September 9th, 2005
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“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~May Oliver

September 5th, 2005
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“every day, passion speaks to us through our feelings. that’s why when you allow yourself to become anesthetized by what others think, you literally block yourself from living the life you were called to live.
i promise you that if you make a choice that doesn’t please your mate, your friends, your mother, or whoever, the world will not fall apart — the people who truly love you want you to love yourself. and as you become clearer about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you — the first time around.” ~Oprah Winfrey
(found on Jen’s site)
i am not upset, i openly welcome this dialogue.
i am growing, becoming more of myself. my “stuff” floats to the surface where I can look at it and own it and see where there is work to be done. love to be given.
i remember the guilt years ago of leaving the hospital and feeling that I should not experience any joy when ‘she’ could not walk or speak or move. i did not allow myself to live because she was dying. i see that now.
there are no coincidences here. I am meant to look at all of this.
I will not shy away from any of it. I believe it is the role of the artist to stand in their truth, and question our perceptions of the world.
Sometimes it is not recieved well, that is o.k.
thank you Jonis, Jennifer, et al. we all learn from each other.

September 2nd, 2005

Not having internet at home yet, imagine my shock when I logged on this morning to find the dialogue that has ensued over the last 24 hours. I went through a variety of responses from anger, to sadness, and once again gratitude. My heart tells me that I should not try to defend myself here, but instead express my overall feelings about things. But this is difficult for I am indeed human after all, prone to the wide range of emotions, (and become defensive when I feel my character has been attacked, though I would like to be the buddha in this respect it is easier said than done.) My process of the last two years has been to open up more to my truth, to see things that I have not wanted to see (in myself and others), and to get closer to who I really am. That means going to the ugly places, and this is no exception.
I am grateful for this dialogue (it gives us all a chance to figure out how we feel about certain things), and I will not shy away from it.
The great question here becomes “How far do we each choose to cast our own net of empathy?” Does it reach to the other side of the world? To my own country? To my family? Or only to the dying bird in my backyard? When I look at the planet and all of the people and creatures on it, I say, “your pain is my pain”. That is what it means to have compassion, I understand your pain because I have it too, I know what it means to feel hurt and sadness. As someone who often feels too much, I must make decisions about how much weight I put onto my own heart. If I take on all of the problems of the world the weight is too great to bear, and I will not be able to function.
I have always been a believer in the Buddhist notion that “Life is suffering.” (And this is where the controversy might occur), who is to say that one suffering is greater than another? Is is not for us to do, but it IS important that we say to each other, I feel your pain. So if we cannot take on the world’s pain we must make choices about where to put our energy.
My choices have always been (and this is where a slight defensiveness comes in), to align myself with those who have found themselves “voiceless”, to act on a political and social level for those who go unnoticed or unacknowledged in our greater culture. The aids crisis in africa where 1000 people die every single day, to children in Africa who cannot get enough food on a daily basis, to orphans in Guatemala who do not have parents to provide for them, millions of people have no water every day. My own mother was unable to speak and was paralized for the last five years of her life (needing others to act as her voice), this is the experience that shaped MY choices. We all speak and act from our own experience.
I must admit to feeling slightly disgusted at the rampant American ethnocentricity when it comes to tragedy on home soil. As someone who is not American you must understand that at times it appears that “some” of you are saying, “My pain is greater that your pain?” (I DO NOT discredit the current suffering of people in New Orleans, it is tragic and devastating and my heart goes out to all of the people who have lost their homes, families, and friends.)
To my critics…I would agree that as someone who has a “voice” in the greater culture that I have a responsibility to speak out for things that I feel strongly about. I would ask you as the reader, “Is it your responsibilty to force your own feelings onto me?” Why do you feel the need to make me accountable for all of the pains of this world? Why is a blog percieved differently than a book or a painting, or a piece of music, (often labeled “narcissistic”, self absorbed). Yes it is. I am using my voice. It is MY voice, I speak from my perspective.
What I can say for sure…
Life is suffering.
You are indeed getting only a small part of who I am in these writings.
I have my own contradictions.
My heart cannot contain all of the sufferings of the world. (though at times i have tried, to my detriment.)
We are all connected by our suffering.
It is not wrong to experience joy in the midst of suffering. (the writings of Anne Frank greatly influenced my life.)
Altruism is a personal thing, we must make our own choices about where to put our money/energy/love. No one can tell us what is “right”.
Media greatly affects our perception of things.
I cannot please everyone with my writings.
Crisis brings out intense emotions.
Anger is often fear in disguise.
Maybe some of the energy used critiquing me would be better spent doing something productive for the people in need (if that is what your heart wishes to do.)
I continue to be grateful for all of your words, even the challenging ones. as they force me to look closely at my own beliefs.

