Every once in a while I look up at the bulletin board that hangs above my work desk and smile. On it there is this photo of Henry Miller. A little trick I learned from my friend Kristan. I thought I would pass this on because sometimes things that feel a little silly can really help you out when you least expect it.
1. Find a photo of a person whom you really admire. It could be your parents, the Dali Lama, Buddha, Albert Einstein, or even yourself if you like.
2. On a piece of paper draw a thought bubble. Write an affirmation or some words of encouragement in the bubble.
3. Cut out the bubble and glue or tape it to the photo. Hang it in a prominent place. Feel good knowing that you are supported no matter what happens.
(excerpted from “Living Out Loud”)
I am up before the light this morning, the coals still red in the woodstove making it easy to start the fire again. It is so very dark and quiet, only the sounds of the odd car driving by and the cracking of burning wood. Now the kettle. I am making a pot of Nepal Illam tea, which I got yesterday at an amazing new tea shop in Collingwood (Zencha tea bar).
My dearest Andrea recently wrote about the Mondo Beyondo list, a list of dreams and wishes (some so big you are afraid to write them down). As you may know I am a huge fan of lists. For some reason I have been afraid of them lately (or one of this kind), and I am a firm believer of that which you fear you should jump into feet first.
And where does the fear come from currently? I sit quietly for a moment and listen. In the last ten years of my life I have had many of my big dreams come to life, getting a book published, buying a house, travelling, making a living at drawing. And I am grateful for all of these. I wonder if I am a bit unsure of where I want to go next, afraid of going to the next level? What do I really want deep down? Many of the things I am looking for now exist more on an emotional level, and so I will write these too. I have learned that many times when you ask for what you want you cannot control how it comes to you and sometimes these things show up in a different way than you expected. (this is not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind.) Given my last two weeks I am very aware that our greatest gifts evolve out of our greatest struggles and sometimes they can be hard to swallow.
It occurs to me now that a lot of the fears might be due to the huge amount of change that I have experienced in the last year. I am still trying to find my footings, feel the ground again. Change is good, but it shakes your world up for a while.
to travel to france, spain and italy with my husband (with a side trip to Morrocco)
to write more for children (and not shy away from my writing abilities)
to find a literary agent who I work well with, who I enjoy, who believes in my work and works hard at getting me a good deal, (allowing me to move up to another level in my career)
to get a good publishing deal for my next book
to illustrate and design products that I believe in
to give my money, time, and love to a cause I believe in (to get MORE involved in a cause I believe in)
to work more on my money fears and to minimize debt
to develop deeper friendships, reach out more, give more to my friends (I am afraid of this because in the past I have held back quite a bit, maintaining distance)
to experience deep honesty with myself and others (to speak my truth)
to put energy into my relationship with my husband (and to express myself more, love more, give more, feel more, allow myself to receive)
to have a child
to dance and sing more than I already do
to visit a third world country
to nuture myself more
to breathe regularly (to read Thich Nhat Hahn as a reminder)
to draw as much as possible
to not push myself too hard (to be patient)
to laugh much
*I feel like I am still scratching the surface here. What is in your heart that you are not expressing?
**I found the cards above in an old junk shop, a teaching aid of some sort.
It appears that I have many angels in my midst these days. I will not let them pass by unacknowledged or unoticed. There have been a multitude of emails, comments, gifts in the mail (thank you Michael Nobbs, the Beany is wonderful), (and thank you to the anonymous person who sent me a copy of “Change the World for a Fiver” from the U.K., it is better than I thought it would be and came at the perfect time). I am moved beyond belief by these gestures, and by all your writings.
This week I have had a particular May Sarton quote running through my head (which I have posted before to some controversy). Sometimes a quote will sit out in the world and we pass it and ponder it for a moment. Othertimes a quote will seep into your body and change the way your see the world. I have collected a few of these in my lifetime, and they pop into my psyche when i least expect it (and when I most need them).
So many things happening in my world right now. Large messy human things. I lost a dear friend a few days ago and last night I thought about him looking down at all of the people in his life, revelling in the humaness of it all. Large doses of pain, love, grieving, devastation, illness, fear. And for a moment I thought, “how beautiful it must be.” To see that all of us experience love and suffering in equal measures. How easy it is to slip into the belief that we are the only ones who experience deep pain.
