The First Day

 

A quick post just to pat myself on the back for following through. I finished the first step in a project last night. I would have posted it then, but my couch and I have a very intimate relationship. It lulls me to sleep if I sit for more than a few minutes in the evening. My first piece for the year. A little something for Valentine’s Day. There is more to do, but I think this is a pretty good start. Accomplished with a little home-baked clay, my fingers, a butter knife, and a toothpick. More to come later today…IMG_2511

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A Year Of Possibilities

Happy New Year one and all. Another new year, another new beginning. Another chance to hope for better things ahead. We started out 2014 with Dan still unemployed. We started out worried, yet hopeful, that somehow, someway, better things lay ahead. Not everything came out as well as we hoped. A job that has definitely had its ups and downs, but employment none the less. We started 2014 with no idea of changes coming our way, including our daughter and son-in-law moving to the other side of the country, and our son moving out. To say that 2014 left me adrift is barely hitting the nail on the head. With Jessica and John so far away, Brian gone from home, and from enjoying Dan’s company every day for sixteen months to barely seeing him at all (thanks to a one hundred and ninety-four mile round trip daily commute), I’ve been feeling lost. I miss the kids. I miss Dan, but more so appreciate every day what he does for us. I had hoped by now to be moved somewhere closer, and to be gainfully employed myself, but as we all know life can be the ultimate magic act, taking hopes and dreams and making them disappear right in front of our eyes. I am no longer sure of my place in the world. One thing I have learned in this life of mine is that only I am responsible for my happiness. I think I forgot that for a while. December kept me busy in fairyland, but while my hands were working, my mind was thinking. I don’t want a job. No, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work, but rather that I don’t want to work for someone else. I have all the employment that I need in my hands.  I need to begin filling my time, as well as my bank account, with what I do best. The amount of creative things that I can do is quite impressive (if I do say so myself!) So 2015 I dare you to keep me down. Life, I’m old enough to know the secret to a lot of magic acts, I’ve looked behind the curtain. No disappearing acts this year.

Just before I sat down to write I began my first project for the year. A few months ago I stated that I wanted to start a new 365 project, then my engine stalled (I think it was all the glitter), fairies were occupying my every waking moment. New year, and the holiday rush behind me, there are NO more excuses. Commence the creating. Whether I make it back later tonight with something to show remains to be seen, but I will be working, I will no longer be drifting, I will be anchoring myself to my life’s salvation, art. Here’s to a good year ripe with hope and possibility, and making my life better for myself. If things go as planned you might all just be hearing from me a little more often, and in the process have some beautiful work to look at.

Just in case…one of my photographs from here in the hills of Temecula.

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What It’s Really All About

Merry Christmas to all!

Now that the frantic shopping has ceased (at least for a day), I thought it was time to reflect on what this holiday truly means. I have a very simple story to tell that will say it all…

As you may or may not know, this blog began as a way to force me to focus on my art for a year. I had spent a lifetime putting the needs of everyone in my life ahead of my creative dreams. It worked for a while, but then life thumbed it’s nose at me and the blog became more about my life’s journey. I have however in the process produced a lot of art, and some that I am quite proud of. I hope to return to its original purpose soon. For today I am posting art, it just isn’t mine.

I have never posted the work of another artist on my blog, until today. Last week my dear friend Theresa asked me to pick her daughter up from school. Emily is six. We had a great time together, we made matching poinsettia bracelets out of felt for both Emily and her mom, and with me handling the hot glue gun, and Emily choosing the silk flowers, we created an angel for her bedroom Christmas tree. We weren’t quite finished when Theresa came to get her. As we continued to work on Emily’s angel Theresa and I talked about the holiday. I mentioned that I wasn’t quite in the spirit, missing Jessica, Dan’s long commute keeping his days away from me quite long, and that because we had packed to move I couldn’t find half of my Christmas decorations. Among them my nativity set. Emily left the room and came back bearing a shoebox she had come out of school with. “You can have this.” I opened the shoe box to find a nativity scene she had created in school. I said, “Oh Honey thank you, but I’m sure your Mommy wants this.” Theresa said, “No, she wants you to have it.” I said that I would put it out every year. Emily cleverly pointed out that it was only paper and might not last. I said not to worry. Amongst the many, many art supplies that I own is a small machine to do lamination. This morning I laminated my nativity scene. I will keep it forever and display it with a warm spot in my heart. That lovely gesture from Emily is what Christmas is all about. No UPC code, no brand-name tag, no fancy wrap. A simple white shoe box filled with love from the heart of a six-year-old. You can’t get a better present than that. I bring you my first guest artist, Emily Navis. Have a Happy Holiday.

