along with a couple of large, cherry, tomato plants. I will plant sweet potatoes in May as I am growing the slips for this right now. I have a decent amount of herbs and other culinary delights, including spinach, vining spinach, celery, turnips, carrots, radishes, beets, taro, collards, kale, red leaf lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, broccoli, two pomegranate trees, two kinds of cauliflower, chives, cilantro, sage, oregano, mint, two kinds of rosemary, two kinds of thyme, two kinds of parsley, and three kinds of basil. I just felt the need to list them all, probably to boost my sense of accomplishment and remind myself why my studio felt left out.
Studio time does happen and painting has been the focus. Seems I am off in another direction after painfully interacting with one piece for a couple of weeks that never felt right. Why did I let that go so long? Seems I often find myself perplexed, but not enough to drop something, so I keep it going, certain I can solve the thing. But when I finally did put it aside, I simplified my approach. This usually means it’s time to just sketch what is in the room around me, which often opens up a whole new view, and tends to let in a little magic, if I just let it happen. This will likely be a new series of work and I will have more on this in another post.
Is it just me, or is Youtube the new form of entertainment? Maybe I am slow on this one. To say I watch way too much Youtube lately, is an understatement. It probably started a few years ago when I became infatuated with the tiny house movement, but more recently, it is about RV life. I started looking into camper trailers, as we thought it would be a good way to take our dogs with us for a trip to west Texas. I do so love west Texas. Also, it would be fun to go camping, maybe a short weekend getaway on occasion. I was curious about these small, so-called "egg campers" with their all-fiberglass shells. There are even some that are made in Texas – Casita is this maker, with a perfect compact size, functionality and sexy curves to go with it. They do come in a bit pricey, but they never lose their value as they are well-made and therefore, long lasting.
In this process of searching, I found an entire culture of people who not only travel in these various, mobile structures, they often live in them! Some even live in vans! And not what you would think of at first, or maybe you wouldn’t, but I remember the infamous Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Farley about “living in a van down by the river”… very funny, but not what I found.
Instead, it was all ages, all kinds of educational backgrounds, cultural diversity, some with money, some not so much, but always living on the wind and that questionable edge, often not knowing what’s next. And there lies the excitement, the adventure and the freedom from what most of us view as ordinary life. Life that often traps us into routine spending, brainwashed thinking and buying, a wasteful lifestyle, collecting all the latest stuff, paying a mortgage on a house full of even more stuff. Often, it is a big, expensive home with many rooms and all of that stuff and maybe one day, we stop and wonder if this is what we are here for? Is this really our dream of a good life?
These nomads spend much of their time connecting with nature, and on occasion, connecting with others who are somewhat, like-minded. The nature part gets my attention, but I wouldn’t want to always be on the road. I feel like I need a home base, and not necessarily where I am now. However, I do crave a mind melt with nature, and love the idea of a trip into the wild a few times a year. A nice reprieve from the city, from the fast pace, the noise, the pollution, and the horrendous, Houston traffic!
It does appear that the number of individuals joining this movement is rapidly growing. Part of this may be due to the cost of living in the cities. Even where I live there is a change happening as many people I know are being priced out of their own neighborhoods. I do wonder how this will all end up in a few years, and are there fewer younger people buying homes? At any rate, I am definitely attracted to downsizing and leaving behind a smaller footprint.
Back to the Youtubers, there is one of my favorites, Jill Elizabeth, who has termed these perpetual wanderers, “Road Culture”. She says her journey is within for now, as she sits in the middle of what seems like a very desolate part of New Mexico. She is on the philosophical scale end of the wildly different mix of people with YouTube channels about RV life. I find her to be quite relatable, although I could not be so isolated as she is. It is her personal journey and she is always a pleasure to listen to.
Others are about the basics of traveling or living in a camper of some kind. Some are more about their adventures and their interaction with others while enjoying what they find. Many talk about living for free while camping (dispersed camping) somewhere on public land, BLM land – Bureau of Land Management, or staying in a National Forest, National Parks and State Parks. The rules are quite different for all of them, especially if you have dogs. It is a fascinating subject to me, obviously, and felt the need to share it. At any rate, less Youtube and more studio time is ahead!