That is the beauty in this for me. That I can look into a friend’s (or a stranger’s) eyes and know that those dark places exist. In those dark moments we all want to find a way to make the pain stop. But that is the thing we cannot escape if we are to be human, suffering goes hand in hand with the experience of living. And sometimes it is messy and without light.
I want to take the hand of a friend and say “I know your pain, I have it too.”
The part of the quote that runs through my head right now is, “keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember nothing stays the same for long, not even pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” -May Sarton fr. Journal of Solitude
And during these moments of intense pain my heart is opened up wider than it has ever been. I am awake. There are moments of great clarity amidst the sadness. For this I am grateful.
And so it is time for a list a good things (as was mentioned in a recent comment):
1. I am alive, awake, and intensely human.
2. My world is a winter wonderland, the perfect picture of Christmas. I went snowshoeing yesterday through the woods, (I like to pretend I am an inuit forging my way across the tundra.)
3. A trip to the mail is one of my favourite things.
4. I received my samples of the Playscene I illustrated, and I spent a lot of time playing and dressing the girls and decorating their room. Yes, it’s fun!
5. My love of creating is with me always.
6. I am really enjoying good food and wine (a blessing after having no appetite for a while). I made this gingered carrot soup yesterday. Last night we had nibbles of spinach and artichoke dip, manchego cheese from Spain, and my favourite salsa and chips. And I treated myself to a slightly pricey pinot noir, which I am saving.
7. Appartently I have been nominated for another blog award. thank-you.
8. The act of building a fire every morning makes me fulfilled in a very primal way.
9. my snow pants are amazing.
10. Sunday is officially “computer free day” in my house. (I have been without t.v. for over a year now and do not miss it at all.)
11. Mobiles are a good thing.
12. I got a beautiful drawing from Chinga, of children playing soccer. (my foster child in Zambia)
13. red and white x-mas lights.
14. a great interview and studio tour with Seth, in comic art magazine. He has created small reconstructions of old buildings out of cardboard and paint (you can see them in the link), just seeing them made me so very excited.
15. The canker sore that had made a home in my mouth for the last two weeks (making eating, talking, and moving my mouth difficult) is on the way out. Hooray!
16. I have experienced great love in my life thus far.
Goodnight Mr. Wayne, I will think of you often and picture you out on a quiet lake somewhere drifting on your little punt and sipping good wine.
get some words out today. they will slip into my private journal, the one with the pages falling out like leaves. dropping to the floor in a little pile.
how does one re-attach pages that are lost? I search for some glue, a needle and thread, a thimble.
I search for some lightheartedness today, but at times feel weighed down like the trees outside my window, the snow causing them to drop their arms in defeat. (If you shake the snow off of their branches it looks like they are waving at you.)
the snow marches on and so do i.
send me some happy thoughts.
I wake to the snow falling this morning. I lie in bed watching it fall out of the trees. I love that feeling of being snuggled into bed warm and cosy, knowing that on the other side of that window lives wind and ice and breath you can see. And I will go out in it but not now. Now is the time for stretching, and purring and drifting back to sleep for ten more minutes. The wind cannot get me in my magic sleep pod. ha!
Today is a day for bundling up to go out to the post office. For putting a fire on and fetching wood. For making a pot of soup and baking bread. Today is a day for snowmen and snow angels. The men driving the plows meeting at the cafe for coffee. Today is the day for getting out my real winter boots and my snowpants. Doing chores, cleaning the house, making the bed. Sipping hot tea.
Tomorrow my husband comes home, and I am very excited.
I found a great quote yesterday,
“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him(/her) who has the vision to recognize it as such.” -Henry Miller
Often the best moments of travelling are the unexpected bits, the serendipitous moments where planning and expectation fall to the wayside. Finding a new store, wandering aimlessly and discovering a great piece of art, discovering a hole-in-the-wall bookstore. I had many of these moments on my travels, here are some of them…
…spotting the wild parrots in North Beach and running after them in the park.
…running along the ocean and jumping up and down on the “squishy plants”.
…experiencing Glide with Andrea (crying through most of it). The music was so amazing, and the sermon better than therapy (I am not a religious person, but they have a special thing going on there.) Going for Dim Sum with friends afterwards. (I love not knowing what you are about to eat, that feeling of surprise when it hits your tongue. Though we did steer clear of the chicken feet.)
…doing a lot of research for my new book. San Francisco is a hotbed for found art and street art. Seeing an artist who decorates the city with natural materials (leaves, branches, strung through chain-link fences.) Or the artist who decorates discarded bike frames with wool. Beauty found in the most mundane of places.
