Tag: transition

a day off

roxiannoyedA few days ago, i called a friend and begged her to help me out today. i should have been in a gallery in Southwest Harbor, but knew if i didn’t have a day off to heal, decompress and rest, i would be creating a world of pain for myself.

She agreed, bless her heart, and here i am on the couch with the computer on my lap, heating pad (another gift from a friend) behind my back, my softest work dress on and very little work – other than writing and some gentle computerized toil for clients – getting done. Laundry chugs in the washer, but that is about as ambitious as i feel right at this moment. Having the whole day to myself feels luxurious. i don’t want to make too many impositions.

As a result, mostly, i am breathing slowly and with intent. Last night, i had a vivid dream about starting a meditation group at my new 9-5 employment which reminded me, i have been too exhausted to do my normal centering, healing meditation. So, as soon as i crawled out of bed, i mediated for the first half hour of wakefulness. Then, after a few poems and a small nap, i went back to it. i curled up here, on the couch, took that first deep breath, and was immediately beset upon by cats.

For weeks my female cat, Roxanne, has been angry with me. After Darwin died, she fell into deep grief. She stopped sleeping on the bed. Her pugilistic attitude toward her younger cat brother has not improved – if anything it has escalated. The only time where this lifted was when her favorite human in the world visited, but when he left again, she fell right back into her grumpy melancholy. Most of all, she still seems to be grieving Darwin – just as i am.

However, as soon as i sat down for tonglen this morning, she wrapped herself around my thigh. Her soft fur rubbed over my leg while she purred with ecstasy. Perhaps, she is not just grieving our beloved dog, but the changes that have come upon our life – transformations over which she had no control. If she could mandate the intricacies universe, she would have her bipedal slave around a lot more often. And have a minimum of 8 cans of wet food a day that she could stare at, eat two nibbles of, and then abandon. Failing that, she suffers.

As i pet her side, vibrating with purrs of sweet comfort, i am a bit surprised at how easy it was to give her joy.

Indeed, the same is true for me. Little things have been filling me with happiness. i have been surprising myself. In some ways, i am coping with this transition much better than expected.

However, there are a few fascinating little developments. After all these years working as an artist, letting my entire life revolve around the creation of novel, poem, painting and pottery, i had forgotten how strangely out of step i can be with other people. This is different than the loneliness over which i have written thousands of pages – this is being the one person drumming out a syncopated rhythm while the rest of the band is playing a march.

i am remembering all the years of my schooling, the years in the traditional work force during my youth. i always felt on the outside, but the past few years had driven the memory from my mind. Frankly, those i was normally around wanted to buy art or made it themselves. As an artist, i was focused and professional, but typically alone and self-driven. All education, training and help i received had to be sought out on some level. Being in a structured, large business environment – one to which i have adapted with some facility – drives home that my heart beats for different things than a lot of people, my thoughts come in at a different angle, and that the speed and grace of my gait as i walk through this world are not typicalIMG_0213

Also, i am being reminded that this body needs gentle, loving care. Working at home, i could vary my tasks frequently, nap if necessary, basically live as though i were a cat. When my health crashed over the past two years, i became more and more overwhelmed because it all landed on my shoulders, but i never quite surrendered – or at least not for more than a day or two at a time. Mountains were created and then studiously moved teaspoon by teaspoon. While i enjoyed this workflow, but that is not possible at this new job. i have to be able to sit still, focus and learn at high speed. My compassion will be tested, for myself if not others. i can see the pain of back and limb as a failure, as a judgment. But, these limitations are not condemnations of me – they are realities i have to face and to which i must adapt.

Part of that was asking – begging – for help today. i could sense i had reached a limit, and i needed to be gentle with myself. It is also governing my behavior today. Oh, there is so much art i want to make, so many chores that need to get done. For weeks, i have been treating myself with kid gloves when i come home from work – resting, trying to ease my pain, letting myself sleep when i need to regardless of how badly my to-do list stomps around. (It can act like Godzilla, thrashing around, tearing down my plans.) For the first time in my life, i have been fully accepting the messages my body sends me and obeying.

i would love to tell you that the dishes and all the laundry will be done, put a way and the floors swept and scrubbed today, while i still managed to get all the clients’ jobs done and finished the three paintings that i started last week all while airing out the studio and getting it ready to reopen. Oh, how i would adore it if i could confidently say that today will become the pivot upon which my life will turn and everything will be magically stable and glorious. But, if all i can do is sleep, or write, or rest here on the couch like a large drooling lump, curled up with a smaller purring, drooling lump, then that is alright. This is about what my body and spirit need more than my ambitions and dreams.