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Validation

I didn’t expect to be writing again so soon, but as always I write when I am moved to by the universe, recent events, or sometimes because I need to blow off steam. This morning I write for a different reason. For many years when people asked what I did I would say, “I am an artist”, while the entire time in my heart and mind I felt like a fraud. Last year in one of the earlier posts of this blog I wrote about a woman I met who in a way challenged me on calling myself an artist. She asked if I had sold any work, the implication being that if I hadn’t, that somehow I couldn’t claim the title. I have also heard of others being called “professional artist”, again the implication being that unless one is earning a living by selling their work, they are somehow an amateur. I was angry about it for some time, that is until I came to understand that the proclamations of the judgmental crowd are merely words of jealousy cloaked in self-righteousness. Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Wood, O’Keeffe, names sound familiar? There was a time in each of their lives when they didn’t earn a living as artists, they still painted, they were still artists, they just weren’t selling any work yet. I guess if you read my blog you know by now that judgement is a sore issue with me.  I honestly didn’t intend to head down the rabbit hole of defending myself to these people, but I feel my temper rising when I think about being judged as an artist by people who can’t or don’t create…..breathe…breathe…

OK, so now the real reason for my writing this morning. Last night I mentioned my work on etsy. Again, there are not as of yet many offerings in the way of prints of my work. It is at the moment more crafty kind of stuff. One of the things I have listed is a box. It is called the “Key To My Heart” box. It’s a small box made of paper, not quite cardboard, though it is sturdy, and inside this box I made an accordion of paper sentiments about love. A few days ago a young man on the other side of the world reached out to me. He said that he couldn’t think of a better way to express his love for his girl than with my piece of art. We have exchanged a few messages back and forth. My offer on etsy is to create a personalized version for the recipient, including quotes, verses, song lyrics, etc., anything the purchaser wants included. Last night he told me that the reason he wants this box is to use it as a means to propose on New Year’s Eve. There are no words to describe what this means to me as an artist. That someone is so touched by what I have created means everything to me. I have had to deal with more than a few detractors in my life. People who are not supportive of what I do, and have no respect for my talent. On the other side of the world there is a young man who is anxious, excited, and thrilled in anticipation of receiving my work in the mail so that he can give it to his love. The last page will be his proposal. I am hoping she is as moved by it as I am in creating it for her. When you can create something through words, through music, through painting, photography, or even craft that causes someone else to feel, you are successful, you are an artist. I need no more validation than that. I may not be Picasso or O’Keeffe, but I am no less an artist than they are.

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An Update From The World Of Uncertainty

It’s been one week since I pledged to start another year-long art project. You may be wondering where all the art is. Some of it is in a box, actually boxes, on their merry way to New York in time (hopefully) for my daughter’s birthday on Tuesday. It’s a big one for her, and for me as well. She is turning thirty. (Sorry Jessica, I know you look seventeen, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.) It has only been a week since I turned fifty-five. It honestly didn’t bother me a bit. What does horrify me is the fact that I am about to be the mother of a thirty year old, because I’m not that old! It will also be a first for us. Jessica and her husband, John, moved to New York in June. It will be the first time in thirty years that I won’t be with my daughter for her birthday. That’s a tough one, so I did what any completely insane mother would do…I sent her thirty presents. Some are homemade (the previously mentioned art), some are silly, some are meant to share with John. I was broke when his birthday came around in August, so I wanted to wish him a little belated birthday. I can’t share and ruin the surprise, so….Tuesday.

