my . artist run website

Day 32


Woke up at 4 a.m. with a nasty sore throat. You know, the kind that make you feel like gagging. Hard to get back to sleep. Had to leave the house by 7 for an appointment (that was challenging in terms of bringing the chair with me but I did and it was fine) then to work. Still painting the first coat on the trim of the house we are working on. It was hot today. I did a bunch of overhead sanding. Overhead anything gives me a massive headache. Sanding gives me a nasty headache. I developed a nastily massive headach. (Scar tissue from three cases of whiplash, my physical therapist said I'm "pretty much screwed")


All this set-up to say, I am tired and can't think beyond the snot in my head. End of summer colds, oy. So I can't even recall what I was going to write about tonight. (Think I DO need to get that little notebook). And I am tired. I have a wedding to cater tomorrow night as well. So I'd better rest up. Took lots of zinc today. 


Sorry to be a whiny blog tonight. 


I'll just say, about the FCP today, sometimes, some places are REALLY challenging to take the chair. They so far have worked out fine. I noticed this today and wondered when am I going to hear someone go off on me about carrying it into an innappropriate (in that person's mind) place. I imagine I may hear an angry response someday. I won't fret about it but it did cause me to pause a bit today. The FCP is strengthening me. I sense that will be someday tested...


Good night! Pleasant Dreams!

Day 31


Wow. Officially one month since I took up the Chair. Time flies when you're carrying Fear. No, really. When I start out my day, I think of all the places I need to go and things needing to be done. Then I consider how will the Chair work out there, or there? Sometimes as I'm going about errands or getting supplies for a job, I'll think of some place I'd forgotten to plan on and so time goes into figuring out how I'll carry the Chair in a spontaneous stop. I keep busy with it. 


Then there is noting the reactions of others and conversations to remember so I can blog about them. I really should carry a notebook. Perhaps I'll figure out a way to stick a pocket on the chair to carry one. (It's not heavy enough) Or, creating mnemonic devices to keep prompts in my head for things to blog about that I've reflected on about Fear throughout the day. Time passes pretty quickly.


At the one month anniversary of the start of the FCP, a few highlights:

    The hugs, tears and memories or reflections this project has prompted in people who hear about it 

    Taking the Chair to a Shakespeare at the Vineyard performance of "Twelfth Night"

    The increased sense of allowing and openness

    "Water Table" rising

    Realizing it is time for me to simply BE decisive (don't think I've blogged about this yet, will)

    The Universe/God/Source collaborating with me to manifest the chair (at the right price!)

    I started a BLOG!


So, tonight, as I move from reflecting on the past month to the present moment, I am filled with gratitude at the wealth, abundance and joy of this project. That isn't to say it's been easy. It's been incredibly challenging. And speaking of challenging, I thought I'd mention a few fearS floating at the edges of my consciousness tonight. Spiders. Why? Because it's autumn and they are abundant and mature (big) as they ready for winter in their own ways? I'm not actively behaving differently because of this, it's more just a sense of this fear floating up to the surface of that "water table" of general underlying Fear within me. In the past, this experience with spiders has been associated with change, a feeling of out-of-controlness that comes with transition. I definitely am going through a transition, so it makes sense spiders are showing up in my dreams and manifesting in all sorts of places in my waking life as well.


Second fear is wrapped up in my art. Who am I as an artist? Do I have the whatever to earn a living with my art? Do I even want to earn a living at it? Why? Why not? These questions are big right now. The FCP has opened me up in challenging ways too. I realize some of what, ok most of what holds me back as an artist has been my Fear of the BIGNESS of being a successful artist. Not just the success but the BIGNESS of the process, the work, the production, the visibility, the energy. It is daunting. Yet, while the Project has awakened these questions (in the past I was too fearful to even admit the questions!), it also, I have noticed, is simply moving me along. This is exciting; but it is also very very unknown and unknowable until each moment is upon me. For now. This IS the transition time after all. Someday this transition will be moved through (and on to other ones). In the meantime, God/The Universe/Source (I call my God "G.U.S." by the way) has brought the next bend in the flowing waters of transition. An artists FB group I belong to just issued a challenge to do 30 paintings in 30 days starting on the 8th. My response was that since I am still carrying a Fear Chair after 31 days, I can't not do this. Yikes and Yippee!


