I'm a 40-year-old mom addicted to reflecting on life and my role in this crazy world we live in. Through writing, art, photography I try to make sense of where I am, and through genealogy I try to know from where I came, and gardening, well, it simply connects me with mother nature and her connection to god.
My friend and co-worker Sean posted an assignment to our schools' collab blog. It is most fitting for today. On a cold and snowy day, where else would you find me but inside writing. Well, today, I'm trying to write. Having moved from my own house, I'm finding it really hard to find a space in the place I am today.
So where did I write before? Well, my favorite spot was on the front porch. Summer was about flowers, the front porch and writing and reading. On rainy days, the kitchen table was the next spot, but there was always a vase full of flowers near by to remind me the sun would be out soon enough.
In the winter, it was at my kitchen table, again, but I'd usually find myself using the table as a starting point, a catch-all for the stuff that I dragged to the front room, where the fireplace would be lit, or a squishy warm blanket was kept.
Today, I want my house back. That's sad, isn't it?
I'm moved it. Only a few things are left at the old house and then I need to clean it up. It's amazing how dusty the house is when you move all the large furniture out! School starts tomorrow; the class I'm taking also starts tomorrow night, and the class I'm teaching on Saturdays begins this weekend. If I can make it through the week without pulling out my hair, I'm home free. The tidbits left to do before Friday's close on the house are small, but it's just squeezing the time into the evenings to ensure it all gets done! The art room is set up, too. I haven't had time to use it yet, but next week, I'll be in there, gathering some sanity back and doing something fun!
Today, I'll be moving my art room to Eric's. Yesterday was my last day working in my space here at "home". I started with the Something to Crow About weekly challenge, and that final product was not very nice, but it got those creative juices flowing, and after I did it, I created this piece. I like it a lot. Over the last month, I've been allowing myself to layer, layer, layer. Before this, I had great fear of that. Part of the fear, I'm sure, comes from my elementary art classes. Although we were taught all those shading techniques, we weren't allowed to change what we had set out to do. If we planned on painting a tree, that's what we needed to do. It couldn't change. My middle school art teacher wasn't quite so bad, but there was a right and a wrong, and we were so caught up in learning primary, secondary, tertiary, etc, that we didn't have fun. High school was a bit better, but by that point, I just really wanted to make clay "sculptures" I could then use as ashtrays. Of course, ashtrays weren't "legal" projects in high school, so you had to be real creative, knowing full well once it left school it would have to become something else.
So this layering thing is new to me, and I cannot believe I've never allowed myself to do it! I love it. With this one, I painted the page, added pages from a book, then started adding more and more layers. I like including a drawing, too. I liked how the last one turned out, which I think will now be named Cassandra, which was a name submitted once on the blog and then someone dittoed that in an email.
So layering is fun and exciting and you can make mistakes (which I do constantly), but that's okay because you can just add another layer and ultimately there is really nice texture.
It's kind of like the texture being added to my own life now that I'm deciding to get married, move out of my house and start a new life. True, I'm nearing a panic attack--no kidding, I've been fighting it for a couple of days! But that panic is based on the upheaval of my house. It's a wreck, and I don't much care for my house being this disgusting. Don't get me wrong, during the school year, it can get pretty messy--enough that I'll stop you at the front door and say you can't come any further, but right this minute, it's horrid. I mean there are boxes, and things strewn on the floor that I'm not sure what to do with, and trash bags filled with crap I didn't know I had and wonder why on earth I kept it, etc. It's more than the "house is a mess today, let's sit on the front porch." Trying to meld my household goods with Eric's is also hard, but bless his heart, he's letting me bring as much as I can to his house so that I have enough of my "stuff" to feel like I'm at home. His backporch will be my new art space. It's not very extravagant or "classy" ....or.....well.. it is after all a backporch, but it's a space, and that's all I need. When we put his house on the market, and buy a new house that we choose together, I'll have a better space, but for now, I can make do with what we have. After all, it's kind of like that ceramic ashtray I made in high school--it had to be whatever the rules allowed at that moment.
Okay, I'm still moving, which is why it's been almost a week since I posted. Yes, it's a slow process--slower than any other move. We are doing it in little trips so that we don't have to get a U-haul. Plus, the way our schedules are working out, there isn't a full day that we could move everything to every place it belongs. So as I speak, I have no dining room furniture, my kitchen looks like it's been ransacked, the only things in my living room are the tv, couch and boxes and boxes of things that need to be taken to various and sundry locations for storage.
But no worries. I have been in the art room today. I had to complete the Something to Crow About weekly challenge, and although that journal page stinks, it did get the creative juices flowing and I am in the process of completing a couple of other things I really like. I'll get them done by tomorrow (Saturday) because I'm moving the art room tomorrow. I hope to have it ready to go, though, by Saturday evening. I'll need some down time after moving it, I'm sure, so a glass of wine in one hand and a paint brush in the other will be a nice distraction from the lengthy day of moving stuff.
In addition to finishing the Something to Crow About weekly challenge, I also had some time to draw this woman--who needs a name. Suggestions? I also used some of the fantabulous papers I received in a grab back from Kelly Kilmer this last week. I had never bought a grab bag on line before, and let me tell you if Kelly ever sells more, I will buy them. What's great is that she lives in California and well, here in ol' St. Joe MO I don't have a lot of paper varieties, so opening her package and finding such wonderful Asian influenced papers was heavenly. I really wanted to roll around in the papers. Yes, I have issues, but I'm such a tactile person, that I just wanted to feel all the textures and stare at the vivid colors. I used the papers to create this drawing's clothing (no really she needs a name). I really enjoyed incorporating the colors and textures for her blouse.
