Saturday, March 31, 2007

{Checking In} Week 6 of Finding Water

There are so many things that I've wanted to write about this week, but for one reason or another have neglected to do so. This week went by really fast yet, at the same time, it feels like this past Monday happened several weeks ago. Time, I guess you could say, has been playing elastic tricks on me lately. Now it is Saturday. Where do I begin?

morning pages
It is becoming habit to get up early and start writing. This week I wrote my journal pages 6 out of 7 days. I missed once only because, ummm....I was being rebellious. Artistic defiance, I guess you could call it. But in all reality it probably took more energy NOT to write my journal pages that day than if I had just sat down done them. I'm kinda stuck in a rut with my morning pages, yet I feel totally off-kilter when I skip them. And the rut? Well, lately I find myself writing the same things over and over and over. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this "rut" is a result of my own incessant non-action (at least, when it comes to the things that matter the most). Week 6 is about "uncovering a sense of resolve." Cameron reminds us that "action is the key to success." There's only one thing left to do...and that is to TAKE ACTION. Damn. How scary is that? What if myplan totally flops? I've gotten very good at evading myself and the work at hand. I've been letting myself get distracted too easily. And, in the process, I'm finding that I do less and less of the things that make me feel better about myself.

Now that I've made it to the other side of Week 6, I guess there's only one thing left to do...and that is to get a whole lot more serious about my sense of resolve. So here it is--I'm going to put this out there and then try a fuck of a lot harder to hold myself to it...

There. I said it.

I was going to write more...but, for now, I think I've already gotten myself into enough trouble.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

living the life of a midnight artist...

...and paying the bills with chalkboard art. ha! :)

cool picture book alert (i love this one!):

The Incredible Book Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers
release date:
April 19, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the mural project is finished!

Well actually, I finished it about 3 weeks ago--two days before Baby Noah was born... 5 weeks early! Good timing, I'd say! He spent the first week in the hospital, but I'm happy to report that he is now home and doing well. It's strange the way art connects you to the lives of others in such unexpected and heartfelt ways.

This hodge-podge parade of animals is inspired by some of the new mama's favorite story book characters. The photos aren't the best, but I thought I'd share them anyway. It was a lot of work, but there were also moments of complete and absolute enjoyment (especially while painting that fat ol' pig and all those tiger stripes!). I also learned a thing or two about working on mural commissions. The parents haven't said whether or not they like it...but I hope they do. Even more so, I hope that Baby Noah does. May that kid grow up to with an active imagination! I'm already dreaming up the wild murals I would paint in my own baby's room. Plenty of swirls, magic, and deep saturated color would be an absolute requirement. ;) Hell, maybe I'll even paint my own room one of these days.....


I woke up this morning, made coffee, and shuffled across the house in my slippers to my writing room. I sat down at my desk, looked out the window, and saw 5 deer run through the clearing in the woods across the street. Today I am thankful for the incredible sense of balance that this place offers me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

lame post.

yay! i finally updated my bloglines! but now i see that i have like five hundred posts to catch up on. geesh! how does time slip away from me so easily?

well, i know how it did today...but i'm too exhausted to write about it. bummer. i'll be back tomorrow.

g'night and lots of love,

Saturday, March 24, 2007

{Checking In} Week 5 of Finding Water

I woke up this morning to fog outside my window and, from the perspective of my pillow, it felt as though I had somehow managed to make my way into the clouds. It was a nice way to wake up. Since then, I've shifted my perspective to the first story window of my writing room. The fog is still as thick as when I woke up, but now it's attached to the ground and trees. A squirrel keeps running back and forth on the lawn, but stopping in front of the window; he stands on his hind legs and looks in for several seconds before running off again, then does it again. He makes me laugh.

morning pages
This week I did morning pages 7 out of 7 days. Yay for me! Unfortunately, they seem to have degenerated into glorified to-do lists. However, the best thing to come out of this week's journal pages is that I've been starting each entry with something that I love about the present moment--things like: "I love waking up to fog." or "I love standing next to the heat vent in the morning." or "I love heating pads!" Yes, I'm a geek. And, no, I haven't been doing this on purpose. I guess it's just that this week's exercises have had a good effect on me in this way.

artist's date
In other news, I didn't go on my artist's date this week. GASP!!! What?! Why?! I don't even know why. This week snuck right past me and although I meant to take myself on a date to a nearby playground and swing until I was sick (ha!)...I didn't do it. Damn. I won't give up without a fight though. Maybe I'll go tomorrow. Yes, I think I will.

