Tag: help

feeling like an artist again

This weekend we had an event at the studio.  My business sign went back up and we compensated for the fact that the studio is still in the chaos of change by putting up a tent and selling our wares from the front yard.  This involved both my art, and the art of my roommates – check out their work at Neko-Jin Designs and The Common Shaman.   (Their work is on the right and I can attest to the quality.  The jewelry is powerfully lovely and those pillows are freaking huggable.)

The experience has left me exhausted and in a lot of pain, but for the first time in ages I feel anchored in what I do – I am a maker to my core.  During the first day, Friday, I was able to make 60 wee watercolors and pen and inks. Although, insomnia did help with that glut of drawings.  Yesterday, I made about five slightly larger pen and inks.  Today, I was a poet.

Sitting in the sun with nothing to do other than create and sell art was a joy.

A lot of locals came by, pleased that I am not either dead or moved out of the area.  It let me know how far I have hunkered down during this past two years.  Oh, but the change in my circumstances brings up such optimism.  Life has gotten better.

This time in 2015, I could not move my left arm much at all, I could not throw, I lost nearly all my income for the full year. Surgery on the shoulder in October 2015, then a hysterectomy in February 2016.  But by June of that year, things began to change.

Even now, I am still struggling – my hips need to be replaced, I am in a cauldron of pain – and yet, I am still making art.  Somehow, I have survived all of the crap that came my way.  Even heartbroken, I made art.  Even when I can barely walk,  I am making and selling art.  I am working as hard as I can to keep my house and have been grounding myself in faith that I can do it.  There have been days that I had to dig deeper within for strength than I thought I went, but it worked!

I continue forward with both my regular job and the art that is my vocation.   The first has not dented my passion for the second.

I am so grateful for the friends who saw me through this weekend.  Perhaps I have been whining too much in these blogs, because what I should be shouting from the rooftops is how wonderful life can be when you have friends that have your back.  To be able to rely on people and know that they will be there for me, that is a priceless, beautiful thing.  They set up the tent, set up the products and then tore them down in the evening, three days in a row, all with out a stitch of help from me because I could not move any of those things. What a blessing it is to have people who do not just share your dreams but are willing to put their shoulders into fulfilling them.  This is a case of actions speaking so loudly, all words were drowned out.  Without their kindness, none of this could have been done.

Basically, this is a blog of thanks.  I am grounded in what I do again, which will help all things – the physical struggle, this financial difficulty, my regular job, my art.  If you were here, you would be able to see my smile, hear my loud, outrageous laugh and listen to me sing to my cats about the glories of life.

I have “all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well” tattooed on my arm. Too often, I need the reminder. But, today, I did not read it.  Indeed, I did not even glance at it.  The next few months are going to be very hard, financially and physically, but good friends are teaching me that I can trust in the universe enough to reach out.  I am asking for help and receiving kindness.

This is the miracle of my life.

Because, I am talking about asking for help, I am compelled to say: you can make me $3 closer to being able to sustain myself while I am recuperating from surgery. My end of that deal will be to keep making art, even when I am flat on my ass in bed.

But for now, let not think of what could go wrong.  Instead, let’s sing songs of joy and thanksgiving!

poem: the miracle

Years ago,
i sat up
fretting,
worrying,
hands red and raw
from wringing them
in nightmares.

Only now,
every single aspect
of my greatest fears –
losing my home,
my reputation,
going bankrupt,
failing my responsibilities,
being so crippled
in both body and mind
that i cannot make art
much less work
at gainful employment –
has become a reality.

i drowned.

But, then the miracle:
people helped me
out of the murky,
muddy,
waters.

This is the reality
of my nightmare,
and yet,
in the stillness
i hear the soft melody
of grateful joy.

7 may 2016

Things must change

I am writing this during my last day sitting in an artisans’ cooperative this year; Christmas Eve, 2015.

This marks an end of an era for me. A huge amount of the galleries in which i began this year are either moving, closing (or already closed) and a few others have had sales bad enough i have to make disappointing decisions. Most of my plans for the next twelve months remain purely in the realm of the  hypothetical. What i know i will do is make pen and inks, finish at least one novel, write as many poems as i can coax through me.  Soon, i will have another surgery, and afterward i have to dedicate myself to healing and transcending whatever comes.

Never before has it been so glaringly obvious and desperate: i have to reconceive how i move through my days, even as i acknowledge that my heart beats out art as much as blood. The question remains how to do this.  How do i walk that fine line between financial need and spiritual/sanity needs? As i wrote in a poem posted fairly recently, and the haiku below that i put on twitter, art is a fickle mistress.

Art is a lover
who keeps me chained up tightly
and would let me starve.

Starving is not a viable option for an irrepressible sensualist like myself. Giving up on art, which so many have told me is the most sensible option, also seems to be impossible. Yet, i fight against incredible anxiety and fears. As much art as i create, as much as i deepen my abilities in different mediums, i have been hoxed by this relentless worry. This cannot continue. One or the other has to surrender itself – either i continue making art and become relatively fearless in its dissemination, or i surrender to my fears and live a life painfully diminished.  i do not think i could survive the latter.

So, i have to find a way. There is no other option, really, this long succession of freelance and piecemeal jobs can be the stop gap, the way to keep going, until i find a way to make art consistently pay for bread and butter.  But i must keep my focus on that far off mountain top, where the work that gives me the deepest bliss and aligns my energy with the world so well actually maintains me.