September 1st, 2005
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…and I want to take some time to write about all the little details, my first day was perfect, (the 29th of august, celebrating our first wedding anniversary) riding around on bikes through the redwood trees, driking great wine, eating the most incredible tomato I have ever had in my life (as sweet as a raspberry), the gratitude and happiness for being with my husband again after a month and a half, the farmer’s market, the food, the food, the food, the heat, the laughing, the much needed sleep, fresh figs, tea from Peet’s (Lion mountain keemun), our little hummingbird friend “James” who greets us every morning, the magic house hidden in the trees (i must meet the owner and get inside), new books, some sadness while listening to NPR (New Orleans), a new (old) green bike with a wicker basket on the front, and love. My senses are being used to their full capacity.
for now this little snippet will have to do. it is my first day on my own and I want to do some exploring. I brought a picnic lunch and some money for something sweet. the sun hits the pavement with great intensity, and I am grateful for the slight breeze. I am grateful for a lot of things.

August 23rd, 2005

If you’ve ever made a huge change in your life you might relate to the feeling of spinning, the whirling excitement, the nervousness, the not knowing, feet not touching the earth, the temporary lack of grounding, the building tension that exists right before you leap. I am down to my last few days here, the time before making the leap. My walk in the woods today was completely breathtaking, the changing light bringing the feeling of fall, the air a bit cooler than it has been. I cling to the safety of it as I sit on the soft bank, looking out over the water at the tall pines. I notice the water reflected on an overhanging branch.
And as I sit I have a kind of revelation, a simple thought that breaks through the tension. It is the understanding that if I cling to these woods, to this experience, (to my comfort) then I am not opening myself up to new experiences. different forests. different people. new ideas. growth. Even Thoreau spent a limited time cut off from the rest of the world on Walden pond. I smile as I think of myself a year from now having had many adventures, able to look back at things and know that everything was o.k. That all the fretting and fear of change was unnecessary.
How I wish I could have a conversation with that future self. That person would take me by the hand and say, “everything is as it should be. you can breathe, and be kind to yourself, and know that you are safe everywhere. no person or path can take from you the things that are important. your love of life, your creativity, your courage, your strength are with you always. even when you doubt them.”
I wrote to a friend recently… “the alternative is that we sit on the couch from here on in with the remote, eating chips, brushing the crumbs out of our cleavage, not giving ourselves new experiences, letting other’s tell us which products will give us meaning and what we need live a fulfilled life.”
there is no choice here. either we change, or we wither.

August 20th, 2005
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In the 5th century B.C. graffiti poems were scratched onto the rock face of Sigiriya (Sri Lanka) –the rock fortress of a despot king. Short verses to the painted women in the frescoes which spoke of love in all its confusions and brokeness. Poems to mythological women who consumed and overcame mundane lives. The phrases saw breasts as perfect swans; eyes were long and clean as horizons. The anonymous poets returned again and again to the same metaphors.
When the government rounded up thousands of suspects during the insurgency of 1971, the Vidyalankara campus of the University of Ceylon was turned into a prison camp. The police weeded out the guilty, trying to break their spirit. When the university opened again the returning students found hundreds of poems written on walls, ceilings, and in hidden corners of the campus. quatrains and free verse about the struggle, tortures, the unbroken spirit, love of friends who had died for the cause. The students went around for days transcribing them into their notebooks before they were covered with whitewash and lye.

excerpted from “Running in the Family” by Michael Ondaatje (pg 84-85)

August 17th, 2005
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Drawing city people at the local cafe. You can always tell they are “from away”, they seem a bit out of their element unsure of the rural protocol. I spose that was me a few short years ago.
Found deer tracks in the woods yesterday, (much harder to do in the summer than the winter when they are sprawled randomly in every direction.) The deer must be gorging on apples that have dropped from the trees. I cracked at least 50 of them with the ball of my shoe. The blackberries are out and every day on my walk now I stop and feast for a while.
I found another half dead/half alive tree, one with a red circle painted on it. I felt much like Virginia Woold walking and talking to myself about a new book idea. A bird sitting in the long grass flew up flapping its wings hysterically and startled me.
These days I seem to be flipping back and forth between extreme excitement and joy about the impending move, and actual panic at the idea of leaving my home of the last eight years. Today is a good day, I am getting stuff done, mailing the last personal items, talking to the phone company, finishing illustration work. Yesterday I was teary and terrified, asking the universe (and whoever else is up there rooting for me) for help because I felt weak and lacking in courage. Sometimes I feel silly, it’s not like i’m moving to a third world country, there will be very little in the way of culture shock. I so admire people who go off to Africa for a year doing field work or foreign aid, and I would like to do that some day. But I am reminded that any change takes courage no matter what the degree, and there is always that initial fear of jumping into the abyss, (the unknown), as Wendell Barry put it,
“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.” -Wendell Barry, naturalist

