Reclaiming My Creativity

 

Sunflower

Wow! This is my third post here in three weeks. It’s been a long time since I’ve written regularly and I hope it continues. I’m still not completely settled in, but I’m taking time to indulge myself by writing here, so perhaps I’m getting close.

I’m one of those people who needs a daily dose of creative time. That hasn’t been happening since July or possibly even before that. In the midst of the crush of moving in just over three months, I’ve been strung out, grumpy beyond words, and unable to just take time to call my own and do something that nourishes my soul. Getting back into a creative routine has been a slow process. As of yesterday I’ve been here for two months and now I’m ready to roll.

I started with getting back to cooking, which I’ve always loved doing. It’s a way of creating goodness for those who live in my home and is always appreciated. Add that to being somewhat of a health nut, I’ve found that creating delicious food that won’t kill my brain and body, part of my creative routine. But in the last few years and especially during the moving process I didn’t enjoy the time I needed in the kitchen to do that. One of the things about aging is that time doesn’t work the way it used to. It takes longer to do many of my daily tasks, and I’m often very hungry before I’m ready to cook.

From mid-September until early December, we ate our dinners out or brought in take out. Fortunately, here in C’ville we have a number of good restaurants and one in particular with a generous menu of gluten-free and Paleo meals. But there are a couple of problems with that including the cost. Secondly, most restaurants have great dessert menus. Since we rarely have sweets in our house, especially icecream which is my biggest addiction, we’ve naturally been enjoying what the menus have to offer us, like flourless chocolate torte and the like. Addiction is addiction, and trying to slap my hand as I’m enjoying such treats only makes my cravings worse. The result? You guessed it. Clothes don’t quite fit they way they used to. But now that’s beginning to change.

Thirdly, I’m completely tired of eating out. No longer do my favorite restaurants pull me in so I can take a night off from hovering over the stove. But that’s okay, I’ve been enjoying planning and cooking up some fabulous meals and enjoying the process. This past week I put together a wonderful Broccoli Cheese soup, Shrimp Scampi, and a to die for casserole of chicken, cheese, and locally made organic corn tortillas and all the flavors needed to make tasty enchiladas. Of course lovely salads of fresh greens, avacado, orange or grapefruit segments, and sliced almonds top off these meals. And the only dessert in our house is a piece of fruit or an occassional piece of dark chocolate. Yum!

And now the writing is coming. Next I hope I will be getting back to work on my visual journals and maybe even a bit of beading. I just discovered an old beading buddy is one of my neighbors. We’re both into creating gorgeous French Beaded Flowers and I’m looking forward to spending time with her.

What do you do when your creative routine has been interupted for a lengthy period of time? Do you get right back into it or does it take time to stop pissing and moaning about it and get back to work?

R&R And The Free Newsletter I’d Like To Share With You

What I see when I open my eyes in the morning,

What I see when I open my eyes in the morning,

I’m on vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’m staying on Currituck Sound this time around. It’s quiet, peaceful, and absolutely gorgeous. Besides some Canada geese there was a Great Blue Heron fishing next to the dock early this morning. Evenings are filled with killer sunsets that change by the minute and seem to last for hours. The ocean is an easy six minute trek away, where I walk at least twice a day; the first as soon as I get up and put some clothes on and then a late afternoon walk as the shadows begin to shorten and the heat of the day is on its way out.

I have only four more days here. I wish I could stay another week.

But the main point of this blog post is that I’m joining the ranks of those who put out a newsletter as a way to expand my horizons and those of my readers. My blog is usually story driven with contemplations on how to live a rich and fulfilling life.

My newsletter will have different content and will be published monthly on the first day of each month, beginning on October 1st. It will cover many of the themes and issues I write about in my book, including compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, aging, PTSD, and caring for an aging parent.

Some Enchanted Evening

Some Enchanted Evening.

I will also write about how writing my memoir and making visual art have helped me to find my center after years of wandering across an emotionally viscous sea of confusion and what AA and ALANON both call, Stinking Thinking.

There will be links to helpful articles on all of the above topics as well as books and movies that I have found to be of particular interest.

Each newsletter will include an image from one of my visual journals, for your enjoyment, as well as a way to encourage you to start one of your own. Everyone is an artist. By keeping a journal of your own creations you’ll find that being an artist does not mean you have to show your work in a gallery or share it with the rest of the world.

I will provide an occasional excerpt from my memoir along with updates as it makes it’s way to bookshelves in 2016.

Please use the sign-up form at the top of this page on the right to let me know you’d like to receive this new offering. Please take note that I will never share your email address with anyone else.

I’m very excited about sharing my newsletter with you and send you wholehearted THANK YOUs for signing up in advance.IMG_1563

Getting Back On Track After A Long Hiatus

"Seeing," from my Artist's Journal

“Seeing,” an image from an old journal of mine

For the last three years, I’ve been working on a memoir that I knew, if nothing else, would be the basis of healing a life I sometimes thought was terribly broken. In doing so I left my visual work in painting and collage on the sidelines so that I could concentrate on the writing.

The journals that I’ve been keeping for years became an important part of the writing process that pulled up old memories. As I wrote about my relationship with my mother, and went back into those notebooks I was surprised by the visual journal entries I had made and had an itch to do more of these colorful entries.

But the words I needed for my book flew thick and fast and I had little time to pull out the paint, the glue sticks, and the stack of old magazines and other stuff I needed to work with. Some of those things were still packed away from our move in 2010. It seemed too complicated to go looking for them.

