I am back to searching… in the midst of a twisted, illogical canvas, filled with color and direction that doesn’t find its place, I feel like I am missing something. I see a word… errand, errant, err… and I jump to my bedroom looking for the list. I pull down journals – days, months, years of words, memories, ideas, feelings, thoughts, stagnant on my shelf. Pieces of my life sitting collecting dust. Somewhere, I feel, as I brush through the pages, is a piece of myself I am missing (missing as in longing for? missing as in lost? missing as in not aware of?)
The memories in word tumble through the canvas of my eyes – glimpses of sunrises and sunsets in my life, the taste of withdrawal, confusion, joy and creativity. I smell him for a moment in those pages, peppered with illustrations of dreams, fears, and hopes. I want to shake all of it, shake it hard until what I am looking for falls to my feet. Longing to pick up something familiar and hold it close.
Instead, the feeling is thick like honey. I feel like I can’t move. My iPhone reminds me, as I note my shift in mood in the last 24 hours, to “expect tears for fears.” This is the notice I set to remind me that all this muck is the normal shift in hormones that leaves me feeling sad, detached, and solitary. A gentle reminder that I am ok, and can stay present despite the wave that comes. This is when I crave my space the most, not having to do for anyone, sitting in a melancholy puddle with a vacant gaze.
I sit again in front of my canvas, Justin’s room slowing shifting into an art studio. Tubes of paint scattered like bodies in a field of green plaid material. Bonobo Radio rhythmically boxing at my ears. The paints are stacked, oozing color onto my palette, calling to me to apply the paint regardless of the direction, regardless of whether I like any of it, and I listen to the call. I don’t care how ugly it is – I destroy the canvas with a rage of colors – wishing they were words I could find somewhere in my body.
Somewhere I feel angry. I want to spew a breath of hatred I feel at him for leaving me before I ever left him, or is that a breath of hatred I feel at me for leaving him before he ever left me? And yet, I don’t want to go back to any of it, so much so that I don’t think I am capable of going back into ANYTHING new either. I am aware of a depth of grief and loss I have spent the last 3 years covering up. Anyone I let into my intimate space feels foreign and I am confused. I don’t want my heart to ache for nights, or the pain of walking away from someone I love, or the distress of conflict, or the walls of disagreement, or the fear of the unknown.
Do I have to learn this all again?
Why am I so scared?
What is real?
I am so tired of words … I just want something familiar and safe, a space warm and easy. But relationship doesn’t feel warm and easy. It does for small moments, when my eyes are closed and I am held close, and my skin is stroked, and I hear careful tender words… and then I wake up and my head is spinning, and that little voice is saying, “am I supposed to let you in?”
It might hurt, again.
I thought I knew that. I thought I decided that was OK, what else is “living” for?
But today I am shaking, uncertain, wavering in the breeze of possibilities.
Damn hormones. Damn that part of me that has her heals dragging in the sand as the rest of her heart says, “yes, please, come along…”
Posted on February 17, 2013 - Filed Under 2013, daily life, frustration, Photography, work
It’s late, and I just got home from dancing at Zendah and started down the rabbit hole or reading the creative efforts of others online, wondering, LUSHIOUSLY, about the creaking creative tickle I have had the last two weeks. My camera has moved from her dusty spot on the floor near her camera bag, into the back seat of my car. She sits like a neglected puppy, smiling at me when I happen to glance back at the floor. She is begging me to pick her up and do something. Instead, I have grabbed my paint, or my dance shoes, and plotted a course of doing some-other-things. But, I am aware of her back there, waiting.
I have gone on a psychological strike, feeling tremendous resistance to giving, giving, giving – except where it isn’t asked for. At work, on Friday, I announced my position.“I’m on strike!” “What, really? (eyes wide, but skeptical) So can you ******* for me?” “Nope, I’m sorry… strike.” (I smirk) (Forlorn face – a pat on my shoulder) “I hope you change your mind on Monday.” “I’ll think about it…”
I even left work 15 WHOLE minutes before my NORMAL overtime.And let me just say, whether I like it or not, I put in an additional week each month in drive time alone… I answer calls, check email, discuss school issues on the drive, but NONE of that counts for the 9 hour work day (nine hours, because I am supposed to take a lunch, but secretly keep eating at my desk while I work, hoping that I can count 1 hour of drive time and leave an hour earlier.) So, 9 hours a week, plus 2 hours a day of driving, equals NO TIME to get things done during regular business hours…
And tomorrow is Presidents day. All my friends are talking up plans about what to do on their day off. I stare at my calendar – and work is written all over it. F**K! I am going on strike tomorrow! Except, someone has to feed Napoleon (the fish). He has been in the dark all weekend, and probably feeling quite starved. Maybe I will make him a picket sign and the two of us will announce our strike. Write a letter of demands. Ask people to honk if they support overworked single mom’s who give too much.
