Sunday, September 30, 2007

labyrinth walking...

I'd like to say that I did something hugely scary today, but the scariest thing I did was gather the information I need to write my cover letters. I worked all day and then went over to my sister's with V. to enjoy some desert. It was a nice day filled with soft sounding rain drops and good conversation, but I am amazed by how physically/mentally/emotionally exhausting this week has been. I mean, it's only the forth day and I feel like I've been put through a meat tenderizer. I'm kind of amazed by how long its taken me to get to this point of readiness, but I fully accept that everything up until this point has been part of the learning process.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

scary thing #3:

It is Day 3 of the Scare-the-Hell-Out-of-Myself project and things are really starting to pick up speed. You know the saying about "getting the ball rolling"? Well, I sort of feel like I got the ball rolling and now I'm being chased down the hill by it! Ok...maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit. Or maybe not. It's hard to tell except that today I've found myself in a situation that is forcing me to make some decisions sooner than later. All I can say is that I am so thankful for that snake dream because it has helped me to listen to myself and hold my ground. In the past year, I've given up on myself more times than I care to count. Today I decided that I'm not going to do that again. There is much that I want to blog about, but...damn. This is the internet, after all. So I will do my best to explain myself in ambiguous code.

Today I got a genuine hearted, but insufficient offer concerning a certain situation that I am currently involved in, but that is holding me back. It so happens that I will need to make a decision soon. I wish I could explain how absolutely strange things feel to me right now. I mean, if I'm not mistaken, the Universe is actually starting to do some of the work here! Really, honestly, I can hardly believe it. I guess the Universe has decided to work it's magic and is finally giving me the push I need. Um--scary!!

Yesterday I posted a quote and there is one particular bit of it that has been on my mind all day:
"Release the outer skin of your present identity. Move through the dreamlike illusion that has insisted on static continuity, and find a new rhythm as your body glides across the sands of consciousness, like a river winding its way toward the great waters of the sea. Immerse yourself in that water, and know that the single droplet which you represent is being accepted by the whole."
I thought a lot about what it would mean to follow my own flow and what that might tangibly translate into, in terms of my day to day life. I ended up taking a long walk with the dogs tonight because I needed some breathing space in order to think. As I walked, I also tried to think of what scary thing I would try to do today. You know, it's kind of hard doing something scary every day when you work all day and don't have extra money to spend. This is one detail that I hadn't thought through very well. With only a few hours left of my day, what was I going to do? The sound of leaves scuffling across the road scared me. The sound of an urban raccoon in the tree across the street scared me. So I kept walking.

I admit though, that I love walking with the dogs at night when the streets are so much more quiet, but it has been a while since I have been able relaxed into it. The air outside is warm and windy. It smells of earth and leaves. Autumn. Magic. Calm. Once I gave into it, I wanted to walk forever. I let my mind wander as the dogs walked in perfect unison, side by side (blessedly wonderful, but rare, perfection!).

And that's when it happened: I felt myself make a decision. Not about what scary thing I should do today, but about the big scary decision I had been turning over in my head all day. I mean, I felt it physically. My heart sort of sped up and felt fluttery for a few seconds and I smiled into the dark woods and thought to myself: ok--I'm gonna do this! Yes, making a decision felt thrilling! :)

So I came back home and followed through on scary thing #3: Found 2 jobs that will double my income. Next scary thing: write cover letters.

Heck, even writing this post is scary. Now I actually have to write those cover letters. Oh, sweet fear! I feel like I'm being catapulted. Know what I mean? Have you ever felt that way?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 2:

…and I’m going to try and chronicle this month long journey from beginning to end— whether it be encouraging or ridiculous, passionate or indifferent.

{Thank you so much to those of you have already responded by either joining in or offering your support. This is oddly and incredibly exciting to me! I'll create a side bar link for those of you crazy enough to join me one of these days very soon. Also, I think it is important to suggest that each of us create our own "self contracts" (or whatever you might think of it as) in order to make sure this commitment serves the best purpose for each individual.}

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately, but last night they were especially vivid. I dreamed of a snake, but not just any snake. It was a boa constrictor at least 8 inches in diameter and longer than myself by several times. If there’s one thing I’m afraid of, it’s snakes. How fitting, wouldn’t you say?

I was in my 11th grade English class. Why there? I have no idea. Perhaps because it is the place that I first experienced a healthy sense of passion and my own inner power? I loved that class. I loved that room. And, strangely enough, that particular class has a lot to do with who I’ve become.