So, today, the plan is to organize my art room and get it ready for the move. I am trying to decide if it should be the first room to be moved or the last. Later today, I'm helping Eric move some of his kitchen stuff around and out to make room for my new dining room table, which means that the first room to be moved from my house will likely be my dining room. Eric doesn't have a dining room--just a large kitchen, so we are going to have to do some shifting. All of my dining room furniture must move with me and not go to storage--to much monetary and emotional value in them to trust them to the dreaded storage unit!
If you haven't visited Something to Crow About, you must. There is a great weekly "project" taking shape there. That's what I'm working on right now. Each week, the group (I think there are over 70 now) receives a set of images that we can use in our collages, journal pages, ATC's, etc. What's great is to see how these images take shape in our own minds and how they land on the page. Mine isn't very good this week, but that's okay. I have been swamped with the whole idea of moving. If you haven't read my last post, you should and you'll get an idea of how freaked out I was earlier in the week! Goodness. Anyhow, the weekly images are such a great way for us to get thinking about creating something. Sharing ideas and inspiration and encouragement is what it's all about.
My journal page connects the images given to us along with my own. I found a photo of my grandma in a swimsuit--which wasn't hard since she had no issues with her body. She loved her body and was proud of it. I wish some of that had rubbed off on me! I also used an image of the Ford Fairlane that was from the front of my grandpa's stash of owner's manuals. He bought a new car every 2 years and kept a chunk of the manuals that I'm now copying and using for my collages. Then I found the image of Marilyn and it juxtaposed nicely with my grandma, who was playing with the strings of her swimsuit. I put all of it together with the images from the "project" and tada. Not the best in the world, but like I said....
Oh, and please stop by Collage Contessa. She, too, is awesome, and I love the work she's doing. She's the one who awarded me the BFF, so I need to give her a shout out!
Holy moly guacamole! (the phrase that drives my students crazy, I must say!) Let me say, I hate moving. The last time I moved I SWORE it was THE last time, but then I fell in love and decided to get married (silly me), so here I am moving again. Good grief. My house sold on Monday--yeah!
In this market, I thought it would take months and months, maybe a year. It didn't. Good news. Yes! However, could it have come at a busier time? I mean I had June and July that was totally flexible. August means getting ready for school and with the change in schools this year, that means extra work. I had to move all my junk from one building to another, and I'm having to set up a new classroom and learn a new curriculum and get training, and write everything from scratch and read all the new books and stories, and whoa! Now, I have to move my house, too!
So, the new owners take possession of this house on Aug. 29; Jake leaves for college on the 20th, and I am on contract hours---no flex time in the daily schedule on the 18th. School actually starts on the 25th. Can you say NERVOUS BREAKDOWN?
At this moment, I should be doing something else. But, I'm blogging to get away, to channel the anxiety of having Rubbermaid containers in my living room, stacks of things pulled from the shelves and scattered on the floor and every flat surface in my house. I'm trying to decide what I'll be taking with me to Eric's house, which is already fully furnished, but I NEED some of my own things there to make it feel like home; what do I put in the storage unit, knowing full well it could be broken in to (not likely, but it's possible, isn't it?) and what about vermin? Don't wild creatures find their way into storage units? Thank heaven my mom lives close. I'm taking all my photos, yearbooks, my childhood toys and baby "stuff" along with Jake's baby clothes and collectibles, etc. to her house where she has a nice carpeted basement with a corner (very large corner!) I can stack these containers into.
Okay. I feel better. Getting all that out was cathartic! So, needless to say, the next few weeks will be hellish for me. My nice, neat, organized world is no more (I have to have organization outside because as you can see what rattles around IN my head is whacko--outside organization means I can function with the chaos internally :) Art will be scheduled in. Eric, bless his heart, has made it a priority for me to have space at his house for my art work. He has a back porch that's three times larger than mine. It's a bit hot here in Missouri right now, but with a fan and a few open windows I'll make do--for Eric, I can make do.
All this being said, we'll put his house on the market in April and likely find ourselves in this situation at this same time next year--moving two households into our newly chosen home. God wants me to learn something from this experience, I just don't know what. If you have a clue, tell me! I told myself the other day the house would sell when it was suppose to; at the time, it was my rationale for if it took a year to sell; then, it sold and now I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out why now. There is a lesson here. Maybe that life isn't always so neat and organized? Hmm.... Any thoughts?
Yeah, it's my day! My house sold, and Collage Contessa, gave me the Blogging Friends Forever Award. Yeah!! I will have to follow the rules of the award tomorrow, though. I'm off to get a storage unit, to check out the room my son will be moving into at my fiance's and to have dinner with my future mother-in-law to celebrate the sale of my house. But I wanted to take a minute to say a big thank you!!