- I want to see some movement in my position at work. I am doing way more than my job description – so let’s get things in alignment, eh?
- I want the kind of raise that isn’t in place of paying for expenses (when all the locals get a raise that isn’t eaten by GAS), or a raise that isn’t eaten by the January 2013 increase in Social Security
- I want 4 ten-hour days at least twice a month so I can get shit done during business hours!
- I would appreciate it if my creative ideas aren’t teased (yeah, they end up using them, but I am getting tired of the playful banter about my goofy ideas – give my creative soul a little more support people, or she will eventually STFU!)
- I am not your therapist. For god’s sake, just because I have a masters in mental health – marriage & family, does not make me the expert of ridiculous workplace drama! It’s not in my job description.
- Mind your own damn business. I wish I had a little light up sign on my badge that blinked obnoxiously, like an annoying rainbow banner ad, and instead of saying “Your A Winner,” blurts “Mind your own business!” It would go off immediately when it sensed an increase in my breathing, when my head snaps around to look at the person interjecting, or when it hears my brain whisper, “Seriously, are you kidding me?” All those symptoms occur regularly in my shared office.
- A little credit please? My workplace has an occasional corporate email that goes out with Kudos to all the people who have impressed the crowd at our Parent company. I, however, work incognito – since I am often doing the kinds of things that HELP us, but are not under the scrutiny of the higher-ups. Yet, all that work and I again, as IS my work-life karma, get a pat on the back with a “good job, Evelyn” that doesn’t quite celebrate the successes I have helped to nurture. I sometimes would appreciate a Kudos.
I think Napoleon would agree. He figures he might get more than blood-worms if I had a little more oomph in my paycheck for the teenagers impending college adventure. He might be right. We are making our signs tomorrow!
Posted on January 22, 2013 - Filed Under self reflect
I am not sure where to start… that has been what has been causing me pause lately, this visceral holding ground, elevator music, the breath underwater just before the exhale, the standing in a busy room amidst the noise and not knowing which direction to head or what conversation to engage in. It isn’t a complaint, more an observation, that I am sitting a bit uninspired, uncertain, and waiting. I am not sure what I want, or where to go, or how to pursue, but I am gaining clarity on what I don’t want, and some ideas about the options that are growing.
2012 has been a year full of unexpected changes, a constantly moving ball of anxiety grabbing and tossing parts of me as it snakes in and out of days. Not a day I am not grateful for, and yet lots of days I felt uncertain and charged about work, relationships, and general finances. I was pleased with the turn over to 2013, hopeful that with my frail handle on superstition, I might break free of the consuming complacency I feel. Hopeful I can break away from the wait for my subway while John Lennon sings “Imagine” as I pause on hold.
I’ve neglected my camera. I have held on in a space where I exist on the perimeter, pained by the lack of passion, yet holding. I smile at the friendly advances of friendship, unsure I can add one more thing to the banging, hair-wrenching anxiety that creeps in when I am most tired. I drive, and run my brain, and work, and sometimes meander a dance… still on hold. I stare at a half-finished canvas for 3 months, on hold. UGH, I sometimes drive myself nuts in the holding patterns I get into, wondering what keeps me here?
What keeps me here? Comfort? Predictability? Familiarity? Avoidance? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being unlovable? (yes, yes, yes… and there it chimes, “imagine all the people…”) I wander in and out of conversations with myself, trying to make sense of my experiences, trying to assign meaning so that somehow it feels comfortable, or better yet, predictable. If I know what it all means, if I know what to expect, I can better control my comfort level. Yet 2012 (and especially my job) has done nothing but toss change and force adjustments on me. On the opposite side, my “intimate” relationships (or efforts to have them) have instead been emotionally monotone, with a lack of vibrancy and color that has left me feeling sadly discouraged. I climb into my warm cocoon of a bed – alone, quiet, and wishing for a conversation that gets me out of my head and into my heart. Wishing for a hand on my face, and a tangled connected gaze that assures me I am seen. Wishing for guidance instead of an open window for my ranting complaints about the bully in the office, or the appreciation complex I seem to have as I work like a horse to no end.
I need SOMETHING to help me reframe my thinking patterns – something to take me out of a holding pattern and finish a piece of art, or write in my blog, or make passionate “love” in the world, or laugh till I cry, or cry until I have lost my voice and can only laugh.
