Sunday, September 28, 2008

Detective Work

I did this exercise last night and as I read through them today, I'm noticing a lot of excitement and nostalgia creep in. I'm expanding on the answers as I share them with you.

My favorite childhood toy was a little green frog full of beans.

My favorite childhood game was Chinese Checkers and Junior Scrabble. I played both of these with my father every night, once dinner was over and the dishes done. I also loved playing Canasta with my Grandmother when I stayed with her during school vacations. I don't know anyone who plays Canasta now.

The best movie I ever saw as a kid was International Velvet. It's a sequel to National Velvet. Tatum O'Neil plays Velvet Brown's granddaughter who lives with her after her own parents are killed in a car accident. Tatum O'Neil raises Pi's foal and competes for the British Equestrian Team in the Olympics. Horse movies are one of my guilty pleasures. I must have seen this movie at least 100 times, but not recently. Perhaps that would make for a good Artist Date.

I don't do it much, but I enjoy swimming. I have been around water all my life until I moved to the land-locked Midwest. We had a pool in the backyard ever since I can remember. I spen tlong summers filled with lots of sunscreen and water filled ballons. Swimming is something that I can use as a meditation (provided I'm in good enough shape to be able to swim more than a lap or two. I haven't been in that shape for several years now)

If I could lighten up a little, I'd let myself be happy. I have a tendancy to ignore all the good in my life and focus on the negatives. I choose to wallow because it's safe. It's not getting my anywhere but deeper into a black hole of shame.

If it weren't too late, I'd get fit and healthy. (Is it ever too late to start a fitness regime?)

My favorite musical instrument is the guitar. I love the way it sounds and I admire someone whoc an sit down and pick and strum away. I tried to learn how to play it a few years ago and gave it away after a few short weeks of frustrations. I have me music teachings and have been told by my family that I am tone deaf. I'm not sure that is true and I'm finding the more I expose myself to msuic, the more I believe there is still hope for me. Thanks to the playstation, I've found I'm rather partial to drumming also. I've also loved the sound of the piano. I saw some girl on tv playing the recorder from her nose. I wondered about getting myself a recorder and starting to learn to play "an instrument"

The amount of money I spent on treating myself is minsicule. I don't earn a whole lot working retail. By the time I pay bills there is very little left over. I do know that I spend more than I could on food - because food has always been a comfort. I aspire to cut down on the grocery bill and redirect that money into healthier choices that comfort my inner artist and not my inner demons.

If I weren't so stingy with my inner artist, I'd buy different artist materials and delve into new projects I've never done before, like beading and ceramics. If I had the room in my apartment, I'd by a drafting table and set up an artist studio dedicated to creating a safe environment in which to work.

I secretly enjoy reading gossip magazines and women's interest magazines such as Real Life and Oprah.

If I had a perfect childhood, I'd have grown up to be a housewife and mother with an artist studio.

If I didn't sound so crazy, I'd write the memoir about my Great Uncle Charlie and his spiritual influences on my life. He dies as a POW in WW2 and was buried in St Louis, not too far from Ohio.

My parents think artists are wasteful. My mother is a lot more supportive but my father has little time for someone who chooses art as a career. He is very left-brained and analytical with a brain built for science. He is also ultra-conservative and believes in financial security and a good solid career in a high-paying position. In his world, the arts cannot provide such things. In saying that, he still carries around with him, some of my early drawings.
My mother is a lot more right brained and has an incredible talent for detailed botanical water color. She is supportive of my drawing but has a fear of the truth being"written down and set in stone" She thinks that what people say cannot create a lot of negative reaction and often get you in to trouble. She cringes at the idea of journal writing.

My God thinks that artists are amazing. They are people to be admired and respected. It's not at all easy to sit down to a blank canvas or a a blank page and create something wonderful. I admire people who can lose themselves in their art.

What makes me feel weird about this recovery is the real possibility of success. The idea that I can become a healthy, organized woman who is happy in the moment and creating finished pieces of artwork is still more a dream than reality.

Learning to trust myself is a battle. I've always been a like a chameleon to varying degrees, struggling to fit in with someone and something.

My most cheer me up music is Xavier Rud, an Australian musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist whose songs are generally about spiritual, sociological and ecological issues. I discovered him by accident when I was at an Ani DiFranco concert several years ago. I've recently discovered Loreena McKennitt and come to the realization that I really enjoy Irish and Celtic music. It's okay if that makes me a nerd.

My favorite way to dress is comfortable. I really enjoy hippish outfits. Lots of crochet and that whole thrift store mix and match that is popular amongt artists and activists. I don't tend to dress that way as much as I would like to since I'm overweight and try to hide that behind my clothing. I guess you'd call it a vintage look. It's hard to describe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Big Carli

The photo I posted of Carli earlier is one my favorites. She was only about 4 months old in this photo, I thought I'd post some that I took of her recently, reveling in the sun in her favorite place.