Yeah! Finally, I've gotten some time to do something in my art "room", which is actually my back porch converted into a "room of my own." I really have a lot of other things that I should be doing, but I was able to squeeze a little housework in--though the dishes aren't quite finished, and the laundry isn't all put away, but at least I got the bills paid, right? So, I did a journal page, and then I did a "portrait". I really like them both. I haven't gotten the journal page finished, but it's going to get done soon. I have to write about setting up my classroom, and the fact that several commented that they couldn't believe I sit in every seat in the classroom. Yes, Stacey, I do, and yes, I know that's just like me to do something like that! I tried something different with the journal page. I drew lines on it. I don't typically write my thoughts on journal pages. Usually, I allow the meaning of the images on the page to reflect what I'm thinking and feeling, but I've seen such great things with actual journal writing on other blogs, I thought I'd try it. I love the concept, and maybe that will help me not to be so fragmented. I write here, draw there, paint in another spot. Now, maybe I can combine them all. We shall see! I really want to try a Moleskin journal, but I'm afraid of it. Why? I dunno. Something about making a really ugly page I don't like, maybe, and it's stuck in there forever? I know, the journal is a place to practice and make errors, but... By the way, I discovered a few days ago that the original word for error was "to seek truth". Perhaps I should go with that archaic view of the word and not be so afraid of the moleskin. Maybe I need to keep working on that fear thing I have going as a constant in my life, too. :)
So, I've not been able to do anything this week! HOWEVER, there is a reason. I've been at AP training in KC to get ready for teaching AP Lit this fall. The "class" is AWESOME. I'm so excited about school starting. Now, with that being said, this means that any time to create will be minimal before long. School consumes me. I'm also teaching a class at our local university on Saturdays, and I'm taking a class in "problems teaching the narrative" on Monday nights, so free time will be limited. This week, I'm getting a glimpse of that. I'm not getting home until after 5, and I have about an hour of "homework" each night, and then supper, and well, I'm not use to getting up at 6 am right now, either, plus the hour drive in rush hour to and from the class in KC is causing me to be tired as evening rolls around. The house is a mess, too. You'd think that being gone all day would mean that the house would be perfect, but I think there are gremlins living in the attic or something and as soon as I close the door at 7 am, they clamor down the steps and start tossing things about. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it! I'm hoping that no one wants to see the house this week. They may be frightened by the ring around the tub, the dishes in the sink, the laundry inching its way up the side of the hamper and well, those damn gremlins might be a bit frightening as well if they catch them in the act! So, instead of doing anything on my own, I'm living vicariously through the true artists on the web. The blogs on my blog roll are a must! Gosh, they are such awesome people and create the most wonderful things. It reminds me of how much I have to learn. I wish, I wish, I wish that some of these awesome artists lived near. I'd love to take a class. Of course, I'm not sure where I'd fit it into my schedule, so, for now, the blogs will have to do. At least with the blogs, I can sit on the couch, catch up on the news from the tv in one ear, keep my homework near my right hand, and keep an eye out for a stray gremlin here and there. Notice I mentioned nothing about cleaning. Oh, and by the way, I saw Eric earlier, and he said, "Did you wear that to the conference today?" I said yes, and why, and he said, "Well, you look cute in a scrubby kind of way." What does that mean? I think it means that I've been too tired to do something with my hair in the morning--thus the pony tail, and too tired to iron, thus the Levis and t-shirt. But, I did, at least, put on make up--even eye liner, this morning. :)
I've not created anything this week. I've spent all of my time working on things for school, which starts August 25, which sounds like a long time from now, but time flies and I'm such a process person, so it takes forever to set up my room, sit in each seat of the room to ensure the kids will all have a "good" spot, and start the lesson plans, etc. I make the process tedious, I've been told, but I LOVE my job and I want the kids to feel like they are with a teacher who has really taken the time to make them feel comfortable.
So, last night, I decided to tote along my colored pencils when we went to the races. I'm not much of a car race kind of gal, but Eric loves them, and I love him, so I went along. He didn't mind that I was drawing, so I was able to draw a new head--not much of a creation, but considering I was doing in between cars lining up and waiting for the green light, and watching their tail lights glide away down the 1/8th mile track, I'm happy with it. Plus, I think she'll fit great into some new projects.
Today, I squeezed in some time before the grocery store to complete a journal page. I'll let it speak for itself. I've held on to these images for a while. The little girl with the tutu was actually the start to an altered trading card, but I couldn't give her away, so I thought she'd come in handy. I love this little girl--I suppose in the same way I love the little girl in me who lived in 1972 then was changed forever.
I've decided the little journal I have right now isn't going to cut it when school starts. I need something larger, and I'm thinking of either making my own (I have all the products to do it!) or buying a Moleskin, which I've seen a lot of people doing great things with. I'm not sure.
Okay, the bottom is back. I'm better. Busy, but better. The business centers around getting my classroom ready. Moving from one building to the next is tedious! Plus, changing classes, curricula, buildings, rules, expectations is just cause for a lot of extra work! We (Eric and I) took all three kids to Worlds of Fun Monday. Yes, we braved the horrid heat---although most did not, which meant no lines for us! There were so few people that a few times, we were able to stay on the roller coasters rather than get off and stand in line again so that we could ride again! I've only seen it like this on special invitation days when the park is closed to the public. It was, indeed, hot, but since there was very little waiting, we didn't notice the heat so much--the speed of the roller coasters and other rides cause great breezes.
So, no art has been done in this week. No worries. I'm planning something for the weekend--if all goes well the next few days and I get all this work finished!