And so I get a cold, and do NOTHING for two days. And on day three, like a GOD inspired to do something, there is a small light that tells me to finish my painting, just start there… and I do. A little voice says, “Stop what isn’t working” and I try that on for size. I wheeze, and cough, and paint, and sing a break-up song, and listen to music, and cough again… and finally there is something there of expression. It is full of color and movement. It makes no sense and makes perfect sense. For a brief moment, I am taken off hold and hear, “Thanks for waiting…” For a moment I see myself, and I feel relief for letting her out instead of smothering her in the complacency. I wonder if I can write, and I do. I smile, tenderly, and shake myself off, and hope that I will rage a bit against losing her again. I am, for a moment, hopeful that I will find a laugh that makes me cry, or that I will have opportunity to make passionate love in the world again. I know, as I stare at my creation, regardless of how much or little I like it, or how complete or incomplete it feels, that everything in my world is an evolution of my being, a part of the journey. I see that nothing is static, everything changes, and as scary as that seems, that is one certainty I can hold on to.
Posted on October 28, 2012 - Filed Under fear, feelings, self reflect
I have been sitting on my writing for weeks, recording clips of thoughts on the long drives to Spring Hill, and ruminating on a concept or two. I am stuck in another cycle of avoidance, whose contagion has spread to my photography. ”Things” have been feeling profoundly more difficult, regardless of their form. Stressors have exacerbated what should be easy. So I sit in my bedroom, after a movie by myself, and finally put down the unending, mindless solitaire game I play when I am bored with [avoidant of] my internal chatter, to listen a moment. I listen, although I don’t feel very brave about it, feeling skeptical about its possibilities here. Feeling timid, knowing the level of sensitivity I have been having – at work – in life – and the aching uncertainty as I stare day-to-day into the eyes of my existence. There is something missing and I can’t quite grasp it, seemingly out of my reach, yet I smell it, I feel it brushing against me when I am wandering through my day. I hear it, and I am grazed by melancholy for being in this space again, saying “I don’t know” when my core KNOWS, and the rest of me fills the spaces with mindless solitaire.
I remarked one night, in a text message, that sometimes I feel insignificant. The remark was a splinter from a much deeper thorn of sentiments I have carried… a bottomless pit of a feeling that no amount of proving myself seems to fill. No matter how good I am at trying to meet others needs, no matter how carefully I listen, how deeply touched I am by life, or how much I cry, the desire to matter in this world is not met by any amount of logic or self soothing. It isn’t satisfied by a parade of words by those who love me, whispering their regard for me, or the growing list of achievements. I judge myself for being “needy,” for wanting to have the kind of contact in the world that at least pats me on the head and says, “I see you.” I rationalize with and reprimand the little girl in me that wants to be seen, and beyond everything I know intellectually, I understand the cruelty this imposes on me… and yet, she still dances in circles hoping somehow to be touched in a way that says, “I see you, Evelyn, I do.” I recognize her in so many people I encounter that I charge breathlessly to soothe them, thinking this will fix my needy and tired insignificance.
Then, last week, a friend of mine returned to town, and I found him on the dance floor, prancing and playing as he always does. I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention and was met with an embrace. I am hugged all the time, however there is something distinctly different about an embrace, with its enveloping sort of energy that cups my being in a delighted, present sort of way. His embrace blanketed that needy insignificance for a long quiet moment, completely present, slow, genuine, unconditional, soothing. It triggers in me a desire to fall to pieces until all those pieces are done scattering themselves about. I realized that whatever that connection is, whatever that present enveloping energy is, I feel for a moment my significance. I seem to come fully into my being, and feel seen. He does not know me well, but I appreciate those embraces, and all the embraces I get from my soul-siblings who know me enough to say “I love you” with an embrace that isn’t rushed or timid or uncertain. An embrace that allows me to feel their breath, feel the movement of their being, hear their hearts reminding me just how fragile we humans all are, and I am not alone.
I am uncertain about where I am with so many parts of my life right now. I like the certainty and routine of work each day. I like moments of sunshine on my face, or heavy blankets over my tired body. I like the invitations to come play when work is done, and the option to dance with friends in a tangled blur of hands and feet. I like the cooler weather that leaves me nesting, watching the shadows of leaves against the curtains when the wind blows. I like the little greetings I get through the day, and cup of warm tea. And, sometimes I am good at embracing myself, and sometimes I fall short, awash in anxiety that lately feels unmanageable, scary, and exhausting. Either way, I know that there are embraces out there that will hold me for just a moment, and I try to carry them with me, pieces of them, in my being. … A small article about the healing of hugs…
Posted on August 1, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, mind, self reflect
“…but he was stubborn and refused to be thrown by anything I lobbed at him.” (Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)) … And suddenly I realize I connect so well to this thought because I am doing the same thing. I test the waters of a potential relationship with briefly acrimonious or even benign stories of my experiences, and then gaze at him and ask, “have I scared you off yet?”