And the walks...oh, it has been balmy and warm here. It's been in the 50's with a little bit of snow still left on the ground. I feel like I've been experiencing the best of every season this past week and have been walking twice as much as usual. Maybe it's the warm weather but lately I have not been thinking about anything when I walk; it is the only time that my mind has been quiet. It has felt good.

significant discoveries
  • It feels REALLY good to clean and rearrange the house after a long and stressful winter. Last week I rearranged my office. This week I rearranged our bedroom. It feels so spacious! There's something to be said for both the physical AND mental benefits of cleaning. I've been detoxing in this way both inwardly and outwardly (with great benefits!).
  • It works much better for me to concentrate on just one small thing at a time. It helps me to not get overwhelmed. This is probably obvious knowlege...but I'm a slow learner. Lately I've just been giving myself a single small goal within manageable blocks of time, such as: "I'll read X amount of pages between 10 am and noon." I've found that I work well with 2 hour blocks of time.
  • I feel more comfortable with the idea of "God" when I take it OUT of the context of my negative Catholic school experience. Having a conversation with "God" is complicated for me because I associate the word (God) with so many negative connotations. But this week I did the "Write a letter to God exercise" (page 129) and it helped me communicate with "God" in a way that was personal and on my own terms. I wrote in my own language and that in itself was a new experience for me.
*bottom image from my journal
**photo at top taken this morning by my husband, Vinny.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

after the fugly went away...

Today I worked at the garden shop and it was peaceful. The fuglies went away after a long bout of writing, then work, then house cleaning. Actually, I think it was last night's sleep that really did the trick. The fuglies have been banished.

Vinny took this photo of me a couple weeks ago. It was my first day back at the garden shop and he stopped by after going out on a photo-shoot. I had just gotten over the flu the day before and had been shoveling all morning. I look like crap--but I kinda like this photo anyway because it captures some of the quiet and peacefulness of being surrounded by plants and garden things. When planting season comes, it won't be so quiet. But, for now, I am drinking it in.

Today I worked with the doors open. It has been strangely warm and muggy out all day. Steam rises off of the snow. How is that possible? I hauled trellises, chipped ice, watered plants. When it started to rain, I read a little bit from my book. The mist and spring smells floated through the store along with a few customers, too.

I wrote a post on the Finding Water blog and so, in answer to my own questions...

What brings me peace?
bird song, the sound of wind in pine trees, snow, the smell of my dog's fur (she smells like hay), my cats playing, candles, the sound of the creek, walking, Vinny's touch.

Where does God live for me?
in nature, in the colors of the sky, in writing. God lives in all those tiny moments that bring me peace.

What do I love?
when my husband plays the piano, the sound of Anu's wolfie voice, cat snuggles, my books, the sound of coffee brewing, a clean house, sunshine coming in through the windows, the smell of fresh laundry, blogging, afternoon naps, the night sky thick with stars.

What am I grateful for?
the forest across the street even though I live in a big city, my health, my travels, memory.

How do I escape the dull-drum fuglies?
writing, painting, cleaning, walking, good food, sleep.

What part of my life and my Self could use a little more compassion?
my thesis. my body.

Where does my "true north" point to?
teaching writing.

What about you??

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Today I have the fuglies. Otherwise known as the weepies...but fugly describes the feeling a bit better. I made myself open all the blinds in the house even though it is little more than grey out there. It is the sort of day that I would prefer to keep them closed because sometimes it feels good to hide out--neighbors and dog-walkers unable to look into open window as they go by. Anyway, the soft yellow light shed by lamps is so much more comforting than the steel colored skies outside. But when I have the fuglies, I know that it isn't wise to leave the blinds drawn shut. Like the plants, I need light--however filtered and cold it might be.