Sometimes the bottom just drops out, and I find myself sad, anxiety ridden, questioning everything in my life, and over the last few days, I've been falling down that slippery slope trying desperately to catch myself. I liken my life to this: on one end there is a large metal pole stuck firmly into the ground; wrapped around it is a large rubber band; the other end of the rubber band is around my waist, and I spend my time running, running, running, and all of a sudden the rubber band snaps me back and boom--head against that metal pole, and there I am slumped in a ball on the ground. I really do try to fight this. I am completely conscious of what happens to me, but I'm not always conscious while it's happening--if that at all makes sense. I'm not depresses so to speak, but I'm in this place that causes me to question my life and the direction it's going. I believe 100% in Socrates' comment that a life unexamined is not worth living, but I also know that I tend to go overboard. I have a tendency to cut and run. This is an easy thing for me to do, which frightens a lot of people in my life. I think they all know that at any minute I could simply say, enough is enough, I'm outa here. That's not what I'm about to do. I just need to figure out what's wrong. I think a major part of this has to do with all the changes that are taking shape this summer. I've been way too "I'll work through this!" and not enough feeling the anxiety these changes are creating in my life. Too, I'm finding that I don't recognize myself in the mirror. I awoke this morning and stared at myself, not sure who I was. That's not good. Again, I've done this before and my cures in the past have been the "cut and run" philosophy. I've been joking a lot about the age and weight thing, but it's really gotten to me. The laughing and joking about it has been a cover-up, I think. I really am freaking out over the changes in my life. So, today, I drew a screaming person. I received in the mail two great books, True Vision: Authentic Art Journals and Art Journals and Creative Healing. In one of the books there is a screaming three year old. I really feel like that screaming three year old today! I'm desperately shouting, but nothing is coming out. Perhaps that is why earlier this month I said I had nothing to say. I think I do have something to say, it's just not rising to the surface. The screaming woman is going to become the start of today's journal. I think it will be helpful to really delve into the problem that I'm having today. Maybe, then, I can pick myself up, put some ice on that bruise caused by the smashing of my body into that very stable, well grounded metal pole, and finally take off the rubber band that keeps yanking me back to this place.
If money wasn't a necessity of life, I'd be happy. I know, I know, most people think that, but really, if I didn't have to work, could just stay home and create, using products that I could get for free, I would. What would I do with my time, you might ask? Ha! What wouldn't I do! First, there isn't enough wall space to hold what I'd want to do. It's funny, my mom is obsessed with wallpaper. I hate wallpaper, and, yet, I could see my walls inundated with photographs of every little thing I see. Isn't that the same as wallpaper? No! Each inch of the wall would hold a different glance of the world--not the sequential, predictable patterns of Victorian flowers lacing themselves across the walls. Each photo would not only be different, but it would hold a meaningful moment in time. Think about every photo on your walls right now. Either in the photo itself, behind the camera or off to the side just a bit, there is a story to be told. Even the photos taken in a studio have a story to tell--the little girl screaming through her photo shoot in front of you and you were afraid that's what your child would do, etc. Think of the smells, the weather, the conversations, all the hopes and dreams and feelings that were taking shape when that single photo was snapped. There is so much more to a photo than what is seen on the surface.
On the little jaunt to pick up Jake, I took photos of some cool things. Now, I'm in love with them, and I want to enlarge them and hang them on my walls, but there is that little thing called money that gets in the way. How much is too much to pay for a frame? What about the selling price of my house--will too many holes in the wall affect that? Will people even notice the house when it's covered in photos that have absolutely no relevance to them? That being said, the other day, I had a 30 minute conversation with a woman who after walking into my house with her realtor saw my photo of the whale on the wall and wanted to know all about how I had taken it. Her dream was to go whale watching. Mine was to have her buy my house!
So, what do I do with all of these photos? I can't realistically wallpaper my walls with each photo I take that I really like. I like each for different reasons--there is the literal photo and then all the layers that cannot be seen. I'll post a couple here. But I really, really, really want to hang them on my walls.
So, my last post was about photography, and wanting to "snake" my way through jungles, etc. Well, I might want to change the term "snake". I drove to Bennett Springs to pick up Jake, who'd spent a few days with my dad at his cabin. After the four hour drive, I decided we (actually MY hind end) needed to take a nature hike. Jake led the way, and before long, I reached out and grabbed him, keeping his gigantic size 14 shoe from stomping on a snake. Now, not that I am opposed to killing snakes. He could have stomped it to death, and I may well have joined in after it was done flopping. After all, having lived in the country, I grew up with snakes and had no problem standing in the yard screaming until my dad got a gun. BUT, next to water, you never know what kind of snake it is, and since I didn't have my "Poisonous Missouri Snake Guide" with me (yes, I have one of them, too. I cannot stress to you how much I hate snakes, but...), I wasn't sure if it was poisonous. We stood perfectly still until, after "jumping" into the water, it eased itself up on a rock and some kind of algae. Like I said, I hate snakes, but I also have a horrid fascination with them when I'm near enough. Instead of running, then, or screaming for my dad to grab a gun (he was at the cabin, but knowing how well I can scream, he would have probably heard me, and at this point, he'd likely just roll his eyes and shake his head), I started taking photos of it. Totally creeped out, I must say, I kept snapping away. Disgusting! It's eyes were round and not vertical slits, so I think it was non-poisonous; I couldn't quite tell the shape of its nose, either--the sun was shining and causing a glare, so...
Needless to say, I was thinking hard about the use of "snake" so many times in my last post and talking about that post with a few others. I see snakes, though, all of the time. It's because I'm hyper sensitive to my surroundings and scan the land as though I'm searching for land mines or something! If I'd not been with Jake, he wouldn't have seen the snake. He had no idea it was there in front of him, which made him stop and think about how many he'd been near the last few days and had no clue. Then, he got to thinking about what if a snake would "snake" by and somehow get into his waders as he was fishing in the water. I shudder to think! Good grief.