I am curious about this behavior in me. What kinds of waters am I really testing? And what could I possibly come up with what would make me undesirable? Why would I even think such a thing about myself… And as that question floats around my tired monkey mind (as i sit exhausted already on the second leg of three flights, of which two were NOT what I booked, on my way to California) I hear the little chants of my early belief systems suggesting that I haven’t gotten much of what I thought I needed because there is something fatally wrong with who I am. And how, or why, would I even cater to such a thought? …. Because I am scared. Because what if this doesn’t work, what if I give myself up, what if I find myself paralyzed again, what if I don’t see the “signs”??? What if we stop communicating, what if it gets too comfortable and I am back to nights of television and exhaustion? What purpose do I serve for him? What if I have another broken heart, or have given away the last fragments of my youth and die alone? What if I fall in love with co-sub-step-parenting and he walks away with her. What if Justin doesn’t like him, what if he doesn’t like Justin? How the hell is this going to work? And as my sweet bear of a friend, Josh, would remind, “Hey, great job “what if-ing” it to death before it even really gets started!”
I suffer from a profound need to know what is going on in my world as vividly and predictably as possible, because in that way I am (inaccurately) safe. And damn, if the world isn’t set up so that I can’t control the idiosyncrasies of the rest of the humans in it. So, once again I am faced with the challenge… Leap, or hold back. Whatever the circumstance I usually don’t feel like my monkeys are any more sane when change is underfoot. And to challenge me further, I hate to hold back and yet stand at that ledge, counting “1…2…3… Ju…., okay, one more time, you can do this, 1… 2…” looking down at the perilous possibilities of worst case, survival stimulated, possibilities (meanwhile, there are probably luscious snowflakes, and breathless loving exchanges, and Captain’s Butterscotch ice cream, and winged fairies, and rainbow burping purple unicorns in that amalgamated concoction I perceive as perilous.) and when have I ever really known what life would bring? And have I regretted any of it yet? The answer is “no.”
What I find interesting is that I make the request of the universe and here it tosses me, during an unexpected tropical storm (I don’t have TV) this gentle, warm, goofy, well matched guy… And I keep fluctuating with so much apprehension, and he just keeps holding my hand. That I would hang on, tenaciously, to my apprehension when I feel so at ease around him. That I tell myself to run, run like hell, and instead I show back up on his doorstep, to the gentle trill of a soft melodious “hi-eee” and kisses, and then walk right in as if I had been doing this for years. That I would show up, on a second date in jammies, hair frazzled, not a spot of makeup, to curl up on his couch and eat bowls of cereal, and laugh and rub feet… how unconventional! That his steady, quiet, a little vigilant, yet open and attentive personality would warm me so much that I keep asking, “but… but, what’s ‘Wrong’ with you?” which should be a question to me… What is wrong with me?
The answer, “Nothing that isn’t anything more or less than any other human be-ing out there.” I like myself… when I am alone. I am not sure about myself in the wake of someone (potential partner – relationship) else’s presence. No, to be more specific, I am not sure about myself under the gaze of someone who I don’t know the depth of yet, and who is making decisions about me that I CAN’T SEE! (and the monkeys start shedding at the very thought.) Better yet, I like the way I feel – he doesn’t make faces at me like a curious bystander when I hike up my skirt and start dancing in puddles on the beach with his 3-year-old under the moonlight. Or maybe he IS a curious bystander – until I slink over to a steal a kiss – then carry on with my business. Maybe I am good entertainment. Ultimately, what I am trying to persuade my monkeys to see is that it doesn’t matter HOW many times I re-arrange the cage furniture, a fresh batch of flowers and a new scent is not toxic, and how else are we all going to learn to get along in here if I don’t add something new to explore and chatter about? And NO, I don’t need television – it only makes my monkey mind more agitated watching stories and getting ideas about what life SHOULD look like, or what a train-wreck society currently is. It adds to my what-ifs.
So I guess I will keep lobbing myself at him in different ways, and hopefully I can still rest my head in his hands every now-and-again. And secretly, because I think I can read minds, he may be going through a little of this himself (if he was asking what’s wrong with her, I think he would be “running like hell” at this point.) I will take all my polka-dotted learning experiences (seeing that nothing has been a failure in my life – EVEN a divorce) and tuck them under my arm, and stand at that edge, counting “1…2…3… Ju…., okay, one more time, you can do this, 1… 2…”
Posted on July 3, 2012 - Filed Under self reflect
Sitting outside at my Dad’s place, the wind turning the trees into giant waves and dips, I take in the way that the sky is filled with clouds and heat lightning is illuminating the world in bursts. Otherwise, I don’t see much and my ears stay more focused than my eyes. I hear the chirping of crickets and the lull of frogs, calling to their companions near the lake. Beyond that are the chants and antics of the summer camp across the way, the belting calls and bursts of laughter that carry over the water and dissipate into the brush. I feel quiet here…
Posted on May 9, 2012 - Filed Under self reflect
4/24/2012 (Visit to Wilbur Hot Springs, and a week with Monica… a collection of reflections)
I have been sitting bare and unprotected the last two days, collecting vitamin-D, warming in the sunlight, soaking in mineral springs, and sitting quietly amidst breezes and bird calls. I find myself in and out of brief naps as my body regains some sense of balance, the strong smell of sulfur and flowers moving in an out of me between deep sighs. Monica is busy working today, and I have been left to entertain myself; reading and soaking, watching the birds and lizards carry on their business while fat bushy squirrels forage and scurry under the trees. A yellow finch is busily weaving a nest amidst the fresh budding leaves of trees that have been asleep for the winter, a sure sign that spring has warranted a sense of cleaning out, cleansing, and industriousness that so often feels therapeutic. I find myself checking her progress as she flits back and forth, bringing new elements to her hanging nest.