The other big fear right now is just that I simply don't know where I am going with this Project. I mean, I have never known where I was going with it; but I knew I needed to do it. I still believe it is the right thing to do right now, perhaps it is mostly because I don't know where it is going that it is so right to be doing it. There are some pretty big circumstances in life right now that I have no control over and that carry with them much potential for Fear. Carrying the Chair in a way externalizes the Fear and fearS so it/they may be examined more objectively. And this feels far more doable than swimming in the waters (water table of Fear, river of transition ---mixed metaphor? or theme?) trying to see what I am immersed in.


So, I don't know what the future holds but one day at a time, one step at a time, you'll see me, for now chair in hand.






Day 30


You'll notice the name of the blog has changed. I am in the process of making cards to give out to folks who ask about the chair so they can check out the blog; and I thought this name might make more sense to find it.


"if you walk with her and do not collapse into her grips or run away from her discomfort, Fear can be a true and intimate friend who leads you into a richer life." This is a quote from a childhood friend of my daughters. The woman is on a year-long retreat/pilgrimage walking through France and Spain. The quote is from her post just before leaving on the flight to Europe. I asked her if I could use it here because it so much speaks to what the Fear Chair Project is. The Chair is the metaphor for Fear. I carry it. I do not collaps into it, I do not pad it or add handles where it rubs my hips or shoulders or hands in great discomfort. My Fear is a beautiful burden. But a burden non-the-less; and someday, my hope is that I will no longer need to carry it.

It feels odd reaching 30 days. A month. In so many ways it feels incomplete. As if I've not learned nearly enough carrying the chair. One would think such an experience would create massive and exciting explosions of change in oneself over a month's time. The changes have been remarkably subtle though; and my sense is they are not deep and lasting changes. Or I'd wake tomorrow and leave the chair home. That may happen. One day at a time after all. But I'm guessing Fear is not finished with me yet.

The few changes I DO see so far are best summed up with the word "opening." There is in me an opening to life that has been closed a long long time. A clenchedness even, that now is relaxing, and allowing me to live as I live, be as I be, say, do, think, listen, all very simply as I be, do, think and listen. There is an openness to living in this moment in my skin that I have only glimpsed before. Now it is a matter of carrying this openness as much as I carry the Chair or the Fear. Every day. One day at a time.

I just read a recent post on FB by the young woman now two weeks into her pilgrimage in France and someone commented, "after doing this you will be able to go anywhere. The first steps are always hard but they will make you stronger." I feel as if the first 30 days carrying Fear/the Chair have been the first steps. I am only beginning to open to this experience. My way in the past in far too many instances and circumstances has always been to skim the surface of understanding and call it good.

I've long lacked the discipline to really stick with something until it is fully absorbed or understood. I think this was due to the fear I have of losing myself. I've done this in relationships, in my education, with jobs, various vices. But I've a couple times dove in and really did lose myself for periods in my life. I think those times only encouraged the fear of doing so again because I was lost to some pretty unhealthy passions. Reflecting on those times though too, I realize the choices I made to dive in were based on fears as well. Not really on passions to live fully and love my life. The only exception was parenthood. That was perhaps the only real choice I've made and just given myself over to it fully living the wild ride. But I carried Fear through out parenting too (see post two days ago). I would add my marriage (second) too to this list. We've got some very unique and challenging circumstances but my commitment to the love of my life is trumping my Fear.

I really do want no longer to hand the wheel over to Fear on this journey through life (perhaps I should be carrying a steering wheel, It'd be lighter. lol). I REALLY do want to walk this, my own pilgrimage I guess. My time in the company of Fear, knowing that Fear is my companion and getting to know and even to love my companion as a part of who I am and as a part of what is the journey through life as a human. And, (back to the chair) the weight of this metaphor, the weight of the journey with the chair and the weight of walking so closely with Fear will make me stronger and will allow me to go anywhere.

