Sometimes a quick sketch is enough to get one off and running in the morning.
I saw an interview with Bill Whitehead, the partner of author Timothy Findley yesterday. He said the thing that “TIFF” struggled with most was rather mundane. It was “getting to the desk” everyday. Pushing through that urge to do anything but the writing. It always helps to hear that others struggle with this too.
“All humans are storytellers with their own unique point of view. When we understand this, we no longer feel the need to impose our story on others or to defend what we believe. Instead, we see all of us as artists with the right to create our own art.” -Don Miguel Ruiz
“To look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it. For what it is.” -Virginia Woolf
Tea and toast for breakfast. I sit on the back porch sipping, and thinking of all the things I could do today. The list:
-work on new manuscript
-hang laundry on the clothesline
Dreams of eating honeycomb last night. Wanting to fill the pages of my journal so I can get a lighter one, (the one i have currently is like carrying a brick. beautiful but heavy.) Thinking of all the things we will do when J comes for a visit next week.
I do enjoy sitting here, sipping tea with a pen & an open book. Sometimes it is just the act of moving a pen across the page that makes me feel good, no matter what is written (or drawn). Is it that thoughts are being expressed? I am not sure. Why also do I enjoy seeing pages fill up in the journal so much? A form of capturing a process, evidence that one existed during a period of time?
I watched “the Hours” again last night for the umpteenth time, (you would think I would be tired of it by now.) There is something so beautiful about watching the act of creation, and then seeing the characters come to life. I enjoy watching Virginia so immersed in her story that she mutters to herself in public, the moment she figures out an important plot idea. There is a knowing on her face.
As in the previous quote, I believe journal writing is a way of “loving it for what it is”, seeing beauty in all of it. Taking a moment to sit here and watch the wind blowing the trees. How often I get pulled out of the world by work, phones, questions.
This morning I notice the wind, the birds, the sound of the trucks on the highway, the temperature of the tea (lukewarm now), the bright red of the chair, my cat sitting quietly on the step.
I have taken to sketching while visiting friends houses. Random objects. Things on the table in front of me. a blue & white pot, a lemon juicer full of juice, a dead butterfly, some peas in the pod. All about little moments. I pull out my waterbottle & box of watercolours and paint while chatting. (yesterday upon my return home I realized I had forgotten about the painting and had earlier drank most of the bluish water. Are watercolours non-toxic? Will I pee blue?)
We start out whole. Complete. Along the way, we may feel that something is wrong, or missing. We aren’t the way we’d like to be or the way we think we should be. A crossroads, a new stage in life, a turning point, a crisis, when we feel we may crack, or we do crack, can be a difficult, frightening time.
And, sometimes we deliberately crack our own bowl.
With time and great care and tender patience, we can reexamine the pieces, knowing that when we are ready, a solution will come. We can glue the pieces back together.
This bowl looks far more interesting, more beautiful than before it broke. The pieces are the same, but it’s a different bowl than when I started.
-Sue Bender fr. Everyday Sacred
I am spending time examining my new bowl. Getting used to a new life. Deep at the root of it I find that the person I am so afraid of losing is still there. A young girl. She is still sitting on the floor drawing and painting and enjoying the present moment. She does not worry about the unknown because it does not affect her. Her only job is to see what is right in front of her at any given moment.
I have been in that place that most creative people go, so many ideas and projects to start. Excited and wanting to do them all at once, but not knowing where to start. Bursting with ideas, unable to focus. It is a great feeling at times, though anxious. MUST DO, MUST DO.
I know what the solution is.
To let the girl sit and draw and paint. Enjoy the warm breeze. Swim in the pond. Let the ideas bubble up on their own and tell me what step to take next, if indeed a step needs to be taken at all. Ideas cannot be forced out in a mad rush. It is the part of me that looks at other people’s careers and compares and says, ‘i should be doing more’ that wants to push. To this part I say, “it is o.k. we need some time to just be right now. Time for vacation.”
\Va*ca”tion\, n. [F., fr. L. vacatio a being free from a duty, service, etc., 1. The act of vacating; of no force.
of no force.
time for daydreaming, reading, and treating myself. yes.
of no force.
I was walking through a beautiful neighborhood in Vancouver, (off of Commercial Drive) when I spotted a flyer that caught my eye. The bottom of it said “if you take this poster, make copies & pass it on! I like the idea of one person’s vision that gets passed on. Something that starts off as a small spark, a thought, that picks up momentum and grows exponentially over time. So here you are, if you like it make copies and pass it on.