I am also at the beginning of the holiday show season. You know what that means, if you come in my house you are guaranteed to leave looking like you’ve just left Tinkerbell’s house. Glitter, glitter everywhere! Which brings me to another subject, my house. We had our fifth week of open house. I am attempting to keep the glitter at bay by working outside, but glitter is the infectious disease of craft supplies. It spreads despite all containment efforts. Every time I walked in the house today there was a sparkly dusting in my wake. There isn’t too much I can do, I need to work, I have a show next week. As for the house…it’s still ours. We actually thought that we had some people interested yesterday, but it failed to materialize. I find myself waffling between being happy that I’m not leaving my house yet, and anxious to move on. It feels like our life is on hold for the moment. I keep waiting for things to get better, or at least different. Believe me I know there are so many people who are far worse off, I am grateful for what we have, but I am a bit of a control freak. We are now into seventeen months of drastic life changing circumstances, I think any normal human being would begin to become a bit frustrated. I long for normalcy, or whatever “normal” will turn out to be once the dust has settled.

As for tonight, I am tired, discouraged, impatient, and a little anxious. I am also hopeful. I had a moment a few days ago when a feeling that everything would be OK came over me. I have no explanation, I only know it changed my mood and mindset tremendously, and for that I am particularly grateful.

It rained Friday and for a bit on Saturday. We need it here in Southern California, but it gave us much more than water, we had incredible clouds yesterday, and spectacular color. Of course I had to capture some of it. I have no paintings or drawings to share yet, but a little bit of God’s handiwork instead. Plenty of inspiration for painting, and more than enough beauty to make me happy just to be alive.911 crop

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Past Midnight

Happy Birthday to me today. Dan and I have a longtime affectionate argument about age. He is four months older than me, or one hundred twenty-five days (not that I’m counting). He will refer to us in age in some conversation, and I will immediately remind him that while he was out on the town (at four months old), I was still in utero awaiting my introduction to the world. Yesterday he said I was fifty-five, I said, “After midnight.” It’s past midnight, actually its five-thirty in the morning so it is official. I’m sort of old. I say sort of because apparently the rest of the world doesn’t know me. I am not in the least bit “old”, I may have some wrinkles, and definitely fifty-five year old knees, but I’d say in attitude I’m somewhere around thirty-five. I’ve been getting a lot of AARP stuff for years now, but my favorite mail is from funeral homes. It goes something like, “Hey now! You’re getting closer to death by the second. Don’t leave your loved ones in a lurch. Plan ahead.” I know I’m no spring chicken, but I’d like to think I have another decade or two. For those of you who are of the gloom and doom persuasion, yes, I realize I could get hit by a car tomorrow, I’m just not planning on it. I also received a reminder a few weeks back from our car insurance company. They wanted to let me know that life insurance rates would go sky-high as soon as I turned fifty-five. I called yesterday…it wasn’t midnight yet. That process was interesting. They are very happy to have you call them, they are very happy to sell you insurance, but then begins the inquisition. A questionnaire about my medical history. It seems that they need to know everything that has ever occurred to me medically. Now at fifty-four (remember it wasn’t midnight yet) a lot, and I mean a lot of stuff has gone on in my life. What I really enjoyed was the section where they asked if I’d ever had any X-rays. Seriously? Who hasn’t, oh the Amish (not to offend, but I’m sure they don’t read my blog anyway). I started filling out the X-ray section, which includes normal X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasounds, and so on. I have had two children, had a miscarriage, fallen down a flight of stairs on my hip, six knee surgeries, broken fingers, and…I could bore you with more medical details, because I am after all old now, and isn’t that what old people do? I won’t, I will remember my thirty-five year old mindset and stop. I called them back. I spoke to a very nice young man. Do they really need every X-ray ever? He was stumped. I have to call back Monday (I guess the inquisitor gets weekends off). I get it if they want to rule out something that will cost them, but if they insure me it will cost them in the end anyway, it’s not like I’m immortal or something. (Of course if my plan to rule the universe doesn’t happen soon I may have to figure that one out.) Rule out the biggies for the moment, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, but why make me relive some rather painful personal moments? Does it really matter that I was anemic when I was nineteen? Or that I was depressed for a while after my mom died, wouldn’t they be too? That I miscarried? What does any of that have to do with life insurance? Who needs to read the gory details of my five decades? Does the fact that I broke my index finger mean I could push the wrong elevator button and plunge to my death? Or will they use the fact that I snapped my ACL hanging a kitchen curtain as a reason for non-payment when I fall off a counter to my demise in my new home hanging new curtains?  I feel like the odds are stacked against me before I even begin. Maybe I should have signed up for life insurance at birth before my total lack of coordination was evident. I guess if I die too soon they will have to pay too soon. I have to say, I’m with them. I hope they make lots of money from me, but meanwhile a little privacy please. (Happy Sunday to all of you, but I feel better now. I needed to rant to someone.)