When my memoir went to my copy editor, I decided to start painting again. But the thought of smearing paint on a large canvas was daunting. I was so out of practice, I had no idea where to start.

With the thought of a small visual journal on my mind I began puttering around, looking for the perfect notebook, opening up old jars of acrylic paint that were mostly dried up, and saving bits of interesting pieces of paper.

I began cutting out words and images from worn out books, magazines and junk mail. I bought new paint, retrieved the old hand stamps I’d carved eons ago, with their dried up ink pads. I found a variety of sketch pads that I liked and added some new pens of various colors. I cleared off a good sized section of my work table that was covered with stacks of papers that needed filing and moved the boxes of encaustic paints I’d been working with prior to deciding to write a book, over to the side.

I put out the new paint, the sketchpads, the scissors, and glue sticks. For weeks I just stared at it all, wondering which sketch pad to use and where to start. Suddenly I didn’t like the paint colors I’d bought and whenever I was struck with an idea that got me excited, something came up that needed my attention. Of course those enticing images in my head were swept away in the tide of work I thought I had to attend to before I could allow myself to play.

Desperate and needing help to get started, I signed up for Lisa Sonora’s, on-line video workshop, Dreaming on Paper. Because I am an artist I felt shame for not being able to get going on my own. In my head a smart-ass voice kept asking, “What happened? Did you forget how to make art, dumbhead? That’ll teach you to go off and write a stupid book!”

Turning my practical, structured, and sometimes intolerant left brain switch to off, I watched Lisa’s first video, put on some classical guitar music, sat down at my work table and began. Oh how freeing it was to just smear paint around on the pages of a sketch pad … and get this, at Lisa’s suggestion, I started in the middle of the pad, rather than at the beginning. I began flipping through a few magazines lying around and tore out words that resonated with me. They seemed to come out of nowhere, and the first ones fell together by themselves: Where My Heart Is. From there it was a piece of cake without all the rich, fattening calories. I let it sit for a few days, went back to it and played around some more. I started using my hand stamps and writing whatever came to mind.

And guess what? There it was!

IMG_1548 (1)

It is not be the most beautiful or astonishing piece of art I’ve ever put together, but I’m getting back on track. Lisa Sonora’s video series is artful, helpful, and inspiring. Hopefully, I’ll turn this work into a practice giving words and images their due together in journal form.

Have you ever put work aside that you had difficulty getting back to later? What did you do to begin again?

Are You A Story Teller?

A page out of my visual journal, using cut out words and pictures.

A page out of my visual journal, using cut out words and pictures.

I’m a storyteller. You’re a story teller. And so is every one you pass on the street. I’m also a writer and tell stories about my life here on my blog. But the stories I write here are not the ones I’m talking about in this piece.

I’m talking about the stories that can fill up my head on a hourly basis about who I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going, what the world should be like, and how things are going to turn out even before any event begins to unfold.

Those stories are usually about fear, wishful thinking, how things are supposed to be, and blame. They’re inventive ways of dealing with the possibility of being disappointed, building hope, or preparing for things we’re afraid will happen … like being humiliated, or just plain terrified. They’re often about the end of my world or about how I’m  going to be the world’s next biggest and brightest star.

Like when I was about eight years old and truly believed I was going to win a beautiful palomino pony because I sent in the very best, most awesome name for that pony … Star. When it was announced that some kid in New Jersey won the pony instead of me, I was angry and complained that somebody had made a seriously terrible, horrible mistake. No name was as good as the one I sent in!!!! I was being cheated.

Stories like that have at times stopped me dead in my tracks and kept me from moving forward. Crazy as it sounds I thought that if I worried myself to death that which I was worried about would go away.

When we’re busy and not paying attention, our minds have a way of running and sometimes ruining our days, for  at least a while. A beautiful afternoon walking the dogs can turn into a nightmare because I hear thunder in the distance and I’m sure we’re not going to make it home before we’re struck and killed by lightning.

I can also go the way of being so full of myself that I just know that my memoir will be #1 on every best seller list within two days of launching it. Yeah, right!

Stories of that ilk can make me laugh when I look back, but if I’m constantly building dramas in my head and being neurotic and narcissistic, it can be a real problem. These days I’m trying to break this very silly habit and retire from the drama.  Our world is full enough of that stuff and I don’t need to adding more.

So instead of playing truth or fantasy with myself, I’m working hard to stop making these ridiculous tales up. If I’m worried about something, I work at letting it go by asking, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” And I tell myself that life is a great adventure and worth every moment, even the ones we wish wouldn’t happen.

The good news is that scientists are finding that we can send our stories packing and change the way our brains operate by labeling our stories when they show up. I label mine silly stories, lies, wishful thinking, or horror stories. Another way I let them go is by putting them on pages in a visual journal, like the one in the photo.  Once I can SEE them, they become just what they are … thoughts, stories. They wash away into the gutter just like fallen leaves after a hard autumn rain.

I want to live in the moment, getting rid of expectations and judgement, letting go of fear and desire. I want to  live life as a thrilling escapade. Though it can be extreeemely difficult, it’s a step toward believing I can and will handle whatever comes along.

I can’t predict the future. So Why should I waste my precious time worrying and being scared? Life is all about learning and experiencing joy, sadness, pain, anger, fear, hatred, and oodles of love. Why not relax and let it happen?

Do you tell yourself Silly Stories? How do you wash them away?

 

Wishing you a beautiful, awe filled day!