Tag: solace

singing prayers

IMG_0018 IMG_0022Last night, flooding had overcome my path.  Roads had closed in Belfast and Searsport, blocking my way home.  Instead of fighting against it, i stayed in Rockland for a while, got myself a decent meal, and then started heading north fairly late.

After all that rain, with my tiny car being buffeted by winds, it felt magical and surreal. The trees were already dancing like headbangers; music was electric in the air. i began to sing.

Song is an important thing to me – i adore music even though i have no real talents in that area.  IMG_0020This time, though, i was able to weave lyric after lyric, a seamless fabric of rhyme and rhythm, for nearly the whole hour home. Thanksgiving, fear, joy, loneliness, hope, stress, it all poured forth from my lips.

When my song finally stopped, i started thinking about the art i made yesterday, many versions of spirit and love.  In the only watercolor, the top right image, this woman holds her heart out to you, spirit flowing from her, dancing joy in her other palm.  As i painted, it made me wonder where the deeper currents of my mood might be going.  Last week, i lost my friend Fawn, next week i get surgery, night before last i had heard about another death that startled me, yet her face didn’t seem to be anguish to me. Much more the pain of change.

The dragonflies were for Fawn and her daughter.  i am gearing up for more dragonfly work.IMG_0019

The woman to the right cradles Spirit, letting it rest its broken wing.

And above to the left i included the last image i made: what a third eye she has!  The sun itself.

This is a terrifying time for me.  I have said this for months: everything is on the cusp of change.  This perpetual standing on the razor’s edge has taken a toll on my feet.  In six days, they will fix my left arm. i am facing a long rehab period while my shoulder heals itself. All of my bearings have been lost: financially, career-wise, emotionally, physically.  At this moment, i have no clue what tomorrow will bring. Indeed, i can dream and work to manifest what i need with the best of them, but none of truly know what the future brings. All i have to do is look at grief pouring over facebook to learn that lesson again.

Yet, in the middle of this, there was music.  The face to the right, just above these words, that gentleness looking at broken Spirit, made me nearly weep with joy.

There is a great parallel for my heart in this situation with my shoulder.  If i work at it, i can convince you that nothing is wrong, my fingers move even though i only sporadically feel them.  i enjoy full mobility and can keep you from seeing the searing pain; only a few movements are guaranteed to induce tears.  Indeed, i can make you laugh telling you stories about unintentionally flashing someone who was in my front yard or about the great lengths i am taking to make sure i can wipe my arse after surgery when my left arm will be all trussed up.

The jokes rarely end, but underneath them, in the quiet of the night, when i alone in my car singing, i realize that i am still completely raw from this summer’s great depression.  i continue to react with shocking intensity and vulnerability.  i am exhausted and raw.  But, then again, it is also i imagine how gently someone would hold the Spirit, catching it so it won’t fall, and then render it in ink.

Perhaps tonight i will sing as well.  Fear and hope, despair and joy all sound better in verse with a sweet melody.

 

addiction to art’s flow

IMG_1554Over the years, i have known too many people who struggled with addictions to things like cigarettes or shopping or sex or alcohol or drugs, or some combination of the above.  Watching their struggles, i felt this immense gratitude (along with waves of compassion) that i had not fallen down the same path.

Only, recently, i have realized that i did not escape the gene or the effects of environment that can foster addiction.  In a very real sense, i developed an one of my own – to getting lost in the flow of art.  When i make art, everything else disappears; my entire being seems to dissolve in the way the clay, paint, ink or story moves.  i crave this.  i demand it.  i seek it out, even if i am scribbling on a napkin.  Indeed, i will continue chasing after art even when every speck of evidence tells the sane rational people around me that this is a foolish, self-destructive path.

For the past several weeks, I have been trying very hard to redirect a portion of my effort and energy into finding more freelancing jobs, exploring other options for employment that can coexist beside my current business and obligations. Indeed, i am even preparing myself for the very real possibility that art must be put on hold for awhile, so that i can keep a roof over my head and food in my animals’ bellies. In addition IMG_1545to seeking non-art solutions, i took an amazing small business class to see how to better move through the troubling arena of selling art.  i am doing all i can to put myself in a better position.

i acknowledge that all these chores are necessary things, and good places to put my energy.  After all, financially at the very least, something has to shift quickly.   However, there is a drawback. i do this knowing that the energy to which my body has access is limited. Therefore, devoting a large portion of my effort into these areas has meant that other responsibilities and joys suffered. My dog is shamefully lacking time at the beach to romp and roam.  Except for meditation, my self-care has flown out the window.  The stress is wearing on me; i am letting everyone down while i scramble for better paying jobs and new galleries to sell my art.