Artist Date #3 and General Update

Hi everyone.

It's been a long week for. I'm back in the routine of doing my morning pages after the general chaos from a city with no power.

I've found myself to be very irritable lately. I have been under a great deal of stress and a little homesick for my family back in Australia. My grandmother (who is 94) fell off her motorized 4 wheel scooter again. This is the fourth time in less than a year. The last time she fell onto a busy road while it was raining and at dusk. She was lucky to not be run over and got away with about 40 stitches in her head and a lot of bruising. This time she has fractured her pelvis, broke her the ball off her artificial hip and broken her femur. We didn't expect her to make ti threw the 8 hours of surgery but she has and is doing well. The scooter is long gone - for good this time.

Adding to this, my beloved kitty has been unwell. This morning I woke up to find she had vomited up a large elastic band. she seems to be much better now and was loudly portraying her need for breakfast. She is a little neurotic which I mostly contribute to her being weaned ver early. I got her from a foster home at an animal shelter when she was only 7 weeks old. Someone had found her crossing a road and terrified. She caused and accident and was named "Trouble" by the kind people who saved her life. At the animal shelter, they changed her name to Carli since she was "too cute and loving to be called Trouble" Oddly enough, Kali is a Hindu Goddess associated with death and destruction. Her name is spelt differently, but pronounced the same.

Here is a photo of her. I love her so much.

I had the day off work today and I decided it was a perfect day for my Artist Date. I usually do this on a Thursday, so it's a little delayed this week. I woke up this morning with the realization that our full week of perfect weather is going to be short lived. Here in the Midwest, there are only a few weeks where it's not bitterly cold or uncomfortably humid.

I realized that not going outside was completing wasting the sunshine.

Since I've been inspired by those of you who have been taking your camera out, I decided to go to Inniswood Metro Gardens. It's been a while since I've been there. It's one of my special places. My best friend was proposed to there at the frog pond - in her pajamas.

I packed a picnic (not realizing that food was not allowed inside the Gardens)
i wandered around for several hours, taking photographs, reveling in the smell of the gorgeous roses. I sat and watched the squirrels gathering acorns and dancing amongst the tree limbs. I watched the bees dive in and ot of the flowers gathering nectar. I watched a lady bird struggle to reach the top of a tall petal without losing his balance. I learned that there are lots of variations of mint. I followed the stepping stones of the Onondaga Creation Story. I thought about the giant oak tree that stood in front of my grandmothers house and how I loved to collect the acorns when I visited her.

I took my ipod with me and sat in the sunshine listening to Loreena McKennitt. I only recently discovered her and I can't get enough of her music. I've been a big fan of Dead Can Dance and Lisa Gerrard and Loreena has a similar type of sound. A particular song has been with me all day. It's one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. It's called Dante's Prayer.

It spoke to me. Here are the lyrics.

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

My moments of wonders have continued through the day. I came home and ate my picnic. I set up a photo blog of some of my 160 photographs from the Gardens. This is something I've wanted to do for many months but never gotten around to. Now, friends and family across the oceans can be more in my life without me filling their Emails with large hindering file transfers.

Yay me!

For anyone interested in looking at the site, you can find it here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hurricane Ike

What a week it has been.

The remnants of Hurricane Ike came up through the Midwest and wrecked havoc on our city. With as bad as it was, I can't imagine how disastrous it was for those in Texas. Here in Ohio, we had hurricane force gusts in the range of 55-70 mph.

It came through and knocked down thousands of trees, damages houses, injured people and left 90% of the city without power.

That was Sunday and my power was just restored Wednesday. My internet and cable connection only came back online this afternoon. I'm one of the lucky ones. The electric company are saying that many people will still be without power on Sunday, one full week after the storm.

It was amazing!

Grocery stores were closed, gas stations were closed. You couldn't buy a bag of ice or a candle anywhere in town. Traffic lights were out on most intersections. There was a small pocket of power in my work complex (we were open for business) and the McDonald's in the plaza were out of food by the second day. On Sunday night after the storm had past, people were waiting over an hour for a cheese burger!

Needless to say, my progress with The Artist's Way has been hindered this week. I haven't done morning pages in 4 days now and I'm feeling pretty down about it. The artist side of me has been telling me that this was the perfect time to be writing without the distraction of television and internet.

The critic, ego-driven side has used this week as an excuse to halt my recovery. I've spent the past few days wallowing in my own self-misery. Onwards I go.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Artists Date #2

It's that time of the week again. I put my hand in my trusty idea jar and pulled out three options for my Artists Date. #1 was to create a music cd with a artful cover. I didn't much feel like doing this. #2 was to make a pot of soup and since it was in the high 80's, I figured it was a little warm to making soup. #3 was to go a craft shop and get "something" I could finish in an afternoon.

