Wednesday, May 26, 2010

sun + mosaic = fun

I could write an entire blog entry on how relieved I am to be done with school but I don't even want to recall how burnt out I became those last couple weeks of the semester. Instead, I want to acknowledge how that burnout has stirred up some creative curiosity. I have a year's worth of art school to incorporate into my repertoire of hobbies and I have been thinking about playing around with some new mediums.

Today I decided to try my hand at mosaic. First, I went to a few websites with some good information about DIY mosaic to get a feeling for what I would need. I was thrilled that I already had everything on hand except the colored tiles. Instead of spending a small fortune on the pre-cut ones at Michael's, I went to a nearby thrift shop and bought some ceramic mugs in an assortment of colors.

One at a time, I put a cup in a zip lock bag, wrapped it with a towel and whacked the package with a hammer until the pieces were small enough for what I had in mind. It took about an hour, but I put together a nice palette for less than $5.00. If you decide to give this a try, I have a few tips to share:
  • You should place the ceramic cups on a solid, firm surface for the most uniformed piece sizes when you whack the mugs.
  • Double or triple bag your cups because in the process of breaking the ceramic, the edges cut up the bag and shards of glass spray out. These shards are sharp so wear safety glasses and make sure you sweep up well when you are done. I would avoid going barefoot in the immediate vicinity because there are bound to be really fine bits left behind.
  • Use an older towel to buffer between the hammer head and the bag. I used a nice bath towel and it is in pretty bad shape now.
Since this was my first project, I decided to put it together freestyle. I find an unplanned project is much more educational than the craziness of trying to do it "right." I really like how it turned out. Once the grout underneath dries, I'll put down another layer to fill in between the tiles. Fun, fun, fun.

The weather was perfect - 80 degrees with a gentle breeze. We barbecued salmon burgers for lunch and ate watermelon for the first time this year. While I was mosaic'ing the kids were close by painting on their easels, making mud pies and Tim tinkered in the garden. We listened to the black eyed peas, chit chatted and had a really peaceful day as a family. Love that. (Allergies. hate that. )

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

quiet changes

Geesh, I am so embarrassed that I have not blogged in so long. There are a number of reasons for this - the biggest being Facebook. It so much more convenient with it's post boxes and walls and when I write something, it speaks directly to the people I know. I also like that there is a conversation aspect to FB whereas with blogging, most people. skim and move on. Comments are not super common and you have to leave them to get them - which is another thing I have not done in a long time.

Another reason I have had Blog Silence is that I have been simplifying my life. Not as a New Years resolution or because a doctor said I would drop dead of a heart attack if I didn't make some changes, but because it felt good. One day I was playing with my kids and I thought "this is fun!" The next day I made a nice dinner and thought "how come I don't do this more often?" The following day I took a walk that turned into a jog and then I took a nap and I was delighted by the thrill of spontaneity and that I had prioritized self care over posting an item on Etsy, finishing my homework or putting in some billable hours.

These kinds of experiences came up day after day and I started to get greedy for the feeling that I was having. I could not quite put my finger on it...and then...Holy crap... I'm happy. I had let go of the guilt, anxiety and fear that had kept me going while I was sick and recovering. I did not need it anymore to accomplish the chores of my life. I was getting out of bed pain free most days and I wasn't worrying about when the next attack would be coming on. I never realized how much energy it took to be in pain.

I could have easily re-focused that energy by working harder in school, finally finishing the laundry, making more money and/or volunteering more at my kid's school but I decided to marinade in the free time a while. At first it was so uncomfortable that I thought I might have some kind of panic attack. I was overcome with unfocused anxiety but I went through it and things improved.

I started listening to music again...not in the background mind you, but sitting on the couch and listening to a CD. I stopped drinking so much caffeine and started drinking green food. It doesn't taste as good but I feel better. Most importantly, I experienced deep gratitude for the little things. A dollar in my pocket, the sound of the wind swishing through the trees, that my husband or I always say "I was just about to say that." whenever the other one makes a comment. I also realized that I do not have to continue participating in things that are uncomfortable, unsafe and/ or toxic. I am allowed to bend like a reed in the wind and remain where I stand whether it pleases others or not. I don't want to hurt anyone but I don't want to hurt me either so I'm stepping back from the nonsense that I have felt obligated to do and I now get to have Saturdays where we sit around the kitchen table and say "what do you want to do today."