It was nice being there again…except for one thing: the snake.

In the dream, the snake and I were face to face. It stood up on the strong curves of its body and put its large head under my chin and pushed my head to look skyward in a gesture of challenge. The snake was forceful. Fierce. I winced and gritted my teeth in pain as he bit through the nails and skin of both my thumbs. But I didn’t make a sound. I wouldn’t back down. It hurt like hell.

I was well aware of the fact that he was a boa constrictor and could easily wrap himself around me. I was horrified by the thought of being trapped in the snake’s grip. He could crush me, but worse, he could surround and enclose my body, my mind. He could steal my breath away. But, at the same time, I knew he wouldn’t. And so I held my ground.

Eventually, the snake released my thumbs from its grip. We looked hard into each others eyes. And then?

I walked away.

There were other people in the room, but only in the periphery of my vision. The pain in my thumbs was intense. I felt angry, but much more than that, I felt a sense of success, self-confidence, strength.

I woke up and my thumbs nails still hurt intensely. I was confused. I looked for the pup. Did he bite me? But he was curled at my side sound asleep. I looked for V., but he was also sound asleep. And then I realized that it was only a dream.

Before leaving for work I decided to look up the meaning of the snake. I dug around in my closet in search of the animal spirit cards that I haven’t looked at in over a year, unwrapped the fabric that I had carefully folded them in, and lifted the first card from the top of the deck: the snake. No, I'm not kidding. The first card I pulled was the snake! My jaw dropped.

~ ~ ~

This is what I learned about the snake today:

{Snake Symbology}:
transformation, healing, sexuality, clairvoyance, rebirth.

“The power of snake medicine is the power of creation" ~Sams and Carson pg 61*

The transmutation of the life-death-rebirth cycle is exemplified by the shedding of Snake’s skin. It is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance. It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation, and that those things which might be experienced as poison can be eaten, ingested, integrated, and transmuted if one has the proper state of mind.

This medicine teaches you on a personal level that you are a universal being. Through accepting all aspects of your life, you can bring about the transmutation of the fire medicine. This fire energy, when functioning on the material plane, creates passion, desire, procreation, and physical vitality. On the emotional plane, it becomes ambition, creation, resolution, and dreams. On the mental plane it becomes intellect, power, charisma, and leadership. When the Snake energy reaches the spiritual plane, it becomes wisdom, understanding, wholeness, and connection to the Great Spirit. If you have chosen this symbol, there is a need within you to transmute some thought, action, or desire so that wholeness may be achieved. This is very heavy magic, but remember, magic is no more than a change in consciousness. ~Sams and Carson pg 61-62*

The cards also say that the snake represents masking ones ability to change.

Look at the idea that you may fear changing your present state of affairs because this may entail a short passage into discomfort. Does this discomfort keep your from assuming the viewpoint of the magician within? Is the old pattern safe, reliable, and a rut? In order to glide beyond that place which has become safe but nonproductive, become Snake. Release the outer skin of your present identity. Move through the dreamlike illusion that has insisted on static continuity, and find a new rhythm as your body glides across the sands of consciousness, like a river winding its way toward the great waters of the sea. Immerse yourself in that water, and know that the single droplet which you represent is being accepted by the whole. ~Sams and Carson 62*

To be honest, this all really blows my mind away. I do not doubt that my snake dream was directly related to yesterdays decision to reach past my fears. I mean, really, can it all get any more blatant?! The emotions in my dream were powerful (fear, anger, uncertainty)...but I walked away from the snake with a feeling of full-heartedness and empowerment. The snake taught me to keep my head up and to hold my ground. The snake taught me to respect myself. The snake showed me...that I am capable of this. We all are, really.

Today I: Emailed someone that placed an add for a portrait artist. Well paid. Who, me? Hey, it's worth a try. What do I have to lose?

*from Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson

Thursday, September 27, 2007

living adventurously.

While in an art supply store a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a card with this quote by Eleanore Roosevelt. I immediately thought of my mom and decided that I would buy it for her. Her life has been undergoing so many transformations lately. I hope to see her spread her wings out and fly--fearlessly. But you know how it is...sometimes we need reminding. I brought the card home with intentions of sending it right away, but somehow it found itself propped up against my vision board. For two weeks it's been sitting there nestled among images of the things I've been dreaming of...a new home, a light-filled studio space, a healthier body, continued studies in art, woods and leaves, water, words...

