I planned my outfit out last night just before bed. The green skirt my sister gave me that is above the knee, but in no way a ... ahem ... a mini. The long sleeve green cotton pullover with a white cami underneath. My sensible brown Pappagallos. And the brown patterned tights that are just right underneath all this green. (note to self: I own waaaaay too many green articles of clothing!). I was a bit shy about wearing it, but as I slipped it on, I felt a little flutter of pleasure - this skirt and tights combo felt right. Something I haven't felt in my clothes/body in a long damn time. Thrills!
And then I noticed the hole.
Then I channeled my inner Agatha Christie, took a black Magic Marker, and colored my skin.
I spent my entire drive home Tuesday listening to the sounds of silence. My mind wandered all over the fricking place and I noticed things and I thought cool thoughts and I had ideas and it was wonderful. I went in to pick Josie up, and I forgot everything.
I think that's Emily Dickenson. No, wait. It's Wordsworth. That's what Google is for, right? Eliminating the need for rumination, filling the void of thought with e-certainty, putting the facts at our fingertips. In .003 seconds or less.
Been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. A little frantic. Unable to concentrate. Seeking, seeking, seeking. Always seeking.
Google is my enabler. Twitter, Facebook and the Elvis Costello Fan Forum as well. Just learned via Twitter that the amount of data shared online per week tops what the Hubble telescope collected in 20 freaking years. Don't need to actually read the article - the headline says it all. I never have one web page up anymore. It's always 4. Or 6. Or 8. And I never finish reading one before I jump to the next.
Everything is so instant and available that it lacks urgency, yet still commands attention. Bits want bits, I suppose. Don't quote me.
So, I'm taking a vacation I mean, pledge. No more than two pages up at a time. Facebook once a day. More blogging, less drowning in a tidal wave of trivia. I don't need to know anything else about Kim Kardashian. I don't need to compare ways to overwinter geraniums, I need to do something with the damn things before the frost gets them.
Back to meditating also, before the brutal stew of thoughts gets wound too tight. Practicing some MINDFULNESS, which I now think I have a sense of - it was just a stupid flavor-of-the-week word that I failed for years to get the gist of. This may be the step backward right before the breakthrough. I hope so. I've been drowning My Little Voice for years. Years. Really! Years and years and years I've been turning the music up, the tv on, grabbing a book, starting a conversation (or a fight), anything but listening to myself, because myself was not something worth listening to, if you follow me.
So, this begins a Pledge of Self-Care. I will walk, I will do my morning pages, I will meditate.
Everybody's got it. That one thing they don't leave home without. That one thing that you just don't feel dressed sans*.
(Smartasses, I am not talking literally here.)
For me, it's mascara. I may be unshowered and unkempt, but I'm going to have the illusion of long lush lashes whenever I venture beyond my own mailbox. My hairdresser told of a client who could not leave home without polished fingernails. For some, it's earrings; others, a baseball cap. For a lot of us these days, it's a cell phone.
What's your thing?
*Pretentious French word tossed in to avoid using "without" twice. Spent 5 minutes trying to think of the word "pretentious" and finally located it catty-corneredly through Thesaurus.com!
well, technically that's over, but it's a grand summation of the growing sense of dread I feel today. Or A summation. I'm not terribly articulate and prone to exaggeration.
What I mean is, it's almost September. And that chills my heart. LITERALLY. Weather-wise, this is a beautiful time of year: warm days, cool nights, the humidity largely gone. Psyche-wise, it sucks donkey balls. Rancid donkey balls.
And I can't quite put my finger on why. The end of summer, sure. That's depressing. Getting back in the rigid routine of the school calendar. Fall - and winter - on the horizon. I just feel so in flux, like everything is changing but in those old familiar ways. I always feel a little reborn and new in the spring, so I guess this is the bookend - feeling a little bit dead and most def a lot old. Yeah, I have a birthday coming up. And it's going to turn cold and the days are going to get shorter and shorter until the night lasts forever and I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark and everything is black and gray and ugly.
Très dramatique, n'est-ce pas?
Oui. I know, I know. C'est vrai.
Stop me before I light up une Gauloise and look pensively out the window.
As much as I tell myself not to be silly and to get a gosh darn grip on it and to think sunshine and lollipops and other happy thoughts, I still feel it. Despite the hostile environment, it persists.
because I sometimes see things like this little dude here. From this angle he looks like some sort of cartoony sea creature who would no doubt speak in a very deep and possibly British voice. 180 your monitor and you can see that he is a moth. A Polyphemus moth, to be exact. Apparently, I was lucky to see him, as they live only for a few days. Those few days are spent searching for mates, not food. I'm guessing that this was near the end of his - I assume it's a he, just because he looks moustachioed - time on earth, because he was alone and not very energetic.