After a strong cup of coffee and a dose of morning pages, I took Anu for an extra long walk in the woods. The trails are all slick ice and silence. Anu snuffles along with her nose in the snow with extreme intentness on getting to the bottom of each and every scent. She forgets that she is on a leash and I have to repeatedly remind her: "Anu, no pulling!" Two seconds later I am again being pulled dangerously fast across a patch of ice. This time it is because she herself can't slow down on the ice. When she finally comes to a stop, she turns in my direction with a look of apologetic concern in her eyes until I've safely joined her at the bottom of the hill.

That dog keeps me afloat on even the fugliest of days. And, I swear, she knows how to smile. She also knows how to make me smile.

After walking, I've spent the rest of the morning curled up at the end of the couch reading through essays and trying to organize my thoughts. I read out loud because, for some reason, hearing my own voice keeps me from drifting so quickly into self-doubt. I no longer trust my own words on the page--but, for some reason, when I read them out loud I am able to once-remove them from myself. My inner-critic finds it harder to get a word in edgewise.

I find myself wishing that I could be like the main character, Herald Crick, in the movie Stranger than Fiction. He is able to solve complex mathematical equations by visualizing the answers outside of himself, in the air, written as though on an invisible scratch-pad. The only thing that gets in his way is an irritating voice that is narrating his own ill-fated life--the voice that he can't turn off. I could do without the incessant narration (I am my own worst narrator), but what I desire of Herald Crick's talents, is the ability to visualize a problem to its end: the solution.

Something tells me that there is a very easy answer to the structure my thesis should take, but I am still struggling to find it. I pick things apart and put them back together, in different ways, over and over. But, so far, the puzzle pieces I am working with have not offered the right fit--not yet, anyway. These days, I lack Herald Crick's talent for visualization.

Hence, the fuglies.

12:30. It is lunchtime. I will continue fighting off this feeling. First with a shower. And then with a bowl of soup. Anyway, I have to go to work soon. The fuglies need to fuck off.

Monday, March 19, 2007

they make me think of home.

yesterday i saw 5 geese flying north. today i saw another. it flew above my house in the light of the fading sun. i could hear the air being stirred by her wings--such a graceful sound.

this northern migration of geese causes a tug in my heart. they make me miss my old place out in the country-- the home that is no longer my own. these geese, they make me wonder if i will ever go back.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

{Checking In} Week 4 of Finding Water

morning pages:
oy! i guess you could say that this week was (on a superficial level) not a good week for morning pages. i only did them 4 out of 7 days. i don't even remember why i neglected them last sunday, but i missed monday and wednesday because my niece and nephew got dropped off at our house in the wee hours of the morning on both of those days. i have renewed respect for mothers who are able to somehow fit in their morning pages everyday. (and speaking of) the issue of having kids has become a very big deal in my life these days. there is hardly a moment when i am not weighing the pros and the cons of whether or not or when to have kids of our own. i would like to write about this someday, but it is such a deeply personal subject to me. i wouldn't be sure where to begin... and anyway, i think i'm getting off topic here.

despite the lack in quantity, this week's morning pages have taken a turn for the positive. my thoughts have settled into a new rhythm and i've been reaching new depths in my journal pages that leave me, each time, with a new-found willingness to believe in myself and my work. having carried around so much doubt for such a long time, i am grateful for this turn of perspective.

i am beginning to believe in myself again.

artist's date, walking, and significant issues:
this week i went to a salon to get my hair cut and colored and then went shopping for a few new items of clothes that i would feel good wearing. i wrote about it here. i don't spend much money on myself in terms of appearance (i usually blow my money on good food, good coffee, and good books instead!).

this week, for me, has been about finding a balance between work and pleasure. i've been once again reminded that i accomplish more when i give myself a chance to truly relax and enjoy myself. this week i did exactly that by spending time to get my hair done (including an oh-so-luxurious head massage), going shopping, and taking several long walks down by the creek (with wolfie, of course!).

