Tag: purpose

fierceness

poem: burning advice

They break my heart.

“Do it for love.
Give up on any pretensions
of eating or paying your bills
through this labor.
You know,
these words you write
and the art you make
have no use.

“It is time to acknowledge
failure.

“You have to accept
that you cannot eat bliss.

“Your joy is irrelevant
to your debtors.
We, your friends,
are tired
of watching you struggle.
You have to realize
that your art
is just for your own benefit.

“Do it for the love of it,
in your spare time,
and give up the rest.”

i want to take their words outside
and burn them
under the full moon.
This is not helpful.
This feels astoundingly cruel.
To take away the one thing
that gives life meaning
and expect me to act
as though this wisdom
is a gift?

No.

i willingly embrace madness
when your reasonable sanity
would rob me
of my reason for living.

i become the villain,
using up resources,
failing to pay my bills,
struggling through injury and illness
only so i can make art again.

But, i have no other choice.

There are only 24 hours
in a day,
and i have so little energy,
i must be merciless
in where i put my effort.
Every moment wasted
hurts my soul.

If i do not give myself over
to the mistress of art
who has saved me so often,
there will be nothing left of me
to survive.

After they have their say,
and my tears
have exhausted themselves,
i burn their words
on the altar
of my unreasonable,
insane hope.

20 november 2015

stealing time

A thief again,
i have been stealing
from my obligations
to other people
and giving time
to myself.

i hide away,contentment_alt
turn everything off
but the sweet stilling music.

Guilty like Robin Hood,
i steal from those tasks
that gobble up days in a mouthful
and give a few intimate hours
to mold a figure in clay,
to let these words
flow across the page.

Reality struck me like a blow
last Tuesday –
the ten thousand chores
on a dozen to-do lists before me
will never go away.
One task accomplished,
three rise in its place.
Requests and demands
will always come
like moths to a flame,
the light of energy and ability
being irresistible.

i have to learn to say no.

Even better,
i must learn to state
“not now”
with singular clarity and purpose.

In my heart, i begin to believe
that i am fully valuable,
deserving of peace and art.
Even without that justification,
the results are profound:
after a few quiet hours,
i feel restored.

Even the mountains of toil
for the benefit of others
do not feel as heavy
with ink staining my hands.

pecha kucha redux

Well, if the weather is our friend, the Bucksport Pecha Kucha will be this coming Thursday (now nearly tomorrow) at the Alamo.

i should be practicing tonight, but a migraine laid me low for a few hours and still has not left me. (Why do they tend to come after an asthma attack?) When even the still, silent darkness got to be too painful, i decided to make myself useful since i was just as wretched resting. So, i have been doing a job that does not require much in the way of thought: putting more poems on the online store. The poems are already written and recorded – i just have to listen to them (my brain is not working well enough to remember what i wrote!), do the tags/keywords and create the product. Really, this is something half my brain can do, which is good because that’s about all that’s functioning right now.

Only, these poems have been soothing me. Mailboxes – written sometime in the past six years – could just as well have poured from my pen today. Losing cohesion reminds me that no matter how stressed and insecure this moment feels, i have fallen apart before and found a way to put myself back together. Love poem to sleep made the thought of rest and dreams, even while alone in my bed, titillate.

i am not quite halfway through this process and i have 160 poems already available. i can feel productive even while wondering if my brain will actually explode within my skull, or if it will take my skull with it into the room.

However, the real miracle is that these poems remind me who i am. In my pecha kucha presentation (titled Recreation) i will be talking about (SPOILER!) transformation on a personal and community level. This subject is immediate for me – and visceral.  The risk and change in my life over the past couple of months has been intense.

