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After many hours writing, re-writing, re-formatting, cutting, pasting, tweeking, I submitted works to my first juried show. Whew! Under my belt. One. A start. Very cool! So,... now I wait.... and make more art!

 

To that point, I haven't been in my studio in a few days. This is hard. When I don't go up there regularly, two things happen, I start to feel creatively constipated is one and this is just difficult because life requires (especially right now) that I keep my creative tools honed. AND, second, it scares me that I WILL NEVER MAKE ART AGAIN. (chuckling actually) I am rather silly like that. And likely will forever run into this same Fear every time I take a few days off. Though, of course I know full well that creating things to me is like breathing. Sure I can go three days without it --wait-- ok, so, actually going three days is rather deadly when it comes to breathing. SOoooooo,... hmmmm.... probably shouldn't go three days without creating art either. Ah huh...

 

BUT, the Fear will not make it so. Regardless of whether I should get into the studio every day or not, my Fear of taking a brake is not founded in reality. It's founded in Fear. Simple as that. 

 

Sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I take a break. The past few days have been business-oriented, getting-the-work-out-there days. This has taken a lot of energy. So, I rest from the studio. 

 

I hear it calling though. I'll answer the call. I have to. I want to breathe!


Feeling the fallout from a high-density day yesterday. I met with a social media consultant who works with artists to optimize their internet presence. It was a wonderful and very informative meeting. A good start. And it was 2 hours jam packed with articulating who I am as an artist, what my vision is, where I see myself going, my desires, my "why." And I was utterly exhausted in gratitude. Another two hours of errands and driving home and I treated myself to an afternoon DVD and popcorn before setting to on tasks,"homework," from the meeting as well as posting on this blog and then working on getting refunds on some plane tickets. My late afternoon and evening were looking "jam packed as well." 

 

First task was to upgrade security on my computer. 

 

Hah!

 

Six hours later, I gave up and decided this is what "Geek Squad" is for; and fell into a glass of wine and then exhausted into bed and slept. My computer had been infected and so was not letting me uninstall old security software in order to install the new. So, in preparation for a major overhaul, I attempted to back-up files. A wrestling match ensued between my VERY limited technology side and my, well, stubborn neophite side. You see, I see security software much like Batman the Dark Knight. Sure, it helps and protects, but its mighty shadowy and elusive to my understanding. A necessary evil to be reconned with perhaps, for my own good.

 

So today, I packed up computer along with all the particulars I needed to drop off at Pacific University for their Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration. I am on the committee and haven't missed a celebration and march in 17 years. Today I have an intake interview with a family member for a mental health program I am very grateful the member is willing to consider. And I needed to drop off the computer in the care of FAR more capable hands than mine. So I only went to one of the MLD Day events and then apologetically had to leave. 

 

THANK YOU GEEK SQUAD! The computer took half an hour. And so here I am, waiting for the intake appointment. Feeling the tightness that wound around my chest and brain in the last 24 hours begin to release. Grateful.

 

The one event I went to this morning was the interfaith service. I am not religious but was raised Catholic and actually went so far as a theology BA (as well as an education BA I think I mentioned in an earlier post about classes in philosophy and fingerpainting with chocolate pudding). I left the church when, feeling called to the priesthood, I eventually recognized the divisive quality of the human invention of religion. HOWEVER, I retain a strong respect for people who's faiths are strong and find a need to gather and create ritual. I myself love gathering and ritual. I just don't do so under specifically defined guidelines. So this morning's interfaith gathering was beautiful and rich. 

 

I needed the quiet gathering of varied experiences and perspectives represented to remind me to breathe and be present in the disparate environment of my mind and life. It reminded me of my prayer flags. I realized, dang, I should have offered to exhibit the flags as part of the day. Missed opportunity. Oh well, I was grateful to smile to myself at the beauty of creating something that embodies the beauty of love and life and even fear as one moves through a tumultuous year.