Finding Calm, Being Peace
Writing during this holiday season, I am reminded of how the end of each year is more like a turning point, a close to another chapter with the celebratory events of the holidays to see it through. For me, the Christmas lights always inspire, as they shine their brightness with symbolic meaning, awakening hope and joy where there is often despair and darkness. This human need for light is simply engrained in our DNA and a primal call to our ancestral connection with the warm glow of a fire. I am always happy to end each year with these magical, little lights. They are the jewels on top.
When I think about what stands out in 2017, I see that it was and still is the need for calm, to escape the overwhelming news, and a longing for the safeness of the ordinary. I felt like surrounding myself with simple things, easy tasks, quiet mornings, feel-good movies, stories, books and definitely no news. It’s not that I want to be in the dark about what is going on, I just want to be sane enough to handle it, and to somehow make a difference. News events today seem heavier than I can ever remember, entrenching us, permeating our collective being to the core. It can seem more like a nightmarish, science-fiction movie instead of reality. Fiction like this would not be believed. I would walk away from such a film shaken, but certain I could go home and all would be fine. But no, it is global warming, massive loss of habitat, thousands of species extinct, fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, violence, hate, cruelty, vulgar narcissism, misogyny, bigotry and a monstrous greed leading the way. It is all this heavy stuff happening, seeping up to the surface, no longer able to be contained under the wound that will not heal until the festering and sickness are pushed out.
On the personal side of news, one of the hardest things to face in life, especially during the holidays, is the loss of a loved one. I am saddened by so much news of friends who have lost someone this year. Every time we follow our hearts and fall in love, we are eventually made aware that it is not permanent. Maybe the love is always there, but our physical reality is not. To live as long as I have is to make this experience unavoidable.
We are more connected than we know, even if only by a remote, social network like Facebook, which brings all kinds of news, often from people who are only internet friends. There is one such who has so touched my heart. Perhaps it is the thread of being a parent and sharing our deepest fear, one that she has painfully realized. Most of us will not touch it, it puts such a horror upon us; that of losing a child. I have the deepest sympathy for her, for all who are feeling the pain of loss. My gratitude expands every time these sad stories awaken what I have in my life. The love of others is priceless.
I was searching for a short video, wanting something moving with a little holiday charm. It is yet another way to lighten the load. I was actually looking for the animation with the boy who flies over a winter wonderland with his snowman, Walking in the Air, which is a short clip from the full 27 minute animation, The Snowman. It is one of my favorites, and tends to fill me with a sense of wonder as I slip back into my own childhood just a bit. It was so easy for me to go into that imaginative world as a child, and something tells me I should visit this place more often today.
While looking for this video, I first found Escape, another short Christmas animation. It is a simple, sweet, story with a music score that I hope won many awards as it was originally used in the film, Meet Joe Black. It stirs up deep emotions for me, not so much because of the film, but because of the music itself. I am overcome with the mood of it, my eyes welling up, and love being able to feel someone’s creation in this way. Perhaps that is why it is called “escape”.
A few days ago, I baked Christmas cookies for the first time in probably 20 years. I slipped into that nurturing mode, shaping, rolling and cutting the dough with love, baking and sprinkling on little, sugary concoctions, minus any red ones that were nowhere to be found in the city of Houston. Seems there was a red sugar/sprinkles shortage, but still plenty of green, which seems odd that one was not on the shelves when both are so synonymous with Christmas baking. Of course, I had to throw in some green dinosaur sprinkles I found. Christmas and dinosaurs make such sense, or at least some of my grand children seemed to think so.
And then there is knitting, which is truly a meditative process, as you often must be aware of what you are doing. The rhythmic motion takes over, like a steady and soothing heartbeat. I have always loved knitting, and have purposely not allowed myself to knit because this valuable time could be spent making art. I must say here that creating art can also take me there, but sitting cozy on a comfy couch with mindless abandon seemed necessary. It becomes a sort of nesting thing, which comes over me every year around this time. I knew it was important to lose myself in this process, which will result in a new scarf, as if I need another one! Clearly, the need was something else.
If we feel overwhelmed, depressed, worried, sleepless and/or chaotic, we are not only harming ourselves, we are unable to benefit anyone or anything else. We become toxic. Our mental and physical health takes a dive, with stress as our nemesis. We must be the peace by finding the calm. Find what gives you a break from the madness. See that there is much beauty in our world, and yes, there is beauty, even with all that is in such upheaval. Know that you are the peace, as it can only start from within us. We are like a flower opening itself up and revealing its alluring colors and honeyed aromas, resonating this peace out to the world around us. It is not something you go search for, although many do. It is us who carry peace within in our hearts. When we are enlightened to this, we connect to each other and all of life. Peace resides in love; in who we really are. We only need to look to see that it is always right where we are, always waiting for us to open our gift and to share it.
