my . artist run website

It's late, and I am tired, and I need to get up early tomorrow morning... to drive into Portland and have my artwork (paintings and prayer flags!) photographed!!! My niece who is a professional photographer in Minnesota took pics of some of my prayer flags last year and those are up on the website and are wonderful! But with this new studio, I am hopeful of #1 having a way to actually tie the set of 7 Himalayan Flags together for one photo and #2 I'm bringing in some paintings as well to see if I can get some nice photos since all of those on the website are still the ones taken with my iPhone.


So, I am excited and frightened... This is a HUGE step for me. AND, waiting for me to confirm an initial meeting is a social media specialist. Another HUGE step. I am DEEPLY grateful and mildly trepidatious (is that an oxymoron?). 


At this point, I believe the story I've been telling myself is basically that I can't do this. I can't handle the enormity of loved ones with recurring crisis'; let alone, stepping into my dream of getting my art launched. I have been clinically depressed twice in my life. The last time was over 20 years ago; but before that, I spent a lot of years teetering on the verge of or fully embodying the pit of depression. My story over the past couple of tumultuous months has been one of Fear, that I must remain vigilant or I may slide eventually back into depression. That somehow I will eventually lose myself. Yet it was the Fear itself that blocked me from staying fully connected, fully aware of my own strength.


Tonight I told a friend I am excited and scared about tomorrow's photo shoot. "Why, what are you afraid of?" he asked. I paused, "Well, it's all a big unknown isn't it?" And that is just it.Not just tomorrow, not just the photo session. Life is all just a big unknown. So, sometimes it's exciting, sometimes it's scary, sometimes it's both. And we move forward into it, or it isn't life -- we aren't living. People who appear to take risks or live on the edge might just be as afraid as we all are, but they do it anyway! Life is challenging, Love is risky, movement is change. What genre will my story be?



It's 5 a.m. I just got off the phone with someone who couldn't sleep for thinking about a scenario that created anxiety. I found myself telling the person, "I am sorry you are telling yourself a story that makes you feel fearful." After we got off the phone, I wrote a bit about the conversation. I wrote that sentence. And it became clear to me why I stopped writing in my blog; and why I need to begin again. 


I have been telling myself a story that makes me feel Fearful.


The details in my life that inspired this story aren't necessary, nor are they all mine to tell you. Suffice it to say, they very easily inspire Fear if gone unchecked -- and even then... So, while I've worked aggressively to carry Fear in the form of a Chair so that I might become acquainted with Fear, I have simultaneously lived in a situation that actually increased it's intensity in recent months and thus potential for Fear. And, as long as I carried the Fear Chair, it was clearly possible for me to objectify my Fear enough to deal with life head-on. Stepping daily (carrying a chair) into Fear and learning how to love my way through it.


When I put down the Chair in October, it was just prior to one of two crisis' that have happened since, in the lives of people close to me, and therefore also to me. The experience of the Fear Chair Project was drawn upon greatly as I walked through the fallout and loved myself and my loved-ones through the rubble and picked up pieces. The FCP indeed strengthened me beyond what I'd ever believed I could bear and gave me peace enough to be present, truly present amidst very Fearful circumstances without running away. 


But something was not settled within me. I could feel it. I knew There was something amiss because I simply could not write in this blog. I could not WANT to write. This morning I see that, while the FCP did give me great strength, and Fear was something I felt I could coexist alongside, I still had FAR more to learn about Fear than was clear to me. This morning I learned that what I have been doing -- and this is related to the two crisis', because both are not finite, both crisis' will likely manifest in some form again in life and I will have to walk through devastation again -- and again -- and again in life -- this morning I learned that I tell myself a story that makes me Fearful. The conditions related to the crisis' are chronic, this is fact. I cannot change those. I can however change the story I tell myself about those conditions. And, I suppose perhaps this WILL change SOME conditions; but what I tell myself creates who I am in those conditions and in those crisis'. 


I am learning to see myself separate from the conditions and separate from the crisis' of loved ones. I by no means love them less. I just love myself MORE. Increasing my love for myself does not diminish my love for others. (yesterday I heard myself saying to someone going through a divorce -- I've divorced before as well --, "love is energy, it can neither be created or destroyed. That's why when we love someone there is a sense of having loved them already, forever before. Because love was always there. Love remains, we just learn how to love differently and better which sometimes means we learn to love ourselves better and we must love others from a distance.") So, today I begin to see that, even from "up close and personal," I have a choice to separate myself from the story of the conditions that cause crisis' and love myself rather than live within Fear generated by that story. I can best love and be present with MYSELF AND WITH LOVED ONES if I separate myself from that Fear. 


Think of it as a Chair perhaps...