How to Build a Community
turn off your tv~leave your house~know your neighbors
greet people~look up when you’re walking~sit on your front steps
plant flowers~use your library~play together~buy from local merchants
share what you have~help a lost dog~take children to the park
honor elders~support neighbourhood schoools~fix it even if you didn’t break it
have pot lucks~garden together~pick up litter~read stories aloud
dance in the street~talk to the mail carrier~listen to the birds
put up a swing~help someone carry something heavy~barter for your goods
start a tradition~ask a question~hire young people for odd jobs
organize a block party~bake extra and share~ask for help when you need it
open your shades~sing together~share your skills
take back the night~turn up the music~turn down the music
listen before you react to anger~mediate a conflict~seek to understand
learn from new and uncomfortable angles
know that no one is silent though many are not heard
work to change this
text: Syracuse Cultural Workers
I recently created a shirt design for the great sitting. ALL proceeds go the the Lance Armstrong Foundation, helping people living with cancer.
“…trying to find equivalents for things in words helps me find equivalents in painting. That is the reason for this journal. Everything is all connected up. Different paths lead to the great “it”, the thing we try to get at by hook and by crook.” -Emily Carr (fr-Hundreds and Thousands)
…i just won an award from Writer’s Digest Magazine for “best web site”. wow, I feel honoured, thank you to whoever nominated me. There will be an article/interview in the October issue.
…a version of the superhero comic appears in the July/August issue of Working Mother Magazine.
some sites I am enjoying…
…coming up for air
…jeffrey decoster (especially the ‘spill book’)
…jannie ho (wonderful design and illos)
how much does one share, and how much does one keep for themselves? the whole of it would make the most beautiful of novels. sometimes real life is more magical than fiction.
do you believe?
one must believe if they are to listen to the story. it requires surrendering to the possiblities. sometimes the universe takes you on a new path, one that you least expect…
I have started several blog posts over the last few days and find myself not knowing what or how to write. My thoughts are jumbled. Lately i am torn about how much i would like to share about my life. It was never my intention to share all of my intimate details here, and yet sometimes there are things that beg to be shared. The last two weeks i have felt such a range of emotions for the happenings in my life. Days of excitment and dreaming, nights of fear and agitation,
“It was one of those nights when your perceptions are much grander than you want to indulge; instead of having a succession of idle thoughts ending in sleep you are unbalanced, nearly punished, by images with all the logic of snow flurries in the mind.” -Jim Harrison
For a long time now I have felt that I have wanted to do more with my writing, go deeper into my truth. My favourite writers are those who are able to put their truth out on a table no matter how ugly, embarrassing, or incriminating. It takes a lot of courage to walk naked amongst a crowd of people. I remember reading passages from Anne Lammott’s “Traveling Mercies” and gasping. How can she write those things about herself, her honestly floored me again and again.
Lately I am learning just how deep my caring about what other people think is. It seems to touch every aspect of my life in some way. And the universe is now challenging me on this front. I am trying to sit with it, hold it up in front of me and look at it more closely. Where does it come from, this need to make other’s happy, the need to protect people, the need for approval? I haven’t yet found the answer to that question, but I do know that this trait is no longer serving me.
Over the last few months I have dealt with many situations in which people are questioning my choices, received unsolicited (anonymous) critiques of my life/work, and sometimes malicious judgement of my actions. I am reminded of being in art school and having to go through grueling critiques, sometimes for many hours. Looking back and remembering the comments that were made I realize that they were all based on the personal experiences and background of the speaker. Everyone reacts to things based on their own experience, it is impossible not to. A piece that dealt with some kind of sexual abuse would always be critiqued heavily by the women in the class, many of whom were abused themselves, (to give an obvious example.) But there were also some personal agendas in play, the student who wanted to impress the teacher, the girl who said only nice things so people would like her, the girl who critiqued because she was afraid her own work was inadequate, the joker who got off on making fun of others because of his own insecurities. The point being that none of the critiques of a work had anything to do with the life or experience of the creator. And though sometimes hearing opinions and critques from others is painful, it bears no relation and cannot be allowed to affect your life experience or your process as an individual.
And so I have started the process of letting it go. And what that really means is that in order to speak our truth one has to be willing to let other people have their own reactions no matter what they are. Sometimes it can be ugly, angry or painful. I do not like having people upset with me. But I now know that I don’t have to take on their emotions, i can just let them be. In the past I would have tried to fix things, make the person happy somehow, defend my ideas or decisions. It never worked really, I thought it did, but it was only like a coloured bandaid, a distraction from the real issue.
My process is my own. It is up to me to take hold of it. Own it.
Even if you have heard this quote before it bears repeating:
“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time this expression is unique. and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it! It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open…” -Martha Graham
I had a lot of fun doing this tshirt design for a local charity. The event is like a mini ironman mixed with golf. The money raised is then used to send a team of people to Guatemala to build an orphanage, provide housing, school rooms, a medical clinic, love and hope for 400 orphaned and abandoned children. What i love about it is that it is truly grass roots, all of the money goes directly to the project. The people running the event are the people who are going to Guatemala to do the building. I am told the attendees are of all ages and skill levels, many challenging themselves to try something that pushes them in new ways (physical and emotional). It is true that small numbers can accomplish great change. Beautiful.