Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where Would I Be Without A Song?

About a year ago I wrote a post about music.
I wrote how I was having a rough night and I retreated to my studio,
cranked up some music and through the power of a particular song -
the stress seemed to go away.

Today I will revisit that topic.

Lately - I am having a few more "rough" days than usual.
Now, please don't think that I am sitting at home,
having lost my will to go on.
It's nothing that dramatic.

In fact - quite frankly - I am doing quite well . . .
all things considered.
I have been making art like crazy.
I have had more orders than usual come in.
I have had successful art shows/festivals -
another one this weekend, in fact.
I am finding my groove in my new life as a single woman.
I am working through the "business" of divorce.
In fact - i can actually say the word now.
I smile more that I am sad.
I laugh more than I cry.

But some days . . .well -
the rough days creep in.

This last weekend I had a very successful art festival.
The weather was beautiful and the people were in abundance.
I saw old friends and met new ones.
It was a great weekend!
But it was also one of the hardest I have ever lived through -
I have been participating in this particular festival for the last four years -
and my husband was my partner each year.
We spent the whole weekend together as a team.
When I showed up with a girlfriend to set up my space, I was immediately asked where he was.
That set the pattern for the rest of the weekend.
They question "where is your husband?" was asked and I retold the story . . .
and answered questions, and received hugs and "I'm sorries".
The support was overwhelming.
But, although I felt all of the wonderful love and support -
each time the question was asked,
it was a bit like getting kicked in the stomach . . .over and over and over.

BUT . . .
I did well.
I stayed strong.
I kept a smile on my face.

Until Monday when I fell apart.
I was tired and it all caught up with me.
I cried. 
A lot.
You know the kind - gut wrenching, can't breathe, toxin cleansing crying. . .

A friend of mine sent me text to check in - how was I doing?
A rough day, I answered.
Her response was to have a cold diet pepsi and crank up some good music.
Obviously - she did not understand how upset I was.

Such simple advice for such a major meltdown.
I took the advice.
(I did; however, expand the advice to include a large bag of M&Ms - just for added insurance.)

I plugged my iPod into the dock in my studio and turned up the volume.
Way up.
The sound filled my studio room.
I was the only one home.
I pulled out the paints and the projects I was working on.
I was working on mindless base-coating - just laying in blocks of color.
The perfect task for singing.
I cleared my head and focused on the music.
I let the music play and I sang.
I sang loud.
I sang with feeling!
In between songs - I sipped my diet pepsi.

The music didn't change the fact that I was sad.
I am ok with feeling the sadness when it needs to be felt.
I need that to move forward.
But the music affected me on a soulful level.
As I sang - the tears cleared.
I felt a lift of pressure - I felt a bit of joy.

Through this process, many people have sent me songs to listen to.
Some of the songs talk about taking charge, surviving and using the bruises we gain in life to grow and excel.
The power of music cannot be understated.
A song can take me back to a particular place, a moment in time . . .
I can feel and smell and experience memories all over again when I listen to a song.
I have entire mood shifts based on the music I am listening to.
Music has been my companion through joy, sorrow, the birth of my children - I have used music to teach my children, to commemorate special events, to celebrate, to FEEL.
With music I feel the presence of God.

All I know - is that during this time of change -
music, art and a little diet pepsi seem to be the best medicine for this lady.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Excuse Me While I RANT!!!

If you do not want to listen to me rant,
then you should move on to a different blog.
It's been a rough week in my world.
It feels that no matter how much I do, I am not making a dent in the "to-do" list.
And last night seemed to tip the scales on what I could keep up on.

I've been jumping alot this last month.
I've been jumping through a major number of hoops.
Hoops to deal with financial issues, hoops to keep my home running smoothly,
hoops to keep my day job functioning, hoops to keep the art business moving along.

And many of these hoops have presented themselves because of my current situation.
I did not ask for these hoops.
I did not create the circumstance that has led to these hoops.
These are hoops that I have become solely responsible for because of someone elses choices.
And they are hoops that have been added to the many that I was already keeping in the air.

And that sucks!
I am resentful that "he" is not here to pick up part of the burden and responsibility.