What I may have found in a quiet moment a few years ago, is not what I am feeling. There would have been a resounding melancholy pouring from my soul in the past. Instead, I sense I am just listening. I haven’t felt like chatting too much, our walks a bit quieter. Under my skin is an enormous grin as I take in the astounding beauty of this quiet valley. As I take in the warm presence of my little sister despite the rampant discombobulation and darting exasperation as she tackles her days. As I take in the gift of having a break from my life… even for a few moments.
The stars in Wilbur are stunning, touching on my distant memories of stargazing in Colombia with a milky way that pours across the sky. The planets are blazingly obvious, like headlamps, and we are in a freshly waxing moon, just days from a new moon which still provides a wonderful depth of darkness to stargazing. We have taken a few late night soaks as well, gazing out at the upside-down colony of galaxies and stars, sighing between the comforting soaks in the flumes.
In it all I listen, a quiet, curious sort of attention. I remember the way my body behaved the last time I didn’t listen; spiraling into what felt like endless days of exhaustion and despair. Every blood test smiled at the doctors, an ongoing shrug from the medical industry that said, “You’re fine…” and yet I wasn’t. I am getting hints of that exhaustion and the last month or so, been a bit more conservative in my adventures, ensuring I don’t push that fragile boundary that could exhaust my adrenals… and here I am, watching the sky pass by, and a soft hum of bees the only ongoing traffic noise. I am in a place of ongoing joy in my life. Gratitude for how well the universe cares for me, and somewhat stumped by the sudden roll of opportunity that is tugging on me for attention.
(Pause… I return home … still a bit inebriated with the trip)
It seems like ages that I have been wanting to live closer to Monica. Trips to California remind me frequently of the culture I miss, and she has kept life simple. I find myself, especially after this last move to Clearwater, wanting to pare down… what do I really need? What do I keep in my life and what purpose does it hold? Who do I want in my life? What do I want to do? Where do I want to be? It rides my mind almost daily, a flurry of dreams and ideas, a gentle pace along the current journey I am traveling. And here… Wilbur calls to me… Monica and Michael stand with arms open, knowing well the gifts I have, and open and eager to use them. I meet their new community, and Dr. Miller, and his daughter… and I see ways I might easily fit into making Wilbur grow… and feel accepted, encouraged, valued.
I find myself talking about Wilbur like I am there… with ownership and authority. I was describing one of my hikes and I heard myself say, “And in the place where I am, along this valley creek, is a rock like a fox drinking water…” Where I am…where I am.
It has been a tremendous adjustment coming back. I felt, coming home to an empty house, ripped from home… homesick. I struggled to hear my beautiful sister’s longing at the other end of the phone… my heart aching to support her in the transition she is making, to help manage the tasks and problems. Wilbur calling me to keep falling asleep with the sparkle of stars through my window and a hot flume to cradle me.
I commented, after my return home (cause that is where I am trying to finish not more than 8 days since my return) that being in the presence of Monica and Michael I feel significant. That isn’t to say I am not, because I feel as if I am in my life. However, the need to matter is so deeply met when I am with them. The unconditional sort of way they hold me in their space feels honoring and open, and I delight in it as if I was opening the best present I have ever gotten (other than Justin).