Day 29


Quick update sidebar: Our little dog is laying as close as possible without actually laying upon my laptop. Our daughter left this morning for school. She got off without a hitch. The weather was grand all the way, little turbulence, at least she thinks so for she slept most of the way without being jostled awake. Thank you Universe/God/Source... I on the other hand had just a bit of turbulence. Turbulent sobbing that is, as I drove to the jobsite from the airport. Work kept me occupied of mind and body; but upon leaving to go home, I turned on the radio tuned to the station she'd left it at on the way to the airport. Evanesence's "All of Me" was playing. Years ago, when the song was relatively new, I told her someday she would move away and I'd be very happy for her but I would find a quiet place and listen to this song and cry my eyes out. Well, today I did just that in the car. I had to pull over. The funny thing is, I NEVER hear that song on the radio anymore. The last time I did was last year just days after I left her in Georgia for the first time. And, yes, I cried my heart out then too. It seems the universe is keeping me true to my word.... every time...


I don't want to forget to add something my daughter talked about in the car on the way to the airport this morning. We were talking about how beautiful Oregon is and she mentioned that she loves it's beauty but can't help thinking about the hundreds and thousands of venomous snakes out there and that taints it for her. I was surprised by this and tried to wrap my brain around it. I said, "That's like me saying I love hiking but there are billions of spiders out there and so I don't want to go. I try not to think about them or, yeah, I wouldn't go out. So why would I make them visible in my mind's eye?" She didn't quite agree but we talked then about the difference between a Fear and a Phobia. She's mentioned her phobia of snakes to people and their responses range from "Oh, yeah, I hate snakes too." to "What, why do you hate snakes." This bothers her. She doesn't hate snakes. (I don't hate spiders come to think of it) She loves them, thinks they are beautiful. Hate has nothing to do with phobia. She went on then, "and that's the thing about racism too, people say, 'I'm not a racist, I don't hate (fill in blank with a race name).' What they don't see is racism isn't about hate, it's about Fear. We fear what we don't know or understand or can't control, we don't have to hate it to fear it." Very impressive, I thought. 


Back to the Chair.... To cheer ourselves, my husband and I went out to First Tuesday Art Walk in a nearby town then to dinner. The galleries were open and so were some of the artists' studios. It was challenging negotiating gingerly between sculptures and glass cases but I've noticed 4 weeks carrying an oak chair around has given me a significant amount of dexterity I lacked before. I had a few people comment they liked the chair and asked if I'd bought it somewhere. I told them the story. One woman who was a bit smaller than myself (I'm 5'4" 110lbs) and perhaps early 60s seemed impressed by the size of it. Then I got to the part of the story where I mention that it had to be bright colors because one of my fears is being visible. Her eyes got wide. She leaned toward me and spoke just a touch softer, "I know about being invisible. In 7th grade, when I flunked the first term, my mother stormed with me to the teacher and she looked at me and said, 'I wouldn't know who she is.' You see I was always small and I never said a word." She gave me a hug. I said, "I get lots of responses to this chair and sometimes I get a hug, thank you." She thanked me as well and wished me well with the project.


Later, as my husband and I sat adjacent to the open "garage door" at the restaurant, the same woman walked past. My husband saw her and waved and said "Hi!" She looked at him and gave a friendly enough wave that said, I'll respond but I don't really know who you are. Then I saw who he'd waved at and I too waved and said a loud "hello!" She turned to me and her eyes did the round thing again and she smiled big and waved a hearty hello. We were visible to one another.




Day 28


As I walked up the hill this morning, carrying the chair on my walk with the dog, I glanced again at my shadow and I felt the heft of my Fear and noted today my greatest burden of Fear is for my child. Perhaps I delude myself or get preoccupied by life but I think most certainly a massive portion of the Fear I carry is for my child. You see, tomorrow I bring her to the airport so she can fly back to school on the East Coast. I am in Oregon. She's almost as far in the contiguous states as she can get away from where I am. We are very close and perhaps this is the best reason for her to be going to school far away. She needs to live her own life. 