And it didn't take long for it to dawn on me that these words are just as important for me as they are for my mom. I've been meditating on this quote ever since. Not on purpose, but because it keeps working its way up to the top of my thoughts.

These days, I've been paying a lot of attention to myself. I've been noticing my breath, the way my body holds stress...or releases it. I've been paying attention to the roles I play in life, the things I desire, and the thoughts and emotions that pass through me in the course of a day. It's been getting pretty hard to ignore that, lately, I've been doing an awfully good job at holding myself back.

I haven't finished my thesis because I'm scared of writing crap. I haven't gotten serious about getting a new job because I'm scared that I won't know how to do something new. I don't dive head first into my artwork or web design because I'm scared it might not pan out as well as I'd like it to--and, let's face it, bills need to be paid. Here I thought I was all done with being afraid of things (oh, fearless me!)...but I guess fear has a sneaky way of creating obstacles and peeking in the windows. These fears don't really feel like fear. It's much more subconscious than this. But, nonetheless, I have been holding back from the forward movement that I find myself increasingly ready for.

And that's the key, isn't it: being ready. I have been feeling so much negativity over certain circumstances of my life. Uh-em...maybe it is time for a change?

Anyway, I sat down today and wrote my mom the longest letter that I've ever written her while on the same side of the globe. It occurred to me that my mom is just as wonderful as any friend or fellow blogger and, since there is always strength in numbers, why not do this together?! I think that, in the end, that quote was really meant for both of us. There's a lot of back story that I'm leaving out, but what it boils down to is that we inspired each other to take a leap of faith, each in our own way. But it's a process, isn't it. I made space for change...but now it's time to actually create the change!

Since this morning, something inside of me has shifted.

So here it is...
When I sat down to write that letter to my mom, I decided that, starting today, I am going to do one thing that scares me every day for a month.

I recently committed to doing a painting a day for one month and well...maybe I'm on a roll. Why lose the momentum now? Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of days that I really didn't feel like painting--but energy is a wonderful thing when creative forces come together. Karen, Leah, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Sheri joined me in the commitment in making art. They kept me inspired over and over and over again. There is strength in numbers--yes, it's true!

Starting today I am committing to doing one thing that scares me every day. It can be big or small or anything in between. I might apply for a job that I think is out of my league or I might write just one paragraph of my thesis. I might try a new painting technique or go shopping for more professional looking clothes. I might take a computer class or make more of an effort to learn on my own. I might do anything...but the point is that it should feel scary or thrilling or both! Wanna join me?

What did I do today?
I committed to this.
And asked you to join me.
Which makes this commitment all the more

What am I going to do tomorrow?
I'm going to respond to an add for a portrait artist.

After that?
That's the fun part. ;)
Who knows!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Gift

"Acorn Gift"
6"x6" Original Acrylic on Canvas

"Fragile Gift"
6"x6" Original Acrylic on Canvas

"Seed Pod Gift"
6"x6" Original Acrylic on Canvas

A couple of weeks ago I received a very special gift of two bird eggs from a wonderful friend. They are so very fragile and beautiful--and have caused me to notice the natural world around me not only in finer detail, but in a more meaningful way. Early one morning, while walking wolfie and the pup, I found a mysteriously spotted seed pod and a dark, dark brown acorn. I slipped them into the warmth of my pocket and carried them home to my studio where I immediately went to work with paint brush and canvas.

To me, these paintings represent the gift of friendship, love, strength, beauty, fragility, mystery, growth...

Each item embodies the endless cycle of life and death and life. Are we really so different from an egg or an acorn or a seed pod? One can look for a long time at something, but it truly amazes me how the whole world shifts once we start paying attention.

Newest Etsy additions can be found here (more images will be up soon!).

Monday, September 24, 2007

with love, to and from the universe.

I went on a real live "artist's date" today and it was fabulous. Seriously fabulous. I returned to writing morning pages about a week ago and I guess one thing just lead to another. Morning pages and artist's dates go together nicely, kind of like wine and chocolate...but, more specifically, I've come to the necessary conclusion that I needed to take some time to switch gears or I was going to burn out completely. Through journaling, I realize that I have been spinning my wheels in the exact same spot over the exact same issues for so long now that I've spun my way down into some awfully deep ruts. I realized that I needed a break from my habitual self because I have worn myself so thin that there is just about nothing left of me.