It has been hard to keep my eyes on how life holds me well in the spaces I keep in Florida. Work delights my problem solving skills, and yet there are pieces of how the company runs that is slowly draining my confidence in the powers that make decisions. I adore the people I work with, I enjoy the students, and locally, I have every confidence in a phenomenal team… but we are not the ones who inhabit the big decisions. I feel worried… and on my return my body has begun to complain about the drive, about the time, about the lack of support I sense, as if we are the illegitimate child of the bigger organization. This worries me, because I know how this can impact my health. And, I know I am not the only one who feels stunned by the blurred vision between state lines… I can feel the growing distress with peers who work so hard and put a tremendous effort in to make things work and are repeatedly left standing on shifting sand…
And so I listen, a quiet, curious sort of attention. I feel at ease (more over the last few days) as friends have loved and encouraged me to pay attention to my heart. They remind me of the conversations over the last 4-5 years, and the directions I have called to, asking for opportunity. I am grateful for the life I have here, dancing and doing art, making friends and beach hikes, sharing stories and late night breakfasts. I am grateful that I have choices. I am grateful for working with individuals who see my gifts and trust me with them. I am grateful for RadioLab on long drives, and for telephones that allow me to stay connected over long distance, and a kid who wants me to be happy and is easygoing, and drives me crazy, and fills me with love. And I look forward to my next trip…
Posted on March 15, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, art, art therapy, Gary, self reflect
I have had all kinds of burbling at the recesses of my mind… those places that often don’t perk up until I do something quite unexpected and beyond my comfort zone. It ties in to all the ways I have experienced “Art” in my life, the ongoing messages, between my immediate community, my studies of art in the past, and my own self belief. (There she goes again, “Evelyn, what is it that you believe about yourself?” “I am getting to that bit in a moment!”) I took a huge step and submitted two of my pieces of art to the Tampa Nude Nite Exhibit, now on it’s 4th year in Tampa – its 15th year in Orlando. I paid the submission fee, half worried I was too “amateur” for any serious consideration, and fully expected that to pay for a ticket to the show after the rejection letter. Instead, I got this lovely greeting, identifying both pieces as passing the juried panel and gaining entry. With it, a fabulous little badge listing my name with the title “Artist,” and three additional tickets so that I could bring friends along each night of the three night exhibition.
There was a part of me that felt proud and couldn’t help to express excitement and showmanship about the upcoming exhibit. Yet, suddenly those burbles rumbled about all the ways I had somehow conned the jury into taking my work as “ART.” (Don’t you just love those little voices that struggle to celebrate the amazing things we do?) Compliments I failed to take in as genuine fell down amidst the dust of the warehouse. It was a mix of excited (and somewhat braggart) and fearful. What if people are just being kind? What if I am perceived as not serious. The 16 year old who drove to NYC with her dad, to attend “College Day” at Pratt, tugged at my arm. The 16 year-old whose joy at being “creative” was smothered by a room filled with hundreds of young adults, carrying “Portfolios” of stunning art… the burn of that 16 year old wearing a face of overwhelmed dejection, who hastily lost her courage and insisted they leave and go back home, hazed by the competitiveness and criticism that fogged the room. The disparaged anger of the 20 year old whose grade in an art class was dropped from an “A” to a “B” because she wasn’t “Majoring” and obviously wasn’t serious about art. Returning was the anxiety of her undergrad program (where she minored in Art) grating against that vulnerable young woman who had only gotten her first exposure to formal training her senior year of high school. And so, instead, Art became a hobby, a survival too. I used it to secretly speak my heart, or used it like a hard run, to let go of whatever held me… but what I “wasn’t” was an “artist.” All my work with my Creative Soulcare groups wavered – what I “was” or “wasn’t” tromping around amidst my vulnerability. And then…
… And then, the playful, delighted part of me found it curiously fun to watch people walk by and look. “Is it possible?” that scared, vulnerable part of me peeped, “… that all of them were WRONG?” That all that history is what GOT ME HERE? And where was it that I decided I couldn’t be an artist, and where did I trick myself back into goofing around with color and paper and ink and drawing again? And what if it truly is a gift – expressed in a way that is uniquely me – and has nothing to do with what anyone “thinks” about what it is, because none of that actually defines me. And… that burbling, after a good week or two, has settled into a new confidence in the parts of me that are beautifully creative. I PLAY with color, my story is sprinkled in little places between the layers and colors and lines. My nature, expressed in something I can put OUTSIDE of myself, poignant memories, a marker of the moment of THAT creation. And so, that delighted playful part of me became spectator, commentator, spy, and “artist.”
I spent my three nights both mingling and watching. I discovered some similarity among spectators. Some would slide right by, apparently unmoved by my work. Others would stare at it a moment, then continue their artist revelry. There were observers who would take out their cell phones and take pictures of my work, leaving me to wonder how my image would show up in the world. Then there were a small group of individuals who would look at it, back up… get near and after a pause or two (I could almost count) their head would drop to the left. The “head drop” would always stimulate curiosity in me, and sometimes I would get brave enough to approach and ask what caught their attention. What I most loved about that experience was the story that would tumble out excitedly, or the observations being made about what the “artist” may have been trying to express. One woman, snapping pictures and bobbing her head back and forth, ear to ear, in observation, explained how she loved the piece because she loved Paris. She continued to explain that the woman was moving towards the energy of Paris, full of culture and music and art. Several people shared how they got curious about the article I had used for my dancing woman, wondering if there was some reason for it. One man tried to guess what paper I had been reading. Another couple, full of picture taking and discussion (and I later learned they were discussing whether they buy it or wait to check out my gallery for other possibilities. GALLERY- WHAT?) She shared how she was from NYC, and she had a fondness for the NY Times (which she had properly identified in my work, as I really love the compact-ness of the text). She described, almost like poetry, her experience on the subways, crammed in a car with others, and the process of reading her NY Times, folded like origami in her hands. She felt the city in my work, something I don’t feel at all, but took in, triggering my own memories of prancing through NYC with Gary and exploring amidst the bustle and noise. Others would find the messages hidden, and spend time searching for other pieces and parts of the “truth” in the piece.