while walking i've been taking extra time to notice things like raccoon tracks along the water, the glint of ice and rushing currents, and the shifting colors of trees and old abandoned buildings. i took time to really look--and, in doing so, my old world turned into one discovery after the next.

oddly enough (rather, not-so-oddly), taking time to set everything else aside and just BE has brought a lot of organization into my life this week. this week i've managed to:
  • deep cleaned almost the entire house
  • do 5 or 6 loads of laundry
  • clean out all the accumulated garbage in my painting studio--including mopping the floors!
  • catch up on emails
  • go through several stacks of paper work
  • pay bills (this was a serious accomplishment!)
  • send a package in the mail
  • go grocery shopping
  • thoroughly clean the laundry room (another serious accomplishment!)
  • print out half of a ream of paper worth of writing (more on that later...this is another big deal).
  • go on not one, but TWO photo shoots
  • read and return several books i had on loan (for seriously too long) from the bookstore
  • bought a paper punch and several 3-ringed binders for organizing my writing)

...yeah, you get the point. i took time AWAY from my work (writing) and then accomplished more in the end. why is this so hard for me to r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r??! i get so obsessed with accomplishing something that i (too often) don't get anything done. i think it's safe to say that this breath of motivation might have all started last week when i rearranged my writing room and put my desk a little closer to the window--right smack-dab in front of it, to be more precise. i needed a shift of perspective, and i got it. one thing has led to the next...but would i even be aware of this if i wasn't doing morning pages or going on artist's dates or taking extra long walks or doodling in my sketchbook?

i was worried that doing this book (Finding Water) would eat up too much time that i just don't have. but instead of my time being swallowed up by blog reading and navel-gazing, it seems that doing all of this has actually had the effect of creating time for the things that are most important to me (writing and painting). i feel my momentum starting to pick up speed and with it a belief in myself is beginning to return--one thing being connected to the next to the next to the next...


these photos are from the places that i walk.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

coffee and more coffee...

Once upon a time, Sophie suggested that I write a post about my coffee shop observations. It was a good idea (she has many good ideas!), but one that I never seemed to have gotten around to. The next time I went out for coffee, I even brought my camera with me so that I could take a photo of where I was writing from. I took this picture several months ago--before there was even snow.

Today I am sitting in the same coffee shop. The sky is the exact same color grey. The only thing that seems to have changed is the table that I'm sitting at and new artwork on the walls. There is a fire burning in the round fireplace in the middle of the room. Cooler temperatures have returned and I am thankful for whatever chilliness remains. Soon it will be hot and muggy outside and I will again be wishing for winter.

I like this coffee shop. I like the broken plaster and brick walls. I like the warm-painted concrete floors. I like the big windows that look out towards a city that is beginning to feel more and more like home to me. I like the interesting mix of people that surround me...a girl writing in a notebook with aqua blue ink, the guy reading a hardcover copy of Tolstoy, the two girls who look like they are meeting over creative plans, the greasy haired musician burning CDs on his laptop, the weird guy whose legs are bouncing so violently I wonder if he might just fall out of his skin... It is busy and quiet in here all at the same time.

I've been wanting to write about a lot of things lately, but haven't seemed to be able to make the time for it...or something.

It's been an enjoyable week of taking care of my sister's kids, personal extravagances, and forward movement. I woke up early on Monday with heavy feet. The hours at work dragged by slowly until late morning when the bookstore matriarch (as I like to refer to her as on this blog) bought us all a round of Kopi Luwak in celebration of the warm spring weather.

What's Kopi Luwak, you ask??

Well, Kopi Luwak is THE. BEST. CUP. OF. COFFEE. I. HAVE. EVER. HAD!!!

It is also the world's most exotic and expensive coffee. And did this little extravagance turn my day around? Why, yes! It sure did!