A semi-pro soccer team! In my own backyard! The Knoxville Force is here, and I finally got to see them play Sunday, against Monterrey's U-20 team. The weather was hot and humid, and the soccer got slow, but it was an interesting game and the level of play impressed me. I wasn't hoping for Barcelona, but I was hoping it wouldn't be a slugfest. Now that they are finally having home games, I'm going on vacation. I have it in mind to see the game on 7/16, which might have one of Austin's old teammates present. Anyway, I will be there more NEXT YEAR~!
I choose Lemon Up shampoo. It was the bomb-diggity when I was younger. And blonder. That was the thing to do in the 70's - try to DIY highlights with lemon juice and sunshine. (Do not try this at home unless you are a *true* blond. You might end up brassy and brassy is not good.) The beauty of Lemon Up was that it would (supposedly) highlight while you shampooed. Smelled terrific, too. Unfortunately, it was kinda rough on hair with continued use, although to be fair Lemon Up conditioner was available as well. It was even kind of hard to find then - just one drugstore in town sold it. I used to buy all they had when I would come home from college and I could have made a killing if I had been the type to black market.
Had my second official drawing class last night. My take on the camp chair with sock monkey garnered this response from my instructor: Why don't you try drawing it with your left hand? So, I did.
This is it -
Kind of faintly drawn, I realize. Must remember to draw WITH PURPOSE.
But overall, I like it. I like that little monkey face. A lot.
The very nice lady on my right asked me if I was sure I was right handed. That's been food for thought ever since. I don't do anything much naturally with my left hand, but I am so flummoxed trying to draw with my right. It leaves me feeling frustrated, angry and stupid. Especially stupid. I can *see* it, so why can't I draw it? And then the instructor was going on and on and on about angles and what you see first and how everything else is in relation to that and it made me feel all swimmy-headed and even stupider. Words! I know words! I speak them all the time and sometimes even write them! But I could not get it - I could not see what she was trying to show me and I just nearly cried. In class. The shame. I have ALWAYS been an A student.
This is most definitely out of my comfort zone.
God help me.
p.s. I drew this one upside down in attempt to get my right brain working! I think it helps, but unfortunately the world does not cooperate.
How I Learned to Leave the Library and Pick Up the Pen
less thinking, more doing a book never drew a picture that poem ain't gonna write itself (well, sometimes it might) the doing is the plan.
This is a poem I wrote this morning to remind myself to stop reading about doing things and start doing them. Yes, it's a poem, because I say it is. And it's an accomplishment, regardless of its quality.
There is no try. There is only do and do not.
We won't talk about the drawing book the library finally located - I reserved it weeks ago! I can't help it if it was lost on the shelves!
Had an epiphany on the drive home the other day. I don't usually think any harder than what is necessary to remember the lyrics to a Transplants song, but somehow some way, in the 20 minutes it takes me to get from here to there, a truth hit me upside the head hard enough to sink in. It's this: whatever you do, do it like you mean it.
Like playing guitar. Most people learning try to play quietly, so the world doesn't hear their mistakes (and I am one of these people!). But you have to play it loud to be heard and to hearyourself. Tentativity is the mortal enemy of creativity. Look! I made a homily. And a word! But seriously, it's true, even if it's not quite grammatically correct.
It's a damn good thing I recognized this truth. I'm starting Beginning Drawing on June 2nd. The course materials list suggests at least an 18 x 24 drawing pad. 18 inches! by 24 inches! At LEAST!!! That's a foot and a half by two feet!!! The biggest paper I've ever sketched on is 8 1/2 by 11, and my typical doodle pad is yellow and has sticky on one side. How in the name of Wile E. Coyote am I supposed to fill in all that blankness?!?!
Fully epiphanated, I will boldly draw where I've never drawn before. I'm not saying it will be good. But it will be meant.
Had a Gatlinburg weekend recently. NOT a vacation, but a blip in the space-time continuum wherein I found myself surrounded by the mists of yore, blasted by my past-ed, etcetera. I graduated (or granulated, as my dear old friend Zeke used to say) from Gatlinburg Pittman High School in 1981, and when I walked out the door, I really walked out the door. I was on the edge of the orbits of a couple different circles of friends, and that post-grad summer I started a new job and romance (the marrying kind) and I disappeared into that. Like witness-relocation disappeared.