As I picked my work up from the Gallery-Warehouse the next afternoon, wandering the space with my camera to capture the closure I was feeling, I felt a bit like it had all been part of some strange hallucination… my camera capturing evidence that somehow I hadn’t just woken up. I realize I could actually risk working bigger. That playing doesn’t have to happen in the safety of a bunch of my soulcare friends… Risks, again, add to the adventures I have been finding these last few years. Risks bring me back into being, being present really. The courage to send my two pieces to the curator, to show up each night, and even to talk to people in that crowded room full of stunning art, and seasoned artists, and not turn around and go home. I have come a long way on this journey… in ways that only bring me closer to knowing myself; unraveling all the knots my experiences have created and essentially adorning myself with the new patterns of beliefs and experiences. What a gift.
Posted on January 8, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, gratitude, JP, kid, life, Parenting, Rituals, self concept
I am curled up in bed, filled with delight and the warmth of heavy blankets pressed on my skin. I have a sense of deep gratitude moving through me. It has been an eternity since I have moved through my moon cycles and rituals, putting out to the universe what I would like to see in my life, and then moving through gratitude for the gifts that dance with me daily. I am grateful for being in my own bed, a space familiar and cocooning, soft and supportive. The full moon is bursting outside, and it feels good to take a moment to write.
I spent this whole weekend, moving easily with delighted eyes and inviting energy, relishing the flavor of my experiences and watching eagerly who I am in each of them. I feel patient, and, a bit lit up. All of this tumbling through me with ongoing waves of laughter and grins. I am grateful for the many successes I have experienced this week, for my part in them, for the opportunities to be part of them, for the deep sense of self I have encountered through them.
I have smiled at endless amounts of strangers this week. I have danced 6 of 8 days since my return. I have enjoyed good meals with people i appreciate. My bills are paid. I have a new Garmin to help me find my way. Two jars of Pennsylvania special homegrown mustards sit on my counter, brought as a thoughtful gift. My hair is trimmed into a playful boy cut, my nose adorned with a diamond I have been waiting for for over a year. I have friends in this new town, inviting me to chill, and a Jag club full of people who now know me well enough to kiss my cheeks when we reconnect. My dog is back home with my dad, and when I visit I get to snuggle with him.
This afternoon I sat with my son and his cubing mentor (sometimes mentored), Chris, and I got to enjoy Justin’s humor with the resounding playful laugh that poured out of the three of us at the table. I listened to Justin talk and realized that he carries on our talent for storytelling, stretching the truth for the playful potential it carries, and the adventurous journey it creates in the minds of the listeners. I had opportunity to see his perspective in the ridiculousness that bumped and jived through our consumption of each tale, and I grinned. I grinned from the core of my being that this kidlet beside me, with a moppy unwashed head of curls, and big expressive eyes, has evolved into a playful, sharp, well-meaning young man, reflective in many ways of my father, my mother, Monica, and me. In the moment, as I listened and watched I was fully in love with all that he is, and felt somehow privileged that I get to be in his world like this; that I can joke and dance with his stories just as easily as he concocts them, and in that way we connect.
Undoubtedly, I curl up under these blankets, and I am in love with my world. Gratitude whistling while it walks through my day. Enthusiasm doing cartwheels, down-hill, in the grass, with bare feet. And me, a whirling, twirling, dancing, full-of-grace kind of woman, contentedly snuggled into this new space on a full moon.
Posted on November 26, 2011 - Filed Under beach, fear, feelings, JP, memories, ocean, self concept, self reflect
The avoidance detrimental, really. A quiet, shifty eyed, uncertainty sitting under my skin, under the happy and work, under the smile and respites on the beach or on long drives. Some things have hit a state of hibernation in my core, and I ask myself to bring them forward, but I think I am afraid of the potential tumble backward into beliefs I have worked hard to unwind and sort out. So, in the quiet space that is my blog I coax them forward – perhaps give them a voice for just a moment – in hopes that I can return to some of the habits I was finding most healing before May; Writing, Art, Working out.