 

 


On January 15th I posted a wonderful piece about living an oxymoronic and dichotomous life --- and I FORGOT TO SAVE IT! Emphasis on moronic I'd say right now. 

 

SO in an effort to make sense for you of the post I JUST SAVED about being a badass....

 

ox·y·mo·ron

 noun \ˌäk-sē-ˈmr-ˌän\

: a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings

:  a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly :  something (as a concept) that is made up 

 

I talked in the unsaved post (UP) with great passion about how this time in my life is one of great contraditions. At the same time as I am dealing with loved ones in chronic crisis' (therefore I am as well), my art is blooming and about to take off! I am feeling everyday the euphoric hope of desires fulfilled while also in the same moments holding the reality of utter tragedy and pain. The two are present with eachother, causing an immense weight to each moment and a sense of stretching and expansion within me that is inexpressable actually. So I continue to search for expression. Here in this blog and mostly in my art. I am living each moment on the cusp of Fear and Love.

 

This led me to inquire if perhaps I was living, not the oxymoronic life so much as the dichotomous life:

 

di·chot·o·my

 noun \dī-ˈkä-tə-mē also də-\

: a difference between two opposite things : a division into two opposite groups

 

This seems to capture things as well. My passion for making connections is being both tested and strengthend I think in this time. But there is a breaking point when something is stretched too far and that brings Fear to the foreground. Love is the weight I bear and it is the holding of my loved ones and the holding of my love for myself through this time. But the two loves pull at one another more than ever in times of prolonged crisis'. So I must be careful. I must take care. And so I make art. Creating art is the one place where bearing Love and Fear in their heaviest forms is, well, bearable. It is a place where combating forces or torrents of unidentifiable or unexpressable sensations and choices and questions all come to the table (or easel, or sewing machine) and are filtered out and pieced together and formed until the piece of art carries some of the burden for me and even communicates some of it and even mirrors it back to me. In creating art at this time, I create, in a sense, what any good friend would be for me.

 

Hmmm.... a bit different than the original post, but the gist.... perhaps better.... NOW HIT SAVE!


Here's the thing about living a dichotomous, oxymoronic life; it forces one to be a bit of a badass. I never felt too much of a badass until recent months. And I've a long way to go before I perfect the role. Sometimes I'm just bad. Sometimes I'm just and ass. I think I've been attracted to badass people a lot of my life because I wanted to get in touch with it myself. (some of those people turned out to be just bad or asses as well BTW) Yet the good little religious girl struggled under layers of repression and Fear. Who knew it would be learning to Love Fiercely that would tear away the layers and give flight to the badass within me? 

 

The dichotomous, oxymoronic circumstances of my life lately have required that life get as bare-bones at the level of living day to day, moment to moment as possible. Down to the bones, what am I left with? Fear and Love. Some would say Anger, Sadness, and perhaps even Regret would be down there; but no, I've walked the path down to my bones; and I've met Anger and Sadness and Regret along the way. I even carried them each for a while. But eventually they just kept me from getting to the deepest part of the question. They were too big to fit through the tangled branches and down the rabbit holes. Eventually, I learned it was best to know them and then let them go. 

 

So, having traveled the treacherous path I built over 52 years that hid my truest inner self, I get to the core of this time on the planet in the middle of my life, my self; and there is my Fear/Love Chair (remember it has "Fear" painted on the upside of the seat and "Love" on the underside). And every day, many times a day, I look at those two choices as plausible in many given situations. And I choose. 

 

This has of course always been the case. We all choose everyday, every moment between Fear and Love. But the Badass is acutely aware of what makes one choose Fear and what makes one choose Love. And the Badass will more often choose Love while feeling very fully the residue of Fear in her bones.

 

I realize this is MY definition of Badass and there are likely millions, billions even; but suck it up. It's MY blog :)


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: 

https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D3695331_222_273272560?directDownload=true

 

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.