Today I should have been working on my thesis. I should have been working on a website. I should have done laundry. I should have done lots of things. But instead... I thoroughly enjoyed the day and It. Was. Lovely!

In no specific order I...
  • Visited one of my favorite galleries and bought a very cool ceramic cup just the right size for a double espresso. I've dubbed it my art inspiration cup.
  • Ran into my dear friend, Ellen (who I worked with at the bookstore and have been missing incredibly!)...purely by accident.
  • Lingered over beautiful clothes, luxurious tea cups, and sweet smelling candles at Anthropologie.
  • Sat in the back yard and wrote while my wolfie and pup played hard, especially loving it when they took turns to come and rest up against my legs.
  • Went out to lunch at an Indian restaurant all by my peacefully quiet lonesome and, after the meal, enjoyed a very delicious cup of chai. For one hour I was in India, if only in my imagination.
  • Went paper and card shopping, taking the time to drink in plenty of color, texture, and inspiration.
  • Thought about my friends all day.
  • Watched Oprah for the first time in, oh, about 15 years. I respect her much more now than I did then.
  • Worked on a series of three paintings while drinking a perfect cup of coffee from my new inspiration cup (see first item on list). I'm sure the cup will turn into a painting of its own one of these days soon.
  • Got lots of new ideas for more paintings.
  • Saw butterflies everywhere (seriously, everywhere!) and smiled a big smile each time because it made me think of a very beautiful friend. It was uncanny, actually. I guess I was meant to think of her often today. ;)
  • Decided to go camping with my dogs one of these days very soon.
  • Worked on a website with V. and edited some content.
  • Kept my eyes and heart open for something new...and was surprised several times by what I found.
  • Drove all over this lil' metropolis and back again without getting lost--something that I wasn't able to do when I moved here a year ago.
  • Had a wonderful, but short, telephone conversation with M.
  • Took the dogs for a walk in Sherwood Forest.
  • Enjoyed a thunderstorm.
  • Cooked a very big, very delicious Greek meal.
  • Experienced large amounts of love.
  • Snuggled my beautiful black cat (presently).
Did I miss anything? Really, when it comes down to it, my entire day has been one big artist's date. I feel extremely rejuvenated. I breathed deep and took time to touch, taste, see, smell, and just generally enjoy things. I live in the city, but rarely take the time to take advantage of everything it has to offer. Yesterday I wrote in my morning pages that I needed a change of perspective. Today, me thinks, was exactly the sort of perspective shift I was looking for.

Friday, September 21, 2007

can i just leave this post untitled, please?

today i stepped on a sundial. yes, a sundial. i know you're probably thinking: how the hell does one step on a sundial? well, you see, we are getting ready for winter at the garden shop which means that we have a lot of products to rearrange, haul, flip over, cover, and generally protect from the snow and ice than i can only hope will be here soon. i was moving a bunch of (very heavy) water fountains to a more protected area in our back garden. of course, to do this, i had to move a bunch of other stuff to make room for them. including the sundial. it was grey. i sat it down next to where i was working on the grey rocks. i forgot about it, took a step back in my stupid little flip-flops, and WALLAH! F*#%ing hell. yes, it hurt. no, it wasn't the same sundial that i have so conveniently borrowed from wikipedia, but close get the picture, right?

i covered the bottom of my foot in too small bandaids and carried on. luckily i didn't need stitches. luckily i only jabbed through about ten layers of skin and it stopped there. luckily schmuckily.

but now that i'm done complaining (thank you for listening), i'll survive.

in other news...we got a big delivery of pumpkins, straw, and corn husks. good god, it was beautiful! ok, someone please tell me...when did my life get this weird??? but let's face it: pumpkins bring happiness. anyway, half our block was filled with the happiness of bright color. orange! orange orange! entire busloads of kids squealed with delight. i kid you not, the whole neighborhood lit up with smiles and excitement. strangers waved at me and smiled. i beamed smiles right back. it was wonderful and so never mind that it was in the 90's today (ok, i might be exaggerating, but it felt like it!). autumnal antisipation is in the air.

and on a non-work related note...
if i could do anything in the world, i would:
  • sew my own very cool, very funky clothes
  • paint a huge painting
  • and then another
  • and another
  • travel back to india
  • and british columbia
  • and san franciso
  • and the mountains down south (which mountains are those?) :)-
  • live in a renovated barn
  • out in the country
  • with a getaway in the city
  • take a class at MCAD
  • and the loft
  • and read approximately 500 books (or so...)
  • then write at least a dozen letters
  • fill a few journals
  • and doodle the hell out of my moleskine japanese album
  • buy lots of soap and paper
  • i'd go camping, just me and my dogs
  • drive an old truck (with louis as my cohort, of course!)
  • paint my walls blue or fuscia or red or orange or...
  • and the ceilings
  • and the floors
  • and a big, magical mural
that's a good start, anyway. what about you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

finding inner peace.

