Friday, October 31, 2008

Gratitude - day 1

When I am feeling frustrated, short changed, insufficient or victomized, I have a wise friend who reminds me that you can't feel self pity and gratitude at the same time. She has suggested on many, many occasions that the best way to combat feelings of resentment, jealousy, disappointment, inadequacy and sadness is to make a gratitude list. Her Rx for a "spell" of bad feelings (lasting more than a few days) is to make a gratitude list of 20 things everyday for a week. You are not to duplicate things you are grateful for, and in my practice, I try not to make a list of specific people because it prevents me from digging deep. My WASSIMA gals and I decided we were going to do a week together. Some of us were feeling low, others just liked the idea of it and I think it is a great way to go into November, which holds Thanksgiving and to officially kick off the Holiday Season. So here is Day 1:
  1. deep belly laughter that makes your cheeks hurt and heeps creeping back long after the funny has ended.
  2. To have born in a time where a woman and an African American competed for a party nomination for a Presidential election.
  3. Spell check
  4. 400 thread count sheets
  5. my education
  6. that my husband still tells me I am beautiful everyday
  7. I have my sight
  8. I was able to go trick or treating and walk to school by myself when I was a kid
  9. Digital Cameras
  10. for the roof over my head
  11. My creativity
  12. I have such a great relationship with my mother
  13. to be a parent
  14. I am teachable
  15. for all the people who have dedicated their lives to educating te public and changing the course of global warming
  16. the Television program, Lost
  17. tat most of the time I have faith that everything is going to be OK
  18. love
  19. that I am a free and a citizen of the USA
  20. I have a loving relationship with a God of my understanding
Wow, my heart is swollen with blessings. i can't wait until tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Artful Living

I'm finally up and around after being wretchedly sick for a week. I completely lost my voice and I cannot tell you how frustrated I was. How in the world do you get a 5 1/2 and 3 year old ready for school when you can't talk? Especially when your throat is sore and your body is aching. I was not in the best of spirits but, like all toil, good came from it.

Coming out of my silence and discomfort gifted me an appreciation for this very moment. I am powerless over the economy, the laundry pile that never stops growing, my newly sprouted gray hairs and the leaves that keep falling from the trees in our yard. I can do this or that to deal with these things but I do not have the power within my body to make these things be anything different than they are so why do I spend so much time feeling worried, ashamed or guilty about them? In other words, it is time to lighten up.

Planning is way over rated and is contrary to the kind of person I want to be. You can invest for your future and still end up broke. You can eat right and exercise but you are still going to get old. You can wash clothes every day and you'll still never be done. Living in the moment means that you make a CHOICE to do things that make you happy or unhappy. If they make you unhappy but need to be taken care of (we all have to file our taxes) then make the choice to change your mindset... be in charge of your perspective and get it done.

Most of all be grateful. We are all blessed - each and everyone of us. It is not our job to count OTHERS blessings, just our own. Its not a race, a contest nor are we being graded. This is life. We eat, we drink, we sleep, we breath, we go potty and everything else is human-made. It is all just a backdrop, props, dialog, feelings, perspectives, experiences, memories. I find that when I whittle my life down to the bare bones, I become one of many, a human among humans and I get my power back. My power to be happy. My power to pursue things that I love. My power to make decisions- not because I have to but because I GET to (unlike so many in other parts of the world). I see things more clearly and appreciate the beauty of my lawn covered with reds, oranges and browns. What my neighbors think about my front yard does not even enter my mind. I see my kids as playful, innocent, curious little people and I am able to explore with them instead of ordering them to stay put and worrying how their behavior reflects on me. It is when I am in this place that I feel a warmth in my heart which I believe to be a connection with God - the Universe, Buddha, whatever spirit, power or energy source you know. It is the most amazing feeling to be united with this source of love and today, I am making the conscious choice to be connected.

That being said, here is what I've been up to...

I am nearly finished with my torso. I need to make a couple of adjustments to the value transitions but I have to say that I had a fabulous time doing this and have decided to persue Fine Art rather than Graphic Design. It just happened one day - I knew that I was meant to go down that path and I feel so light and centered about it!

I finished a heap of UGRA projects so I could hand them off at the last UGRA play date which was a BLAST. Many, many thanks to Sharla for her gracious hospitality and for the incredible projects.

We made a Halloween accordian album from CD sleeves and a handmade book of 6 signatures in just a few hours. There were 6 totally fabulous atist in attendance and I soaked up all of the creative energy like a dyhydrated sponge. By the time I left I was dripping with inspiration.

I've also been busy with one of my clients albums which is turning out to be so wonderful. I'm really pleased and can't wait to show her the most recent pages. While the administrative part of our life feels daunting, we, our family is just doing great. It takes up every moment of every day but we choose to live our life that way and we are really happy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Self Exploration through Art

I know that title sounds deep but I am not referring to anything profound when I make that statement I just wanted an intriguing introduction before I went on to share what I recently discovered through my classes, projects and my creative voice.