On to what really matters…

I’ve created a new ad for today’s post. It looks like this:

MISSING: ARTWORK

Last seen several months ago on this blog

Wearing coats of many colors.

Mediums of all kinds.

Subject matter varied upon mood of the artist.

If you have any information please contact the artist and ask “What’s up?”

I started this blog to force myself to create every day. Along the way the original purpose was usurped by my life heading off the deep end. I need to find it again. My art is my life’s saving grace. It has always been the thing that got me through. It hasn’t been a good year and a half for Dan and I. We are grateful for what we have. We talked last night about how close we came to losing everything. We didn’t, and we are stronger than ever, but I have been letting a very important part of myself slip away once again. I need to create. It is as important in my life as food is. I need that artistic nourishment, and I have been living on crumbs. My birthday, start of a new year in my life, an arbitrary benchmark of time passing, but today it becomes my new “start line”, my new 365 day project. Today I will be spending the day with Dan, so I will post a piece from last year. New work begins tomorrow.

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Words Or Pictures?

I had for the first time in a very long time a lazy afternoon. I’m a fidget-er, one who cannot sit still. Like some who talk incessantly with the need to fill the air with words, I am one that needs to fill every moment with activity…and often in total silence. On my lazy afternoon (which was actually forced on me by a medication induced upset stomach), I watched a movie, Words and Pictures, with Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen.  The movie wasn’t a box office success, and after watching I read some on-line reviews which weren’t stellar, but I loved it. Yes it was cliché, but aren’t all romantic comedies clichéd? Aside from the two very appealing leads, it was the subject matter that grabbed me. A battle between two teachers, the Honors English and the Honors Art teachers about what is worth more, words? Or is it pictures? As an artist/writer I have strong opinions on both sides. If I were asked to make a list of my favorite things, art and words would be part of the list, they would actually be at the top of the list. I know such lists would often cause people to choose something more tangible, and although art can be something we hold and touch, it can also be something quite transitory. Art is all around us, and while exquisitely captured on canvas, or on film through movies and photography, I need only look out my window to see art that I will never be skilled enough to reproduce. Words? Yes they can be written down and leather-bound, or recorded as I do in this moment, but think of the fleeting words you hang onto in your life. The first “I love you.” The first word spoken by your child. The last conversation with a loved one. I loved this movie because it opened an internal dialog in my own mind. To choose between two things I love so much would be difficult. I’m sure at some point we have all thought about those who have either been born with, or lost one of their senses. We might wonder if we had to choose which it would be. To never see again? To never look into the eyes of someone you love? To lose your hearing? To loose the sound of laughter, the rustling of the leaves, or a cry for help? For me the ability to express myself in words is like breathing. By the same token the ability to produce art allows my soul to breathe. This movie inspired two things in me. I opened up a new canvas two days ago and have yet to put a stroke on it. Now I feel like painting. I was inspired by the work in the movie to want to produce something. And here I sit at the keyboard the words bursting out of me as the credits rolled. I don’t care about whether someone thought the plot was silly, or the actors had no chemistry, I would watch it over and over if it made me feel what I feel right now. So, I choose not to choose. I do however wish to ask what everyone else thinks. Words? Pictures? Where do you stand? The decision is yours.