I was a bad friend. I have a history of being a bad friend, I see now in hindsight. I have something like an excuse. We moved several times during my childhood. The natural order of things was this: live here for a little while, have some fun, move on to the next place. Family goes with, friends wave goodbye. I may still be a bad friend - in fact, I'm fairly certain of it. But I try. I really try, but in some ways I'm that puppy who left the litter too soon. I just don't have the social skills for the pack environment.
Memory Lane came strolling in with lunch on Friday and the parade continued through Sunday evening. Can't think for the life of me why I have this horrible impression of my high school years. I don't remember anything specifically awful, just a general sense of not fitting in and being surrounded by stupidity. I guess we all battle our insecurities there - mine is perhaps not quite finished. I always worry about kids who love high school. This should not be the apex of your life. It's the prelude. In fact, I don't want to reach the apex! I just want to continue the climb.
So I've started climbing through the past a little, seeing that it isn't the acid-washed nightmare I feared. Good things are back there also. And good friends.
Congratulations to the Right Reverend Jenny A. Pam and I are so proud to know you. You *are* our once and future king. Even if you're a girl.
After a hard day of dog-walking, grocery-shopping and laundry-doing, the Hubs and I headed down to Maryville, TN to The Shed to see one of my favorite folk singers ever, Mr. Todd Snider.
But first, we ate fabulous Mexican food at El Paso in Sevierville. The most marvelous tostada I can ever remember eating. Chicken, sour cream, guacamole, and the most delicious white sauce. And a nice cold cerveza. Muy bueno. My second visit and it will not be my last.
Elizabeth Cook opened with a favorite, Times Are Tough in Rock n' Roll. She is very tiny and very pretty. This must've been the end of her tour, as she had sold out of most of her merchandise. "Balls" panties still available, but only in large. I snagged the very last t-shirt she had, a lovely minty green number promoting her Sirius Outlaw Radio show - thanks, Hubs. Thought it was a large, turns out it was X-large. Pizza Hut, here I come. Her husband Tim Carroll played the electric guitar in her band and she featured a couple songs he/they wrote. She clogged to one with great charm. Her mother hails from West Virginia, which she called the land of 5 million people, 5 last names.
Let me take just one moment to discuss the crowd. This is a Harley-Davidson dealership, bikers are the norm. In fact, I should have been ashamed to drive up in the family truckster. Some couples here and there, but by and large, it was mostly guys. With guys. Wearing lots of leather, some of it sleeveless, bandannas and black. There were candleabras, with thick plastic candles. Boots! With a little glitter and some more forgiving lighting, it could have been Maryville's answer to the Gay Dolphin. I know there's a size large "Balls" panties joke in here somewhere but I just can't seem to find it. Everyone had set up a camp chair, but few people actually sat. A mosh pit formed at the foot of the stage, making it difficult to see EC (not *that* EC, but Elizabeth Cook) and Todd. Why can't we all be civilized at these things and sit? But no, we've all got to be dicks in front of the stage throwing our death metal signs and spilling beer on our fellow moshers. If seats are provided, sit your ass down. Thank you.
Todd Snider took the stage in red plaid shirt (grunge? or royal wedding? you decide), his usual scruffy hat, all barefoot on his magic carpet. He gave himself a Blues Brother-ish intro and jumped right in to Lookin' For A Job. Oddly enough, for somebody peddling a record entitled The Storyteller, he didn't tell a single story. And I missed that. Both he and EC (again, not *that* EC) seemed a little perfunctory in their performances. Not all that happy about being there with me and all my biker friends. Just checked their facebook pages and strangely enough, neither of them has posted a word about the experience. Does silence speak volumes? I am with my cliches today. Cliches, good ways, to say what you mean and mean what you say - thank you, Jimmy Buffett.
I joined the mosh pit (where these crap photos were taken) and observed him sweating heavily. Random note: I don't think he was wearing underpants. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was trying to get close enough to get a good picture of his bare feet. Do not ask why. It was The Mission, and I did my best to see it accomplished.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the show. But I was hoping for stories and banter. There was none. I was expecting a guy with a guitar. This was most definitely not "unplugged" and I don't know if it's my ears or their sound, but it was all just a loud blended mess of electric guitars. I was really hoping for a EC/Todd duet. It was not to be.