I've been starting to feel like I am moving through life in hyper-speed and it has caused an anxious little egg to open up in my chest that sometimes takes my breath away. Things have begun to feel messy and blurry and when this happens I start feeling incredibly disconnected from my life.

A couple days ago I received a journal that I bought from Melba. I already have a journal started, a big thick one that I am about 3/4 of the way through. I love the journal I've been using (it is like an old friend) but it's been filling up with so many expectations and negative thoughts that I decided that I would break in Melba's journal early and return to morning pages.I've decided to make Melba's journal my sacred space--it is beautiful. When I first got it I spent a lot of time just looking at all of its details. I can actually feel her energy within its pages and it inspires me to use it as a space to explore my thoughts and feelings on a deeper and more sacred level.

Today I ended up filling 8 pages instead of the 3 that I set out to write. I could have written more except that something came up and I had to stop. As I filled up line after line within the pages of this fresh journal I became aware of a lot of new things. It seems that I am in the process of learning how to take my negative energy and turn it into something more useful. Yes, it is a learning. process. But lately I have noticed that I am getting better at it. I feel closer to myself than I have in some time. Of course, I get off track on a daily basis, but like I said: it's a process.

I've been spending a lot of time lately making lists of things that I need to do. These are separate lists from the ones I wrote about earlier. These are the kind of lists that don't do much except cause me stress because there is no way on earth I could possibly accomplish all of it.

I have these lists rattling around in my head from the time I get up until the time I go to bed. The work load that I've set out for myself stretches out in 10 directions. I go to bed too late, toss and turn all night, and then wake up too early trying to figure out what order the next items on the list should be in. It's ridiculous.

Through journaling today I came to the realization that I've been setting myself up to feel failure on a daily basis. It starts out early in the morning and then carries on throughout the day. In the end, I usually feel like I'm not doing much other than spinning my wheels--what's the point of this?

I often try to take on major projects before work and then am barely able to get started before it's time to leave. Endless frustration. I decided today that I would own up to the fact that my morning time would be better spent doing morning pages and taking the dogs for an extra long walk. It would be a much more positive start to my day--centering, energizing, relaxing. I never get the other stuff done anyway, so why torture myself with it?

Tomorrow our landlord is coming over to meet someone who will be painting the house. Even though we always keep the house fairly clean, I've been feeling slightly obsessed about making it spotless from top to bottom (why do I care?). I told Vinny over the phone this afternoon that I was frustrated because I had so much to do before I go to bed tonight. He reminded me that the house isn't even that dirty. It dawned on me that it wasn't the house that was so horrible, it was the state of my mind. And so I decided to approach cleaning as though it were mental housekeeping.

I decided I would enjoy dinner, play music, and instead of stressing out about whatever, I would instead just look forward to the fact that I would be able to enjoy a clean, peaceful, and comfortable environment when I was done. I also decided that after cleaning, rather than plod my way through the next thing on my list, I would instead take a nice hot bath (inspired by this post--Melba inspired, once again!). It has been months since I've taken a bath--something that I used to do on a regular basis. What happened?!

In the end, I succeeded in cleaning the house from top to bottom (yes, all 3 floors!). I lit candles, put on some Loreena McKennit (oh, I forgot how much I love her music), added "Inspiration" bath salts (that Vinny brought home for me the other day--he is such a sweet man), brought up a book and a bottle of water and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....let my craziness slip away. It was wonderful.

Meanwhile, Louis and Vinny watched TV.

All in all...I'd say it turned out to be a pretty good day. I asked the universe to take good care of me tonight. I'd say the universe did a pretty good job.

Monday, September 17, 2007

intentional balance.