whispersThese poems have been reminding me who i am, down in my depths. When i work, the ego dissolves: i become nothing more than the words, the lines of the poem, the forms and stories. In those moments, the universe aligns and all is well. My burdens find me quickly enough when i step away from what i do – stress can overwhelm me when i cannot work. If i deviate from art long enough, i forget who i am. i become the stress, the vulnerability, the financial stupidity, the isolation. The fact that i live on a razor’s edge, like every other artist i know, because i have chosen to pursue these dreams, can feel like a condemnation of my being. Yet, when i pick up the pen, or like tonight, when i drench myself in what i have already done, i am soothed. Granted, there are things i would reword now. The chronic editor could always change something. But, they are proof of my passion.  This art pours out of me: thousands of poems, several novels, at least two dozen short stories, God knows how many pots – thousands  both large and small by now, hundreds of drawings and paintings.

i can forget that i have created much, and it has been wonderful. Tonight, i am using the realization that i am not as useless as this migraine makes me feel to inflate my heart. Let it fill me up.  Let it give me courage and hope!

joy in art

10483983_295400057311713_1087486501397953590_nLast night, I had a list of things I needed to do.  One client needs her newest media added to her website, another needs me to finish researching, a third really needs me to do a couple of flyers and to update her website.  For myself, I need to finish the most depressing cash flow analysis in the history of time, every number of which generates another wave of hopelessness, make a list of what emergency things I need for my art to stay in business, and I have the book I just finished that needs editing.  Not to mention, this blogging and the other writing I’m working on have been impatiently waiting for their due time.

And, I should mention, I am exhausted beyond all measure.  The pain and disability that overtook me this summer has not loosened its grip one iota.  Each time I stand it feels like someone poured lava down my legs.  Some days I feel like I still have my mind, others I languidly wonder if my brains have been replaced by goo.  Too often, I have to use my left hand to pull the pen out of my right, because my muscles clamp down too severely.  Every step, no matter what direction I am going, comes at a great cost.  If I were a car, I would be running on vapors with a loose axle. I would never pass inspection.

This is the lowest I have been since my divorce and the second time in my adult life that everything  that I thought was worthwhile and useful about me has been stripped away.  The thing that got me through the first personal deconstruction was my art. I lost all my stability, I had all the love I had ever known repossessed like a car, I was told unequivocally that nothing I had ever done meant anything.  So much flowed from that loss: story, poetry, painting.  Each of the mediums in which I create took a leap forward, I became a better artist because art was the only thing tethering me to this world.

Perhaps that is why this summer has been so torturous, realizing that as much as it soothes me, as much as it gives me my sanity, what a fundamental part of my being creativity comprises – I lack the basic skills to make my art – or my writing – help feed me.  Or, and this would be so much worse, I am doing everything I should be doing but I lack whatever magic is need to make it work. It’s not like I am asking for the world, either – just enough to pay my bills, feed me and keep making art.  For four years, things were going fairly well, despite major setbacks, I still sold enough art to keep hunger at bay.  This year, though, I cannot give my work away.  Even my time doesn’t seem valuable to my own students, for they no longer want to pay for it.  If I am just ignorant and stupid, then those problems could be fixed.  However, if this is the economy or my art being out of fashion, then there is nothing I can do.  This is like a graduate course in acceptance and surrender.

Since I threw myself into this venture five years ago, I have been visualizing, demanding, pleading, begging the universe and still, here I am drowning in work I find difficult and disharmonious with my basic formatting and the work that gives my life meaning is not saving me.

I have no idea what I should do.  As usual, I want to turn to art, but lack the energy, focus and stamina to do much:  poems, the book on meditation, the pen and inks.  The thought of the wheel makes my heart ache.  Part of me wonders if I should try to give this up – but it is integral to me.  One thing I have learned is that whether or not I am selling my art, the need to create is interwoven into my DNA.  flyingfallingIf I have to, I will be able to give up pottery.  My hands will itch for the clay, but I will survive.  If my brain continues to rot inside my skull, maybe someday I will be forced to give up writing.  But, until then, I know words and images will creep out whenever there is a moment.  On nights like last night, I will forsake all the things I have to do so I can steal time to start drawing and writing.  The picture at the top of this blog came through me last night.  This one a few hours earlier.