See? Barefoot. Really. Sorry the Persian rug isn't more visible. It was a camera phone.
It's that time. That moment in every mother's life when, no matter how many snotty noses she has wiped, no matter how many foreheads she has soothed, no matter how many encouraging words she has whispered, she finds herself unnecessary. Redundant. VHS in a DVD world. Dialed up in a wi-fi universe. Obso-freakin’lete.
I should be used to this. It’s happened before. Twice. And it will no doubt happen once more in a few years. Why it should take me by surprise this time is one of those unfathomable mysteries, like why my hair is just right, just right, just right and 20 minutes later, an inch too long.
My little boy doesn’t need me anymore.
Ok, to be fair, this has been an ongoing process since he left the womb in 1993, all pointy-headed and red and screaming. The boy has healthy lungs, I’ll give him that. Little by little, year by year, he’s wiggled further and further out of my arms. And out of my grasp. One day I was changing his diapers, the next I’m adding him as a driver on our auto policy. Somewhere in between, I became fallible. Subject to criticism. Open to cross-examination. Lately, I'm just invisible.
And it’s all because of a girl. (Cue Robbie Fulks).
If I was semi-useless before, I’ve now come full circle in my expendability. I get it, I’m the old and diseased musk ox the lions cull from the herd, my every breath an affront to youth and that complex hive of hysterical neediness known as high school. We used to watch soccer together. Sometimes, a movie. These days he’s watching American Idol (the horror! The horror!) with her. He used to pick all the tomatoes out of his bowl when I made chili. Now, he’s at her house when dinner time rolls around, hopefully NOT picking the tomatoes out. I’m sad and I’m glad all at the same time. There’s an upside: I don’t have to WATCH him dissect food, and UT sports will never override my soccer viewing. But there’s a down side, too. There’s a hole in my life where that boy used to fit.
I went to the post office today, as is my habit just before lunch on a workday. I had a bagful to mail and a lot of stuff laying around the front seats of my van. I took a minute to turn off the radio, because the satellite part screws up sometimes if you leave it on, and I cracked the windows as well. Then I opened the door, hit the "lock" button and slammed the door shut. With my keys still in the ignition.
There I stand, in heels.
No cell phone. No money. What to do?!?!
I tested each and every door and learned my "lock" button works exceptionally well. I tried the hatch back. I tried to snake my hand through the crack in the passenger window. I tried to snake my hand through the crack in the driver's side window. I looked at that little lock button and thought to myself, if I had a coat hanger, I could do this.
I glanced down at the mulch in the flower bed. There was a rusty coat hanger. As if I had wished it into existence.
I held it up to the window and felt its flimsiness. I snaked it through and watched it slide feebly over the button. I breathed in and out and tried again. CLICK. I am back in my van and thanking Jesus, the Universe and the inventor of coat hangers.
This is the coolest thing that's happened to me in recent memory. Ok, so it's not up there with the births of my children, but it's still very very cool. Unbelievable, even. Envisioned, then occurred. Go, me. Go, Universe!
Yeah, not *that*. Other people's PROBLEMS. I am deluged with them today. Without going into all the dull details, let me just say that I am grateful I took that meditation class and can almost ananda-out all the twitches and entangling tangents this typically brings. Yes, I am ready to slap somebody silly, but I'm not taking it all that personally and I am doing a damn fine job of letting it go. Does that sound like a contradiction?
Like the great poet John Prine once said, if heartaches were commercials, we'd all be on tv.
It's been a good ride, but it's just time to let go and let God. Give up and get down? Quit and be quiet? Withdraw and wig out? Decamp and do nada? I can do this all day, people. Stop me.
At the risk of repeating myself - and let's face it, that really seems to be my mission in life - it's not you, Artist's Way, it's me. Here at the end of the 12 week course that took me 16 weeks, I'm undecided. Was it worth it? I still didn't create anything other than that one collage, my Seat of Sloth drawing and a few blog posts. I thought a lot about doing stuff, but I didn't follow through. In spite of that, overall, I'm giving the experience two thumbs up. I took a couple of turns around the spiral path. I'm a tiny bit more honest with myself (and others - beware), I'm an iota braver. A lot of discontent has been uncovered and I'm gonna have to do something about that. Something positive and illuminating, I hope. No more being a mushroom. Nosirree. Not anymore. Score one, JC.
Where do I go from here?