I've just spent the past several hours reacquainting myself with my thesis. I started over this past spring, gained momentum, and then inadvertently abandoned it later in the summer. I let myself get consumed by painting and, despite thesis set-backs, I am thankful for the time and mental space away from my self-imposed boot camp. Even so, I am feeling like today has already been a waste. It has been so long since I've even looked at my thesis that I actually had to look for the neglected file folders. After considerable amounts of searching, I found it in a pile of papers. Should it surprise me that it was at the very bottom of the pile?

Last night I went to bed thinking: "Yes! Tomorrow I will sit down and write an entire essay!" But then I got up this morning, made coffee, sat down, and reality set in. I couldn't remember what I had already written! Ok...what I am realizing in this moment is that I need to cut myself some slack. So I spent half the day re-entering my writing. Isn't this in itself an accomplishment?

For no particular reason, I deserted my thesis when I reached the half-way mark. I started painting, took on more hours at the garden shop, and have been otherwise consumed by multiple web design projects. These are all good things and so I am not complaining. But I started to feel overwhelmed. One thing that I would really like to learn from my husband is how to focus. That is one thing (along with cooking) that he is really good at. Maybe it's just easier for men to focus. I could theorize on why this might be--but what's the point? All I know is that I want to learn how to focus on just one thing at a time and not let the rest pull me into a frozen state of inefficiency.

Today V. sent me an email with a link for weekend workshops that are put together by the Minnesota DNR. Not that I need any more hobbies, but one workshop that interests me in particular is archery. There's a photo of a woman shooting an arrow that especially caught my eye (see page 8). She is lean, strong, and perfectly focused. This image resonated with me on a very deep level and that is when I remembered that I have my mom's old bow sitting down in my basement collecting dust. Both my mother and grandmother were bow hunters. I used to go bow hunting with my dad when I was little--that is, until he shot a deer. As my dad leveled his bow and took aim, it was all my tender little animal heart could do not to scream to the deer: "Run! Run!" Even now I have no desire to hunt. Still, the sport of archery interests me greatly. I am, after all, a Sagittarius.

Last winter, while riding the bus home from the bookstore, I would always notice the bales of hay set out near Lake Calhoun that are used for archery practice. An old friend once gave me a long-bow for my birthday and I would think about this as I looked out the cold windows of the bus. The bow was old and warped and I never learned how to do anything with it, but still the desire was there.

Ok...but I'm getting off topic here, aren't I. Lack of focus? Maybe. But it feels like it has been so long since I last blogged (well, only a week) that I don't even know where to start.

So I will start by saying that I am pleased with myself for accomplishing a painting a day for the past month. I missed a few days, but over all I surpassed my own expectations. It was just the break I needed from myself and, for that, I am seriously grateful. In doing a painting a day I learned how to be healthily committed to something rather than simply beating myself over the head with it. I enjoyed it so much that I have decided to continue. Although I may not be able to keep up the pace of doing a painting every day, I will continue to paint on a regular basis.

As for archery...well, I work weekends and taking a workshop is just not possible at this time. But even better, I've decided that I will ask my mom and grandma for lessons. Learning archery from grandma? Good god, does it get any more kick ass than that?!

There is my thesis and work and the web site projects that are already on the table. There are the photoshop and design classes that I am hoping to take and the paintings that I am planning to continue with. There is dog training and family and cooking and cleaning. There are friendships to be maintained, letters to write, emails to return. There is so, so, so much going on all at once. How to accomplish all of this in the few short hours that I have each night after work?

I don't know...but I am finding that the more space I leave open for sacredness, the more space there is that opens up for a sense of accomplishment. Yesterday, while at work, a customer (also a new friend and neighbor) told me about the God Bowl that her and her kids fill with water each day. She said that the bowl itself represents our emptiness and that what we fill it up with each day is up to us. She fills the bowl with water each morning as a reminder to fill herself with God's love. I thought that it sounded like a beautiful ritual and so I told her about my own daily ritual of feeding the birds. Every day at work I take a handful of birdseed and place it in a container for the birds to find. This simple action is a reminder to myself of the ways in which I am capable being a positive vibration. It is my gift to the universe and reminds me of the ways that my energy affects the world around me.

Before this conversation I heard a quote on the radio that stuck with me. It went something like: "When humans are allowed to be humans, they start to transform."

And while I am very busy these days doing all the things that I am trying to do...there is also a more important kind of work going on at the same time. Sometimes I feel like an ocean when the current is going out--the waves come in, but even as this happens, the water is being pulled back out to sea. I suppose we are all a little bit like this. These days I am finding it more important than ever to live with more intention.