Next door to the bookstore is a little tiny coffee shop. It is owned by an older gentleman named Jim. There are no tables or chairs to sit at, but there's an antique roaster and floor to ceiling coffee beans from all over the world--varieties that I've never even heard of. Yep, that's Jim on the right. Because of Jim's little shop, the entire neighborhood smells of roasting coffee--and it is the most welcoming scent that has ever entered my nostrils. He has, by far, the best tasting coffee I have ever experienced (rivaled only by an espresso I once had in Paris!).

Anyway, the best coffee that they offer is Kopi Luwak. And it sells for $420.00 per pound! Yes, FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS per POUND!! it puts the coffee I'm drinking right now to shame. My GOD, I felt like I had DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN!!!


Did I just say that? Yes! It's true!! Not only did it TASTE good, but oh, the HIGH! I drink a lot of coffee and, for that matter, I drink a lot of good coffee...but oh my...nothing ever like that. The flavor actually floated! It was so incredibly floated right off the middle of my tongue and into my head. I have never felt so good in my life (well, from coffee anyway! ha!). Even the caffeine high was smooth (smooth like a velvet rainbow?). Shortly after finishing my cup of the-most-wonderful-cup-of-coffee-ever, my shift at work came to an end. I walked down sunshiny streets with my feet barely touching the ground. I stopped by the coffee shop to thank Phil (good-ol-Phil-the-poet) who was working that day, to say say thanks for making the coffee and to tell him how good it not only tasted, but felt! For noticing the difference, he said that I could be considered a "coffee intellectual" and dubbed me "part of the club." ha! I'm a coffee intellectual! I'm part of the club! :)-

Sitting here, I feel like a traitor writing about Monday's cup of coffee. Sorry, Dunn Bros.--but your coffee doesn't even come close!

Anyway, a little bit about Kopi Luwak you want to know what makes it so expensive? Well, first of all it's an Indonesian coffee. It's eaten by an animal known as a palm civet (aka "Luwak"). The partially digested beans are then excreted on the ground and after a (most thorough) cleaning process, are ready to be roasted.

Ok, so it sounds pretty gross...but who knew that something so good could come from SHIT!

Since I had the afternoon off, I decided to prolong the luxuriousness of the day and went on my 4th artist's date. A haircut at an Aveda salon (ooh, yum...i love aveda!) and then shopping for some new clothes (well, clothes at Target. haha! i have $420.00 per pound taste in coffee, but am on a $9.99 per shirt budget!). I keep putting off buying new clothes until I lose weight--but, in the meantime, I've been wearing the same 3 or 4 outfits over and over and over. Gah!

I'm glad I decided to dedicate part of the day to spoiling myself because, man, I feel so much better! I like my hair. I like my new clothes (all 2 shirts!). And I feel a little bit like a new person...which is a good thing! I've been in sort of a running-in-place-and-not-getting-anything-done-mode for much too long now. Yesterday I made a list of things to do (a rather long list) and accomplished EVERYTHING on it!! Let me just point out that, that NEVER happens. AND I even had time to sit outside with wolfie and read the chapter for Finding Water. It was so wonderfully, sunshiny warm!

And today...well, today is my day off. I spent the morning taking care of my sister's kids (which included taking my 6 year old niece out for hot chocolate and a donut before dropping her off at school. how much fun is that?! :)), some time to write these words here...and now I'm on to some serious thesis work! This week I am working hard to find a sense of balance. And you know what? So far, so good!

Today I am thankful for:
  • good coffee
  • a nice boss
  • warm weather
  • cool weather
  • incredible sunsets
  • my niece
  • my nephew
  • new clothes
  • new hair
  • interesting people
  • friends--you know, your always on my mind!
  • good music
  • inspiring art
  • this blog
  • being a part of neighborhoods that i love
  • words
  • work
  • dreams
  • this moment!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

{Checking In} Week 3 of Finding Water

Hola! Where have I been? Well, today I've been up north helping my grandpa, my niece, my nephew, my cousin, and my brother's girlfriend all celebrate their birthdays (that's a whole lot of birthdays!!). I've been wanting to "check-in" all weekend, but it's only now that I've had a chance to sit down and do so. But here I am! Oh, and it feels good to be home, to have snuggled my wolfie, to have a snoring cat at my feet, to be in my fuzzy pajamas, to be drinking spearmint tea out of a very cheesy mug that my grandma gave me...and, well, just simply to be.