I am grateful. Immeasurably grateful she is going to a great school in a city she loves and has found a circle of people who love her, a family. And I have Fear. 


I remember noticing her first independent movements as a baby-turning toddler. It struck me like lightning that from the moment she was born, my daughter began moving away from me. and every roll, every crawl, every step, every word, and so on and so on, was a further step away. I remember thinking "and someday the steps will be enormous." Well, yeah, here we are... And with every step away, the risk of a fall was there. A skinned knee. A missunderstood word. A messy choice. "The owies get bigger," my mother told me back then. I heard her. But today, I realize the risk for her pain increases but so does the risk for my own pain, the older she gets. Being a mother IS the best job in the world AND the most painful. 


I have Fear around my daughter's life. I fear for her safety, for her well-being, for her happiness, for her fulfillment, for her longing and for her peace. Not to mention for her health, physical, mental and spiritual. Not that she's at any tremendous risk in any way; but she is just so precious and beautiful a gift to me and to the world and to herself. I feel to my deepest core the desire for her fullest life lived. 


And I Fear I did not give her the pass codes to access that fullest life. I Fear her work-ethic isn't quite well-practiced enough to get her digging deep enough or in the best places within herself or her experiences to glean what she needs for her fullest life. I fear I was to hard on her. And I fear I was too lenient. Hard in the wrong ways. Lenient in the wrong places.... you get the idea.


Fear. When I took up the chair, I didn't realize how much is woven into my relationships with people. It's not just about what I fear. Spiders. Ghosts. Change.... Etc... Fear often-times is so entwined in my encounters with the people in my life. Not just mine but others' Fear/s as well. My Fears trigger theirs trigger mine sort of thing as well. From the quickest relationship with someone glancing at me in a coffeeshop afraid to speak to me because of the very thing they are curious about -- the Chair, to the deepest most complex and connected relationship with my daughter, Fear IS the watertable, the undercurrent. Right there with Love. The two flow constant and complex forever and always in every encounter. And in every encounter, from the most fleeting to the longest and deepest relationship, we choose our actions. We choose our focus. We choose to let Fear wash over us and carry us away or we choose to let Love wash over us ... and carry us away....


My heart flies to the East Coast tomorrow. This morning  and for a good part of the day, I swam in Fear. This did not help the situation. My daughter and I fought, I am convinced, because of my wallowing in Fear/s. And now, as she packs in the other room, and as I finish writing this to go join and be with her, I am awash in Love (and gratitude).

Day 27


Went to breakfast this morning at the local country restaurant three miles from our house. My husband and I both prefer going out for breakfast to dinner, so we get to do this pretty frequently. We get there in time for the early bird special and we split one of their plate-size pancakes. The people who work there are just lovely and we are beginning to get to know many locals who make a Sunday ritual of breakfast as well. I've brought the Fear Chair there three times now.


So before she took our order, our regular waitress leaned over the table and said, "I have to tell you, people are wondering about 'the chair.' They're all like 'what's with the chair?' But they ask ME. I mean it's no problem, I tell them about what you said but I just think it's funny they ask me not you. Don't you think so?" We laughed. I told her yesterday was the first time in a long time that I purposefully observed people's reactions to me walking into a coffeeshop with the chair and the responses were on their faces but no one approached me about it. We laughed again. I told her to tell them to ask me. I also told her I am planning to make business cards with the link to my blog so she can just give those to them. 


She took our order then leaned over again, "actually last week one of the cooks caught me as I was really busy and said she had something to talk to me about. I told her I was busy. Later she said, 'now?' I said I was still busy. Later on in the day it was quiet and I went back there and said, 'ok, what do you need to talk about?' (The cook) said, 'what's with the chair?'" We laughed. She looked at the counter, "actually, when you just came in now, one of the waitresses said, "so, what's with the chair?" I told her to send the woman over to ask me.