For the past 2 weeks, we've been working on drapery which is even harder than it looks, yet it is a hypnotic experience when you get into the zone. I found myself eager to delve in, ready for the challenge but as the folds began to run in to each other I became confused and I stopped "feeling" the drawing. Always a problem solver, I decided to post stickys on each of the folds with a number so I could keep track of their flow into one another. When I finished, you could no longer see the fabric because the stickys where everywhere plus they left their own shadows which messed with my blending... ARGHHHHHH! The methodical logic that served me well writing term papers and managing business accounts was not the correct approach for this assignment. No- I had to become more invested in the fabric, the movement, the relationships between light and darkness scattered about. I had to SEE more. When I began to do this, I fell into a trance like state - it was most definitely meditative in nature. Time stood still, my hands and brain worked together to create something that my inner voice knew little about. It isn't a masterpiece by any means but guess what? I did something that I did not believe I could do and that is a priceless feeling.

My Graphic Design class has become challenging too. Last week we had to draw typeset with colored pencils in preselected fonts for a Olive Oil label we are mocking up. It is tracing right? Not as easy as it seems my friend. They expect the finished product to look like it was printed off of the computer. This taught me so much about using colored pencils in hard and soft lead. I never realized that handling these simple instruments would require so much practice.

This week we had to create 20 logo images based on 5 different concepts. This was also an incredible learning experience because we did some visual brainstorming which caused me to use that same part of my brain that I used when I did my drapery. It is a wonderful feeling to spend access my right brain for long, uninterrupted periods of time while simultaneously using my left brain to remain focused on my concept. Rarely do my right and left brain spend time together in this way. I was really pleased with my work - obviously, some are better than others, but I gave the assignment everything I had. Last night as I looked over the finished work I felt like a true artist for the first time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life in the fast lane

Boy, September really shifted our gears from 4th to 5th. We have been BUSY! I am in awe of parents around the world and all they have to juggle to get kids to school, keep up a home and family schedule plus workHow in the world do they find time for social activities, nurturing their marriage, exercise and any sort of hobby or passion? Of course I said the same sort of thing after the birth of my first child and again when we had a second, and several more times since then and I know it will all come together in due time (about 5 minutes before the next big change :D)

So here is life in a nutshell - I'm juggling 3 clients right now which is awesome but challenging and totally necessary since Tim has not worked but a couple weeks since July. This housing market crisis effects the economy beyond the banking industry and realtor commissions. He is an electrician and there just isn't anything being built. The Union hall is filled with guys trying to figure out how they are going to put food on the table for their families. It is scary stuff and I have to admit I feel utterly powerless. I try to focus on the good stuff though - like the fact that Tim has been able to take on so many of the house manager responsibilities I usually do and he's been taking and picking up the kids from school. He has taken a huge chunk of the life stuff off of my plate which has given me time to provide my clients with great work and allowed me to focus on school which is sooooooooooooo much more challenging than I imagined. I hate cubes.

I am an "A" student. I just am. I get A's because I work hard and have good study habits but in Art those traits aren't enough. So I'm into my 4th week and I've gotten marks that were NOT A's. And on assignments that I really worked hard on. I mean over the top, totally invested kind of work.

So I'm learning something about humility from a lot of different areas of my life and I feel clumsy.

On a lighter note, this month has been filled with celebration, expanded horizons and artful fellowship. A few weeks ago we clebrated Eva's third bithday with a fairy princess tea party. It was a magical day - one I'll treasure and I'm hoping she'll be able to cherish some of the memories too.

I also went on a women's retreat to a native american sweat lodge which was remarkable. My dear friend Michele treated me to this incredible experience and I am so very grateful to her. While I don't subscribe to all of the beliefs and practices, I found many gifts that I really needed at this time in my life. The most amazing was meeting my spirit guide - a big black bear who does not have the answers nor does he lead me one way or another. He is just with me and I take comfort in that image. I was with two of my best friends and the other attendees were also remarkable women so I was nestled in a safe and loveing environment, away from my responsibilities allowing me to get reaquainted with my authentic self. It can often get masked by expectations, obligations and other's needs, but without my connection to my auhentic self I rob my children of the gifts I can offer them, I rob those close to me of what God intended me to share with them, I rob my art of my true voice and most of all, I cheat myself from having the experiences I am meant to have.

I also had a WONDERFUL playdate with several of my fellow UgRA-ites.

I hostessed the soire at my house and we worked on a project called "my perfect day" it was a delight to spend time in the studio with these amazingly accomplished artists and to explore what a perfect day REALLY looks like. The project was a bit "ambitious" for an afternoon but we all agreed that working on it from home would be a pleasant chore.
I am desperately trying to find a way to get to Donna Downey's Inspired next May. There is absolutely no money for this (not even the payment plan) but I cannot image not going so I am putting it out there in the Universe hoping that the airfare to N. Carolina, the hotel costs and the workshop fees won't be an obsticle. Please let me know if you have any ideas on how i make this happen. Last April's workshop changed me as an artist and a person. It is a remarkable program and I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO ATTEND! :D - Any ideas? Please send them my way.

That is all for now my friends! Wishing you well on your journey.