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Smack in the middle of grieving a huge loss. Sitting deep in the middle of the Forest of Unknowing. Carrying this marvelous body of work, hoping to get it out into the world. I feel SO fracking messed up. And my FEAR is that I will never move from this place. That I will just molder here, growing grayer by the minute, slumping further down into a hunched mound of pathetic old lady.

 

I know this is very different than past posts but something happened Friday to deepen my loss and I am just struggling desperately to not be crushed by it. And so far I am feeling as if I am losing the fight. For the most part today I have just felt thoroughly exhausted.

 

I am dealing with grieving by degrees. In my case, the loss is not all at once but comes piecemeal, bit by bit each day, without a forseeable end. And of course my main Fear is that the losses WILL keep coming forever because of the circumstances. The other Fear is that I will just be endlessly sucked down by the continued loss. That I will never again feel strong, let alone healed or healthy.

 

How do I do this? How do I climb out of this quicksand? 

 

There are friends in my support system. And my mom just came for a visit. People shouting from beside the quicksand for me to grab hold of something and pull myself out; but frankly, I just don't see the branches or ropes or whatever as viable options. They just get me out of one pool of quicksand only to walk along and fall into another. And I am tired. Tired and sad and angry and afraid.

 

Grieving sucks.

 

So I spent the weekend NOT in my studio. This was perhaps NOT what I should have done. But it is what I did do, or didn't,... The piece I am working on is very much about loss and rising out of loss and I think, actually, perhaps, I needed to wallow in this loss for a couple of days. On Thursday and Friday I worked on the piece a bit and got to a place of depicting that from which one rises, the broken heart of loss. But I have not at all felt the strength to address the rising. So, perhaps this dark and scary time was needed for me to grasp what will come next in the piece. Who knows. 

 

The wallowing is past however, I may choose to do more tomorrow, but I cannot beat myself up over the weekend in the quicksand. That won't get me out of it. I suppose I need to be kind and loving and patient with that self in the mudhole. She's/I'm in a really crappy place, my best hand out of it is going to have to come from me. And it needs to be a kind hand.


Nothing in Life is certain. Nothing. No thing. No situation. No circumstance. No. Nothing...

 

One month ago the world was torn from beneath my feet and I was sent tumbling down into the abyss. Yesterday was exactly one month. I thought it was today but then, well, I believe I am still stumbling for certainty. Bumping around, looking for some solid ground. Something that might look like somthing to count on. So I got the date wrong.

 

Falling from one's world, or perhaps better put, having one's world fall away is of course at first traumatic. And the ensuing grieving process rocks things a bit as well. But after time, say, a month, one starts to recognize that this once traumatically different reality than one oh-so-recently knew is becoming the norm. Is becoming the foundation upon which the new world will grow. And, being new at seeing the world from this perspective, things look extremely unpredictable and unknowable. Fear is here.

 

The other day I did a meditation about this and found that I was in the middle of the Forest of Unknowing in my meditation. So I went with that, because, hey, it's where I was/am. So, in this forest, there are pits and spiders who spin webs that cast spells upon me that keep me unclear. (I wrote about it last week.) I've been in that forest for over a week now. I managed in subsequent meditations to clothe myself using the one thing I found myself to be carrying, my prayer flags. ("Wisdom" is on my back, "Peace" on my chest, "Love" is on my right arm, "courage" on my left, "harmony" on my belly, the others all flow about my legs as I wander or cover my feet as I sit, being, in the middle of the Forest of Unknowing) I also managed to build a sacred garden alongside the Forest for times when I needed light and life and comfort during meditations. But always, I return to the center of the Forest of Unknowing.

 

Still.

 

This is perhaps the hardest part of trauma, waiting for the healing to take it's own course at it's own pace. BEING in the center of the BIG NEW UNKNOWN is the HARDEST thing. And the world cooperates with finding alternatives, distractions, old patterns, new addictions, dramatic tapes, so, sitting and BEING is the HARDEST and the loneliest thing.

 

Today, my mother flew in from the Midwest for a two week stay. I haven't been able to express to her what this means to me. Really, it allows me respite from the devastation of the new loneliness. It doesn't take away the loneliness. I am still utterly alone in my Forest of Unknowing. But there is less desparation in my breathing. As if the synchronis shared rhythm of two breaths in the house embrace and stroke the lonely woman in the Forest like a warm and comforting breeze,... while she waits.