…browsing lazily in City Lights and finding the perfect book. Contemplating reading Proust with J. Will we do it in our lifetime?
…discovering Twig & Fig in Berkeley, a papershop that specializes in letterpress cards and stationery. The had an old Heidleberg press in the back. I got some lovely cards and the cutest bookplates from Egg Press. There is nothing like the feeling of indented type. Sadly it is a dying art.
…sitting in my favourite Pub sipping Guinness, watching the fire, smelling tobacco and remembering my grandfather who smoked a pipe.
…sipping really good tea and eating fancy treats at the Ritz.
…flipping through Andrea’s old journals. So much colour and life. It’s so amazing to look back at our lives and see who we’ve become.
…Being introduced to a new kind of tape that does not wrinkle.
…reading the story of John Kennedy Toole in the lost soul companion, (while perusing A’s bookshelf for good books.)
…wandering through Berkeley with J, sitting in Live Oak park sipping Oolong, talking about life and experiencing love.
…reading the book Mundane Journeys (found on Andrea’s coffee table) and getting excited. Wanting to do my own versions for Toronto. You must check out this site, you probably already have many of your own journeys you can record.
Happy Birthday to my beautiful husband!
Not much time to chat. I am hurriedly packing for another trip to San Francisco to celebrate the American Thanksgiving with the inlaws, and to see the annual tree lighting ceremony in Union Square. Yay!
And while I am there I might…
…spend a night at the fancy St.Francis (a gift from Jeff’s parents)
…wander through chinatown. I want some cheap exercise books for journaling and collage.
…browse happily in City Lights
…have a beer and sketch at Vesuvio’s.
…enjoy the x-mas displays and window shop at Macy’s
…peruse paper at the Paper Source (maybe treat myself to a few sheets)
…go for high tea at the Ritz (another gift from Jeff’s parents, thank-you). I am hoping they have madelines. I so love tea.
…stopping for burritos at Cancun in the Mission (the most colorful dining experience I have ever had). (stopping in to the Pirate Store)
…search for cool galleries, wherever they may be.
…celebrate a special birthday.
I’ll fill you in on my adventures when I can.
My studio looks like it was hit by a tornado. Yesterday I worked on a new collage series for a group show. I am always amazed at the amount of mess that occurs when I do any kind of creative work. The right brain cares not for neatness and order, but would rather wander furiously through chaos and dis-order. Single minded and manic it jumps around with color and shapes, glue flying. I walked around with duct tape on my sock for a long while, glue in my hair. The scars of battle.
good links (kicking my butt)
…casa timotheo, beautiful design, beautiful illustrations from Portugal. (thank you Mariana)
…kim’s suitcase…I met kim many years ago at a book fair where we both had tables and was an instant fan. Her work is tiny, delicate, colorful, and adorable. And her writing is like eating a favourite dessert (you can never have too much.) Yay for her new blog!
…we are what we do…so good. I wish their book was available in North America, I would be buying one for everyone on my list! (link from mint-tea)
…the world needs more stickers.
..Jonathan Gitelson. the art of the commonplace. Hours of fun.
A little grumpy today. In part due to the chewing noinses made by the mice in the walls that woke me up last night. What are they building in there? Also due to the fact that I tend to take on a little too much when I start a new project, and get easily overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done for it.
I am having difficulty deciding if i should a) clean my house, b) go for a walk, or c) work more on the book. I think I am trying to do them all at once, and end up starting nothing.
And so I do a blog post instead.
Feeling like I don’t have anything interesting to write today.
Some days are like that.
Some days you feel like being immersed in the centre of a large group of people, engaging them, spurring them on with your stories. Some days you just want to sit in the corner, be in your own little world and not utter the smallest of noises.
Some days you want to be loud, wear red, noisy jewelery dangling from your wrists, enter a room loudly. Some days you want to walk quietly by youself, blending into the surroundings, feeling like a part of the larger picture.
Some days you are so completely daring, you want to eat everything up, read every book, jump off high cliffs, try all those things you’ve never done. Some days you want to eat cereal and watch oprah.
Some days you put on the Beastie Boys and dance wildly. Some days you only want to hear cello, and sip tea.
Some days you do a series of ten paintings and feel like the greatest artist in the history of the universe. Some days you do one and decide want to look into a new career.
Some days you spend in gut wrenching, belly holding, tear enducing laughter.
Some days it is o.k. to be quiet.