Well, back at camp, with photos loaded, we ate dinner with my dad, who is obsessed with this living like a cowboy. I don't get it, but, hey, whatever trips your trigger, I guess. He cooks using a dutch oven, which I must say made a really nice looking roast, but there is something about living in a one-room cabin, with no running water--thank god he has electricity (despite wanting to be a cowboy, he hates the heat and likes air conditioning. Of course, as a kid, when the front room had the only air conditioner in the house and my room in the attic was baking, he'd tell me to "buck up". Yes, but that air conditioner was only feet away from his room--something seems odd about that, don't you think?). Personally, I like the modern amenities of the 21st Century. Conserve, recycle, reuse, reduce, etc, for sure, but to give up running water for an extended period of time is crazy--especially when your living near a water source with snakes-good lord, there are snakes in them thar hills, fella!
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a photographer. It was my dream. I had a little studio set up in my parents' basement, and I spent hours and hours taking photos of all sorts of things. I hoped to work in advertising. Then, I went while in DC my first year at college for a journalism convention, I toured National Geographic. I thought nothing better than to slump through jungles and snake my way through foreign countries snapping hundreds of rolls of film. Well, life got in the way, and that didn't happen. Although I dabbled here and there with weddings and portraits, it didn't work out. We were poor, I had a baby, and I got sucked in another direction. That being said, I always dabbled. I never let it go completely. The fruit of that was given to me today. My ex-husband's niece (I still consider her my niece, but the divorce separated us and I hadn't talked to her in over 10 years) sent me a postcard. I saw her a week or so ago at a local restaurant while she was home visiting. She sent me that postcard from Ohio while she's touring the country taking photos. She said that it was because of me that she' s out there, right this moment, snapping photos, snaking her way across the country. She also added, "You remember when we covered those old check boxes with wallpaper?" Yes, I do, and she added these were things that she'd do someday with her own nieces. The postcard brought be to tears. I sat in the car and cried. All those years ago, I had no idea that something I might say or do would inspire this beautiful little girl to live out her dream. I'm so proud of her. She's starting her doctorate in psychology, and she mentioned she'd like to do something with art. If I had to do it all again, knowing what I do today, I'd be an art therapist. 100%.
So, Ms. Rachael, as you tour around the next few days, know that I'm living vicariously. I love you to pieces and you made my day today. It just reminded me how powerful just a little bit of time can be when offered to a child, and it reminded me that dreams live on in other people sometimes, and that, my dear, makes me so incredibly happy!
Let me tell you, yesterday, I was on fire! I created all day long, and I had so much fun. I found myself totally lost in each creation and by the end of the day, I was relaxed, re-energized and refreshed. Wow! I started one page in my journal--it's about growing old, and I found a quote about age and rather than describing it as growing old, it said we "ripen". I love that. Like a good wine, or a grape on the vine. Yummy. What a better way to look at aging. Of course, I'm not obsessing on the whole aging thing. I'm only 40, but some of my friends who are 40 are freaking out. I'm so happy, I can hardly stand it! True, there are days I miss that 20 something body, but hey, I'm better in every other way than in my hind end! I also played a bit with the drawing I posted yesterday. I "antiqued" it in I-photo, and decided to go with her as a mother nature like figure. The other two I've titled "What grows in your heart?" and "When your back is against the wall." Pretty obvious, I think. I'm just having a ball doing this. I'm not very good, but I don't care. There is nothing better than getting what's inside of you out on the page, and I really do believe that if you just let the process of creating overtake you, you'll find your subconscious rising to speak to you. I completely believe that God resides in our subconscious and speaks to us in whispers, guiding and supporting us. For me, creating helps me get in contact with God, and makes me feel ever so peaceful, centered, and like I said earlier, rejuvinated, re-energized, etc. So I'm off to see what else I can muster up with my new watercolor pencils that I absolutely LOVE!!! Have I mentioned that yet?
My dad has been here visiting, so not a lot of art going on. He just left, taking Jake with him for a little Papa and grandson time together in the Ozarks. I knew I'd have some quiet time to work at home on my journal this week, so I decided to try something new. I bought some watercolor pencils (had that wonderful 40% coupon from Michael's!), so I played a bit last night. I absolutely love the watercolor pencils because you can never be sure what you are going to get, and even though I'm not at all good at this drawing thing, I still love the process. It's like meditation! Now, I'm wondering what do to with this one. I like her as a Medusa-like character, and I like her as Mother Nature, and I also like her as a woman caught in the whirlwind of life. I might try several things with her today. I also want to work on some background papers. I so love paper. I love buying it--and of course touching each sheet before I decide on which one I want, BUT I also love to make my own backgrounds. This time when I made my vacation scrapbooks, I used only scenic photos I had taken as background paper. It added so much to each page to see the scenic views we had seen while driving through Colorado. Eric made fun of me as I snapped close-ups of trees, wooden tables, rocks, etc., but after he saw the scrapbook he totally appreciated my stopping to get as close to possible to "weird" objects on our various and sundry treks. So what shall I do with her?
