Thursday, September 29, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 5

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them." 
Rabindranath Tagore

Well, maybe totally fearless is not exactly achievable, but neither is being totally sheltered from the dangers. I've often told people "You don't want me praying for you. I mostly ask for strength to make it through." So often, that's exactly what we get. And we make it though.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tenacity Takes Many Forms

Here are a few more of the collages I've been doing. It's the 15th day in a row. My tenacious nature is wearing thin. On the one hand, I wonder why doing this consistently, daily, even matters. I question the worth of it. The little collages really aren't worth much. It's the daily doing of the thing that is of value. Just like going to the backboard for tennis practice is not worth much in and of itself. But the repetition of hitting the ball again and again, of feeling how it comes off your racket, and learning how to control the power of the ball and the racket--that's what is valuable. Doing the daily collage, hitting the ball, these practices are a part of laying groundwork.

I'll continue on with them. I am determined to make it to 40 days. And then I will evaluate whether or not I want to continue. But man, the critical and judging voices (in my head) are loud this morning. It's a bright and sunny Saturday in my part of the world. I've had to calm the voices. I wish they'd just shut up and go away. But I think they never will. I'm told this is quite common for artists (for "real" artists, one of my voices is saying, "you're just being dramatical" another voice is saying).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 4

Well, dang. Here is this weeks card, "Tenacious (yes, you)." It's certainly a reminder for me. I hope it will at least cause you to think a bit.

I have been tenaciously sticking with my 40 day art journal commitment. It's been a lot of fun. Here are a few of the ones I've done lately...

I got antsy and started adding paint to the background, along with distress ink, and Pan pastels.

I have a bunch of old photographs (and letters). I figure I should go ahead and use them, and stop holding onto to them like they are precious and irreplaceable. They aren't my relatives.

 It doesn't take much time to do these. They've been somewhat therapeutic for me to work on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


"Sometimes joy is wrapped in other feelings."

All this week I thought about this. Tomorrow would have been my son's 29th birthday. A friend said today that it must be bittersweet. He questioned his own use of the word bittersweet, wondering if there was any sweetness in the coming day. Yes, there is. I have my happy memories. Our family remembers him as we tell our various stories about him. And, of course, we also wonder about what might have been.

His birthday this year will be on the first day of fall. Tonight I read an excerpt of an article about the paradox of fall, where I read "But if we allow the paradox of darkness and light to be, the two will conspire to bring wholeness and health to every living thing."

Darkness and light, bitter and sweet, joy mixed in with sadness, all are necessary parts of life, aren't they?

Happy birthday, my boy. I miss you more than you could imagine. Come see me in my dreams sometime, okay?


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Project Thoughful Thursday, Week 3

I have to admit, when I first saved this quote, I thought I knew exactly what it meant. I even had examples from my own life. This morning, I am not so sure I understand. Still, this is our card for the third week of Project Thoughtful Thursday.

"Sometimes joy is wrapped
in other feelings."

AKA Teresa Robinson, 
Right Brain Planner™

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

40 Days to a Creative Practice

The afternoon part of the workshop I attended was about doing a 40 day art journal. We were all given an inexpensive 6X6 sketch book to take home with us. While we were there, we worked on doing our pages or covering our book. I don't want to jinx myself but I've done a little collage every day since. Actually, I've done two on each day.

I read somewhere today about this being a process activity, not something where you are concerned with a finished work of art. I think of it as being nourishment for future work. Some people see it as welcoming the muse. I bring this up because last night, after doing a page right before bedtime, I couldn't go to sleep because I kept thinking of things I could do to make finished product. And that's when the pressure started to get heavy. So I think it's good for me to remember, "this is process work." Also, if I stick with it, it could become a part of my creative practice. A consistent creative habit would be good for me.

Anyway, here are a few of the collages I've done.

Monday, September 12, 2016

An Eventful Adventure (It's Been a While)!

This past Saturday I trotted off to Congregation B'nai Israel (CBI), on Galveston Island for a "Realizing Your Creative Soul" workshop. The facilitator was a woman I discovered when I was perusing the website of the Jung Center in Houston. I was looking for something artsy-fartsy to do.

I went all by myself, as I often do for events like this. I met several interesting people, but for the most part it was a matter of working alone in community. I do wish I'd been a tiny bit more outgoing and had gotten more than just the first names of the women working beside me.

During the morning, we gathered images and words that appealed to our hearts. We were to do this without thinking about it. Once we had images gathered we created what the brochure called "New Reality Boards." I've always loved the cutting and pasting work of doing collages. It wasn't long before I was in a state of "flow" and I was unaware of time passing as I worked.

This is my board. I'd thought I might add a few more things to cover the small blank areas but I'll probably end up leaving it as it is. I chose the green background because it reminded me of growing things. Continuing growth is something I aspire to.

This little girl appealed to me immediately. The words below are a "found poem" of sorts (words below). Gratitude, hope, and grace are such key words for me. In the beginning, the rabbi sang the Hallelujah song. He said some of the words were a little bit different. What I remember was "as long as there is breath, hallelujah." That phrase, that intention, pierced my heart. I cried a bit. Things felt very sacred at that moment. Then we sat down to work. Or play.

We sent our critics (and I also sent my gremlins and judges) over to sit in the congregational chairs while we worked. They weren't allowed into our process. I tried to leave them there but I think one or two of them slipped back into my car when I opened the door to put my board in the back seat.

This is another favorite part of my board. I'm so clever. The "She embraced her story" first said "We embraced her story." I search for the s, h, and e to glue over the "we."
Here are other pieces that spoke to me. "You are not alone" is an old message. I've felt that so much in the last several years. Then there is the small green message, "I am not my diagnosis." No one there knew any of my history. I told no one any of my story. It just didn't seem necessary. That was sort of freeing in an odd way.