Mixed Emotions

The realtors have come and gone. No, the house isn’t sold. We are bravely, or stupidly (depending on your opinion and occupation), selling it ourselves. Still have yet to figure out its worth, somewhere around invaluable if you ask me. I spent the day photographing every room. I’m not ready to put up pictures just yet. My critical eye found something in every shot that needs to be attended to, but it really does look beautiful. We did take the time to have it appraised. All I can say is that by the time the appraiser left I was beaming. Self confidence is not my forte. I have been worrying and fussing for months now, and I am happy to say that someone actually noticed. He still hasn’t given us a price, he said something along the lines of our house belonging in an art museum, and therefore a little difficult to comp. That’s OK with me. I have spent years creating this home, surrounding us with things we love, adding artistic touches throughout. The realtors quite frankly didn’t get it, the appraiser did. He walked through our home and oohed and aah-ed at every detail. He told me that I should decide what I wanted to keep because he is sure that most everyone that walks through the door will want it all. The final compliment came when in lieu of payment for his services he said he would take a piece of art. Talk about an ego boost. So I am happy that someone appreciates what I do, but so very sad to be leaving it. It so happens that my Dad’s house will be for sale soon as well, and it is the last place my Mom lived, so for me this loss is doubled. Not only will I leave my home, but there is a good chance that I won’t get to say goodbye to my parent’s home at all. But it is life, and so as I sat thinking about it all the other morning I wrote a few words. I have put them with a photo of Dad’s house, as I have yet to take a decent exterior shot of my own.

 

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Regaining Control

I’m usually pretty good at coming up with a title for a post. They come to me quickly, and I usually never second guess my choice. Today is a little different. I wasn’t sure whether to title this one as I did, “Regaining Control”, or my other thought which was  “Misconceptions.” What I need to get off my chest has a little to do with both. As I’ve pointed out before, this blog began as a way to force myself to work on my art. The unfortunate situation that we found ourselves in changed that. I still plan to return to my work, but there isn’t much time for creativity these days unless it is in the form of packing boxes. This blog instead has become a catharsis for my emotional well-being in a time of struggle. Pent up emotions do no one any good. I am a very “in your face” kind of person. I don’t believe in hiding the truth, I feel better when I am honest with people. That doesn’t mean that I go around insulting people by telling them something negative about themselves, some things are best left unsaid, but when I am upset with someone I don’t let it fester. When you don’t release your emotions I think little things tend to build into great big things, and then all kinds of unnecessary drama can ensue. I don’t know most of the people who read what I write, and that works for me. It just feels good to let it out, and if by chance someone else relates and it helps them in some way, that is amazing. I also don’t write looking for pity, which believe it or not I kind of think some people who I do know believe that I am. I’m a writer as well as an artist, so I am doing what a writer does, I write. I started keeping a journal at twelve, of course back then we didn’t have fancy names like “journal”, it was a diary. You know the kind where you talk about which boy is cute and how you hate your parents that day? I actually kept that diary for almost seven years. I’ve written a lot over the years. I’ve never attempted to have anything published, that lovely “you are good enough” voice that resides in my brain held me back. Short stories, poetry, and a few children’s books are all in a box. Someday I may let them out, but for now I write here. So with that rather long introduction I will begin.

