Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome to my new studio...

Slowly, slowly things are coming together. The boxes in the studio are being unpacked one at a time. Progress is being made and, in the meantime, there is the half of the studio that is fairly functional. The glowing, magical, peace-filled half that I visit on a daily basis...even when I'm not making any art.

Today it dawned on me that I have been trying to continue working as though nothing has happened. Sure, I've slowed down about 10 notches, but I've still been trying to make it to meetings and keep up with email and basically stay on top of things. It was only Monday that I went to the doctor and was told I have Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I mean, what the hell is wrong with me that I can't just take several days off (days that I've really needed to take off) and truly relax, rest, and heal?

Actually, to my credit, I have been doing a lot of resting. Mostly because my body left me no other choice. Looking back on the week, I am seeing that I should have rested a lot more. Getting sick like this is just about the best thing that could have happened to me. I know that sounds weird, but I needed this. I was running myself into the ground--hard and fast--and becoming increasingly anxious and unhappy in the process.

Anyway, my life is in the process of changing. I am in the middle of a metamorphosis and, although it has been ugly, pathetic, and painful, it is exactly what I need.

Melly Hocking wrote a thought provoking post about change. She wrote about something that I've been thinking about a lot lately and that is limiting beliefs. We all have them. But only those of us daring, self-indulgent, growth-thriving maniacs strive to become aware of them. And then there are those of us who, once we're aware, can't help but torment ourselves further by attempting to overcome those beliefs.

It is maddening and inspiring all at once.

Anyway, I'm going to make myself nice and vulnerable by sharing some of my limiting beliefs with you here now. Airing out the dirty laundry, shall we say?

And so here are a few of the trolls that live inside my head:
  • "I'm fat and stupid and ugly." (oh, this one is practically a mantra! I know it's not really true and so I've been working hard on cutting this one out of my vocabulary. Funny how habitual some of the things we say to ourselves are!)

  • "You're never going to make more than $xx,000 a matter what you do." (I tell myself that there is something about me that puts that message out into the world. My hair? My mannerisms? My clothes? My body language or the way I carry myself? My attitude? My language? My shoes? My skin? What if, way down deep, I'm just nothing more than a half notch up from white trash? There is a part of me that believes that I will never be anything more than someone else's worker, a less-than, a half a step away from being a grocery store check out clerk, that I'm someone striving for more success than I'll ever get and that I look like a silly fool in the process of trying to get there.) Oooh! Ouch. That troll was honest! (Sometimes I think we just need to love our trolls. They're like children who lash out because they're in need of some positive attention once in awhile, you know?)

  • "I don't have a mind for numbers and this is always going to hold me back." (First of all, math might not be my strong suite, but I've always made up for my weaknesses with massive doses of determination! If I were to be honest with myself I would see that I've been LETTING it hold me back! This thought alone is very intricate and deeply woven--deserving of a blog post of its own if I could just unravel it well enough to make sense.)

  • You have to work in corporate America to make anything more than an average income. (uh-em! I would like to prove this wrong. One thing I DO NOT believe in is the Starving Artist Syndrome. That is something I have absolutely NO interest in playing the role of.)

  • I'm an artist and people don't take me seriously because of least, not on all levels like they do other professionals. (In all honesty, I see people treating me with as much respect as I treat myself with.)

  • I have to work hard to do well. I mean REALLY hard! I have to work even HARDER if I'm going to do something I love. (Wait a minute...who am I trying to prove this unfair work ethic to?)

Ummm....yeah. You get the point. I'm sure there is more where these come from. I know there are, but these are the first that came to mind. There are all sorts of sneaky limiting beliefs that hold us back all the time--in both big and small ways. Usually it's lots of small things that ADD UP--big time!

BUT when we stop to look at those limiting beliefs we begin to see what UTTER NONSENSE they really are.

Here's the deal...I really, truly, full-heartedly believe that every single one of us is capable of ANYTHING when we allow ourselves to shine. And it doesn't matter what our back story is. Every time we feel ourselves shine we are on the right path. Do you know the shine I'm talking about? That radiance that beams from the inside out--that's the shine I'm talking about.

Shine and follow it. Shine and follow it. Shine and follow it. Just think where we'd end up! And at lightening speed!

But we get scared. We tell ourselves lies. We second guess and then allow ourselves to become distracted. what are your little lies? I know you have them. Just think who we would be without them! Do you/I even realize how LIMITLESS we would be?!?! How limitless we ARE?!