August 16th, 2005
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I really enjoyed making these mini collages out of the tiny offcuts, and wearing them as necklaces (with a black suede lace), changing the colors with my moods. These ones are pieced onto a thick cardboard and laquered many times for durability, and I’ve found them to be suprisingly sturdy thus far. I am considering selling some on the site, (after a little more tweaking and if there is interest). They are approximately 1 1/2″ in height. More details to follow.
the idiosyncracy tag (which I’ve taken a while to do)
1. Footprints – I like to see my own in the snow and I always turn around after I walk through a puddle. (my husband does this too and it may appear strange to onlookers.) The goal is to get shoes with a great pattern on the sole.
2. Pickles – any kind (except garlic), I could live on them. Favourites include pepperocini’s, yum yums, artichokes, beets, eggplant, sauerkraut. This may be a newfie thing.
3. Found Faces – I see them everywhere, in bathroom hardware (apparently other’s have this too), sidewalk cracks, doodles, food, shadows, plumbing fixtures, stones.
4. I have a strong aversion to yellow foam. no idea why.
5. Jumping – I like to bounce up and down as high as I can when i am in a good mood, seeing if I can reach the ceiling.
…there are MANY more.
this is the most brilliant guerilla art ever…rubbish drawings. (link via Camilla)

August 12th, 2005
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I had to laugh when I was asked about my collage techniques and materials. Two weeks ago I realized that I had put all of my paints into the car (along with all of my other precious items, books, clothes, journals, quilts), and sent them off with my husband to California. I noticed when I sat down to do a painting that i only had what was left on my pallete, (goache), a some old watercolor tubes (windsor newton), and a few cans of house paint (Home Hardware). It amazes me how inventive I have been with the mixing of colors, (watercolor blended with the house paint).
I prefer not to buy paper for my work, but rather to find it in the world, (though I have bought some at times, exercise books, japanese paper, vintage magagzines). I like the idea of aquiring it “in the midst of living” because it becomes more about my daily life process, (going to the mail and finding a yellow envelope, eating chinese food and saving the chopstick wrapper, being drawn to a texture in a magazine). The piece above has some dried pink flower leaves that I collected while walking through a greenhouse. The ‘spririt lamp’ box was my dad’s when he was in college, (it was an old alcohol lamp used for a chemistry class). They all have associations for me.
But the thing I am most draw to lately is the ‘offcuts’, (the pieces laying on the floor after I have cut up other things). Right now I look down and find many beautiful little pieces to use. Something about them is more random, uncalculated, natural. But it might also be that they are the pieces one might throw away, the garbage. That is where the good stuff lies, digging in the dirt. The further I progress with the series the more of them you will see.

August 11th, 2005
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I awake tossing in bed, my mind unable to fully rest sits disturbed and tangled like the bunched up sheets between my legs. My cat utters a grumpy, “mroump” from the back of his throat, apparently my restless mind is keeping him up too. I run through all of the things still left to do before I leave, many of them feel big and overwhelming, it feels like a long list and the time only gets shorter. It all brings me to a kind of panic. This thinking. These thoughts that get repeated over and over, like a train whistle that screams “you’re not o.k., you’re not o.k.” This is what I have trained myself to do.
I have started a new mantra for myself in this situation, something to do everyday when I wake up. I want to start my day on a different note. I take a long deep breath and say, “Today I’m going to do the best that I can do.” That’s it.
What is implied by that is I may not do it perfectly, it may not be ‘right’, I may not get everything resolved, maybe I don’t even get close, but it will be my best and that is enough. That is all I can do. Sort of takes the pressure off to get it all done. I used to percieve myself as some kind of superhuman, able to conquer every task with great speed, skill and efficiency. The pressure to ‘get it all done now’ was/is overwhelming. And at the root of it is control, the need to make sure that my life functions perfectly. I laugh now as I write that last line. No life functions perfectly. And in the imperfections is the good stuff, the stuff that is worth writing about. The messiness of everyday life. Color. Who wants to write about a life that runs like clockwork?
With this understanding I am learning to be more gentle with myself. Don’t try to do it all, just do what you can and feel good about that. Allow space for mystery and serendipity to come in. Allow for accidents and mistakes, for time spent doing nothing, for experience. (collage is wonderful training for this, you cannot control it too much.) When I am in a panic I am not really experiencing life, but forcing it into a little box. For the first time in my life I am starting to understand what it means to embrace my imperfections. Part of that is allowing myself to experience that vulnerability, (such a theme lately), and trust in my ability to deal with situations as they arise. Maybe I should make myself a tshirt that reads, “Imperfectionist in training.”
So today I will go for lunch at the cafe, I will write a bit, make a few phone calls, do a collage, attempt one thing on my big list, go for a swim. Or maybe none of that will happen. But it will be enough.

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