After much gnashing of teeth and wailing, I've settled on a two month reprieve. I will continue the Morning Pages (score two, JC), with whom I have a deep and abiding love/hate relationship. I will continue to meditate, because I took that class and I want my money's worth. And I will focus on walking daily and feeding my body better. In a couple of months, I'll take stock again and see if I want to delve deeper into JC or look for a new guru. I've heard that Vein of Gold is a dense and expounds more on her particular spiritual beliefs. If she turns out to be one of those Hale-Bopp nuts I shall be profoundly disillusioned. I've been trying to rediscover and embrace my inner wacko and it's just a little tougher to do at 47 than it was at 21.
I listened to Bach. Lots and lots of Bach. A regular Bach-analia.
And I began to feel down, waaaaay down, misunderstood, marginalized and unheard. I remembered a line from an Elvis Costello song, about how I tried so hard just to be myself, but I keep on fading away. But I keep plugging away at it anyhoo, doing my thing (that fabulous phrase from the 70's!) and hoping someday, somewhere, somehow, it will be heard.
You know what they say, everybody gotta have a dream...
Winding it down on this Artist's Way stuff - one week to go now, thank you Jeebus. And I have to be honest and admit it's not you, Artist's Way, it's me. I haven't put 100% out there, I have not been conscious and present when I do the exercises. Somehow I expect the magic to happen even when I'm just going through the motions. And to be fair, Julia Cameron does encourage us to keep doing it even if we are just going through the motions. I've been through many many motions now and I'm still just going through them. One of the assigned tasks for Week 11 was to buy a special creativity notebook (I love how JC always invokes the Power of New!) and label the first 7 pages Health, Possessions, Leisure, Relationships, Creativity, Career and Spirituality. Under each of those topics we are to write down 10 wishes. I did these Saturday evening while watching NYRB give Seattle their second defeat in their second game. Looking at my notes the next morning, I have no recollection of completing this task. In fact, some of my notes are as obtuse as the memos I get at work, dangling participles and all.
And the Artist's Dates - well, I think I did two. When I was supposed to do one per week. It's just very very hard to get time to myself. ALONE. And there are so many things to do on any given day. The Big To Do List keeps growing, I get farther and farther behind, so I feel guilty about that and neglect Artist's Way stuff, and sometimes a girl just wants to have fun and that chick flick ain't gonna watch itself...
Just one more hour in the day, please, Jeebus. Just one more hour.
Just a few days ago I was scolding myself for my impulsiveness and today I'm jumping on the run amok crazy train once again.
It started with Blogs of Note. My typical reaction to reading a Blog of Note is WTF? Last week, the reaction was different. Edenland was on the list and I gave it a read. And a further read. And on and on until I had read a whole lot of it. And it was so well done and witty and fun, even about very serious things, it just blew me away and made me want to write a great blog too. Did I mention the purple in her banner? I like purple. And skulls. Very Tim Armstrongish. I like that too. I "followed" Edenland and this morning's post mentioned Angel cards.
I'd never heard of Angel cards, so I googled at once. Amazon has heaps and I just nearly hit BUY NOW before I remembered my pledge to stop being such an impulse buyer, of things AND ideas.. After an hour of the agony-of-denial, I realized the internet was at my fingertips - surely someone, somewhere had online Angel cards. Preferably for free. Yes.
I like the idea of angels guiding my card selection, gravitating my hand in the right direction. It would probably be simpler, however, if they just picked up the phone. For the record, I drew Cherish, Peace and Patience.
Waaaaaaaaay back in the day, when dinosaurs had just recently met their demise, I went to the UK for the summer as an exchange student. To this day, I don't know what they exchanged me for. As you might imagine, getting there involved an airplane ride or two, and airplane rides usually involve long idle hours standing around waiting. Loooooooong idle hours. Waiting.
So, standing around JFK one August afternoon in 1980 (told you it was post-dinosaurs!), my friend and I spotted a familiar face sitting and waiting in one of those impossibly uncomfortable airport seats. You know, the ones that are not just a seat, but a whole line of seats created to bring order to the chaos of jet travel in chrome and shinyl vinyl. The kind and gentle face of Mr. Bill Cosby, actor, comedian, all-around Mr. Congeniality and Jello spokesperson.
Unless you interrupt him at the airport.
My friend and I noticed him and began to whisper back and forth: that looks like Cos! Sitting in the hallway at JFK? Can't be. But it looks just like him! You ask. No, you. No, you.
This went on a good ten minutes until we had ourselves worked up into a frenzy of celebrity awe. We approached.
May we have your autograph?