I'm still waiting for the infamous "wings" to appear.
Most days - I am good.
I feel like I can do it.
I believe the "one thing and one day at a time" mantra.
I rationally know that what I don't get to today can wait.
I can address it tomorrow.
There are only so many hours in a day.
I believe that I need to be kind and patient with myself through this process.
I get all of that . . .rationally.

But emotions are not rational.
And when you add stress and lack of sleep - irrational emotion takes on a whole new look.
That of an ugly monster that refuses to be tamed with self talk and rationalization.

And last night I experienced a degree of tiredness that I haven't felt in a long time.
And the stress . . .well, let's not even go there.
I felt the deep, bone tired that you feel when you have pushed yourself further than you are used to for longer periods than normal.
I worked all day and then came home and worked all night.
Things that were normally taken care of by someone else fell to me.
I spent an hour last night loading up my van so that I can set up my booth for the weekend art festival after I finish working at my day job today.
I couldn't find important pieces - like the walls to my pop up tent that allow me to close up all of my inventory after hours.
I couldn't figure out how "he" used to pack the van to get everything in there and still leave room for a driver.
"He" never showed me how he did it or the order in which he put things in.
And I never asked because he was so efficient at it.
I had to walk the dog - and break him away from another agressive dog that decided to attack him completely unprovoked.
Redford was hit so hard by the other dog that it knocked his collar off him!
All Redford was doing was catching a ball I had thrown for him.
That just made me angry.
The owner of the other dog even admitted that "my dog is very cautious and unpredictable".
Then what is she doing at an off-leash dog park???
I had to do the dishes which had been ignored by the other inhabitants of my house.
That included chipping off dried on goo from the morning cereal bowls that had turned to concrete in the days heat.
There was laundry to be dealt with so that I had clean underwear for the morning (was that too personal to share?)

By the time I fell into bed,
the tears had come.
And they weren't tears of sadness.
They were tears of frustration and anger.
I was angry with everyone.
For everything.

I think it took me about 30 seconds to find sleep.
And I slept.
I slept through until morning.
Thank goodness!

And the sun came up and a new day started.
And I have found my balance again.

I woke and had a good conversation with myself -
looking into the mirror I reminded myself that
"I am enough"
I am doing a good job"
"I am the only one judging me and I need to be a little kinder"
"I deserve to find balance"
"I deserve happiness"
"I can jump and fly as high as I want"

So here we are - back on track and ready to have a great weekend art show.
And if you look really close -
you might actually see a bit of my wings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Show season is upon us.
We have our first official summer show this weekend.
I feel like I am living in an episode of "Groundhog Day".
Get up - go to the day job - come home - eat a little dinner - change into the paint clothes - paint until I can't concentrate anymore - walk the dog - go to bed - wake up - repeat.

Now I must add this disclaimer -
although this is a busy (and rather hard) schedule to keep up for any length of time,
I am NOT complaining.
On the contrary.
It is a joy and a blessing to be living out my passion on a daily basis.
In fact - even if I didn't have shows or orders, I would probably maintain the same schedule.

Many years ago, I changed my life and chose to stay home full time.
It was a great opportunity.
But it brought a long with a horrible depression.
One like I had never experienced before.
I wanted to be anywhere doing anything other than what I was doing.
I found no joy.
I didn't laugh.
I only felt overwhelmed.

Until I started creating art.
My art at first was pretty bad.
But it gave me a purpose.
I've told this story before - and I am not going to belabor it here and now -
but with the major life changes I am going through right,
it would be very easy to slip back into the place of depression.
Instead I find myself up to my elbows in color.
And thank goodness for the color. And the mess. And the busy-ness.

So for the next week or so -
I will keep living in my own "Groundhog Day" movie.
But come this weekend - I will feel some of the reward as I get to meet and talk to people at our art festivals.

And don't forget - if you are in the area -
stop by and say HI!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nature's Art Work

God is such a great artist.
Look what has been created here -
there is depth, layers of color, contrast, movement, texture, dimension. . .
So inspiring.
Well done, God. Well done!

Monday, July 9, 2012

This last year, we started walking our dog on the weekends at a place called 1,000 Acres.
It's about 15-20 minutes from my home, nestled in the Columbia Gorge.
This wonderful place is acres and acres of wilderness area and walking trails.
What makes it even more special is this area is an off-leash, dog friendly park.
The entire place.
We love it.