Yesterday, my realtor called and asked if I could move out of my house in a little less than two weeks. It sent me into a panic. For one, I'm enjoying lallygagging about the house drawing, working on my genealogy, reading, etc. To stop, drop and roll into packing and moving into a storage unit freaked me out. In addition, it freaked me out to be moving into Eric's so quickly. Less than two weeks allows for little acclimation of the idea of moving, the actual process of moving and there would be no slowly moving things in a day at a time. It would have to be all done in one fell-swoop. Of course, I COULD do it, and I would do it, but I needed to panic a bit. Out of the panic, I drew today's piece, and I went to the Internet (since I cannot seem to gather my own thoughts well enough to express) to find some quotes that would help me with my drawing. I had to really think about what kind of quotes I needed. Basically my panic centers around fear, which is an "emotion" that has plagued me my entire life. I have done an incredible job overcoming fear, realizing that fear is something that was keeping me stagnant in my life. There are so many quotes; it was hard to choose, so I chose several--yes, I have issues with making up my mind! Initially the face began as a "typical" face I've been drawing, but an oops here and an oops there, turned her into a crying angel. I have to wonder what does she signify. I think, and I could be wrong, but the tears are what I'd expect to occur when fear arises. To ignore the fear is to be unfaithful to my emotions. If I feel it, it must be real. HOWEVER, the wings signify the rising above the emotions. To feel it is a must, but to let it rule me is unacceptable. The praying hands signify faith. I do believe that things happen for a reason and I do believe a higher power is at work helping us overcome, building the bridge to help us cross over the experience or giving us the bandages to sooth our knees as we've crawled through the muck and guck of whatever turmoil we have to encounter. Just a few days ago, someone asked me if my has had sold yet and if I was getting impatient. I said, "No, I'm not impatient. It will happen when it's meant to happen." So....
I always find myself in this situation. Wanting to create and having nothing to say. Well, I shouldn't say I have nothing to say; nothing just seems worthy enough to put in my journal. Interestingly, my process this summer has been different. I'm trying to create journal backdrops--I'm not comfortable calling them pages yet--for what's rolling about in my head. Once upon a time, I would have had the words and then taken time to "illustrate" them. Perhaps that is why I'm having difficulty "coughing" up words. The process has switched and it's taking me some time to catch up. Also, I'm drawing instead of using family photos, which I've been doing a lot of in the past few years. I've totally shaken up the entire process, I guess, and I'll get there. It'll just take time. Of course, summer is inching to a close and school will be starting soon, and then the process will be nearly shut down! Good grief.
So to get started on those pages, I drove to Kansas City today and stopped in Urban Arts and Crafts. I bought tons of stuff. Too much probably since I have nothing to say! But I did get a copy of Artful Blogging, which is a lovely publication that looks at "visually inspiring online journals". I so love the blogs that I found there, and I love the blogs I've discovered in the last few months. Before moving my blog here, I hadn't really taken the time to search the other spots that are out there. I was really trying to figure out how to find time in my day to blog--still haven't mastered that one, but am getting the hang of it. Slowly but surely. One of the things I really enjoyed about Artful Blogging is that they delve into everyone's processes of blogging, the benefits, the things to consider. I really enjoyed this read. If you haven't gotten your hands on this, you should. I think, I'll actually use it for one of my first lessons in my AP Lit class this fall. I know that the kids are blogging a lot on facebook, etc., but I'd really like them to think about the artistic endeavors that they could undertake. They are all such talented creatures at this age with A LOT to say, so why not create an artistic blog? So here are a few of the drawings I've done so far this week. They are funky aren't they? Ugly is okay to say, too. I have fallen in love with them, though. Since turning 40, I've really started to question what beauty is and how we capture beauty--if at all. The "older" looking drawing is going to be titled, "When you aren't 16 anymore". Perhaps I'll use one of my favorite lines, "I grow old, I grow old, I wear by trousers rolled." When I first read that years ago in my undergrad poetry class, I loved it, but there is something more timely now...no worries, my trousers aren't rolled yet, and neither are my "stockings"!
All is well--except for Stacey's boredom with my blog. :( I have been busy and just haven't taken the time to post. I've been busy drawing for my journal, researching my family history, making a scrapbook and well just hanging out. Last night, I was able to finish my scrapbook, including all the "outings" since May, except for my visit with Stacey, which I would have scrapbooked if our photos were any good! But I was able to get my trip to Worlds of Fun with the Truman kids, my outing with my niece, Madison, and my sister-in-law, Rachel, to see Wicked in KC, which was FANTABULOUS! I love musicals, but this one topped all I've seen. Of course, I had an invested interest in this since the Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie ever. I also got my trip to see my dad in Branson and the trip to Colorado. I have friends who have buckets full of photos still to be scrapped, but I cannot wait that long! It's like when I get back from a trip before I ever return to my house, I go to Walgreen's and drop off my photos to be processed, so that by the time I've unpacked my car, I can go back and see the wonderful things belonging to the memories of my trip! In addition, I've been researching my Chapman family tree. My grandma has really been pushing for me to get finished with this. I received the REVOLUTIONARY WAR pension packet for Edmund Chapman, my great, great, great, great grandfather, back in December, and I've been waiting for this summer to sit down and just put it all together. Next week, I'll be taking a trip to the middle of the state to read through court records, hoping to find more info. I so love doing this research. It's addictive. So today, I did that, and then I made a huge dinner for Eric, his two kids, and my baby (mind you he's almost 20!!). I actually made homemade pie crust (I used Crisco, good lord, can you believe it! Well, the vegetable shortening, not the lard that the actual recipe called for.). The dish is called Russian Pie, and is like a beef potpie, but better. Of course I made one that was non-meat for me, and guess what, just like always, everyone like the non-meat one better! For years, my co-workers have ordered vegetarian lasange and cheese pizza for large parties, and it NEVER fails that I only get one small piece of the "pie", and every one who is a meat eater eats all the veggie stuff! No fair. I never get seconds or left overs....not that I need them, but...so many people give me grief for eating non-meat items and then they are the ones who eat them up! Oh, I almost forgot, I made a cool little "carrier" for the 4th. On our trip, when we visited Buck Snort, there was a cute little container of salt and pepper, etc. They had taken the plastic beer bottles, cleaned them out and used them as salt and pepper shakers. Then, they also used the six-pack container to carry these around. I thought they were cute, but could be better. I took the same idea, but I covered a six-pack container with photos from our trip. I'll use this to hold the plastic forks and knives and napkins on the 4th, while we are on the deck, cooking out. Cute, huh? What do you think Stace?