 

We talked much about art tonight. I am very aware that what I am experiencing WILL change me. As a person and as an artist, my life is and will be very affected. There is the unknown. The Fear here is that somehow I will be damaged, stymied, or even paralyzed by what is going on in my life. It's possible. Trauma has had that effect on me before. 

 

So, what are my tools for dealing with Fear? Do I carry them as I sit or wander in the Forest of Unknowing?I think perhaps some meditation upon the tools would be good. I am a Fierce Lover and a kickass painter and fiber artist. What would I carry? 

 

Gratitude

Love

patience

A paint brush

A needle and thread

Water and food to sustain me

 

I used to literally climb mountains. The world dropping out from under me just increases the height of the mountain before me. One step at a time the path through the Forest of Unknowing leads upwards and eventually out of the darkness. A listening awareness and appreciation for the journey will bring gifts along the way. The from-time-to-time company of loved ones too will bring gifts and sustenance. But the work is mine to do and so is the BEING.


Talked with two people at two different times about "Loving Fiercely." In the past I used to envy people whom I could identify Love someone Fiercely. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to know that I was capable of Loving to the depth of vehemence, to the degree of fire, that I saw in those people. What I didn't know was that such Love comes only truly under the form of unconditionality. This year I learned too that such love that is vehement and firey burns. It burns in the full sense of the word. Fierce Love burns as in passion burning, but too it burns as in it hurts. Fierce Love is a beautiful, brilliant, painful Love that doesn't dim when conditions turn difficult, it actually sinks deeper.

 

How have I endured the lessons of Fierce Love this year? Art. I've created art. I've talked art. I've looked at art. And Gratitude. Art is the turning outward of the Fears of unconditional, Fierce Love. Gratitude is the salve to the pain. When I remember to apply Art and Gratitude, enduring the challenges of unconditional Fierce Love becomes a meditation. A prayer. A Namaste'.

 

I am a neophite Fierce Lover. Much to learn. Many challenges each day. One day at a time, to the studio and bow to the work at hand.


I have a way of writing blogs that I then somehow lose. It sucks. I just wrote a lengthy tome about life and death only to need to look up a word and I forgot to open a new window before clicking on the favorite dictionary website. So I lost all that work. Again. What is it with me? I am undermining myself this week!

 

Actually, that's very true. Perhaps I need to look at that. (I'll write about life and death another time -- neither subject is going anywhere). So, in the week that I speak to a social media specialist AND I submit my artwork for jury, and the week AFTER having my major works professionally photographed, I am undermining myself. Erasing my deepest thoughts. Negating ideas that inspire and are about inspiring topics. Hm... (and, trust me, there are other areas in my life that I am now seeing as self sabotaging this week)...Shit.

 

Basically, I am facing a deeply difficult decision right now and, well, not facing it. Hoping the situation will work itself out so that I don't have to make the decision. It's of course a Fear and Love thing. I am afraid to make a decision because I am afraid it means I don't know how to Love. In reality, actually, I don't really know how to Love in the CURRENT situation -- pre-decision. Love sometimes is too complex to really KNOW how to do it. Sometimes situations are far more advanced than our Love learning has taught us and it isn't until after the situations have been worked through that we can really see where the Loving worked and where it was handicapped.

 

I'm feeling very handicapped right now. Like Fear has me limping along and stuttering, while my inexperience with this new challenge to Love blindfolds me and covers my ears. No wonder I'm tripping up all week. What was I thinking, trying to tackle such a subject as life and death! I'm in the midst of a life and death struggle right now, I need to be here, not telling stories about the past (which is what the lost post was). Shit.

 

I suddenly remember Helen Keller. She was blind, deaf and mute as a child. Ann Sullivan led her and taught her through it. I'd love for a teacher and guide right now. I feel the isolation of and utter loneliness of this time in my life. Alone with my Fear and my Love bearing down upon me demanding decisivenes and I cannot see or hear or know this place nor where I am going.

 

I need to get up to my studio. Today I hid from working again. I told myself I have too much other work to do and I am tired. Shit. 

 

This living in the moment is SO hard. It means I have to see the games I sometimes play. It means I have to look at how I self-sabotage to avoid moving forward, because I am afraid. If I keep self-sabotaging, I stay weak and how can I face anything if I am weak? 

 

So, it's a good thing I lost the other post. I needed a firm talking-to about how this tumultuous time in my life that I've alluded to in the last several posts may be hard but I am letting it erode my foundation. My foundation is my art. It is terra firma even as it is the air I breathe. THIS is life and death. I simply MUST make art!

 

 


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 :)