Oh yeah...anyway, this was supposed to just be a post to introduce my new studio space. Just beyond the studio door is a trail to the vineyard. Despite my endless list of difficulties, I am fully of aware that I am one lucky dog. This life is not fancy. But it fits me well. I could not be in a more perfect spot to take the next step forward.

I have a feeling that is true for all of us.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

It just doesn't seem fair (stupid ramblings from a broken down commuter)

Today I left the house for my first meeting in two weeks. I made it 5 miles down the road and my emmissions light went on (I have a newer car and don't want to think about these things). Chug, chug, chug down the freeway until finally it felt unsafe and I pulled over. Slowly I made it down the side of the highway until I made it to a ho-dunk service station where they weren't able to anything more than give me the phone number for the Honda Service Center. The Honda Service Center beamed like a ray of heavenly light that I could only hope to get to! After talking with a Honda service technician I decided to brave the last 10 miles with their phone # in hand, should I need to be towed.

Just got here. Got my cup of coffee, a cookie, and even a computer to sit down and lament on. Geez, what is up with this bad luck?!

When leaving the middle-of-nowhere service station I had a thought about angels helping me get from point A to point B. Funny, but I think they showed up.

I love the Honda Service Center. An oasis. I love my little lime green Honda Element. Brave girl. Let's just hope the warrenty covers her. Fingers crossed! I'm just kicking myself for not bringing a book with me. I always bring a book!

Meeting cancelled. I wonder if I will ever make any headway. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't have to walk anywhere. I think I would have laid down and cried. My body just isn't ready for this.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

At the moment, I am laying in bed with two farting dogs. I've taken the day off and, for that matter, most of the past week too. Not because I've wanted to. No, I've been fighting it tooth and nail! But I've been sick. When I say sick, I mean really sick. I mean the I-wish-I-would-die sort of sick. Not that I want to die. Far from it. But there were a few moments that I was really wishing someone would just put me out of my misery.

Yesterday I finally scraped myself off the couch and made myself go to the doctor. It was the spots covering my body that convinced me to go. Never mind how horrible I felt in every other way possible.

You can imagine my disbelief when they told me that it looks as if I have Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Rocky Mountain spotted what?! I mean, I've heard of it...but. Geez. Anyway, they started treatment immediately since failure to do so can be dangerous if not fatal. As you can imagine, sitting in the doctor's office listening to all of this was a bit surreal. At this point I'm not sure if I feel like crap from my initial (and current) physical condition or from the powerful antibiotics that they are using to treat it with. What is it, you ask? Well, sort of like a scarier version of Lyme's Disease. Google it. It's interesting, if nothing else.

I imagined a more poetic or humorous or dramatic post about this exotic sounding sickness I've picked up. But there you have it. I'm covered in a rash and am glad to have survived a weeks worth of migraine-like headaches, nausea and fevers.

Everything is on hold.

I pulled a Medicine Card today and got the "Bat." Perfect. This is some of what it said (shortened version, of course):
"Bat embraces the idea of shamanistic death. . . Shaman death is the symbolic death of the initiate to the old ways of life and personal identity. . . If Bat appeared in your cards today, it symbolizes the need for a ritualistic death of some way of life that no longer suits your new growth pattern. This can mean a time of letting go of old habits, and of assuming the position in life that prepares you for rebirth, or in some cases initiation. In every case, Bat signals rebirth of some part of yourself or the death of old patterns. If you resist your destiny, it can be a long, drawn out, or painful death. The universe is always asking you to grow and become your future. To do so you must die the shaman's death."

And so there is one half of me imagining a caricature of myself standing on top of a pen-drawn mountain. I'm covered in cheerful pink polk-a-dots striking a Saturday Night Fever pose. That same part of me has John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" playing over and over in my head. I imagine dying from listening to his music. That part laughs at myself and the absurdity of the entire situation.

There is another part of me that sits in a chair under the willow tree and stares out over the pond in a complete space-out.

There is another part of me fitfully asleep on the couch, the floor, the bed, then the other bed.

There is yet another part of me that sees this uncomfortable state of being as a perfect (although strange) match for the transformation that is taking place both within and around me.

At the moment, mostly I just feel crap. I can't work for very long. It takes most of my energy to walk from the house to the studio. I've been canceling photoshoots and meetings all week and last. Today I went for a short drive with the dogs and it was a big deal. Oh boy. Sitting in front of the computer for very long is impossible. Unpacking is not an option. Building my empire is out of the question.