First, my birthday was great. Eric bought me antique wine glasses and an original R2D2 from Star Wars. Yes, I like to drink and collect Star Wars figures! What a combo, huh? Today is beautiful. My flowers are in bloom or just about to bud. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the bulk of work I had to do the last few days on curriculum writing is over--thank goodness! I did not want to work this summer, but, of course, the district wanted me to help with curriculum writing, which I loathe, and, plus, I'm teaching two new classes this year, and why on earth would I want to write curriculum for classes that I haven't taught at this level? Well, I was told because I am good at it. Ha! I hate it. How can one be good at something she hates? That's the leftovers of the 30's! Remember I said that in my 30's I worked really hard to make a name for myself in my district? Well, I even worked hard at the things I hated and someone took notice. My fault. I take all the blame! I'm off to clean the house. Have to have a nice clean house on such a beautiful day and then I won't feel so guilty sitting on the front porch reading later today.
This was my first vacation with Eric, and we had a blast! We camped in Woodland Park, CO, and we hiked, climbed, drove, ate, laughed, and had an all-around fantastic time. So, in more detail, we hiked through Garden of the Gods, which is lovely and dry, and full of colors like terracotta, every variation of green, and a dabble here and there of yellows and purple from the blooming cacti. After this, we went to cave of the winds. What a contrast! Cool, dark, damp, deep into the earth. We drove to the top of Pikes Peak. It was the first time in years that Eric had been there, and the first time he'd driven it. Following this, we walked to the top of Seven falls. Let me tell you, I could feel every fat cell in my body crying out for more carbs and wine! I'm so out of shape, but I made it. One set of steps had over 180 steps and another had 204. Now, these are not like the stair stepper I like to use in my front room. They were steep and there is no oxygen in Colorado! I'm telling you, breathing in that altitude is horrid. I do not know how anyone could ever do their yoga deep breathing in Colorado. I tried to suck air in, but to no avail! But, like I said, we made it to the top of each set of steps and were both able to hike further up at the top. The contrast of both days was palpable, though. From hiking desert like conditions to exploring a cave to driving to the top of one peak to walking to the top of Seven Falls. Wow. I love Colorado! We ate at a place called Buck Snort, which is out in the middle of no where. Seriously. We had to drive a thin road along large boulders that had rolled down the mountain at some point in time. On the way there, we saw valleys, green, lush, bathing in the sunset, horses and elk grazing for food, fly-fishermen in the streams, all highlighted so perfectly and peacefully by the evening sky. It was beautiful. Buck Snort is a "saloon". It's got great food, but is so desolate, that few people make it back there. That being said, it looks like everyone has been there. People carve their names in every nook and cranny. It's filled with names of famous and not so famous people who have been fortunate enough to have heard about the place. It looks like a "dive", but it was filled with so much character. After eating, we were walking back to the car, and I stopped because a small animal was coming toward me. It took a minute, but I realized it was a fox. Evidently, it eats at the restuarant in the evening. Yes, it's wild, and I let it be the one to get close to me--which was too close for Eric who felt obligated to remind me that it was a wild animal and my camera wouldn't protect me. The next day we drove to Cripple Creek and decided to drive to Canon City--down a dirt road, winding through a canyon, steep drop offs, gorgeous!
This last photo is of the hail storm we hit in Eastern Colorado. Yes, it's hail. There was so much hail that they called out the snow plows! It was horrible. No beauty here. It was pitch black and the hail pelted us relentlessly. There had to have been a tornado near by.
Well, I'm off for birthday cake. Eric is making it for me!
Okay, I awoke to a new decade. I'm officially 40 years old! I'm excited, too. I pulled in last night from my trip to Colorado, where Eric and I went for our first vacation together to celebrate my upcoming birthday... more photos are coming later today or tomorrow.
If my dad were in town, he'd ask, "So, do you feel any different?" Today, no, but over the last few months a distinct change has occurred. I'm more at ease, I'm less obsessed with work, and I'm enjoying down time. Don't get me wrong, I still love my job and still want to do my best, but some magical change happened. I think I've spent the last 10 years trying desperately to get to this point. I finished my master's, achieved national board certification, took two years as an instructional coach, which was a huge career move and major professional development, and I've made a name for myself in my school district. All of that took so much energy. This in tandem with the energy I devoted to healing the wounds of my childhood, really took away my creative spark. What I was creating or doing was all centered around work-related materials or "assigned" projects to help heal those old wounds. That's not to say that some great stuff wasn't created, but, I'm ready to focus more on me and "home" and really allowing the spiritual self to shine through. I totally believe in things occurring for a reason, and now as I begin checking the "40" box on all sorts of documents, I know that I'm right where I'm suppose to be. The ego is sleeping better, the appreciation for life, love and family is strong, and I'm confident and almost comfortable in my own skin. I'm still adjusting to the the changes my body has undertaken in the last 10 years! Good lord, I wish I had my 20's body back!