Morning Pages
This week I did morning pages 6 out of 7 days. I missed one day for no better reason other than I just totally spaced it out. Huh? How did that happen? Despite this minor space out, morning pages have been going well for me. I'm starting to notice a shifting pattern in morning pages. I'm also starting to have more trust in those shifts. Every week is so much different from the last, but lately I've been noticing that I often sit down with absolutely nothing to say (or thinking I'll write about one thing in particular) and then half way through my pages I'm writing something that I totally did not expect. This week I keep surprising myself. It always feels good when I'm able to break through and get to the heart of a matter...and, when this happens, I notice that my day always unravels a whole lot more smoothly.

While traveling in India, I used to love mornings. The air was always fresher, quieter, brighter. One of my favorite things about those early hours was watching the women sweep the ground outside their doors. I still remember the sound of their handmade brooms in the dirt. They were some of the first sounds of the day. Every morning they purified their homes in this way. It was a ritual. And that is what morning pages has become for me: a mental decluttering, a cleansing of the mind. The sound of my pen moving across paper--I find much comfort in beginning each day from this space of quiet routine.

Artist's Date
I wrote about this week's artist's date in my last post. Going swimming (despite my lack of time, despite my big butt, despite being in an unfamiliar city, despite all sorts of things) was quite possibly one of the best things that I've done for myself in a very long time.

These artist's dates are serious stuff. If I've learned one thing this week it is to take them seriously and use them wisely. I don't know what I'm going to do this coming week...but I think it is important to listen to those little whispers of the heart and then follow them.

Finally! A taste of spring. This week my walks have been longer. 20 minute walks have turned into hour long walks. We have so much snow, but slowly, slowly it is all melting away. This week I've been watching the rivers of waters that flow down the sides of streets and into gutters. I find myself thinking that if I were a kid I'd get down on my haunches with a little stick and watch it float down the river like a little boat. There is a glittering quality to my world as the water flows, flows, flows down the street. It falls over itself in its haste for running downhill. Miniature ice caves are created as though mocking a thousand years of geological formations. My imagination runs wild. My body comes alive. I love winter, but never in my life have I ever been more thankful for spring.

Significant Issues
This past week has been an incredible week of "believing mirrors" and I have gone through the whole gamut of feelings towards this idea. Like many of us, I am a bit of a loner. Well, actually, I'm a bit of a loner and a bit of an extrovert. I love my friends and I love being around people...but I consider my quiet time sacred and often struggle with a balance between making time for others and making time for myself.

This week I learned to be more grateful for the incredible "believing mirrors" I have in my own life. I sat down and made a list of all those people and briefly wrote down why. I suppose I should have done this last week or the week before...but it wasn't until this week that I came to finally accept the notion of "believing mirrors" as being important to me. There is so much more I want to write about this! But I am so tired. I've run out of steam.

Note to self: write more about this. I've just barely touched the surface!
Note to Finding Water participants and blog friends: if I haven't visited or commented on your blog in awhile, please forgive me. After being sick, this has been my week of trying to catch up on all the little details of my personal life that have been slowly falling apart at the edges. Despite my lack of blog-visiting I feel your collective energy...and I just want so say thank you for that! Really, I find that quite amazing. I am grateful that you are out there, wherever you are. Thank you--for real, and from my heart.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Artist's Date {week 3}

Several weeks ago I wrote about swimming and, ever since, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It wasn't long after this that I began the Finding Water journey and not long after that, that I came across this photo in a magazine. I bought it on impulse because it contained an "Insider's Guide to India" (not that I would ever be able to afford a spa anywhere--even in India). Although the India spas looked wonderful, it was an image of the Greek Isles that caught my attention and has nestled itself in my mind ever since I first laid eyes on it. It's not even the sort of image that I am normally attracted to. Being less than thin myself, I tend to steer clear of images that make me feel even bigger than I already see myself as. But when I saw this photo (by Frederic Vasseur) I immediately found myself wishing that I could be the woman in the photograph. I looked at all that shimmery blue-on-top-of-blue and felt a profound sense of healing.