Everything is on hold. I wait to feel better. I begin to understand that I need to just experience this. I don't have to get deep about it. I've already done a lot of thinking. Right now I find it difficult to think much at all. And that, my friends, is probably what I need more than anything: to stop thinking for one divine minute.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is hereby the strangest illness that has ever come my way. I laugh at the idea! But earlier this week, the pain was enough to bring tears, too. The important part is that I think I'm on the mend.

Life is strange. That's all I have to say.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ridin' the Airwaves: Radio Interview tonight!

It's time to play with Sage Lewis, The Creature Teacher! The Pet Playground is an entertaining and educational call in show for pets and the people who love them.

Tonight I have the great honor of being interviewed by Sage Lewis of Dancing Porcupine. I will be joined by the wonderful Sarah of Sarah Beth Photography as a fellow guest. Sarah and I love collaborating with each other when given the chance. To be interviewed on the radio together with Sage, well, that's an added bonus!

I look forward to sharing a little bit about my life and work as a pet portrait artist. Let's connect over the good things in life!

Please join us tonight!
The Pet Playground - Your Place to Play
Sunday, August 9th, 6-7pm

Pour yourself a nice tall glass of lemonade and head out to the front porch to relax and listen in. Not a Minnesota listener? Technology is a wonderful thing! Audio stream via KTNF's website here.

Busy out playing in the sun? No worries! A podcast will be available for your listening pleasure here.

Have any burning question for me, Sarah, or Sage? Call in! We'd love to hear from you!

Listener Call in #952-946-6205


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Musings from under the willow tree...

Under the willow tree has become my favorite space in the universe. It is made of magic and sacredness. Its bending braids of leaves and branches refresh me. I've been feeling a bit like I've been bounced around inside of a pin-ball machine, but that feeling always goes away when I step under the green comforting contours of the willow that graces our yard.

Louie and Ella's favorite thing in the whole universe: the soccer ball.
A happy tie with running through the willow's drippy branches.
Willow tree + soccer ball = blissful dog glory!

My life feels fragmented. Good, but a bit unsettled. Things are changing. I can feel it. Shifting. Lots of shifting. Even all of my friends seem to be moving. There is a lot of change for many of us. It is in the air. I feel better than I've felt in a long time and feel a bit undone all at the same time. The stress of moving is real. And, yet, moving is the best thing I could have ever done.

As I look around at the mountains of junk and boxes that I have dragged from our old house to this one, I see myself reflected in the mess. I see the storm that was brewing under all those piles and am glad and grateful that I have finally decided to do something about the chaos that's been quietly accumulating. I'm beginning to see how much stress I've kept myself under these past 10 years. I was thinking that this state of overwhelm has only existed for the last couple of years, but as I look at everything, I am beginning to see that it started much earlier. All these boxes of stuff are puzzle pieces of me that I am only now beginning to put together in a new and revealing way.

I'm beginning to better understand my destructive habits. I'm also remembering what brings me the most joy.

Life is full, full, full to the point of bursting. I suppose you could say that I have always been lucky in this way. But sustained fullness requires balance and that is something I am trying hard to understand. Balance is a bit of a foreign language to me. I used to know its language....but these days I seem to get my consonants and vowels turned around.

There is change in the air. And a settling all at the same time. A strange combination of sensations. It feels palpable. An opening...leading where, I don't know.

Besides the willow tree, there is another place that I love...and that is my new studio. Having only recently moved in, I get visitors: the occasional mouse, spiders, a dragon fly and a cricket or two. I carry the mice outside in an upside down bowl with a dust pan slid underneath. They are sweet and vulnerable and easy to catch. I can't bring myself to do otherwise. Blue herons, egrets and wild geese fly over on a regular basis. Anu is always with me when I'm there. She is my love, my old spirit. She doesn't care about mice or toads or crickets. Instead, she concentrates on the coolness of the floor, our quiet companionship, the comfort of the sun or blowing fan. We stretch together on a daily basis--hand to paw.

In the studio, Louie and Ella come to visit, too. Life feels normal there. Despite boxes.

My most recent work includes a dog named Henry.

6"x12" Oil on Canvas

Henry is hereby the very first portrait that I have completed in my new studio space. These past several weeks have felt more than a little overwhelming with the move on top of an already busy schedule of summer events and projects. There is one thing in the world that puts me right back to center and that is painting. No matter how much I have going on...painting makes me feel calmer in a nano-second. Of course, painting a really great dog makes it even easier to breathe deeper and be inspired.

Thank you, Henry, for making me feel good. :) You were painted in the company of 3 great dogs, double espressos, and some really great music in a fresh, new, and not yet unpacked studio space. You were a perfect beginning to all that is to come.