And so today I am seeking intentional balance. The best part is that coming here has helped me find it.
Thank you, friends.

Monday, September 10, 2007

urban watercolor...

From last week's Minneapolis adventures...

"2312 Lyndale Ave."
Watercolor and Ink
6"x4" on 10"x7" Cold Press Paper

Watercolor and Ink
5.5"x8.75" on 7"x10" Cold Press Paper

For sale here @ Patch of Sky.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: "Writing"

It is strange the way pieces of personal history can grown so remote that, somehow, they separate from the central self. Cleaved like an iceberg, those painful bits drift out to sea. Last winter's lack of writing has become a distant memory that I can still feel somewhere deep inside my bones. Mostly, I feel regret for the time I lost, but even as I write the word "regret" I know that it is not exactly true.

It wasn't just the winter that was difficult to get through--it was an entire year (or more like 2 or 3). But it is this past winter that I remember best. The pinnacle of my writerly despair? Winter is the season whose starkness remains the clearest in my memory. I remember it as a time of walking. It was a time of whiteness, brittle branches, and drafts crawling across wooden floors. It was a time of darkly brewed morning coffee served in a large porcelain cup that I held with both hands. It was a fragile occasion, a time of horrible tears and self doubt and mind-numbing nothingness. The more time I had, the less I got done. It was a time of anxiety. Cold air, walking, my wolfie--these are the only things that made it possible to even breathe.

I was unable to do the one thing I love most: write. The void was dull and blunt and, my god, I have never been so scared of the lack of something in my life. Silence looked back at me with its blank face. Words piled up and got tangled like a jumble of broken chairs.

By spring, luckily, I was finally able to give up the ghost. Or perhaps, more precisely, I just plain gave up. And that's when it happened. That's when I started to really write again. That's when words ceased feeling so icy, so broken, so confusing.

In Writing Past Dark, Bonnie Friedman writes about mesmerizing herself with the ritual of language in the same way that the Bushmen were said "to mesmerize themselves, to enchant themselves, to induce a trance state for themselves so that a vision could come, an ecstatic experience beyond what they could reach with their ordinary minds." She explains:
"The Bushmen had visions of being what they hunted, what gave them life: an eland. They had visions of being dead, of being under water--a fish--and they returned from the trance swimming back toward life, their arms gliding, swimming back into the rhythmic pounding of stamping feet. People in the community had to touch them, had to welcome their bodies with their own patting hands so that they could fully return, so that they could be here now."
And that is what this blogging community has become for me. You are the people welcoming my body back into being so that I can start over, so that I can be here now. I first experienced this sort of community in a few good writing workshops--and maybe that is where I learned of its importance. Writing is a solitary act, but something incredible happens where people gather. Finding a balance between letting go and letting in--what could be more dynamic?

Friedman continues by saying:
"This is where wisdom came from: surrendering to what is beyond yourself, where your self is not. Discovering that you are part of an existence that is greater than you, that is greater than even your humanity, although you may experience this only when your thinking self is quenched."
It wasn't until I gave up that I was able to get past myself and all the manic thinking that had frozen me solid.

These days, I write because I enjoy it. I write because it helps me understand myself and the ever-shifting world around me. I write because I have something to say and because I have nothing to say. I write because I am happy, sad, lost, grateful, confused, content, passionate, frustrated. And sometimes I write because I am none of these. I write because I am in love with the details of the smallest moment, the smallest object. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to be quiet. I write because that is my better half. I write for pleasure. I write because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I like to make life complicated. I write to simplify. I write to sharpen the edges. And then I write to soften them. I write in search of something more. I write in search of truth. I write because I am waiting. I write for revelation. I write because it’s cheap. I write because I’m an idiot. I write to save myself. I write to lose myself. I write because I like the sensation of swimming. I write because I don’t know what I’d do otherwise. I write because I want to. But in the end, I write because I must…with hopes that the rest will follow.

...and you can find more writing here.


At the moment, I'm blogging from work. My internet connection is precarious at best, but I'm grateful for Jeffrey, who owns the salon next door (and is the keeper of a wireless router) , for saving me from the garden shop solitude that cooler weather promises to provide.

Friday, September 07, 2007

a painting a day: labor day weekend watercolors...