Which ends the long preamble for my point.  Yesterday,  I was eating while the picture immediately above was drying, someone came to my studio.  I had thought we knew each other well enought that when she asked how business was, I could answer honestly.  Alas, she refused to hear any of my desperation or concern, she kept shaking her head and talking about how these drawings are so joyous.  At that moment, I had needed someone to hear my worries, so I felt thwarted and invisible, but after she left I looked at the drawings – particularly the one I had just finished.  The joy made me frustrated, it felt at odds with the emotions that no amount of meditation can completely stop from churning.  Later that night, hoping to give voice to how I was feeling, I drew the image that begins the blog.

So, as you can see, it came out joyous.  All of yesterday’s works (that were not garlic related) were drenched in the holy spirit and bliss.  Neither woman is plummeting to her doom, just flying or gently floating.  Gravity still has a hold, but something is keeping them up.  Just going through my instagram feed I saw an insane amount of joy in post after post after post.  During the divorce I painted things like this:

divorce_red

And now, when I’m just as low emotionally and much lower physically, I am drawing things like this:

IMG_3277and sculpting things like this:

IMG_3210and painting like this:

annunciation

Last night, after I drew her flying over that farmland and mountains, I sat there, starting at the art that had just launched out of me, prying the pen out of my claw, wondering what these images – and even the poems – are trying to tell me.

As I staggered off to bed, I realized that in a strange way these works made all the instability, rejection and internal suffering seem irrelevant.  Meditation has been helping me realize that I am separate from the drowning, even as I am gulping down salt-water.  But I had not realized what my art might be telling me.  Could they mean, with or without this studio and this level of creativity, things will be okay?

 

 

 

 

what art has done for me….

Why art helps.

Shawna Mayo Barnes asked me to write a short paragraph on why art helps for an up and coming project of hers.  A few years ago, I introduced her to clay and watched as she became its mistress. She consistently makes me proud of what a marvelous business woman she is. I know anything she tries will be a wondrous success.  Thus, I am eager to help, but the subject is insanely broad for me.  Let’s see how I do:

What art has done for me

Art saved me.  When I was lost and alone, unable to figure out what to do or how to get through to the next moment, art gave me a place to hide.  Even more, it helped me recreate reality – find places that were joyous, tucked within the flow of imagination and love. 16003_284778711707181_4227723439559016005_nOften, pain and suffering hemorrhaged out into images, words and forms, but that was alright.  Art helped me exorcize my demons and – shockingly – surprised me by helping others deal with their own.  In fact, art even helped my physical form: pottery rehabbed hands that refused to work together.  Practice made me stronger. It made the process of learning throwing long and painful – but proved to me that I can transform myself through effort and patience.  Art constantly teaches me about myself, often riding far ahead of my normal understanding.  Art is a blessing, a salvation and an excuse.  Any oddities in my character can be instantly explained by “I am an artist.”

winter solstice

warpedsculpture3This winter solstice, i am tucked safe within my home as a thin layer of ice coats this corner of the earth.  The slight shuddering within my hands and chest, the after effects of using a nebulizer to get my lungs working better, is my only complaint.  The Christmas tree in the corner has done its magic. For the second year in a row, waves of happiness and gratitude overwhelm me, eclipsing the lingering sighs of loneliness and want. My spirit dances with an abundance of joy. i feel wealthy in friends and blessed beyond measure.

sculptedjar2Today, i managed a solid day of work.  i finished two sculptures and got this year’s Madonna and Child nearly finished.  The sunshine will start coming back tomorrow and i am encouraged by the ability of life to change.  In the morning, hopefully, I can brave the ice and start throwing two commissions.  If i do it, this will be the first time i’ve thrown a decent amount in a month.  However, if the ice is too bad, or the power is out, then i will be able to conquer these tasks when they come. Either way, i am at peace.  Even more remarkable, i am brimming with optimism.

It all feels possible.  My heart – if nothing else about me – feels strong and courageous.  These days recently lost to illness and fatigue tried my soul and taught me a great lesson. i am doing what i am meant to do.  i am doing all i can.