Since I probably won't be traveling to Greece anytime soon, I decided instead to seek out a slightly altered version of water in this frozen city of Minneapolis. I've been wanting to do this forever and tonight I finally did it: I went to the Jewish Community Center and went swimming. And, well, it was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be.

I chose to do this today because it has been an especially bad day filled with just way too much self-doubt and double guessing--two things that I am getting much too good at. Because the work on my project has not been coming easily to me, I was starting to believe (wanting to believe) that the act of swimming could somehow unlock the words that have been struggling to find their way to the page.

Instead, what I found out was that swimming can be just as hard as anything else. It can even be as difficult as writing if I wanted to make it that way. The knee that's been bothering me hurt at first. So I floated on my back. Then I held my breath and swam underwater. I got water up my nose (a few times). I did slow laps doing the side-stroke. I attempted to touch the bottom of the pool at the deep end. Most of all, I tried to let go of everything that was bothering me and just swim. Of course, things like getting water up my nose made it hard to attain complete transcendence...but it was a start.

As I swam I began to realize that nothing comes for free. There was a part of me that hoped that by going swimming (even just once in a pool at a community center) the words would start to flow a little bit easier. Before getting out, I took extra time to just float on my back and relax. Maybe I should have floated longer. Afterwards I sat in the blue tiled hot tub with water that was almost the exact same color as the photograph that inspired me to seek water in the first place. Then I took a steam bath--something I've never done before and, oh, it was a 107 degrees of steamy heaven.

In the end, none of my problems have magically disappeared. The challenges that I set aside for a few hours tonight, will again be waiting for me tomorrow. Writing is a challenge, but like swimming, the more I trust myself, the easier it is. And so I've decided that maybe I'll go swimming more often...because learning how to let go doesn't happen over night.
"Swimmers know that if they relax on the water it will prove to be miraculously buoyant; and writers know that a succession of little strokes on the material nearest them--without any prejudgments about the specific gravity of the topic or the reasonableness of their expectations--will result in creative progress." ~William Stafford, from Writing the Australian Crawl.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

colors in a day.

"Kitchen Windowsill at Night" watercolor on paper *

* * *
At the moment I'm sitting at my desk. The late afternoon sun is shining through the window and I am drinking a cup of Honduran coffee in one of my favorite porcelain cups. When I drink coffee, I like to pretend that I inhabit the place that the beans come from--and, in this way, I travel much further than I would otherwise be able to. The cup is bright yellow with gold edging. It has little blue birds on it and there is a saucer to match. When I lift the cup to drink from it, I simultaneously feel a sense of longing and hope. I'm not a fancy person, but I think this cup suites me well--especially on days when the last rays of sun find me in a gentle, if not fleeting, moment.

*Snowed in, sick with the flu, and in possession of a new Moleskine journal, I decided to try my hand at watercolor. This is the result of last week's "artist's date."

vexed by technology.

ok. i give up. can't comment on typepad. can't comment on blogger. images are missing from both my blogs. gah. fuck it. i'm going to go play in the snow and write poetry in a coffeeshop. i've had enough of ill-functioning technology for one weekend.


Friday, March 02, 2007

{Checking-In} Week 2 of Finding Water

Morning Pages:
This week I did my morning pages 5 out of 7 days. Believe it or not, I was actually getting into the rhythm of them--at least, I was getting up early and making time for the three pages a day. Then, yesterday, I got hit by the flu bug. Hit hard. Gah. Today has been spent laying on the couch in recovery of yesterday. My journal lays on the floor next to me, anticipating my return. I will admit that this two day absence of journaling has created a positive shift for me. I was beginning to feel extremely apathetic towards my morning pages. I showed up for the page, but filled it with little more than blah, blah, blah... and my lack of interest was really starting to annoy me. There has been an underlying numbness, an sense of disconnection, a thin layer of darkness. Then again, I shouldn't be too hard on myself. After all, there was some big changes that came out of the first week. I'm not sure if I could handle that much drama every week.