Eons of freaking silence.
Whole worlds - and dinosaurs! - were created and ceased to exist during this silence.
"Can you say please?" with just a drop of unctuous disdain.
Older, wiser (ha!) me now realizes that this was just typical Cosby humor. Younger, idiot me felt like she'd been assessed and found wanting. Horrifically wanting. NAKEDLY wanting. In-front-of-the-entire-school-ridicule and the Defcon One nuclear strike of shame.
It's hard to talk about now. But, that which does not kill me makes me stronger.
or, why Gung-ho should be stricken from my vocabulary.
I'm following my doctor's advice. Try some soy in your diet, she says. It's good for you and it might help with the hot flashes. So, I went to Kroger. Hungry. Chocolate-bereft. I bought soy chocolate milk. Soy sea salt crisps. Soy protein "chicken" fingers. Edamame. I looked at soy ice cream, but it was pretty pricey, so I left it on the shelf. Soy Joy bars. I left no soy unturned in my quest to be flash-free.
Further research indicates I do not need to go so whole hog. A glass of chocolate soy milk once or twice per day will do the trick. No need to soy bomb, as it were.
At least, between all the morning pages and meditations, I've learned to recognize my tendency to go overboard. I may not be able to control it yet, but I've got it's number now.
This week's focus was recovering a sense of self-protection. To be completely honest, I didn't get a lot out of this chapter. I'm not a workaholic, I'm not famous; I may be a little competitive, but really, who isn't? Other than the Dalai Lama, of course. Some of the exercises seemed a little silly, in particular The Deadlies, in which we were to write down the words ALCOHOL, DRUGS, SEX, WORK, MONEY, FOOD, FAMILY/FRIENDS on individual strips of paper, fold them, place them in a hat or something and draw one out seven different times. Then, we drew one out and wrote down five ways this thing has a negative effect on our lives. I drew DRUGS four times. Julia Cameron says that this should be read as emphasis. Sorry, Julia. I do not have a drug problem keeping me from writing. I also drew FAMILY/FRIENDS multiple times. It was not an eye-opening experience. I am nearing the end of the The Artist's Way (the book, not the life) and I'm beginning to find Julia Cameron a little annoying. Or out of touch. And she's anti-meditation, which I find downright odd.
This could simply be what she terms an 'artistic tantrum' which typically precedes a big leap forward.
Apologies, dear readers. (tee freakin' hee, readers. As if.) Been busy meditating, soccering, Artist's Way-ing, reading, reading, watching tv and - ugh - working. I've moved forward on the The Way (cue Scott Miller), but I haven't always taken the time to blog about it. Consider this a remedy.
Or a ... reconnection!
Week Nine's task was to recover a sense of compassion. One of the main points of the chapter was to label things rightly, particularly "laziness," which is often just fear. Fear that we won't be able to do something perfectly, fear that we will fail, fear that we will succeed even. We say we're lazy, when we're really just afraid to try. The salve of compassion is not just for use on others, then, but we should apply just as liberally to our own skins. See what I did there?
Also discussed were creative u-turns, where we self-sabotage out of fear, and block-blasting, where we take inventory before beginning a new project of any resentments (anger) and resistances (fear) we might feel about starting. I still find this provocative because I haven't done any actual creative work, other than blog posts and one lonely collage, since I began this journey back in December.
It was my intention today to start a new poem. Truthfully, it was my intention yesterday to start a new poem. I just didn't do it. So I'm going to play a little bit with this blasting exercise and see what happens. I apologize beforehand.
Resentments: nobody ever reads poetry! it means work! thinking! editing! especially the editing!!!
Fears: people will think I'm weird for writing it. it will be awful and I won't know it and I'll show it to someone and ... it doesn't bear thinking about. I won't be able to write it! Nothing will come!
I saw it again. A wolf. Running hell for leather across Veteran's Boulevard. I was this close to hitting him, so much that I had to swerve and I nearly hit a truck in the other lane. He - the wolf - never wavered, never gave me a glance, never seemed to notice he was running perpendicular to the flow of traffic. The driver of the truck gave me a are-you-crazy-lady? shrug and sped on heedlessly. This is a six lane road! It was a busy school morning! Have I mentioned that this was the second time I'd witnessed this? Examination of this under Occam's razor leads to only one conclusion: it was a hallucination. Well, more accurately, a vision. A vision of my spirit animal, the wolf.