And why not? Fear is no more real than what I make it be. Fear is no more a "thing," than it is a "chair." Fear is simply a reaction. A choice. A posture from which to view life. In the case of a chair, a posture of sitting down. Sitting out. Innactively watching as life happens, conditions happen around me. I vowed last fall to learn how to not do this any longer. I am still learning. And I AM learning. This was a tough lesson. Difficult to see. Difficult to see through. Fear is SO pervasive, so insidious, so eternal. It too is an energy. It can neither be created or destroyed. We just learn how to fear differently, better...


Deeply, eternally grateful...

Bigness is when you are plugged in to Love. Your smallness is when you are plugged into Fear. This is one of the fabulous pieces of wisdom in this recording I HIGHLY recommend for artists:


Listening to this recording too, I think about something I've been meaning to blog about. Something I miss is the connections to people I used to experience through carrying the Fear Chair around. I had many conversations with strangers about Fear and about Love and about Life and Art. It, for 50 days was my daily practice of expressing, transmitting something in this world and inviting others into the expression as well. What this tells me is that it is time to move forward to get my art out there. Get it seen. Get it seen in ways that also get me talking with people about it. 


I am ready to no longer be invisible (BTW, if you don't know me personally or see me in my life, I dyed the tips of my silver hair blue, teal and purple -- this is a sign I am ready to be visible I would say). And by coincidence, a show has come to my attention that I am readying my works for to submit. This is exciting exciting exciting! 


In the past my visibility has been very piecemeal, very timid. So, I have sold works, I have also shown (in small ways) but it is time to grow. Time to step into the Bigness!


Deep gratitude!

I found a juried show with a submission date in January. It seems perfect for my prayer flags. I was conflicted for a couple of days since I'd like to try to show them  in a gallery but it occurred to me I have a significant body of work and a few choice pieces will be submitted to the show. The others I am planning to shop around for a gallery. I've been practicing listening and this solution came as I simply listened for a solution to the conflict. I am very grateful.


It brought to light a fear however. This is how it went: since the Fear Chair Project, I don't so much feel afraid of success. I am moving forward and feeling good about that. However (read here, the big "BUT") my life is pretty involved right now in helping to manage a loved one's mental health. So my fear is, what if my art career takes off and then something goes wonky in the management plan and I have responsibilities as an artist AND as a caregiver. How will I handle that?! No! I can't handle that! Ahhhh, I'm so scared!


So I talked with Carol. Let me restate, so, I confessed to Carol. That, though I don't think I'm afraid of success, I think I'm afraid of success. I went through the senarios, complete with great gesticulations. She looked at me, calmly blinked and said, "I don't think you need to be creating obstacles here." Yes, we laughed. Holycow... I think in some ways, since the FCP, my Fears or perhaps my denial of Fears have become rather elaborate. Again, my gratitude for a friend and confessor who pulls no punches, is profound. 


So I continue... today I began pinning the last work I wish to submit for the show. I should be able to finish sewing it in a weeks time and then hopefully get it photographed along with the other pieces and send off my submission before Christmas. Very exciting! And, if conflicts arise, I'll meet them in the moment. As for this moment, I am very very happy to see a next step right infront of me and to take that step, ready for what comes after that.

So, yeah, Fear is a hard habit to break. This occurred to me this morning after meditation. Odd thing to think about after meditation, I know. For some reason I came out of it thinking again about that quote, the life you want is waiting just behind Fear. And I thought, am I waivering now that it's been over a couple months since I set the Fear Chair down? Am I burdened again by Fear? Do I sit out on life because of Fear? Have I backslid?






Did I type that out loud?




Well, hey, I guess I am human. AND Fear IS hard to break. As I said in my FCP posts, Fear is also insidious. It is also primal. Years ago, I addressed anger issues, confronted my Anger, healed my Anger. Anger is a tough response to overcome also, but Anger is not a primal emotion. Anger was not genetically programmed into me through thousands of years of survival necessity. Anger was not born in me, it was my CHOICE. Something happened, I chose to feel Anger about it. Therefore in the healing process, I simply learned to change my response.


Fear too is a choice but it is different than Anger. The response of Fear is not so much a choice, Fear HAPPENS. The choice is in the response to Fear happening. It's like the difference between alcoholism and an eating dissorder. An alcoholic just stays away from the trigger, alcohol to heal (which by the way is VERY complex and hard, I am not belittling the difficulty here). Someone with an eating dissorder can't just stay away from food. People need to eat. A person with an eating dissorder needs to eat but can't give in to the trigger. It's a balance. It's a lifetime of everyday, every food reference and meal, watching the response.


Every time Fear is triggered, we must respond, or watch our response and choose determinedly to walk through it if we don't want Fear running our lives. And lately I've not been watching so closely. I've been skirting my Fear rather than walking through it. Trying to go around it. Ok, avoiding it.




I've got some more work to do on my website and I've put it off all week. Time to step up to the table. From the movie Auntie Mame,  "Life is a banquet and too many damned fools are starving to death!" 'Tis time I hold myself accountable again. Time to step up, through that Fear and fill myself with the abundance that awaits!