One of the miracles in my life is that this past year has brought a slew of people who believe in me enough to help me get through some terribly difficult times. When i thought i might never throw again, my friends listened to my grief; they celebrated with me when i got back to the wheel.  Gifts of food, money, time, compassion and kindness kept me afloat. As i wrote earlier, this was the year of friendship. Perhaps that is how i can find my courage – to remember that there are people who don’t just want me to succeed but see it as something that will happen, with enough patience, stubbornness and resilience.

So, this blog is a bit of a shout out to the universe at large, steeped with both prayer and intent: help me change things. Help me find a way to make this work with the blessings and limitations i have. i cannot change the basic DNA of my being, so i have to find a path that lets me keep making art AND eat.

Things will change.

Things must change.

i am apparently too stubborn to surrender, so i must find a way to be courageous and maybe even a bit wise.

The whole engine of my heart and imagination manifests this transformation.

i wish you all the best for your coming year – may all people find greater peace, kindness and love in our worlds.

poem: the artist’s prayer

Please.
Help me.

i reach out,
my hands grasping
for something
to change
all this stress
and fear
and crushing anxiety
into a solution,
something actionable,
a clear path
toward
temporal salvation.

But all that comes,
filling my hands
to overflowing
like a tap
turned full force,
is art.

So much so,
i could work
every waking moment,
rushing
from pen
to easel
to wheel
to computer
and still not bring it all
into being.

Forget cleaning the house.

All deviations
from this purpose,
from my bliss,
bring on vague pain.
The more i labor
at cross-purposes
to my calling,
the worse it hurts.
Discomfort grows
like mold
until it takes over
everything,
becoming
howling,
dangerous
despair.

So, on my knees,
i pray.
Tears in my eyes,
i beg.
With all the blood
in my veins,
i beat out
supplication:

Help me.
Guide me.
Save me,
for i am so mad
with passion and dream
that i will keep walking,
moving forward,
undeterred
by this glorious
catastrophe.

22 november 2015

haiku series: on those needing refuge

Those large, fearful eyes
bore deep into my spirit,
drove my heart to tears.

i understand fear.
We humans can be scary,
yet still we must love.

What if your children
were running fast for their lives,
and no one would help?

Being too loving
might be a better mistake
than cold rejection.

We can survive more
than our terror would suggest.
We can act bravely.

i am struggling,
my easy life dissolving,
this led to knowledge.

i think that kindness
creates sublime gratitude;
selflessness makes friends.

If we can reach out,
put aside all fearful angst,
we might change the world.

And, i write these words
from inside a bleak, cold hole,
living off such gifts.

Those who have helped me
became heroes of legend –
earned my loyalty.

Then, how much more-so
would those who help refugees
embody kindness?

What should we become?
We manifest deep truth:
this shows who we are.

Please, lets be helpful,
generous despite unease,
deeply courageous.

Work past our limits,
together we can create
miracles on earth.

Let love conquer fear,
breathe deep and soothe suffering,
make this world better.

Please.

Another twenty minutes

the studio 1
a view of the gallery part of my studio

Really, by the time i finished getting the photographs together, i am down to fifteen minutes for a blog.  However, i really think it is important to write something down today and fling it into the ether.  My first drop in class for the season – not a regularly scheduled student – will begin at noon.  My kiln is filled with sculptures and tinypots and as soon as it has cooled enough to harvest the shelves, i will start another kiln firing, all pots in fire red and ocean blues.  Even though the house is in a terrible state, the price paid for doing so much work out here, i am halfway through a business plan, i have been able to keep the gallery open for customers, the gallery/studio itself looks really good despite being back into production.  Kind people have offered to help me through the last legs of this rough patch.  i am getting responses to my ads for the rooms for rent upstairs in the house – and even had one walk through already. Customers are coming to look at my art, and soon they will be coming back to buy.

Even though i am still so far behind and have been in the pit for too long, some sunlight is starting to make it to me from the surface.  Small, delicate fingers of sunbeam whose caress means the world to me.  A deep stirring in my spirit tells me that this is not just the blessed entrance of spring, but it has something to do with how i am moving through the world.  Even on the days i have had to force myself out of bed, i have.  When i felt bankrupt of all words and inspiration, i kept working.

the studio 2
that this table is clean makes me happy beyond words

i realized something over the past few months – even when i am despondent, and my thoughts circle defeatism’s drain, i actually cannot quite surrender.  Of course i can have a temper tantrum for a night or two, and i can bring out several people to testify to the whining, eventually something in me started going forward again. Even when i am not ruled by joy and hope, although i always wonder if i madness and faith are more accurate, i cannot actually manage the process of surrendering.  This is a lesson i have to keep learning: i do not really have the common sense to give up even when other people demand that i should.  Thankfully, i have enough other people in my life who are just as dedicated to the arts as i am, who have inexplicable faith in me, and they have spent a lot of energy this winter keeping me going.  i am grateful to them beyond words.  In fact, i find myself singing these thanksgivings as i putter about the organized studio/gallery.

And now, as i wait for today’s students, i feel like some of the flowers in the yard.  My roots grow strong again, and i have started to open up to the wind, the sun, and celebrate the possibility of change with every cell and all my heart.

rosary for help and hope

+

Sweet Christ, i am lost

Invitatory

My heart aches over my cluelessness.  So many things need to be done.  i am failing myself and so many others, for i am only one exhausted, pained, weak and overwhelmed person.

Cruciform

Jesus, tear through my worry and confusion so the light of your LOVE will wash over my trembling spirit.

Weeks

[Please,] give me help and hope

Invitatory

Every day, I pray for you to save me from my foolishness, my weakness and the gravitational pull of despair.  i keep placing myself onto the firm ground of faith, praying strength and courage will blossom within me.

+

Thank you, Lord, for this calling that drives me.  i endeavor to make myself worthy of those wondrous gifts.  AMEN.