my . artist run website

And now, a poem for the Artist Warriors

 

Title: Good to know

 

Wandering is part of the artist’s life

And so too is sometimes being lost.

              Knowing this doesn’t make it easier to feel lost.

              It’s just good to know.

It’s only in the desert where

The miracle of mirages happen.

              Remembering this doesn’t make dry times easier.

              It’s just good to know.

The deepest holes in the earth

Reveal our most precious gems.

              Realizing this doesn’t make the digging easier.

              It’s just good to know.

Warriors are born in wars, where

Bonds between humans are broken or forged.

              Seeing this doesn’t make fighting battles easier.

              It’s just good to know.

And it is in wandering lost that one finds

The road never before known to human-kind.

              Believing this doesn’t make life easier.

              It’s just good to know.





I was talking with some friends about the current prayer flag I am working on and about a post on FB. The wording of just what it is that I do came up and so I clarified that I "free-style machine stitch" the flags on my sewing machine. There was some question as to whether I used an embroidery machine. Nope. It's a simple little machine. Then one of the women showed us some of her quilts and the question came up asking whether she had quilted them. She answered, "no, I don't have a free-style stitching machine." I let it go.

 

I feel compelled however to clear this up more publicly because I get these comments and questions alot about what kind of fabulous machine allows me to "paint with thread." Here it is, I use the simple sewing machine shown in the photo above. It only has straight and a few zigzag options for seams and hems. That's all. 

 

Every sewing machine has the option to free-style stitch. All you have to do is lower the feeder feet (so you move the fabric through yourself) and attach a darning foot which allows more flexibility in movement. It cost $200 fifteen years ago. Now you know my secret.

 


 

I don't know if I blogged about this before. I don't think so, so here I go.

 

Over 20 years ago, it became apparent to me that at the end of a year, some word or idea would seem to be recurring. I took it at that time and since to mean that this was to be somehow incorporated into the upcoming year as some sort or other “theme” to my life. I wish I’d kept a clear list of all the themes throughout the years. It may have enlightened me a bit as I look back. But, that didn’t happen. I DO recall the first theme was “Anya.” 2016 was the year of “Anya.”

 

These themes are not all fun and pretty. 2016 was the year I separated from my first husband, cut off all contact with birth family members (for almost two years) and started a relationship with an abusive man. But it also was the year I learned how to rock climb and began mountaineering training, got over (for the most part) my fear of heights and spiders (I discovered they were both related to loss of control, something rock climbing helped me process), began an apprenticeship in mannequin restoration, and found I could be a single mom

 

Somewhere in the decades, “Exuberance,” showed up. That was a wild year, I can tell you that. In short, every word/theme has blessings and challenges. Like most all of life. Last year was the year of “Flying.” I’ve never had so many opportunities or resources to travel as last year. So many gifts in that, and many challenges. The year my Beloved left this world, the theme had been “Prosperity.” That word downloaded in my brain one day before he disappeared for three weeks. It was a challenging theme for a challenging year. During that year however, I also was presented with my first gallery show dates. I found a painting and life mentor among other blessings amid heartbreak. I also first learned to love fiercely tenderly that year and with open hands.

 

So, how does it work for me? Well, here’s the usual scenario: come December, I tend to feel reflective in gratitude about the year. Noting what all played out and where the theme of that year took me. I thank God, the Universe and Everything for the challenges and lessons learned as well as the more easily identifiable blessings. Then I pray with open hands, mind and heart asking for a theme for the coming year. Sometime during the month of December, a word begins showing up and downloading in my brain from time to time. Eventually I notice and sense that this is “the word.”

 

When “the word,” downloads, generally there are two responses. An initial relief that trust in God, the Universe and Everything really does work, again. And the second is “REALLY?” and “Are YOU SURE? ‘Cause, I can’t see how …” Basically, I wrestle with the gift. In the end, invariably, I am certain God the Universe and Everything must have a good laugh over my seeming need to question the sense in whatever word was chosen. But invariably I come to my senses and acquiesce to the Divine powers that be. Then I wait and mostly begin moving forward, leaning into where this new word takes me.

 

So, this year’s word, which has actually been knocking at my consciousness’ door for about 6 months and finally it got in, is “Writing.” Ta da! Here we are and here we go…!


I have three beautiful sisters, all younger than me. The youngest happens to be one of the best stained glass painters in the U.S. This, and she also dresses fabulously, mostly from thrift and vintage shops. I recently had the joy of traveling with her (and my mom) to Barcelona and throughout Italy. In that experience, I was challenged to the point of learning some wonderful lessons. The one coming to mind today is from something my sister said, "Every day is an event!" She said this when we were talking about how often she changes clothes in any given day and how impressed I was and am that I too am now unafraid of dressing as fabulously (or outrageously) or plainly as I like, depending all on just one thing: me.  

 

So, "the Holidays" are upon us, and for some, they do infact feel heaped upon our shoulders. Whether memories of past traumas -- or present stressors or emotions or trauma, "The Holidays" can be very challenging. But I think of my own trauma around this time (today is a very important anniversary of a sad sad day that changed everything for my little family) and realize, really, it's like any other day. The fact of "The Holidays," really only changes things if I put different expectations on these days than any other -- other people's expectations, cultural, societal, extended family expectations, Halmark, Irving Berlin's expectations... If I find the quiet place in me that deals with anniversaries of traumas and events all throughout the year (as anyone who's loved one ended their life does), I see that this time, this day is indeed an event equal to them all. 

 

It takes the swollenness out of "The Holidays," for me to think about it this way. Today I just walk through it as I do every day. And if it feels right to put on a snappy outfit and shock our small community, I might do that. Or I may just want to spend the day wrapped in the snuggly coat Mike bought me on our last hiking trip to Central Oregon. Losing him and our life as it was, continues to feel heavy every day, "The Holidays" or not. Everyday is an Event. But I do have a choice about how I will dress myself for the occasion. Metaphorically as well as literally. Just like every other day. 