As i fill out applications and take tests on my competency in different subjects (discovering that i am happily quiet competent at many tasks), i have been doing the same thing i did during graduate school and undergraduate and nearly every traditional job i have ever held: i am leaking poems and art like blood dripping from my hands.

The more i try to focus on other things, the more the art surfaces. If i swear off art even for a short period, my entire being destabilizes IMG_1547and creativity bleeds into inappropriate places and spaces.  Dialogue for plays murmurs from my lips while i am in the shower. Poetry finds itself scribbled in the margins of notes i take, just like in college.  Drawings swim around in my mind until i have to draw them – not just once, but twice or three times – in order to expunge the image.  Stories that were put aside earlier due to lack of time haunt both my waking and dreaming mind; characters shake me and demand their due.

For six days, an intense, nauseating migraine has been wreaking havoc with my brain, eyes, thoughts and coordination.  My  memory is off; my attention span, worse.  Writing, like i am doing right now, actually hurts as much from the effort of putting one letter after another as from trying to focus through enough visual distortion to make the IMG_1556whole world brighter than a sparkly Twilight vampire.  The one thing that has soothed is art: the flow of ink, experimenting with watercolor, the comfort of line and form.

Even when i am at my worst, i bleed art. If i try to pretend i am a normal person, like the adult that i imagine everyone else to be, then the bleeding becomes a hemorrhage. The compulsion to make it grows irresistible.  It wails within me, disconsolate and brutal, until i give in.  So, i feed the addiction, no longer caring if i am forgetting other things, neglecting important obligations or crumbling into dissolution.  Inside the flow of creating, nothing matters but what pours through me.

And, for that, i thank the entirety of this super-sparkly Creation, every moment, including those dripping with pain.  There are worse fates than being a hopeless artist.  This strange little addiction feeds my soul; it helps to pull me back from despair; it fuels the rest of the struggle to move through this life.

the floor

All day, i have yearned for the clarity of a thin ribbon of ink – the desperate purity of art to come and wash away my doubts.  i wanted to work on a story, one that explores the depths of our human ability to survive when the rug has been pulled out from under us.  However, neither were in the cards for me today. This is the fourth day of a migraine.  Quickly, the rest of my life conspired against my artful urges. Instead of throwing or painting, i have taken tests and done busy work and had my heart broken.  Over the course of a few hours, i found myself accomplishing much, demonstrating my limits and failings again, and landing once more on something solid and firm within my depths.  This strength always shocks me.  Usually, i see my spirit as having no floor, that i could collapse down into the void, frictionless falling that would never cease.  Yet, every once in awhile, something happens so grievous to my soul that this miraculous floor appears.  It keeps me from falling into complete devastation.  It gives me a chance to rest, to catch my breath and to think about how to climb out of the pit. Yesterday, this strength was not there – or rather, i did not know it was here.  Today, it is keeping me aloft as beautifully as any drawing or painting or story or poem.

Hopefully, as i gallery sit tomorrow, i will find my way to more words and ink.  But, for now, i will be going taking this strange, solid stillness and letting it coax me into dreams, into sleep, and perhaps tomorrow, if i remain seated on this foundation, i can build myself a way out.

brokenhearted series

These are drawings aching over on heartbreak and coming to terms with it.  The last panel made me giddy when I finished it.

I promised to post these a few days ago, but I have been spending an inordinate amount of time wallowing in how crummy and manipulative people can be.  Thankfully, I appear to be getting over it today – digesting more and more through the written word.  So, I can start moving forward.  But before heading off into the new, I will share these brokenhearted drawings:

brokenheart#1

brokenheart#2

brokenheart#3

brokenheart#4

brokenheart#5

brokenheart#6

brokenheart#7

brokenheart#8

brokenheart#9

brokenheart#10

brokenheart#11

poem: one good day

A day of bliss.

Sleeping until well rested,
and awaking refreshed.
Miraculously, i accomplished everything
i needed to do.
Even better,
these hands formed loveliness
with clay.

My heart felt strong,
after days when i thought
it had broken beyond repair.

Joy over this grain of hope
bubbled out of me.

i sang rhymes
to grumpy cats
and watched my dog
run down the beach.

i rejoiced over the quietest moments.

Even arguing
with the phone company
did not leave me
despairing.

One good day.