There are many people that i fail – like my poor realtor who has never had a pristine house to show because i still live here alone, and have to work around both my health and being perpetually exhausted – but today, i am deliberately putting that guilt and shame aside. It flows out of me on my breath.

This is the day for me to be kind to myself.

If i can manage that, then i believe, the rest of those who depend on me will get better results in the end.

And for now, there is really nothing more healing than this moment of contented cuddling.

hard decisions

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

i am selling my house.1523100_10205442122563997_4889260902811902224_o

There, i said it.  The words tumbled out of my fingertips, and hopefully the honesty of my hands can make my mind stop protesting and my heart stop aching.

For two years i have known that i needed to say those words, and mean them, but i have not had the will.  The thought wounds me.  i love this house, the studio that comes with it, the community in which i live, the friends that fill my life here in Maine.

11156367_10205457395985823_7308591026478660484_nThe first time i ever walked into this building, i felt like i had come home.

studio1It was a profound feeling – washing over me with sublime intensity. The house was by no means mine at that point.  The previous owners still lived there, their things covered all the surfaces, their music filled the air.

However, i was home.  This would be my home.  i knew it deep in my soul.

Most glorious of all for me was that it came with a studio, an extra building with two stories, where i could make my art.  In the beginning, it did not look much.  There were no walls, no floor upstairs, the stairs themselves were not really bolted down so they shimmied terrifyingly as you ascended.  It took nearly five years to get the space to where it was a truly functional studio and gallery space.  But, even during those years of transition, i made so much art.

The glory of that, i cannot begin to describe. All i have to do is walk through the front door of the studio, and a smile comes over my face.  In the mornings, i thank it for being there; in the evenings, i lovingly say goodnight and tell the echoing space when i will return. Over and over, people have walked into my gallery – random strangers from all across the country – and they have said the energy of the space is delightful.  It is the energy of the art that has poured out of me like a waterfall.

My animals have found their home here, too.  Darwin, in particular, seems asIMG_1223 comfortably rooted in the space as i am. IMG_0729 copy Both of my marvelous, timid cats have discovered all the best hiding places.  Not to mention, their Very Important Job is to hold down the bed.  Who knows if they will have such tremendous job satisfaction in a new space?  For them, this entire house is familiar and wondrous.

Even though all of us have gone through terrible times within those four walls, sorrow and divorce and struggle, it has done nothing to dent our affection for this environment.

Only, i have reached one of those junctures where being an adult really sucks.  i cannot pretend that everything is alright and that i’ll be able to keep stumbling forward, magically making just enough money to keep things going for another week. i cannot look to another to save me.  While it would be so nice for my default personality to change, so that having to deal with tenants and having to fiercely promote my art wouldn’t be so wildly difficult, i seem to be stuck with who i am. The time has come to accept it and try to work with my strengths rather than keep fumbling, trying to rewire my brain’s faults.  One of my neighbors, remarking on my obsession with art at the expense of important chores like yard maintenance, suggested that some people are not meant to be home owners – and that i was firmly in that group.  When i have the courage to look unflinchingly at myself, i do not think she was wrong.

studio1_8162014Also, there is a practical consideration: this space was designed for a family, for me and my then husband to finally start a family of our own.  To be the habitat of one woman, even though i can fill the walls of both buildings with art, is a waste of this glorious space.  And, as i dissolve the pottery side of the studio over the course of the next ten months, my art will become more portable.  Paintings, pen and inks, poems and fiction can come into being no matter where i end up or what i am doing.studio5

So, now, the big adventure will be finding out what happens next.  i have no clue where i am going or what i will be doing – other than i will be making art.  The more i became convinced over the past couple of months that i had to give up my art to other obligations, like a real job, the more suicidal and depressed i became.  Letters were written; plans made.  Then, Sunday before last, someone else’s anger kicked me out of my despondency like cold water to the face.  The axis of my world shifted until i began making plans on how to live, even without this home i love so much and the full, wonderful life that i have created in Maine.  It is possible… i just have to find a way.  For now, all i really know is that one of the steps, however heavy-hearted it makes me, is to find a new home.

studio_008_02232011This said, until the house sells and i have to face the massive transformations in my life that will cause, i will keep on as i have been.  Running my business, making art at this furious pace like each day at the wheel or easel is my last, looking for freelancing work to keep the utilities on, will continue to form the pattern of my life.  I will keep staggering from week to week, day to day, minute to minute, trying to tread water rather than drown.