I never imagined the impact of my son’s time in the hospital last May – the fear numbed for the sake of the strength I felt I had to carry forward each day. The disappointment in ways my community of friends failed to show, and the deep gratitude for the few whose faces came forward to lend a shoulder and keep me from falling. The layers of alone that curled around me each night on the hospital couch, the deep tired that was so challenging I couldn’t hold my journal up to voice my pain and fear. The journal I abandoned; the journal I had consistently written in for almost a year, every morning, working through all that was happening in my life. I was afraid to even lend a voice to the tired and fear, certain that would leave me incapacitated. And the resentment of the system, of my struggle with Justin’s dad to provide help, of the way that those I believed would be there were not, of the little voice that is always murmuring that I will always be alone… doing the hard work alone. I want that voice to go away.
I took a long walk on a local island yesterday, with a guy I have been dating. On our return, we took a moment to sit on a bench and gather our shoes. I leaned back into his arm, his warm sturdy body, my head resting on his shoulder, staring off into the softening light and waves. My core began to collapse in that space, wanting just to exist there for an hour, until I had my fill, until I felt somehow replenished and not so alone. He has no idea what that space felt like in my body or heart. I question if that is what I am really seeking right now, a place to feel supported, held up when I am tired. I am not sure he will do that in my life, in the emotional connected sort of way. I have not found that at all in the meandering dating I have done. To feel almost like a child, wrapped up in the space of another, peering out and knowing it is safe out there, someone important has my back. “Well, shall we get going?” he asked, reaching down for his shoes. “No, just give me two more minutes here, please.” He paused. There was no kiss on my forehead that says, “I see you.” There was no squeeze of the shoulder, or light touch of my hair. He simply leaned back, looked at his watch, and said, “we can do that.” And I wonder what he feels there. Weighted? Tired? Eager? Uncertain? I take a breath, and resume my gaze through the wavering grasses out to the sea. I am trying to implant that feeling so i can take it with me later, when I am alone and uncertain, and need to know the feeling of being nestled in the clement shoulder of another. I am blatantly aware that I don’t know, at any moment, who I am to him, what I mean, what I feel like, but I impose the belief, for just that moment that this space is what I need. I assign it the meaning I need, regardless of where he is. It is only later that I realize that it feels confusing, and creates uncertainty that I am not sure I can manage with regards to his emotional reserve.
Are we all emotionally reserved? Do I ask too much? Do I create distance, by the nature of the way I am. Do I look like I don’t need deep, meaningful, consociate connection? Does my smile not bring safety, for an opening, or does it have nothing to do with me? And there is that little voice that is always murmuring that I will always be alone… doing the hard work alone. I want that little voice to go away.
Navigating life beyond work, dancing, and photography… navigating the connections, the frustrations, the questions, the uncertainty of what I am really ready for. Do I have pain beyond what I know with regards to my divorce that makes this harder? What to make of the disappointment? Am I afraid of being disappointed again? Is there something out there that matches where I am at? What am I really seeking?
On the trip out to Caladesi Island, the boat drumming up salty breezes amidst the pound of soft wakes, I watched a family of 6 children, close together, limbs and fingers tangled on the benches between parents. A mother held her second youngest, with his thumb shoved firmly, contentedly, in his mouth, while they rode out the cool breezes. As goosebumps rose on his skin, he curled deeper into her embrace, her chin resting on his sand-dusted hair. I could remember easily, holding Justin’s half naked body against mine when he was tired from a day at the beach, his head pressed into my breast, my heart calling, “Thump Thump, Love Love” under his face. I remember the sensation of skin, touching skin, and the immense joy that filled me to the brim, that I could love with ease this creature. His moppy curls and brown eyes, the inferno his little body could create against me, his giggle. I watched this mother, and could not recall a memory of being in the arms of my own mother – but somewhere in the depths of sensation I know. I could not know that peace without having had it. It was there, I am sure.
Perhaps this was a trigger for my own desire to “sink in,” to feel my skin braised by the heat of another human touch, when I spend days upon days, untouched. Perhaps that is part of my delight when I dance, converse sneakers snug on my feet. Opportunity and delight that I am held, sometimes close, in a whirlwind that leaves little room for thought. A hand on my back, different smiles, fluctuating ardor, and the invitation – “would you like to dance?” Would you like to move with me through this moment, to this beat of hearts, palpitating with the fervor of swinging feet and arms, through this song, and these touchstone smiles? And I pay close attention to the feel of different hands, to the different texture of skin, sometimes young, sometimes aged, and the smells that different dancers carry on their skin… and then I reset, and rest, eager for the next invitation to connect. I am sometimes so trusting on the floor that my eyes close and all that moves me is the music, the waves of energy that turn me, shift me, push me out and in, and spin me again. I get connection within the boundaries of the dance floor. And, is that the only place I will find connection – one I walk away from until next Tuesday, or Saturday? Until the next visit, or walk on the beach?
And I gather my shoes and feel the pace of walking in the sand, sunset at my back, wonder and uncertainty riding my shoulders, clinging to me like stubborn children, tired, and that little voice …
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