Yesterday, I woke up and knew I needed to walk my dog, Redford.
Generally, I take him for a walk to the park in my neighborhood.
But I wanted more this time.
It was the weekend and I wanted a change of scenery.

This was the first time I had taken this walk by myself.
This first time I had considered going to this beautiful place since "the day" that my life changed.
I had a little internal battle with myself - was it worth driving for a morning walk?
Did I want to go there alone?
Was it going to conjure up memories and make my day difficult?

I make a concious decision that I would not sacrifice my happiness.
I loaded Redford up and we headed out to 1,000 Acres.

Anyone who says dogs don't remember has never been around a dog.
There is a bridge that we drive over that marks the transition between "city" and the Columbia Gorge.
Once we begin to cross the bridge,
Redford perks up, a smile comes across his face, the tail starts wagging and he paces back in forth in my van.
He knows where we are going and what is to come.
Pure JOY!
It had been raining most of the night so the parking lot was empty.
The sky was overcast, but the air was warm.
This was such a beautiful day and something my spirit needed.

As I walked, I realized I hadn't been there since all the vegetation had filled in.
The last time I was there, Spring was in the air -
but the branches on the trees were still bare; buds swelling but not yet opened.

It was if I was seeing this place for the first time. . .
shades of green had replaced the golds, tans and browns.

the pathways seemed to be leading me into a magical world;

 Daisies stood tall, while the leave and grasses were bathed in the morning dew and rain, the moisture making everything glisten;

 they seemed to be saying "good morning and welcome";

Thistles were standing guard at over 7 feet tall;

The meadow was spotted with bright yellow wildflowers;

And on a less poetic note . . .see the giant mud puddle in front of the wild flowers?
Redford became intimately acuainted with it. He splashed through it and every other one he could locate.
And came home a muddy mess!

And throughout my walk - I only encountered about 4 other people.
It was if I had the entire place to myself.
A perfect set up for mediation.
I felt the stress and busy-ness of the weak melt away and I entered into a timeless place.
I found myself smiling as I watched the joy of Redford run through the fields and the water.
I marveled at the artwork of Mother Nature.

I am so grateful to live in an area where I can escape into the wilderness in a matter of minutes.
I emerged from my walk not feeling sadness or depair at being there alone-
but instead, I felt joy, light, and happiness.
When I climbed back into my car - a smile was affixed to my face and I was ready to move into the next phase of my day . . .and my new week.

And on a business note . . .
this coming weekend is the Sandy Mountain Festival.
If you are in the area, come by and see me.
Look for the booth with lots of color!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Artist's Hands

I paint.
I sand.
I glue.
I generally DO NOT have pretty nails.
I mean . . .really - why bother.

OK - truth be told -
I used to go and have my nails done every two weeks no matter what.
It was a vanity thing.
Don't judge me too harshly.
I have short stubby fingers and short stubby toes.
Seriously - I know this to be true.
Nothing you can say will change my mind.
A boyfriend in high school told me my toes reminded him of Fred Flinstone.
Cartoon toes.
For that reason - I used to spend money every two weeks to have acrylic nails on my hands.
I didn't wear them very long - I mean I needed to be practical.
But having a little length on my nails helped me feel like my hands weren't quite so stubby.

Then one day - I realized I was wasting my money.
I would get them all pretty and then go home and get them all covered in paint.
Not special.
So I stopped wearing them.
And I haven't had polish on them in a couple of years.
Until the other night.

My daughter is in cosmetology school.
She regularly needs models to perform her skills on.
She asked if I wanted to come in for a mani-pedi.
You bet!
After all of the craziness going on - the idea of going downtown and being pampered for two hours was quite enticing.
I walked in with paint in my cuticles and under my nails and uneven, messy toes.
I was tortured for 2 hours with foot and hand massages, warm towels, relaxing aromatherapy oils, silky lotions and red polish.
Not just red - shiny, candied apple red.
I didn't get to choose the color - it was required for her "test".
Red is pretty unforgiving and the instructor can easily see the flaws.
And you know . . .
someone needed to be the model.
And after all - a mother makes these kinds of sacrifices for her daughter.
Poor me.

Matching toes and fingers.
And me - relaxed and pampered.

And this girl . . .
got 100% on her final grade.
And we got to talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company.
And she made this momma very proud.

And maybe I can keep them looking good for a few days.
But I'm not making any promises.