One good day
and i feel almost human;
the realization that i can come up
out of the darkness
for a quick breath of air
and a moment in sunshine
makes me giddy.

written 26 october 2011

Throwing

This morning, I needed a task that would help with built up grief and stress – and I started throwing.  For the first time in months, the process was absolutely effortless.  I felt no pain, my hands behaved themselves, plates flew from my fingers in rapid succession, I dropped nothing, not a tool nor a ball of clay nor a freshly thrown piece.  My only disaster was leaving a couple of plates out too long in the sun, because I lost track of time as I threw, but their replacements flew from the wheel head with great speed. Each pot looked better than I could have hoped.

photo
Ruby

Sometimes, it is the small blessings that get us through.  Today was full of things that made me despair: continued stress over the business and bills, an argument that left me gutted followed by terrible news about someone I love, the overwhelming feeling that nothing I do is quite enough, given what needs to be done.   In fact, after the plates were finished, I had to stop, too tired and punchy to do the glazing I had hoped to finish this afternoon, a sharp reminder of my limitations.  At that point, I started dropping things.  Pens, my phone (twice), my laptop (thankfully only a couple of inches and onto a pillow resting on a chair.) It was all I could do to write out poems.

But I kept holding the small triumphs close to my heart.  They saved me:  I threw some loveliness and Ruby survived her firing.  For a few moments, when I was in the flow of creating, both in clay and word, the world was aligned again. Even after it snapped back into chaos, a few conversations with friends tonight left me more hopeful.  Tomorrow will be better.

With luck, I can find that same solace when I return to the studio, whether it is in clay or words or something else.

finding some balance

Strange things happen with time.  I have never quite understood what causes this dynamic, if it is living by myself, or the fact that I work fairly obsessively, or if I just lose so much time when I get into the flow of creating.  But, every once in a while, when all the activity comes screeching to a halt, I realize with shock that months have passed more quickly than a breath.

The past week has been very hard indeed – the more tired and overwhelmed I have gotten, the more time seems to have slipped through my fingers.  Despair can come too easily, looking at the time stretching out behind me, the decisions that should have been different, this view can destabilize me quickly.

snowfallOn Wednesday, I started working on the book again.  Since then, I’ve been typing in poems, editing stories, working with words when the rest of me has felt too terrible to do anything else.  Suddenly, thankfully, I realized that I could find some balance even with time whizzing by me too quickly to grasp and with obligations and duties overwhelming me.  Words provide me with such comfort, with deep and abiding solace.  I love throwing and painting and sculpting, but out of all of my work, the one that can save me is writing.  I have learned this lesson again, and I am grateful.

 

poems that heal me (episode 2)

I read this a few times this winter… I have to keep reading this poem, to remind myself that I don’t have to struggle.  All I have to do is put my burdens down.

 

Quietly, secretly,
a longing has crept over me.
It’s strange.
Surreal.
i rarely find myself
yearning in this way.
Most of my dreams
come out grand
and unlikely.
But, this time
all i want
is some joy –
a sliver of happiness
at a moment in time
when i have been imprisoned
by my loneliness
to a terrifying degree.
This secret desire
doesn’t even include
great hopes for my future.
All of it –
the sum total of the dream –
is to have a good night,
a happy series of moments
when i forget my fears,
the demands and the stress,
and throw myself into happiness.
Finally, i have a fantasy
i can fulfill
without any massive efforts
or fervent planning.
All it requires
is for me to put my burdens down,
secure i can pick them back up again
in due time.

daydreaming

The weather provided an excuse, but I might have done this anyway. Yesterday refreshed me, down to the souls of my feet. The stress and worry evaporated as the day wore on, and today I simply wanted to deepen that solace.

Except for paying a few bills, I did nothing important or remotely business related. The laundry stayed undone, the dishes unwashed. Instead, I threw myself into rest, fiction and daydreams. Lots of television was watched, a few doodles drawn. I closed my eyes and let stories bloom in my eyes until I felt like a little kid. The more I retreated into quiet and imagination, the more soothed I felt.

Perhaps two days down have left me prepared for the work ahead. The to-do list continues to tower. Tomorrow will tell.

sisters

The bonds between these sisters
show in more than the curve of their faces,
the shade of their hair,
and the shape of their noses.

Even though it had been months,
if not years,
since they had gathered
in the same room,
they enjoyed an ease with each other
that left me awed.

They all appeared confident,
sublimely comfortable
within each other’s company,
devoid of fear and anxiety.
They could do their nails,
scratch each other’s backs,
tease each other,
all while exuding
an awesome sense of affection,
an effortless compassion,
that i can only assume
comes from their sense of family  –
which includes belonging
and comfort
and affection
that give their world
a different flavor
than mine.