So my husband and I talked and waited for our breakfasts. Pretty soon, we looked up and the other waitress was standing across from us. Neither of us had seen her approach, it was kind of like a dream, suddenly she was just there, looking at me with a calm but somewhat cautious expression. "So, um, will you tell me about the chair?" "Sure," I answered and smiled at her.  "About a month ago I learned of a woman who carried a burdensom anger and so got a chair and painted 'anger' on it. She carried it around everywhere she went. I thought about it and realized that Fear is the root emotion that has kept me sitting out on life the most, it is my greatest burden. So, the chair is my Fear metaphor and I carry it everywhere I go and will until Fear is no longer a burden to me." She nodded thoughtfully. "That's cool."  "Thanks, and thanks for asking me about it."


Our food came. We had a lovely time, interrupted only for refills on our coffee and to talk with the two sisters who'd been sitting across from us. As they got up, they noticed our pancake and one said, "we wondered when we got our mini-pancakes why 6 inch pancakes are mini; but seeing that, we understand!" Then the other sister said, "and by the way what's with the chair? I mean it's beautifull, but there must be a story." I told them my story, adding a bit about that it had to be colored and bright because visibility is one of my fears. One of the sisters physically seemed to shift a bit at this part as we looked into eachother's eyes. The other said, "I may do that but not with a chair." I told her I've heard others have done this with things like backpacks; but it had to be a chair for me. My husband said it's strengthened me physically and I suggested she check the weight of it if she liked. She did lift it. I laughed, said, "My Fear has strengthened me." We didn't get into any further discussion, they were on a road trip to see their dad. I imagine the chair might perhaps be discussed a bit, perhaps even Fear will be.


After we'd finished eating, the couple behind us, who'd also just finished, turned around, "Excuse me, we're very curious about your chair..." 


It was the most I've ever talked with people about the FCP in one place. I left feeling happy, grateful and very visible. Had to do some healthy self-talk but not very much. Perhaps I am learning something about visibility. Perhaps we all are FAR more visible than we realize ALL the time. People watch us and make judgements or formulate questions about us but rarely come forward about their reactions. Yet, in the end, people really only see what they are able to see, whether they take a chance to learn more or not.  They are busy in their own lives, in their own heads. 


Later, as we got up, our waitress came over to us, she admitted, "you know, I don't even know your name." "Ohhhh," I said, "it's Anya" She gave me a big hug. Such a brave thing she did. We've been going there for a couple years nearly every Sunday but she has SO many people she meets. Yet, I know from having worked customer service in a small city before that you feel that you should remember everyone's name who remembers yours. What a sweet moment. As we left, she called out, "Be courageous! and remember the business cards!" I turned from the door, "yes! Hold me accountable!" We laughed. I turned and thought, for which one?


Day 26


Labor Day Weekend Saturday celebrated once again by the self-employed by working. Celebrating the American work ethic, we like to say. We worked prep-ing a house to paint it. Not our usual work but it's work; and she's a long-time client so we stretch ourselves. Oh yes, and lots of big spiders were there to help. It was the first cool, occasionally sprinkly day, so they seemed to come out of the woodwork (litteraly) to just hang there and see what this change in weather means. I let them be. Talked to them a bit just to make myself more comfortable mostly and that seemed to help. They let me be also. One of them may have had a few choice spidey words for me when he/she came out of the siding and got showered with Bondo dust as I was using an orbital sander just above her/his hole in the wall. Otherwise all was fine.


Which reminds me, yesterday after taking the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in from the garden, I got distracted and when I came back to wash the vegis, found a hitchiker on the edge of the bowl. A moderate size garden spider had been harvested along with the produce. I very calmly and quickly brought the bowl outside and tapped it hard on the floor of the porch above the first step. Spidey slipped and hung from an impromptu web (they're are little geniuses aren't they). Not quite long enough, tap tap, a little harder. three inches, still not past the bottom of the bowl. Tap tap,....a n d,... there we are a nice long web strand and I was able to transfer it's anchor to the step. I felt pretty proud of my fearful fearless ingenuity and my allowing of the spider. 