No, I have not started smoking crack. Gravity is still functioning for me nicely and the sun still rises in the ... east, is it? I can never remember. That and the spring-forward, fall-back thing - it could just as easily be spring-back, fall-forward, couldn't it?
But I digress.
I suppose what really made me pay attention was the fact that this exact same thing happened twice. Or I had dreamt it first and then it happened In The Real World. But either way, that's significant, don't you think? I don't know what it means exactly, but information here indicates that the wolf teaches steadfastness and helps us find new paths and journeys. One standout sentence from that site: Sometimes transformation accompanies Wolf's lessons.
That sounds way cool, no?
To honor my wolf vision, I am wearing moonstone earrings. They are actually simulated moonstone because I am an impulse buyer. Perhaps my spirit totem will teach me to read the fine print.
Had to add another two days to this week to get 'er done. Will basketball ever end? I thought I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but it turned out to be a train. A big ass train.
This week was about connections and the recovery thereof. Tasks included some fun stuff, like listening to one side of an album just for joy; wearing a favorite article of clothing for no reason at all (cue Forest Gump); buying myself something wonderful & self-comforting (my purple polka-dotted robe); and creating a collage. This was supposed to be done very rapidly, but as I went dumpster-diving for the unread-by-me magazines, I took my time looking them over. Another reason I had to add two days to this week! But my collage came out pretty cool, I think, and I am so ridiculously proud of it that I'd like to hang it on my refrigerator.
But I'd have to clean it off first, so...
A good week on the Artist's Way. I reconnected to my inner adventurer in a nanoway. I signed up for a class in meditation. All by myself! With strangers! And I gave a good two minutes of thought to standing up and telling some of ThatSchoolWhichMustNotBeNamed's basketball parents to sit down and shut up and stop acting like schoolyard bullies. But I decided that was perhaps not a risk it would be wise to take just yet.
My first draft of that came out WARtist's way. I think I like that better. I'm not an artist, I'm a WARtist!
Yeah, right. (which is proof that two positives CAN make a negative)
To be blunt, Week Six sucked. It was all about abundance, playing What If again and examining the idea of God's - the Creator's - will for us. One particular quote, which I will now mangle, stood out for me: God didn't make just ONE kind of snowflake, but an INFINITE variety of snowflakes, so he must adore creativity. Which is a provocative idea. But God also created accountants and the need for them, so maybe he's a little OCD too. The idea that God wants everyone to be creative is fabulous, but we can't ALL be artists, can we? Doesn't someone have to make the soup, so to speak? That's the leap of faith I can't seem to make - that if I am meant to be an artist/writer, I should just do it and let the money follow.
Too fond of eating, I suppose, to be that reckless. And I'm not at all sure I'm meant to be an artist/writer. Do you like that slash? I don't. Writing seems so concrete to me, and drawing/painting/creating things out of other things seems so ... spiritual? Like you have to be tuned in to something and it flows through you and out into the work. I've written a couple things like that, none of which immediately spring to mind, and certainly not *this* blog post, but I've never HAD to paint a picture or draw a line or fingerpaint for that matter.
in which we try to reconnect with a Sense of Possiblity by examining the attitudes and ideas we have about the nature of God the Creator and also by examining what Julia calls Virtue Traps we build around ourselves. Maybe the subtitle of this chapter should be Remember When You Weren't Everything to Everybody? Or, How I learned to let go and let others make their own peanut butter sandwiches. Or something like that. Tasks were all about lists of ten: ways I am mean to myself (I had a HARD time with this one - I am pretty kind to myself as a rule), ten items I would like to own (surprise! I want a VW camper van!!). If I were 20 and had money, what would I do? If I were 65 and same, what then? A lot of what-if'ing and idle dreaming and I am pretty darn good at that.
The Virtue Trap stuff rang dishearteningly true. As I look back over my adult life, I realize that I've gradually surrendered every second of solitude I once treasured. I was a weird kid, I freely admit, and I liked being alone. Not all the time, but I was, as my mother was delighted to find out, totally content with my own company. Once I got married, I still had some alone time, because we worked different shifts a lot. Once the first child came along, it got a little harder, but I was still in college, so I had the class/commute time. Out of school, with baby #2, it got even more scarce and somewhere just disappeared completely. Last summer, I found myself on a Saturday all alone - kids off with friends, husband working. And I had no freaking idea what to do! I had completely forgotten how to be by myself. So, I took the dog to town. Literally. Pet Smart and two dog parks! A big day for her. What I realized from this chapter is that I need that alone time.