Now that I'm feeling ever-so-much better, I'm looking forward to returning to morning pages. Although it really sucks that things need to sometimes feel miserable before they can feel good, it's funny how being sick (and then starting to feel better again) renews a sense of joy for one's life and all the little details it contains.

Artist's Date
I think I already complained about missing out on this week's artist's date in my last post, but this week I had two strikes against me. First the weather and then the flu. Geesh! It's unfortunate because I had been looking forward to this idea of finding a pool and going swimming for the past few weeks. Seriously looking forward to it. Instead we have newly formed snowbanks that are as high as my chin and we haven't been able to get the car out of the garage in 2 days. Not that this really matters considering I've been laying on the couch moaning in a fever delirium most of that time!

I don't know if it technically counts as an "artist's date," but tonight I'm going to head down to my studio with the new watercolor moleskine that Martha sent me and finish a drawing that I started a few days ago. I'm in love with that thing and have already sketched out a still-life of the bottles and fruit that are sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen. These past months I've been trying so hard to focus on my writing that I've been neglecting art and painting. Sure, I've been doing plenty of art--but only the kind that I'm getting paid to do. I haven't been doing nearly enough just for pure enjoyment. Since I'm stuck at home with only pathetic levels of energy, I might as well call "sanctuary" in the studio. And, actually, this sounds completely luxurious and wonderful to me. I'm looking forward to going swimming next week.

I find it difficult to write about the weekly walks. That's funny because if you were to read through my archives you'd find that it is the topic of many of my posts (sometimes I worry that this must bore my poor readers to tears!). I am no stranger to walking...but, almost always, you will find me walking with my dog. This week I took a walk by myself, but only because I couldn't bring Anu with me. It was a strange experience. I felt a little bit lost without her, as though I had no purpose. I love walking with my wolfie more than I like walking alone. Still, I think there is something to be explored here. I mean, what is up with my incessant need for purpose??

Other Significant Issues
The idea that stuck out the most for me in Week 2 was the notion that being an artist is very much like being an athlete. In my own life, I notice that the more I write, the more I think like a writer. And the more I paint, the more I think like a painter. When I focus my energy on any certain thing, I begin to notice that thing in everything. I guess that is one of the things that I love so much about blogging. It is how I "stay trained." I might write a lot of gibberish here, but I don't care. This is my space to put one word after the other. It is my space to share and express the things I see and feel. It's a space to explore. And, to me, that is what art is. There are two things that I do every single day. #1: I walk; #2: I write. They are as necessary to me as food and water.

Sometimes my knees hurt. Sometimes my writing sucks. But both are what keep me going.


{Laying track}
One of Julia Cameron's "Divining Rods" this week is what she calls "laying track." She writes that "[i]t is all too easy as an artist to bewail the 'odds stacked against us'. It is harder--but necessary-- to improve those odds by taking small actions in our own behalf. This is the art of perseverance" (56-57).

I'm learning from experience that more seems to get done when I take it in small steps rather than large leaps. Leaps are fine, as long as they don't cause you to freeze in fear mid-air.

Here's my version of "laying track"...
  • spend some time at the library reading poetry.
  • work on my thesis at least 1 hour a day. no excuses.
  • bring a notebook to work with me at the garden shop. take notes and write tid-bits here and there during the slow time.
  • don't be so hard on myself. save the harsh judgements for later or (even better) for never.
  • saturate myself more "experimental" writing.
  • have a little more faith in my own "experiments."
  • allow a sense of spirituality back into my life.
  • make more time for friendships that feed my sense of well-being and creativity.
  • go to more art openings. art energy is conducive!
  • laugh more often!
  • indulge myself in art making--not for work, but for sheer enjoyment.
  • do kind things for others for no particular reason. it feeds the soul and soothes the heart.
And I'm going to do the second to the last on the list right now.

Art is not to be taught in academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets. ~Oscar Wilde