It seems that I have gone far too long, once again, without writing something in my blog. I have never liked that word “blog”. It tends to remind me of that early, science fiction movie, The Blob, with the then-teenage actor, Steve McQueen. Although entertaining to watch, especially from these present times, that big pink thing eating everything in its path and growing to the size of a massive building is probably not the best metaphor. Of course, if I get too wordy, maybe.
Then there is the word “slob”, which may be my inner critic’s favorite, reminding me of the condition of my studio, with wrapping paper, multiple bags full of gifts, tools spread everywhere and half-done art put aside, gathering dust. There is also the word, “blah”… blah, blah, blah! My inner critic loves to whisper this one into my ear in those doubtful moments of writing. Of course, blog is short for weblog, as in web-log.
I do love to write. I suppose it is mostly, random thoughts moving through my head that I often feel the urge to jot down, or something I see that day; something that happened. I would not consider myself a great writer and maybe not even a good one, as I wish to be less mundane in my word usage, but one must be natural and true to oneself. Thinking of this, there is the book, On Writing, by Stephen King, which is kind of a biography as well sound advice, and so worth the read!
It does help that I read often, which so feeds me. I have two books going now, not always the best way to fully take in a story, but this is the case presently. It all comes down to the weight of the book, and yes, I do prefer reading real books, although I have read an equal share electronically. I usually read in bed at night and if the book is heavy as Walter Isaacson’s, Leonardo da Vinci, which is at least a 3 pounder, I leave it out in the living room for situp, comfy-couch reading. I have a much lighter, paperback, Margaret Atwood’s, The Year of The Flood, in the bedroom. Both books are engaging, for widely different reasons.
I will not make this a book review, but will say that I do enjoy throwing a fiction in there occasionally, just to not get too caught up in biographies, history, science, discovery or spiritual books. I still have Elizabeth Colbert's, The Sixth Extinction sitting by my bed. It’s informative and depressing in one desparate breathe, so I go through it slowly. It’s a book I would refer to as “heavy” in a different context, and knowing that the author speaks truth, it shakes up the present moment and any plans of a future with certain clarity.
If you think about it, fiction can cover almost anything, and one of my favorite kinds is historical fiction. I know, the key word is “fiction”, but good writers who do tidy research can make learning history so much more enlightening. I love it when I connect with people who lived 500 years ago who usually seem so distant and un-relatable. A good writer can change how you see and feel these ancient cultures, and you can feel that they are “us”, with all our faults and messiness, and our deep capacity to love.
Anyway, for the one or two of you who occasionally look at these posts, I apologize for being so sparse in my writings. I am planning to write some sort of holiday post, and will visit writing more often in general, even if it is random loopholes in my thinking. I have also made a promise to myself to sketch more often. This may come as a surprise or maybe it’s obvious, but I rarely sketch. I have been working on wire sculpture in recent months, but that is no real excuse. Sketching is vital, and so is writing.
And here is where I will leave it, till the next, not-too-distant post :)
I am in constant amazement with how human beings flower into the best version of themselves when catastrophe happens. I didn't want to write about the many, multifaceted stories I have heard because of this disastrous storm, Harvey, and how it effected Houston, Texas. I only heard a few of the many stories that have surfaced. Most are never reported, if they are even observed.
People find themselves doing things they never could have imagined doing when there is real and desperate need calling them for help. Sometimes this verges on the edge of crazy… like jumping in high, fast-current, flood waters to save a stranded animal. Yet, when we do see this sort of thing, all of our frenzied hearts melt into a primal oneness, as we understand why. The emotions are all over the place, but our raw, collective feelings of caring are at the top. I have been most honored, having my faith restored, which never should have been lost, to know my fellow human beings for who they truly are. I should have remembered.
No one ever wants tragedy to happen. No one dreams with eager anticipation of experiencing such floods any more than we want to be visited by a heard of zombies. Yet, we humans seem to need the reawakening of our potential. It is about our capacity to love, and how we are absolutely connected to each other. These are the highest attributes that define us as human beings.