Whew.... !

Don't know where I heard it recently but I love it: "Everything you want your life to be is right there hiding behind Fear." 'nough said...

Just over two weeks ago the husband of a friend and former co-worker passed away suddenly. I didn't know him well. Many people did however. The church was standing room only and those who arrived at the time the funeral service was slated to begin found themselves standing on the portico or stairs or in the parking lot. 


Today I got together with a friend and fellow artist. We work in different mediums. We come from different generations. Different genders. Many significant differences. And we share many things in common as well. Such a combination often leads to deep conversations mulling the questions and challenges of our artistic journeys let alone journeys as human beings. Inspiring and hope-filling, these talks are of the ilk that carry the odd or the magnificent gem of insight, or two dozen. I love these. They make me feel like I am LIVING a life worth living. Today I heard myself saying "loss is not a bad thing." In our culture we shun it and run from loss at every turn. I imagine there might be those who would argure vehemently  -- if not run and hide from that kind of a statement. "Loss is actually a good thing." I pressed on. It is how we best learn. It moves us forward -- when we allow it to be felt. When we run from or hide from or deny loss, we become mired in the thing which we cannot leave behind. We stop.


This isn't at all to say the death of my friend's husband was a good thing. It's unimaginable to me to lose a partner of 41 years. My thoughts are along the line that loss happens. Loss is simply and undeniably part of life. It is in the meaning of the death, just as it is in the meaning of the lived experience that the gems are found. The golden nuggets of insight and awareness are buried right in the center of the loss. If we run away or hide, we lose the opportunity to see the gifts of the loss.


I've experienced death since I was very young but my earliest great loss came with the death of my sister when I was fourteen. It was a sudden and unexpected death. There were many extenuating circumstances which made processing her death extremely complex for every member of my family. For me, I hardly ate or spoke for a week. When it came time to go to the wake, (open casket) I was mute and barely responsive. I sat at the table while family members gathered to drive to the funeral home. I remember noises. I guess people were talking to me but I couldn't respond. I was so deep inside the loss I was practically unreachable. Someone put a shot glass full of wiskey infront of me (a rural midwest last ditch cure-all) to "calm me down" before leaving. I stared at it. I didn't want to be made calm or numb or drunk. I wanted to experience this loss and to talk about it and understand it, or at the very least ponder it in it's depths, in MY depths. I don't know who drank the shot.


In a culture where we fear aging to the tune of billions of dollars a year in methods to hide or stave off its symptoms (isn't aging about loss?), talking about the gifts of loss let alone the gifts of death is pretty radical. But I think my sister's death, while grievously tragic on SO many levels, gave me beautiful gifts as well, just as her life did. So too the death of my friend's husband taught me to practice smiling more because this man was rarely without a smile and that memory alone (among millions for those who knew him well) marked him a beautiful example for us all to BE happy in this life, in our work and in our play. For this life is temporary and all too soon lost; and it is ours to decide how we will mark it.


So, the loss of a relationship or the loss of an opportunity, or position, or friend or favorite whatever, or the loss of our youth,... it's all challenging. Loss hurts. Loss shakes us and can hollow us out. But loss never, never comes without gifts as well to heal, to fill the gaps, to strengthen and beautify that which remains of our selves and our lives. 


Loss is perhaps the ultimate experience of the convergence of Fear and Love. Explosive with shock waves and all.


So, today is November 24th. For 52 years I've known it to be the anniversary of my birth. Tonight I realize it is now also marked as the day the decision to not inidict the Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson was passed down. My daughter is in St. Louis visiting her father. So I am thinking of her as well; but I realize I am thinking of her as a white mother thinks of her white daughter's safety. If my daughter had darker skin, the list of safety concerns would be much longer in this country. And the list would have been much longer FOR much longer actually. Statistically and as confirmed in today's decision, my daughter is far safer from police officers than her African American friends simply because of the color of skin. Still.


To Kill A Mockingbird has been referenced a few times in conversations today. We have come so far; and yet we have so far to go. I attended a meeting today at the University in town where we continue to plan for the MLK Day events in January. Tonight I think too of the people on that committee who have far more riding on the decision today than I do, though, really, this being home to all of us, we all stand to lose a great deal in such decisions and the consequences short and longterm. This year's national theme for celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is centered on the great deal of work yet to be done. Amen.




"Insidious Fear," that should be a character's name in a novel. He or she would lurk alot, pretending to be busy elswhere; and show up late or early to functions he or she wasn't even invited to. Sounds plausible.


I have not written in a week because I have not known what to write; and in that time I have continued to encounter Fear and Love and to learn from these encounters. I simply believe Fear and Love are what I need to be writing about. Realizing this, I am returned. Tonight I am a bit stunned by the news of Ferguson. Tomorrow I will write about Fear and Love and Life and Death. There's been a lot of everything going on of late. Tonight I will be stunned, tomorrow I will write.