"Paint Box"
Original Watercolor and Ink on Paper

Original Watercolor and Ink on Paper

"My Brother's Row Boat"
Original Watercolor and Ink on Paper

Original Watercolor and Ink on Paper

"Evening Calm"
Original Watercolor and Ink on Paper

Note: These paintings and others are for sale on my Etsy @

Thursday, September 06, 2007

reason to celebrate: week one of another new start.

Oh great joy! I think this is an inkling of what it must feel like to be a mother with a day off from mothering. Louis, the lovable and rambunctious pup, went to work with V. today because the first Thursday of every month is "dog day." It never seems to work out because of holidays or business trips, but today it did...which is perfect because it is also my first Thursday of a new schedule. Unfortunately, I'll be adding Sunday to my work week in exchange for having a weekday to myself, but the vast expanse of "Thursday" stretches out before me with wondrous potential. I love my husband; I love my puppy--but no interruptions? Umm....heaven!

At the moment I'm sipping a lovely espresso in my troll cup (reserved for especially wonderful days). And after this wee little moment with you (dear blogging friends) I'm headed downtown on my bike with some paints and a camera. I'll stop at my favorite art store (the one that's independently owned, looks small from the outside, but stretches backwards into an art-filled infinity); then maybe the Center for Book Arts (oh, I love that place!); and somewhere along the lines I'll stop for coffee where there's outdoor seating, pull out the paints, and see what becomes of it.

I water colored while camping (as I hoped I would be able to) and being surrounded by so much endless nature made me think about the different environments that I find myself in. Sometimes I feel like I live with my feet in several different worlds all at once. It made me think about where I find comfort, inspiration, irritation. It made me think about what makes me feel the most alive--and I came to the conclusion that I am a woman of extremes. This can't be helped.

For now, I'm cutting this post short in order to enter this day a little bit further from home. I'll probably be back again later today. Why? Because I can! :) Oh glorious Thursday off!


Saturday, September 01, 2007


6x6 Acrylic on Canvas
for sale on my Etsy.

I'm drinking the very best cup of coffee that I've had in some time. Dark brewed and Costa Rican. I love South American coffees for their dusty, earthy flavored qualities. If a coffee is good enough and brewed just right, I imagine particular colors swimming across my tongue. The flavor denoting the color. Today the color is burnt sienna with a tiny bit of orange and yellow thrown in. It has undertones in various shades of green.

I'm up early this morning 1) because Louis woke me up with loud yawns and hard snuggles and 2) because I think I'm a little bit excited for a camping trip up north. Our bags are packed and sitting next to the door just waiting for me to get off work tonight so that, directly afterward, we can begin our road trip. Save the moon, it will be dark when we arrive--completely dark, not just city pseudo dark.

I am grateful to have a place like this to go to. The only hard part is deciding what art supplies to bring. I'm entering the 4th week of doing a "painting a day" and am about 6 paintings behind. I can't believe it's already the fourth week! Despite my tardiness in a few paintings, I am a little bit amazed by myself for making it this far. It started our as a commitment but, like morning pages, it has become more of a habit than anything--and I like being in the habit of painting every day.

Yesterday morning I got up early with the dogs and went to sit out in the backyard while they played. I wrote in my journal about the need to continuously stretch my creative boundaries. I wrote about an 8 foot painting that I once did while living in a shack deep in the woods and how it was the first time that I truly experienced that indescribable thing that happens while in the act of painting. I painted with selfless abandonment and the product that came from it was, although not a "good" painting, a powerful one.

I wrote about the need to paint with that same sort of abandonment--without worrying if it will be any good or if it will sell or any of that. As I paint, I find myself learning about myself. It is the same way with writing and I suppose this is exactly why I paint and write.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to heading to the woods. Last night I started packing my painting supplies and quickly realized that my acrylics and canvases were out of the question. With a car full of camping gear and 2 large dogs--hahaha! No way. So, instead, I decided to be brave and pack my watercolor journal, watercolor paints, some paint brushes, and a few pens. Of course, I couldn't help myself and packed a box of oil pastels too. We'll see where these mediums lead me. Watercolor--I know nothing about it. Still, I look forward to sitting down at the end of the dock and seeing what will happen.

These days I feel a literal opening up occurring somewhere inside of me. In my mind? My body? In the space around me? Yes, all of those things. I'm going to attempt to make the best possible use of this expansion.

And swimming in a nice, clean lake...well, that's just an added perk.

See you next week! :)