In a normal, everyday world, we barely smile at the stranger walking by us. We are often oblivious and numbed by this simple act, as when driving on the freeway at 70 miles an hour, without ever thinking about the madness of it. We do it so frequently, it seems completely sane, and some how, it usually works without a hitch. But in an instant, all this can change, with yet another human story unfolding before our eyes.
I would like to think I can go to bed at night a bit more assured that there is hope for us. Perhaps we will not allow our negative selves to take over. Greed at the top with money and power leading the way in pursuit of precious resources, those found mostly in the ground. Seeing what these pursuits do to our planet is without question heartbreaking for all of life; for us. Animals are going extinct at such a high pace that most of us could never keep up, even if we were aware. Natural habitat is disappearing at alarming rates, and large bodies of water are turning foul, including our oceans!
Perhaps we will allow our true selves to see the need for that same, loving help in a more universal way. To think of ourselves as Earthlings, not from this country or that one with borders or walls separating us. Perhaps, we will understand what it means to be guardians of our planet. We will make the necessary changes to allow all life to prosper, without the need for a tragedy to remind us. Sadly, when we go against nature, we fulfill and create the tragedy. But yes, I do have a bit more hope when I see it first hand in front of me like these past few days, and feel the love of my fellow, human being so dearly.
Taking a deeper breathe, and seeing us rise.
It's part of life. I cannot remember who said it, but I think it goes something like this: the only thing that remains constant, is change. I am more than okay with this, even though we sometimes come up against what seems like a brick wall, or a bottomless hole, or at least a few bumps in the road. Maybe the road isn't so clear, with jagged forks here and there, and fuzzy, unreadable signs, or those dusty, less-frequented paths, with some questionable and foreboding, dark areas. Who knows what kind of things lay waiting in the shadows? Or maybe it is just one's imagination sabotaging one's progress, creating monsters where there are none?
Monsters, TV, The Inner Critic & Lies
This deserves its own place, and I should know, because I have put up a number of complex rooms over the years for my very own, sordid monsters. The closets just were not big enough. They stay on my comfy couch while I pet and groom them, mostly the kind that show up right after a rejection letter. They feed my inner critic, forcing me to watch mindless tv, although we finally cancelled our cable connection a few months ago. This has changed me in ways that I could not have guessed, and I am surprised at myself, as it brings me a deserved satisfaction to no longer be a slave to all those repetitive, bad shows.
I used to wonder what people did before TV, me in my brainwashed-tv-head since I was 5 years old. It's harder to imagine when one starts so young, but thinking of kids today, they have so much more to give up with all the sophisticated, electronic-eye-candy saturating their little, zombie-like minds. One can only guess where all this is going, but I'd say it's the familiar feeding of monsters.
But getting back to that inner critic, that judging crone who tells me I am just not good enough, that I'm too old, that I will not succeed because I am woman, that I don't have enough education and/or enough exhibitions on my resume, that my art is just not hip, sexy, or edgy enough, that it's just too late, and that no one will ever care about what I do anyway. This list could be endless, but these are some of the lies I hear, similar to what many of us hear, instead of looking at what we can and have actually accomplished and what really brings us joy. Sadly, this is where some of us even give up.
Dreaming & New Work
I often seem to avoid facing the very thing I need most, but know I must instigate change and take the risks to develop new work. It can feel like I am out on a fragile limb to start anew, but it is also exciting, like shaking myself awake. It truly is the very nature of creating, to explore the unknown, and for me, inspired by not knowing what will come. Nothing great comes without some stumbling along the way... you just have to be willing to stumble.
After some frustrating weeks of exploring a new approach on paper, it was painfully clear that something wasn't quite fitting what I wanted to communicate. I often have dreams that bring deep messages to me, mostly in a visual way. I ask for help before I fall asleep, and if I remember what I dreamed, ideas are spun, some so vivid, it's like a sign being held in front of my face. The very next morning I was on it with a fresh, enlivened energy.
There is this ancient, soothing voice in my head that tells me to keep taking the necessary steps, to enjoy what I do, to practice diligently, and know in my heart that it is and always was only about the journey. I am not sure how this new work will be received, but I know I must let go of any attachments, and most of all, to ignore the inner critic's decaying comments.
It is about trusting the process, about trusting myself, allowing the flow of energy, and giving myself the patience necessary to grow. I am grateful to know this, and willing it oh-so-close to my artist's heart.
Kay Sarver Blog