 

  




I love this photo. It is of the professional art installer putting up the set of seven flags: "A Lifetime." I love it because Love is first, it is centered and it is balanced (level). Below is the entire set installed. In the near future it will have plexiglass behind and infront of it but they wanted to install before the grand opening of the new entrance to the Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Portland, OR.





Sharp intake of breath.....

 

I am editing the site....

 

heavy sigh....

 

moving forward....

 

Holy cow, I need to be blogging more. So much happens. Yikes. Well, never to late to start or restart a good habit, I guess. Blogs are about living in the moment and reporting those moments. So, for this moment, life is revolving around saying "yes" to the universe in terms of my art. I made a request this morning for some legal help with licensing. I am updating and will be uploading more recent prayer flags. And, of course, revisiting the blog.

 

"The Holidays" of course are looming. So is the third anniversary of my husband's manic episode that took him on a secret bus trip across the country to try to save our daughter and others from a catastrophy he believed was eminent based on, well, blogs, and sites of people who focus on fear and distrust. He got swept up in it. And so, did our life together.

Solstice is a return to the light but for our family in 2014, it was the last day we were together as a family. Lots of people have heavy stories about "The Holidays," there's a snippet of mine. 

 

So, I work to focus on the positive, the present moment, the light... Currently, when I am not working on the website, I am working on a commissioned prayer flag. I just finished a commission that took me into dark corners of my being as it challenged me to live the intention "Luminous, Sovereign, Present," during the anniversary month of my husband's last days and death from this place two years ago. It was a powerful experience that resulted in much reflection, reverence, and growing pains. ALL very much GIFT. I will upload an image of that one before the day is out. 


Speaking with my sister this morning, I found myself describing my latest prayer flag as “incredibly challenging.” She didn’t even breath, I swear it. “Good!” she exclaimed, “that’s great! It means you’re growing!”

 

How often I forget to be grateful for challenges because they mean I am growing. It was so good to be reminded. So often it feels like challenges just keep following one another into this life without respite. Somewhere in my psyche I still seem to think this isn’t how life is supposed to be. Something in me still thinks life flatlining means all is well and I can relax. In reality, flatlining means death. Death of the artist just as sure as it means death of the body.

 

Apparently, sometimes I also still pretend making art will someday really be all joy joy joy!. I am learning though that Joy is rather a bit more complex. Joy resides in the deep place in one’s middle where our deepest and most honest feelings originate.I think that may be part of why it is so hard to access. It can sometimes be found alongside heartbreak, disappointment, frustration, fear. Not that we feel joyful in those moments of heartbreak or fear, but I do think those more challenging deep feelings block our access to joy. It sometimes is hiding beneath them.  Some of my favorite authors are able to make use of this in powerful stories that take one to the depths of despair in one sentence and in the next have one laughing until tears form, or vice versa, take one to the height of hilarity and in the next line plummet one into utter disbelieving shock at what the human experience can bring. This to me is a super-power some writers possess. Through it they let us know the vast expanse of experiences we can hold in an instant. Through it they show us how gloriously strong and brave we are to live this life.

 

I am learning that joy, and perhaps bliss (which is closely related), coming from the middle, the center of the self is far more beautiful and perhaps truer when it flows from the midst of life as well. Joy is not the sunny vacation at the Riviera (though I’d not turn that down!) so much as it is the rippling laughter upon noticing one has put on mismatched socks or found just the right answer to a child’s earnest question. Joy is not ease of creation. Joy IS creation, grueling, challenging, fun, inspired, messy, lovely, silly, sorrowful LIFE. In a sense, one gives birth to joy. Some labors are short, some take more energy. All bring something into being which before was hidden. Joy is like this. It shows us something of life we cannot see. It allows us to express that which cannot be seen.

 

 So, Yay, today I was challenged. Today I didn’t flatline. Today was a day well lived and Joy was indeed created.

 


 

I walked along the beach today with my little dog. It was a gorgeous, if unusual, 88 degrees at the Oregon Coast today. Even the water was warm. Treasures from the sea lined the water’s edge. The beauty reached deep into me to a place where all feelings originate in the magma of my being. When some emotion or experience slices through the layers of my daily living to touch that place in me, generally there is a sense that all emotions are One, or at least are so connected as to be instantly drawn to the surface one by the other. So my marveling gratitude and joy felt walking along the beach cut a path to where loneliness and sorrow also reside and I found myself remembering how rich my life was with my husband by my side and my child running along the beach and out two dogs playfully exploring. And now we are two.

 

Experiences like this are dangerous, or at least used to be. They could plummet me instantaneously into despairing thoughts that darkened my path back to the surface of day to day living. It has taken many years and much trial and error, and hard work to come to a place of feeling that experience of joy unlocking the path to all emotions including painful ones without free-falling. Today, the beauty of the day pierced my heart then sliced down to the marrow of my being and I felt the fall, I felt despair and longing and aching regret as I looked again at my little dog ahead of me, walking purposefully, as if he thought, if he just walked far enough he’d find the rest of the pack. Then I began simply saying “thank you.” And I spoke to God the Universe and Everything about how grateful I was for those moments, those days on the beach with the love of my life, our child and those two amazing dogs, one of whom still very much needed someone to play with him in the surf.

 

This to me is joy. Joy is all of it. The beauty reminding us of the pain reminding us of the moment reminding us of the gratitude reminding us of the love. One can start anywhere in that lineup. It’s the strand of pearls. Circular. Separate and unique treasures of the human experience;  but one necklace.

 

Image of the new prayer flag, Joy, coming soon…