This is not a great photo because of the glare, but what I love about it is that phrase, "Just try and kill this." It was an article about growing plants and I've recently become interested again in nurturing house plants. As I've said before, in this period of my life, there is something hopeful about growing things. And with some of the things in this period of my life, I've had to reach down and find that tenacious spirit, the tiny bit sassy spirit that secretly whispers, "just try and kill this." It's not always easy. But always, as long as there is breath...hallelujah.

And finally, this quote from Agatha Christie? Amen, and amen! And hallelujah!

"It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy." This kind of adventure (artist's date?) makes me happy (ba-da-boom, Project Thoughtful Thursday, week two response).

Words in the found poem:

with gratitude and devotion
hope and grace
dream philosophy: live with optimism, renew with hope
create expressions of love
a quest

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week Two

(Apparently it's my season to ramble. Forgive me. I'll find my way eventually.)

Whoo hoo! Two weeks! I have a streak going!

I have my stack of cards and I've decided I'm not going to judge any card I choose, and I'm always going to go with the first one I pick. Also, some will be less legible than others. This is one of the less legible ones.

It's a quote from Lucille Ball, "It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy."

I'm a bit of a weirdo. Many times I have to first figure what does not make me happy, and then move on from there. In my current planner I have a list of "Small Things I Enjoy Doing (Calming, Diversionary, Self-Care Things)." Sometimes I look at the list for ideas on something to do if I'm restless or in a negative spiral. Other times the list serves as a reminder that joy can be found in small things. It's an intentional way to save me from too much self-pity, among other things.

So, there's the thought. Do you know the things that make you happy? Maybe later in the week, I'll post a list of things that make me happy. Then again, maybe not.

One thing that makes me happy is taking photos with my phone and manipulating them with various apps. I also like going out with my big camera. It's been a while since I've done that.

My feet are always with me. I take photos of them quite often.

It feels like it's been a while since I've had my own words to put on a photo. I don't know why. Maybe the words will return eventually.

I did a kind of listening meditation this afternoon, naming (in my head) various sounds I heard--

the humming of the air conditioner
the clearing of a throat
my right ankle creaking as I walked
my left ankle answering my right ankle
someone coughed, loudly
paper shuffled
the noise of weight being shifted in a desk

And then I named (in my head) various textures in the room--

heavy denim
silky athletic shorts
cool tile floor
scratchy tweed of the carpet
the tight sheen of yoga pants with a little too much booty in them
smooth table tops
rough brick
wiry hair
prickly stubble of a beard
plain flannel

The words and phrases conjure up images. 
I don't know why the images are not conjuring up words.

 Maybe I just need to dig a little deeper.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Gobsmacked by Grief, Again

"Love can only be found through the act of loving."
Paulo Coelho
(I could send a letter to you. But how would I know it had arrived?)

I’d lost, and then found, my planner from last year. I was going through it, just remembering things, and I came across this piece of a quote, “…the intelligence to tell a disappointment from a disaster.” I need more of that “intelligence” (I would call it wisdom). The sentence was in a book called Kayak Morning, written by a father after his daughter’s death. Kayaking in the morning was one of the ways he coped with his grief.

I couldn’t remember if the daughter’s death was sudden and unexpected or due to an illness, and expected. It makes no difference, either way it is hard and you are never prepared.

But here, in my son’s birthday month, I thought about when I was pregnant with him. I was put on bed rest. I think it was somewhere in the middle of July. I was having small contractions and they monitored them from home, from my bed. I questioned the idea that I was having contractions so soon. The nurse laughed and said, “Yes, you can call yourself in labor.” And we joked about the record setting length of my labor. There was nothing for me to do but lie in bed and rest, waiting and hoping I’d not give birth too soon.

And then, because of my wondering about whether the author’s daughter died suddenly, I thought of my son’s death. On the surface, one might say it was a sudden death, or unexpected death. But because of his illness, his dying was like my birthing him—it was an extended (and sometimes scary) process. In the joy, those trials are forgotten. But today, in my sorrow, I remember.

And that's how grief is. You're just bopping along, minding your own business and bam, you're in another space and time, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing, and always, longing for presence, for touch, for one more conversation, just a tiny moment longer, please.

(Could we just sit together a minute, one more time?)

(It is his birthday month, this year will make 5 years, one of his friends posted something on Facebook about thinking of him and the tears falling as she worked, my youngest daughter and I dreamed of him on the same night. This is grief: the memories and tears flow, they mix and mingle with the rest of my life's current. The grief does not consume me. It does add a wash of color here and there, changing the landscape of my life, like the seasons of nature change the landscape of the earth.)

 (If I could find the entrance to get to you, would I enter? 
Truth is, you are not gone. I stand on this shaky ground holding you in my heart.)

(My thoughts on the "You Are Loved" card.)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week One

For any of you who thought you might like to play along with a weekly writing project, I think I have a plan on how I'm going to use the cards in my inspiration deck. I'm calling the project Thoughtful Thursday. I plan to pull a card from the deck on Thursday and post a picture of the card to my blog. I may write something about the card at that time or I may just post a photo of the card and let it go at that. The cards themselves are not works of art. They are just the vehicles that carry the reminders of things I want to remember, things I want to do and/or be (or aspire to). I may or may not come back and share my own writing about the card.

The project may evolve some through time. But I hope to follow through and honor this as a year long commitment. I'll create a tag for the project so the posts can all be easily found.

This morning I unceremoniously shuffled the deck and drew out this card; "You are loved."