I'm off to buy some alcohol paints and try to do a new project....
My new plan is to draw each night before I go to bed. When I began therapeutic journaling a few years ago, my counselor told me to find a time when my subconscious was aware and ready to speak and I was quiet and ready to listen. Night time was the best fit. What I find when I journal or draw at this time of the day is that things just happen. It's that whole process for the sake of process--the art of listening to your subconscious, the internal voice--which I view as God and allowing it take shape, speak to the conscious level and help guide me in the right direction. When I first started drawing this, I just had a face, and slowly she began to transform. A mistake here and there led to a new direction. She was not planned as a praying bride, but there she is, and isn't that fitting for my Changes journal? I mean one of the changes I'm undergoing is being a newly engaged.
Interestingly, as she began to develop, I saw, rather than an uptight, nervous, crying bride, a woman who was at peace in her wedding garb, praying for more than just a perfect wedding. As I've come to realize over the years, this quiet time for me to listen to the internal voice (it can be the eternal voice, too) is an opportunity for me to come to terms with the way things are or should be.
As with all of the women I draw, I love her. I can feel her--especially as a small portion of my own subconscious coming to terms with all the changes. Seeing her in juxtaposition to the "silent" woman I drew the night before is interesting and indicative of the complexity of my subconscious.
I'm off to Colorado for a week to celebrate my birthday. I'm so excited, and hope I can get a bit of drawing in while I'm gone...if not, the photos will have to suffice until I get home and process a week's worth of learning, living and loving.
With all of the changes taking shape in my life, I decided my new journal would be one called "Changes" and my reflections will focus on how I'm coping with them. Last night, I began a drawing what I thought would be a study of "beauty". As 40 inches closer (June 21, the first day of summer, the summer solstice, whoohoo!), I'm noticing my laugh lines creasing more deeply, which I do not mind at all, but it's the crepe-like quality of the skin below my eyes, the appearance of a sag around my jowls that seems to grab at my gut when I look at myself in the mirror each morning. That being said, I'm not willing to go under the knife for a face lift (well, not at this point in my life, but maybe....); rather, I'd like to find a way to come to terms with the exterior changes of my body. The internal thoughts as I near 40 are fantabulous! I've never felt more confident or at ease with my self as I do now. That is as long as I don't see a mirror. When I see myself in the mirror, I feel a twinge in my stomach, a "dear god, how do I fix this?" Years ago, when I was in college, I wrote about beauty and how it was society's vision of how women should look that perpetuated all sorts of unhealthy habits. Of course, I was 30 pounds lighter, then, less wrinkled and.... It was easier then, I suppose to feel unthreatened by "beauty". Now, it's different, I think.
As I was drawing, though, things changed for me. Those of you who create art know that the process of creation is sometimes its own animal. My friend Karen, who is a plastic surgeon, introduced me to process art a few years ago. The focus was not to be on the finished product but on the process, how the art developed, changed, evolved, and how the "artist" developed, changed, evolved as well. For me, this drawing was about an evolution of sorts. You'll notice that it looks cut off at the bottom. That's because it is. After drawing this, I decided it needed an embellishment. I had some ribbon that came in my scrap pack from Hobby Lobby, and I thought this little piece of black velvety ribbon might make a nice embellishment around her neck. But as I cut it, it dropped on her mouth. It was one of those "mistakes" that proved too important to ignore. Rather than keep the "What is the secret to beauty" I had written at the bottom of the page, I decided it needed to be chopped, and this drawing needed to stand on its own--she needs to stand on her own.
I've not decided what she is standing for or against, though, and I'm not sure what part of the changes I'm undergoing she fits into, but there is no doubt she fits. I don't think her meaning, now, is beauty. I think there is something more meaningful embedded in her. Beauty, is well, surface, and maybe that's what she's suppose to be teaching me. Maybe her purpose is that and not silence as when first looking at her one might think. Interestingly, I've not felt silent for years, and yet, something transpired while I was creating her that made her "work" better as a silent woman--or a woman keeping a secret--or a woman who chooses to keep her lips sealed. I don't know. I'm intrigued by her, though, and how she has taken on her own personality in my new journal.
By the way, I went to Hobby Lobby (walked there as my car was getting a "checkup"--if you haven't walked to a store in a while, you should. Here in the midwest we drive everywhere. Without my car I was forced to walk, and let me tell you I wish I lived in a town where you could walk to the stores. I would be a very happy person!). They had one lone remnant bag today, and I snatched that baby right up. Five bucks bought me the images you see here. Perfect sizes for all kinds of art projects. My sister in law called earlier and asked if I would be interested in using her digi-scrapbooking stuff. I told her no way. Although I appreciate my friends who do it and although I love visual stimulation of all kinds, I MUST have the tactile. There is nothing better than opening this bag full of scraps (which was only $5, I tell ya!), running my fingers through it, organizing it, messing it up, using it in a project. Oooo the way it feels on my skin!