Up to date, I'm not. The good news is that I'm busy doing the stuff, so I don't have time to blog about it. And to be fair, week four was media deprivation week, so technically I wasn't allowed to blog about it.
Take that, Bembridge scholars.
Week Three was all about recovering a sense of power. How one recovers something one has never had is a conundrum I could not solve, but whatevs. Most of the tasks involved remembering favorite things from childhood - toys, games, friends, etc., and remembering things you liked about yourself as a child. I was ridiculously curious about things and I had an active imagination. I liked to read Greek mythology and play pretend Olympus, watch the Wild Wild West on tv and play that with my friend Ian in the wilds of our California neighborhood. Another task was to list 3 subtle foes of my creativity and how I sabotage myself by allowing them to control my time. This is where I discovered the Seat of Sloth that calls my name every night after dinner and, truthfully, sometimes before. I tend to gravitate towards it after the day's work and open a book. Sometimes I read it, sometimes I look at the back of my eyelids. So, that's a place to beware. Nothing wrong with sitting, reading OR napping, but it's hard to be creative there. I do assume some unusual positions when I nap, so there's my creative expression.
Week Four was designed to recover a sense of integrity. What this has to do with reading/media deprivation, I do not know, but I am proud to say that I did not read a book, magazine, newspaper or pamphlet for the entire week. I also severely limited my internet usage. Only work sites allowed! No Facebook! No Elvis! No soccer news! I did allow myself to check email on two different occasions just to see if anybody missed me (and damn your hides, NONE of you did!). I allowed myself to watch tv and dvds also. If I lived alone, I would have chucked that, but it's hard to NOT watch tv at our house. I would have been spending all my evenings in my room. Alone. This does not sound bad, come to think of it. Maybe next time. Again, most of the tasks involved visualizing - ideal environment, what my 80 year old self might say to my present day self, what my 8 year old self would say to her as well - and being good to myself with an extended Artist Date (did not manage) and a ceremonial tossing of some ragged low self-esteem article of clothing. That would be my entire underwear drawer!
Sort of. Note to self: bras! buy new ones!
I don't recall experiencing any synchronicity during these two weeks, but I have observed that I am not very observant and I'm trying to pay more attention and not just skim through the experience.
Just to define it once and for all, integrity to me is a synonym for authentic. And I want to be my (eeep!) authentic self.
In which our heroine recovers a Sense of Identity. In order to accomplish this, she will figure out where her time goes, remember things she once loved to do but forgot how when she grew up, make a Life Pie, play If I Could Be... and plan 10 Tiny Changes.
A great deal of my time is frittered away waiting. Waiting for the work day to end, for practice to be over, in check out lines, in traffic. I dislike beyond words the feeling of being "on hold" but I tend to internalize that into a kind of finger-drumming, wheel-spinning frustration that is bitter to taste and toxic to productivity because when I'm finally free, all that I can think about is breathing on my own time and not having to answer to The Man. Or The Child, as the case may be. I also waste a lot of time on the internet and in front of the tv and behind books - maybe the book part is a bit harsh. So, I think I need to work on perhaps being more engaged at work. And to remember a book or notebook for the basketball doldrums. And limiting my internet access. I truly believe we all need a little less internet access and more quiet soul searches and some face-to-face just to keep things in perspective.
Coming up with 20 things I like to do - well, you'd think that would be a no-brainer. Proved a little more difficult for me. I like to read, I like to watch TV and dvds, but I do these all the time, so maybe they aren't the treats/refuges they once were. I tried to come up with things that, well, for want of a better phrase, feed my soul. Oh, the humanity. These things include hiking (preferably w/dog), swimming in rivers or oceans (preferably where I can see my feet), going to concerts, rollerskating, writing silly birthday poems for friends and writing letters. Gotta find me some rollerblades!
The Life Pie was kind of a mystery to me. You draw a circle and divide it into six segments: Work, Friends, Romance/Adventure, Play, Exercise and Spirituality. Then you make a mark within the segment as to how fulfilled you feel in that area. My lowest rankers were Spirituality, Friends and R/A. I feel like I've got waaaaay too much work, but it's the have-to variety and not the want-to kind, so maybe it's time for a change there. ( I always envy people who love their jobs so much they don't describe them as work!). Connecting my dots, I created a diamond shape - not that it means anything in particular, it was just kind of cool. Like using a spirograph! Something cool appears just when you least expect it. Gotta find me a spirograph!!
p.s. I really did kinda look like her when I was that age.