I’ve had several people tell me to focus on the good in my life. Things such as, “Count your blessings.”,  “Look at all the love and kindness you’ve received.”,  “Stop focusing on the negative.” …and so on. The implication of course being that I spend my life in a complete state of “woe is me.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I guess I’ll address misconceptions first. I am grateful, I do count my blessings, I don’t always focus on the negative, and so on… This blog became a way to vent emotion. My lovely husband was struggling in his own way with his identity as the man of the house, the bread-winner, the guy who took care of everything. Did he need to be burdened with my worry wart ways? The answer is of course not. Venting here allowed me to blow off some worry as well as steam. Not that Dan didn’t always know what I was feeling, but this took the edge off. When I said that I felt my prayers weren’t being answered it didn’t mean that I suddenly stopped being Catholic. Trust me when I say I sometimes envy the faith that some people have. Mine is just a little shaky at the moment. I also believe something my sister said about God giving us free will. God does help them who help themselves, it’s just tough to get it going when no one will give you a chance, because guess what? The multitudes of people who turned Dan down for a job have free will too, the free will to not give him the job. I also in my beliefs think that God is a little busy right now with Gaza, the Ebola virus, the current crisis in Iraq, and the millions of poor starving babies in the world to be worried about whether or not I get to keep my 3000 square foot home. I wouldn’t expect that kind of attention. This is where the regaining control part comes in. I’m a self admitted control freak, and my life was way out of my control, that means I turn into a “basket-case”.  This was never about losing my big house, it was about worrying that I would have no house at all. This was about watching what the situation did to the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world, Dan. It was about being scared. Loss of control is a big issue for me. It’s why I’m claustrophobic, I need the keys. The house will be on the market within a week. I’m exhausted, as is Dan, but (dare I say) we are also beginning to feel a little excited about the future. We went out last weekend to investigate potential places to move to, and quite frankly we fell in love. I won’t go into detail as of yet, but I am feeling hopeful, and just a little bit more in control. Now that there is a plan of sorts, it means that all is almost well in my world. We are helping ourselves and letting God take care of those who can’t and need Him way more than us.

Finally on this lovely Sunday morning a few words of wisdom from me.March 13 2010 079

 

Breathe

Today was another good day. I think I have resigned myself to the loss of our home. No more crying about what I can’t change. Not that the day I hand over the keys won’t be a difficult one, but I also know that it will be the first day in months that I can breathe. This home I once lavished so much love on has become an insurmountable burden. We can’t move forward or figure out our future until it is gone.

Before I begin to write about today I wanted to write about Sunday. It was a wonderful day and deserves to be remembered. Sunday’s day of rest turned into a very long day, something we hadn’t counted on. Our friend’s flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, she didn’t arrive in San Diego until after midnight. I felt for her, it was an incredibly long day of traveling. As for Dan and I, the picnic was wonderful and long overdue. Good food, good wine, and an incredible sunset. Who says my life is bad? (I know… mostly me) For awhile we managed to forget about the not so great stuff in our life and focus on the moment and each other. Then when we realized that we had four hours to kill before the flight came in, we decided to splurge and go to a movie, Begin Again. A very appropriate title for us. It was also another enjoyable two hours that took our minds off our troubles.

I need to step back a day. I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday. We were at the check out in the grocery store, I glanced over to the register next to us and saw a young family. That’s when it hit me, how much worse this could be. I realize we aren’t the only people in the world going through this, I’ve known that all along of course, but what happened on Saturday was the realization of how much worse this would be if I had kids to feed. I looked at this young couple and their kids and thought about what it would be like for them. This is a nightmare, no doubt, but it is just us, the two of us. There are no little stomachs going to bed empty. It makes you think.

Today… A really good day, another day when I’ve felt really happy for the first time in weeks. I mentioned that I was gathering art supplies for a local foster home. As I sorted through art supplies left over from my own kids days at school, I saw the little individual name tags that I painstakingly taped to each magic marker and pencil. Another epiphany.  There was a pretty good chance that the kids that I was giving the supplies to never had anyone tape their name to a pencil. This foster home is for kids who have been hurt by an adult in their life. It took awhile, but I removed every piece of tape from every pencil and marker. I want these kids to own the supplies, I don’t want them reminded of something that they may have never had. The further I got into cleaning the studio the more I wanted to give. In the end I had four boxes packed to the top, and a couple of bags. When I dropped them off the staff was thrilled. It seems they are in the midst of planning their annual art fundraiser, much of the art supplied by the kids. I had no idea, but when I left there I felt so happy, I felt like I had really done something positive. As I dig my way out of all of the stuff here at home, I’ve figured out a way to catch a breath, by making a difference in the life of a kid. I’ll be looking for more supplies to give away,  its good medicine for what ails me.

A few memories from Sunday to share…

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