I had to go to Joann's anyhow to get more yarn for my cross stitch. So off to Joann's I went.

I walked down the kids aisle and immediatly saw what I wanted to do. A paint by number! It was oodles of fun and has taken me most of the afternoon and evening to finish. I put some wonderful music on (Xavier Rudd and then Lorena McKennit) This evening I listened to a documentary about the construction and restoration of Parthenon.

It was wonderful to be painting again, without the anxiety of "destroying" a blank canvas.

Better still, I was able to forget about my desire to smoke.

All in all, a wonderful day off.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What have I learnt this week?

On of my negative beliefs of why I could not write: I don't have the confidence of good grammar. For example, should this blog title have been "What have I learned this week?" or "What have I learnt this week?"

I'm at peace when my house is clean and tidy and organized. I struggle to maintain that organization and hence, use organization as an avoidance of what my art, my creativity and my self.

I will sit down to write my morning pages or do something artistic and my inner demons battles to come up with other "more important things" that I must do right now rather than write.

I'm aware of these hindrances and others, but as yet I am fighting a battle to overcome their powers.

I'm sitting down now to a 95% immaculately clean house. I could be sorting out all my art supplies, mopping the bathroom floors and cleaning the patio and grill. But I am telling myself that those things can wait because tonight was previously declared "writing night"

I've made a lot of big changes this week.

1. I'm attempting to quit smoking. I'm 35 years old and have been smoking for almost 5 years. Most people start this disgusting habit when they are a teenager and it's the cool thing for them to do. Right? Not me. I started smoking at the time of my divorce. When I was old enough to be aware of the dangerous health effects and the anti-social effect of smelling bad all the time.

I started smoking at 30 years old because I felt like it was the cool thing to do. His new girlfriend was a smoker and I was not. In fact I hated the smell of tobacco that it drew a wedge between my ex-husband and I since he was also a smoker. I had hopes that by smoking I'd bridge that gap and possibly change the directions things had taken. It didn't work that way, and by the time I realized this, it was too late and my addiction to nicotine had wound itself around me.

The hardest thing about quitting smoking is the routine and habit. Your brain slurps up the nicotine and associates certain activities with smoking as a way of tightening it's hold on the you. It disguises as a reward which is good for you rather than it's addictive poison.

"Once you finish this task, it'll be nice to reward yourself with a peaceful cigarette where little can interrupt out time together"

The hardest times include getting in my car, finishing a meal, contemplating the start of your day, before getting started on a project and when I'm having an indecisive moment. Smoking helps you think. So nicotine leads you to believe. In reality, it's one of my enemies of my creative self.

2. This leads me to the other big revelation I've had this week.

I'm investigating the possibility of applying for, and sitting an examination for a professional license in my abandoned professional field. I've been out of the medical field for about 5 years. Since the day I began smoking to be exact.

I went from a highish paying position in the medical field to a retail position in a used bookstore. At the time I justified it by the need for a change. My demanding somewhat-crazy job has also been a factor in the breakdown of my marriage. I was going back to my roots. Going back to the job I'd dreamed of having when I was a child. I did and I still do love it this new career.

As I progress further up the ladder into higher management, my job has become less about the books and more about looking after people who do play with the books. In a few years I will come to the top of my salary cap unless I get further promoted and further away from what I love the most, the books. In all reality, I'm never going to make enough dollars to the live the type of lifestyle I dream of having.

I don't desire much, just the same semi carefree financial existance I once had. I'm tired of struggling and agonizing over every last penny. It's extra anxiety that is taking me away from my creativity despite the incredible amount of time off I get now. What good is time off if I widdle it away wishing for more than I have right now while I smoke a pack of cigarettes.

I'm not telling my demons that I've quit smoking. I'm telling them that "Just for today, I am not going to smoke"

I've also come up with a list of negatives for smoking.

1. It's stinky.
2. It's incredibly expensive.
3. My fitness level has deteriorated since I started smoking.
4. Breathing is noticeable different, and not for the better.
5. I can't go to a coffee place and write for extended periods because nicotine withdrawals intrude.
6. I come from a family where everybody smoked and now none of them do. Except me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Artists Date

I have learned so much about myself this week. I've missed one day of morning pages - the very first day. (I never woke up to my alarm clock and was late to work)

Today is my first Artists Date. I initially made up a list of ideas on some post-its and threw all in a big jar, with the intention of pulling one randomly each week. Then on Monday our delivery driver bought in a bag of freshly picked peaches. They were to die for. It was then that I decided I wanted to go and pick my own fruit and vegetables. Raspberries are in full season and I LOVE fresh raspberries.

Once I get back, I will need to employ some great creativity as to what I am going to do with them all.

Off I go.