Allowing oddly enough has been an issue for me. I don't allow very easily or readily. I get tight and controling or fearful or hesitant or apologetic. Funny, I think yesterday allowing the spider it's freedom uplifted me because in it I respected not only the spider but myself as well. I allowed myself my phobia. I didn't just kill it OR keep it in the house out of guilt. I allowed myself to feel the way I do and I came up with a creative solution to what could have been internal conflict. I think not allowing is where the majority of my internal conflict comes from. Not allowing myself to have needs, not allowing myself to have perceptions that might be correct or perceptions that might be mistaken, not allowing myself to have Fear/fearS, not allowing myself to be decisive or strong or present or ,... visible.... Hmmm.


I've not written about this yet but yesterday I noticed that the arthritis in my hands continues to worsen and yesterday the pain of carrying the chair reached an 8. Today it didn't hurt quite that much, but I did leave the chair in the car when I was at work. I figured prep-ing a house for paint today would be enough for my hands. I did take it into the coffeshop before work though. Lots of interesting/interested looks. No comments or questions though. I don't always watch for people's reactions to seeing me carry the chair into unusual places but today I just wondered and so had a look. Anyway, the pain has been increasingly bad for the past 4 or so months. I have never had an official diagnosis but my mother has osteo and my aunt has rheumatoid, so chances are I've got some form of it. At any rate, I have an appointment later this month with a rheumatologist to find out. And, anyway, I just thought this a good post to say sometimes I am going to allow myself to leave the chair in the car if the pain is too much or if I have a lot of work that taxes my hands. 



Day 25


Carol and I got together today. Always good to dig in the compost of life with a good friend who is unafraid of the mess. In the end we both concluded it would be a good exercise for me to place myself in a vaccum of other issues, that is, not what ifs or if onlys, just me. And consider what do I need in life. What do I need? So later today I sat down and began such a list. It's longer than I thought it'd be. About 20 or so items on the list. It was a good exercise. I'm going to post it in my room and look at it everyday just to see how I am doing with taking care of me. I am at a crossroads time in life. If I weren't, trust me, I wouldn't be carrying a chair around everywhere I go. So taking an assessment of my needs seems a pretty good start to seeing where I stand before I move too much forward into choices of paths...


The chair went to Fred Meyer for the first time today. My daughter needed new hiking shoes and I thought I'd get a few groceries. The carts there are shallower than Winco, where I usually grocery shop. So the chair lay on it's front in the cart. Still, it did get a bit of attention. One woman, writer apparently, commented when I told her briefly my purpose with the chair. Her response was a quiet, "and of course, it would have to be colorful." We talked of color then. Her favorites are oranges and yellows while her husband leaned (perhaps he'd passed away, she looked to be in her 70s) into browns and blues. She wore a dark blue shirt. She pointed to it, "of course I'd be wearing this today, I rarely wear this." I learned that her living room and dining room are more to her husband's tastes while her bedroom is bright in yellows and oranges. The guest room is "orange without really being orange, if you know what I mean." But "people like it, they feel comfortable in there." Such a sweet woman. She never spoke with a hint of judgement about me and my chair or about her husbands choice of colors or her own. She just relayed the information. Told her story of colors. She journals. I wonder if she'll write about the lady carrying a chair everywhere, even in Freddy's until she no longer feels Fear to be a burden. Perhaps she will but my sense is she has no need of judgement about it. She'll simply tell a story.


This reminds me of last night's post. My fears around what other people think of me. Holycow. Who do I think I am? Truth is, as I've taught my daughter through her teen years, people DON'T think about me, her or anyone but themselves for the most part. And those that pass judgements, who cares what they DO think. We're all just writing our own stories. Thinking about getting needs met. Taking care of our own really. Hmmm,.... Carrying a chair around, I am beginning to let go of this fear. It still rears it's head but hey, I'm still carrying the chair. No apologies, no explanations. Unless asked, and even then, I usually end up listening more than I talk. Hmm....